Archive for the ‘Road Trippin’ California’ Category

Neil Young Country

July 22, 2010

(Neil Young playing Hank Williams Sr.’s guitar at the annual Bridge School Benefit, photo courtesy Paul Tomita)

Editor’s note: Today we are really excited to feature a post from guest blogger Chris Horn, a music lover who has followed Bay Area resident and rock legend Neil Young for nearly 35 years. We met Chris when we were doing a blog post on our Hotel Kabuki’s cameo the night of The Band’s last performance at the now defunct (and also legendary) Winterland Ballroom. Chris was gracious enough to let us use a wonderful photo he had taken of Winterland before its demolition in 1985. You can find his writings on music and some of his great photos here.

By Chris Horn

Neil Young is one of the most beloved and respected musicians of our time. Poignant, prolific, and fiercely independent he has followed his muse and penned songs that have touched the lives and consciousness of multiple generations. Writing and performing music since the early 1960’s he shows no sign of slowing down.

Neil doesn’t just play songs, he lives and breathes them. Whether he’s playing acoustic on a guitar once owned by Hank Williams Sr. or caressing punishing electric notes out of Ol’ Black, (both pictured) he can get into a zone that only he fully feels. We, the audience, have the joy of coming along for the ride.

He has toured the world and since making the San Francisco Bay Area his home in the early 1970’s, he’s played the widest variety of venues here.

While he’s performed in the area’s larger and famous venues (Shoreline Amphitheater, Oakland Coliseum-Arena, Winterland)  he has also played some much smaller places too (Old Princeton Landing in Princeton/Half Moon Bay, Saddle Rack in San Jose, The Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati).

I’ve assembled a list (below), with dates and set lists, of those varied sized venues.

I first saw Neil live on July 1, 1976 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York when he played with Stephen Stills as the Stills-Young Band.  I hadn’t followed him too closely but had heard his music on the radio and occasionally listened to Deja Vu. After the Beatles broke up, Poco was my favorite band. One day my younger brother came to me with Neil’s “Tonight’s The Night” and “Zuma” albums and insisted I listen to them. I knew he was really into Neil and I obliged. I then devoured all his other Neil LP’s and my music appreciation course had changed. The time came when he was going to play locally and I could see him live. With Poco opening, not only was it a dream concert it set the course of my live musical journey. (more…)


Joyful Entrepreneurs: 8tracks

July 21, 2010

David Porter, who co-founded 8tracks in 2008 with Remi Gabillet

As part of our summer Road Trippin’ California campaign, yesterday we launched a really cool road trip themed playlist contest with internet radio startup 8tracks. We thought you’d be interested in hearing a little bit more about 8tracks as part of our “Joyful Entrepreneurs” blog post series celebrating entrepreneurs who are passionate about their innovative business models, like Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bagworks and our own Chip Conley. David Porter, who co-founded 8tracks with Remi Gabillet in 2008, answers our questions about what makes his concept different below. If you’re a music lover, definitely check out the playlist contest or at the very least our road trippin’ themed playlists to add a little musical joie to your day.

What is 8tracks?
DP: 8tracks is a handcrafted internet radio network.  People who know and love music (“DJs”) curate an online “mixtape” containing 8 or more tracks, typically culled from their personal music collections.  Listeners tune into a sequence of these mixes, radio-style, beginning with a mix created by someone they know or follow, or as selected based on genre or mood.

How is 8tracks different from other internet radio concepts?
DP: Pandora (the market leader) analyzes music across 400 attributes to generate a playlist that’s sonically similar to a “seed” song or artist input by the listener.  Other internet radio services typically employ one or more employees to select programming, typically organized by genre.

8tracks, in contrast, offers a platform for anyone with the requisite knowledge and passion to craft and share playlists.  Everyone has a few friends who always know great new music, and 8tracks gives these people the tools to share their selections in a simple, legal way.

Why is it legal?
DP: 8tracks operates under the compulsory license for webcasting established by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.  This compulsory license requires that 8tracks follow a set of rules governing programming and listening, the spirit of which is to ensure that a listener’s experience is “like radio” and thus promotes the sale of music.

Each month, 8tracks pays royalties and reports the music played to SoundExchange, which uses the reports to pay the amounts owed to labels and artists.

How does the social networking function enhance the experience?
Music is inherently social, and surveys show that most people learn about new music through friends. In addition, people often associate music with various life experiences, in no small part because music – unlike most other forms of content – can be consumed while doing other things. Talking, commuting, reading, working, exercising, dining – you name it.

