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Bad News Today: Upper Fourth is Closed

My friend Jeff from Sebastopol gave me the bad news last night.

Upper Fourth is closed.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Upper Fourth is, or rather, was a beautiful, classy bar in Santa Rosa that offered adults the perfect place to meet, have a drink, talk quietly, laugh loudly and listen to some live jazz every now and then. It was sorely needed, but obviously not well enough appreciated, in a town filled with either seedy bars or loud dance clubs frequented by twenty-somethings.

But my sadness around its closing is personal. Upper Fourth and its owner Molly Gallaher changed my life by offering me the opportunity to make music there every second Friday of the month from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. To have a steady gig in a sweet environment where people actually listened was a huge gift to me and my musical life. It made me a better singer, a better musician and a better performer. And when I left California to move to New York, one of the biggest losses for me was letting go of that monthly gig.

Just the other day I was bragging about Upper Fourth to my friend Paul who was bemoaning the fact that Kingston doesn’t have a place where one can go, have a drink in an inviting, quiet environment and connect with other people in the community. I told him that I knew of a place like that in Santa Rosa, CA: Upper Fourth.

From the comments on the BiteClub blog, people are saying ugly things about Molly and Upper Fourth. I have no idea if any of them are true and I don’t care. My experience of Upper Fourth and Molly was only positive. I watched her work hard to make Upper Fourth a great bar, not just another bar. She rarely took a day off. And all of her employees were kind, helpful and considerate.

And she supported live music. She understood how booking a live jazz group in the early evening hours would help business, bring in more people and create something special for her patrons. Late on Fridays and Saturdays she booked a DJ and brought in the younger crowd who would stay there until closing. She was smart to do so.

Thank you, Molly. Thank you for Upper Fourth. I’ll never forget my time there, and I’ll always be eternally grateful to you for giving me my first steady gig and supporting live music.

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