A Pandora Mini-Guide

Jan 20, 2012 / By Serena
Posted in Culture Vulture / Good Ideas / Places / San Francisco Bay Area
Rosemary flowers top a drink at Plum Bar

Dear Pandora,

Thanks for being a cool company. Your love for music and ability to pay artists for their work is inspiring. Because of you I’ve learned about new bands and new sounds. Thanks for your recommendations.

But most of all, thank you for staying in Oakland after you became a public company. Thanks for believing in this awesome city, and thanks for creating a program to mentor local small business owners. Thanks for answering my questions and believing in my vision.

I made you this mini-guide so you could vacation on your lunch break or enjoy Oaktown after work. Maybe you already know these spots so they serve as a reminder what’s in your vicinity, maybe you haven’t yet had the time to explore them. Either way I hope you enjoy some of my recommendations to you since you’ve given me so many good ones.

Pandora Mini-Guide: Good Fun and Good Eats within blocks of Pandora HQ

You Pandorians are lucky to work in the heart of Oakland on a block edged by Downtown, Uptown, Lake Merritt, and the burgeoning Telegraph Arts District. If it were me, I’d be planning my next lunch break or after-work soiree on the daily.

Here are just a few of the many worthwhile stops that are close to the Pandora offices – all of whom give back to the community, the environment, and the local economy in some way. Most are locally-owned and employ Oaklanders, some use independent banks that give small loans to new local businesses, others recycle and compost and re-purpose materials or use organic and fair trade products. They often consider their footprints and use high efficiency appliances or promote community through interaction and learning. I encourage you to explore and find your own favorites – there are new spots popping up all the time, and hidden gems tucked in these storied blocks.

Even with your busy days making radio better and spreading good music (and comedy – I’ve been tuning in to my George Carlin station regularly since I discovered this feature!) we all need a little mini-vacance sometimes, don’t we? In Oakland you can easily weave that vacation mentality into your day if you know where to go…

All phone numbers are (510) area code unless otherwise mentioned. Guide after the break…

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The California Honeydrops head to Santa Cruz, and so should you

Nov 8, 2011 / By Serena
Posted in DIY / Good Ideas / Night Owl / Other Places / Places
The California Honey Drops, photo by R. Reitman

Last week we had an additional family member for a few hours. Oliver, a fuzzy, friendly dog, slept on our carpet next to our Dutsi Bap until his mama returned; she was at the Fox Theater watching the California Honeydrops open for Cake.

One of the mix CDs I slipped into my cherished first car included Cake’s The Distance with that memorable beginning beat, urging me to start my engine and hit the road. They’re still filling 2,800 seat theaters like the historic Fox, sharing the stage with the next generation of nonconformist music makers. The California Honeydrops, with their feel-good blues, are a definitive example.

The Honey Drops began with two Oberlin grads playing their own mix of blues, jug band, and R&B in the BART stations of the East Bay. Four years later they’ve grown to a five-person ensemble and fleshed out their sound to echo of New Orleans. There’s clear inspiration from the wide array of musical experiences of the band members, perhaps the most obvious being Polish band leader Lech Wierzynski’s tutelage from Ray Charles’ trumpeter Marcus Belgrave while he was in college.

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