8tracks directly supports the social dimension of music by allowing one person to easily compile a playlist for a friend or broader audience and then share it via email, Facebook, Twitter, a blog or another social platform.  Listeners correspond with the DJ and one another on a dedicated mixpage that serves as a “musical diary” commemorating the shared experience.

What do you love about building 8tracks?
DP: I love the fact that nearly every aspect of 8tracks is a contribution by and collaboration among people who simply love music and, as a result, our platform for sharing and discovering it.

The DJs on 8tracks — roughly 2% of our customer base — are also our “vendors” in that they’re the ones who create the programming for the other 98% who come to tune in.  Moreover, the whole reason to make a mix is to share it, and each DJ who creates a mix then promotes it to friends and followers, which in turn provides exposure for 8tracks as a whole.

Our team is primarily a nights-and-weekends crew at this point.  We’ve no actual employees, and a number of people contribute their time gratis or for equity.  Further, as we offer an open API for playback, a handful of developers who love 8tracks have made (or are making) new applications for listening, including a Firefox add-on, Chrome extension and Android player.

We also do our best to respond quickly to people’s suggestions and questions through an online feedback application called UserVoice and by monitoring mentions of “8tracks” on Twitter.  This input is used to inform product development.

Why is this a great way to discover new music?
DP: It’s a great way to discover music because the platform combines, on a global scale, the 2 tried-and-true means for music discovery:  radio + word-of-mouth sharing among friends.  We can enhance these familiar concepts through the internet medium.

How widely is 8tracks being adopted?
DP: We attract 200,000-300,000 visitors per month (there’s some variability due on time of year and source of traffic).  To date, more than 30,000 DJs have created over 100,000 mixes.

What’s new or on the horizon at 8tracks?
DP: We’re about to introduce a new homepage, which will allow listeners to slice-and-dice our myriad mixes by those they “follow” on 8tracks (a la Twitter) and by any combination of tags applied by DJs to describe their mixes (typically genre or mood).

Also, since most mixes are a little over 1/2 hour, we currently select a “next mix” to play at the completion of the first based on a rudimentary match of artist. Going forward, when a DJ publishes a new mix we’re going to allow and encourage them to choose the mix that follows; in this way, a DJ serves as curator not only of the tracks in his or her mix, but also the mixes on the 8tracks network.

Finally, we’re about to submit our iPhone application to Apple, which will allow you to tune into great mixes when you’re away from home or work, on the go.

Favorite road trip music?
DP: Here’s my selections

Joyful Entrepreneurs: Rickshaw Bagworks

June 30, 2010

Mark Dwight and Lisa Taylor of Rickshaw Bagworks

As part of our summer Road Trippin’ California campaign, we’ve met the cool folks at Rickshaw Bagworks, who have made some fabulous custom road trip themed bags for us to share with our fans. Their approach to sustainability, which encompasses community and environmentally-conscious design, is holistic and quite inspiring. Their founder, Mark Dwight, graciously agreed to be interviewed as part of our “Joyful Entrepreneurs” series.

Why did you start Rickshaw?
I started Rickshaw to pursue my passion for designing bags, building brands, exploring sustainable business practices, running my own business, and engaging in the local community. I love making things — especially things that require a certain amount of hand-work. I call it “artisanal manufacturing”. My first business was making stained glass windows when I was in high school. After college, I spent 15 years in Silicon Valley working for technology companies. I took a break from high-tech in 2001, and had the good fortune to join a popular SF bag company called Timbuk2. That’s where my passion for bags blossomed. The bag business has brought me back to my true passion for working with my hands. In fact, making bags has some similarities to making stained glass windows — just with fabric and thread instead of glass and lead.

How is sustainable design interpreted at Rickshaw?
I’m a student of Bill McDonough’s “Cradle to Cradle” manifesto on sustainable design. I’m very interested in the difficult challenges of balancing design criteria (such as appearance, performance, and price) and sustainability, as they relate to our choices for materials and processes. Here at Rickshaw, we have a design methodology called “The Power of Zero” — whereby we try to eliminate waste in every aspect of our business, and explore opportunities for closed-loop recycling of environmentally-friendly materials. (more…)

Top 10 Family Road Trippin’ Essentials

June 29, 2010

(Photo: Allison Czarnecki)

Today we’re excited to have guest blogger Allison Czarnecki, who writes the wonderful blog Petit Elefant, share her ideas for road trippin’ en famille. Welcome and thank you, Allison!

