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The Brixton: If Walls Could Talk

Photo: Misha Vladimirskiy

Around summertime last year, three local restaurant and nightclub industry vets: Andy Wasserman (Otis Lounge), Hugo Gamboa (Mas Sake) and Adam Snyder (Taverna Aventine, The Ambassador), started working on an "English Tavern with an old world feel and a rock n' roll edge" for the shuttered Left at Albuquerque digs in Cow Hollow. For the life of them, they couldn't come up with a name. After months of brainstorms and "friendly" nudges from their publicist, the gents almost used the "Tar and Feathers" moniker that graced the location back in the 70s when it was a bar and live music venue. Then Wasserman threw out The Brixton, a shortened version of famous London rock venue, The Brixton Academy; and the tavern's fate was sealed.

Since The Brixton opened a little over a month ago, it's attracted enough local atention to stay packed every Wednesday through Saturday night. It also drew in a local legend, Michael Zagaris a.k.a. "the Smithsonian of rock and roll photography." He liked the sound of The Brixton when it opened, so he gave the owners a call.

This is precisely why, on a recent vist to said Cow Hollow hot spot -- while snacking on some particularly addictive pretzel knots from chef Michelle Mah -- I found myself starting at a blow-up of The Who's Pete Townshend, hurling his guitar into the air at Winterland. It's a Zagaris original circa 1979 and a truly awesome addition to the wall across from the hostess stand. The other two blow-ups Wasserman commissioned from Zagaris: one of a negative roll from his Rolling Stones cache, the oter of the Sex Pistols on their last night at Winterland; ain't bad either.

Look even further beyond the gin basil rickey-fueled din at The Brixton's bar and you'll find a slew of impressive concert posters from Wasserman's personal collection: everything from Jane's Addiction to a very recent Band of Horses and several posters designed by artist Alan Hynes for shows at The Brixton Academy. Thanks to local concert poster gurus Secret Serpents, Wasserman now has the inside track on Hynes' latest, including a forthcoming Nick Cave at Brixton Academy poster coming out later this month. You'll see it on the wall at our very own Brixton soon.

The ties to music continue. Zagaris even brought Rudie Fernandez -- "the" Rudie from The Clash's hit "Rudie Can't Fail" -- to The Brixton's grand opening party. Rudie, who was the band's "unofficial West Coast tour manager" for years, still lives in San Francisco and also happens to have some posters to share. Five beauties leftover from his touring days are going up on the walls this Friday at The Brixton. And he's got Wasserman on speed dial in case a hot band rolls through town in need of a post-concert drink. As far as new businesses go, it's not a bad way to make a name for oneself.