We travel a lot as a family. A lot. But in order to see the country with a family of four and a tight budget, we’ve found the best way to travel is by car. Road trip, baby. I love road tripping with my family, and over the years I’ve gotten better at what to pack, what to leave home, and what’s absolutely essential to bring in the car. Here’s my list of Top 10 Road Trip Essentials:

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: pack wet wipes. There are any number of wet wipe-able emergencies on a road trip, especially with kids, and one pack of big wet wipes is essential to keeping everyone happy, clean, and moving towards your destination.
  2. Assign everyone their own luggage. It might seem obvious, but there’s always the temptation to cram everyone’s gear in one big bag since you’re all on the road and in the car together. Don’t give in to temptation. Give each traveler their own bag, color-coded if need be, to keep their stuff separate from the rest.
  3. Pack a cooler with your favorite drinks. Yes, a cooler might slosh around when you take corners too fast, but it’s worth it. Completely worth it. Having cold drinks available at your disposal, for a fraction of the cost at a gas station will save your wallet.
  4. Assign a designated spot for trash. A bag, an actual garbage can, whatever it may be, keep your garbage separate from the rest and everyone will be happier. Empty it out at every rest stop to keep the car in tip top shape.
  5. Make a road trip playlist or two. Or three. The tunes will give you a soundtrack to your trip and will get you through the less stellar hours of your travel time.
  6. Take pictures! I know it sounds cliche but you’ll love seeing the photos after the fact. And later, when you look back at the photos you’ll have a visual reminder of the time your kids ran into the ocean fully clothed upon seeing it for the first time. Worth it.
  7. Pack light. I had a tendency when we first started traveling as a family to pack everything I could fit in the car. I literally would have taken the kitchen sink if I’d thought it would fit. It’s not worth it. You can do laundry on the road, and it’s pretty likely you’ll be traveling within the walls of civilization. If need be, you can buy what you’re missing once you get where you’re going. You’ll thank me later.
  8. Pack healthy snacks. I know, I know, it’s boring not to eat nasty food while you’re on the road but you’ll regret it later. There’s nothing like a frozen slushy drink and some chips to make you feel like summer, but you won’t feel so happy two hours after the fact. Take healthy things you won’t be able to find at a gas station. You can always buy chips on the road but bananas are $3 each at the Gas n’ Sip.
  9. Take games! U-NO is fun for everyone and can be played anywhere, even the car.
  10. Remember to have fun. Embrace the unexpected. Roll with it, and have the time of your life. There’s nothing quite like a road trip in the summer so enjoy it!

Going Back to (So)Cali

June 23, 2010

Today’s guest post is from Leah Corradino of Joie de Vivre’s SoCal team. Leah shares her vast knowledge of what to do, see, eat and drink in Southern California – including a few bon mots from our hotels in the region: Shorebreak Hotel (Huntington Beach), Hotel Angeleno (Los Angeles), Hotel Maya (Long Beach), and Hotel Erwin (Venice Beach). Stay tuned also for our new Pacific Edge Hotel, which debuts in Laguna Beach this month. Thanks, Leah, we can’t wait to get back to SoCali and try some of these!

1. Intellegentsia for the BEST coffee experience on Abbot Kinney in Venice

2. The Hollywood Bowl for the best “under the stars” summer performances

3. Temescal Canyon Trail for a hike and to see the waterfall and ocean views from the Pacific Palisades

4. Opening Ceremony just opened on La Cienega!  Serious competition for Fred Segal!

5. Paradise Cove in Malibu for a scenic Sunday drive up the coast and for their gigantic iced seafood tower

6. The Other Room for great people-watching and drinks on Abbot Kinney in Venice

7. The Wiltern, Troubador, and the Fonda for intimate live music concerts (more…)

Top 10 Things to Do in Sacramento

June 17, 2010

I’m a Bay Area girl, born and raised. One can only imagine my friends’ reactions four years ago when they heard I was moving to Sacramento to attend UC Davis. Shock and disgust were among many facial expressions, to give you an idea.

You see, my friends were moving to “cool” places for college, like L.A. and San Diego.  Sacramento on the other hand, known for being a “cow-town” and “hot as hell”, was always stereotyped as less than desirable.

Well, turns out the joke’s on them.  Sacramento is awesome, and I’m not afraid to say it out loud. Four years into living here, I have dined downtown, wined Midtown, ran a 10k around the zoo, attended film festivals at the Crest, and rafted down the river on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Without further adieu, here’s my personal list of the top ten things to do in Sacramento (and I hope if you visit, you will check out – or, even better, check in – Joie de Vivre’s gorgeous Citizen Hotel):

1. Catch a film at the Crest Theater. I think it might be accurate to say I have never seen a bad film here. If you’re into the Avatars and Iron Mans, this isn’t the place for you. If you’re into the interesting, hilarious, and educational indie films that nobody has heard of, this is your go-to theater. I am a bit of a movie snob and this is hands down, the best place to catch a good film in Sacramento.

2. Float down the river. I’ll be honest—it gets pretty dang hot in Sacramento, especially in the summer months. What better way to spend your scorching Sunday afternoon than lazily rafting down the American River? Tip: rent multiple rafts and tie them together with rope to float as a group. Add a cooler of classy beverages, a boom box, and you’re good to go. (more…)

Sonoma on My Mind

June 15, 2010

One of my favorite road trips involves Hwy 121 aka Arnold Drive in Sonoma.  Sonoma is a vast territory that spans from the San Pablo Bay in the south all the way up north to Santa Rosa and in between the Mayacamas Mountains and Sonoma Mountains.

Once referred to as the Valley of the Moon by the native Miwok, Pomo and Wintun peoples, the Sonoma Valley is now a mecca for wine enthusiasts, and all people in search for some Joie de Vivre.  Whereas Napa is seen as a little more upscale and refined, Sonoma is true to its country roots.  The Sonoma lifestyle is a little more casual and free-spirited.  It’s one of my favorite local getaways as it’s a quick 45 minute drive from San Francisco once you hit the Golden Gate Bridge.  My picks reflect places that hold great memories and are almost always on my itinerary when I make my way up north.

Angelo’s Wine Deli

Angelo’s is a small and unassuming outpost along the 121 also known as Arnold Drive.  If you’re not paying attention, you may miss it as you’re gazing at the surrounding vineyards.  Look out for the brown and white Hereford statue that graces the top of the sign to signal your arrival.  Most people know Angelo’s for its famous jerky.  It’s unlike any jerky I have ever had, instead of being dehydrated to the point of leather, it’s actually very moist and hearty, and comes in many different flavors. The VIP is my favorite.  Many people who are traveling to the wine country are maybe not in a position to buy perishable meats that need to be refrigerated, but the real treasure to be had at Angelo’s is their famous sausages that are hands-down the best I have ever had.  The Louisiana hot links and the Hawaiian Portuguese sausages are delicious and when braised in beer and onions and then placed on the grill for some charring – divine. (more…)

Silicon Valley, Forevs

June 11, 2010

Editor’s note: In addition to being a guest blogger and Silicon Valley eggroll aficionado, Jessica Comaskey works with Joie de Vivre’s Silicon Valley properties and our Dream Inn in Santa Cruz.

About two years ago, I packed my bags and moved from San Francisco to San Jose.  Having grown up in San Francisco, I had surprisingly little knowledge of the Silicon Valley besides it being the birthplace of tech giants like Google, Yahoo and Hewlett Packard.

When I was a kid, the only times I would head down south would be to go to the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View or Great America in Santa Clara.  Over the past 24 months, I’ve quickly learned that there is a lot more to this area than what my San Francisco snobbery presumed.

As a resident, I love exploring the amazing parks and recreational areas the infuse the landscape, I cannot get enough of the local eateries and I’m always excited when I come across a mom and pop shop that has been around since forever.

Here is my top ten list of things to do this summer in the Silicon Valley:

1. Roy’s Station Coffee & Tea’s- Serving locally roasted coffee in San Jose’s historic Japantown, this is one of my favorite places to sit outside and enjoy a cup. Recently renovated, the coffee shop was once a WWII era gas station  (197 Jackson St, San Jose CA).

2. San Jose Giants Game– Summer and baseball go hand and hand and there is no better place to go see a game than the San Jose Municipal Stadium and there is no better team to watch then the current California League champions, The San Jose Giants.   With tickets that get you just feet from the field and a crowd that stands behind its local team, these games are blast without breaking the bank (588 E. Alma Avenue, San Jose CA).

3. San Jose Municipal Rose Garden- With over 4,000 rose shrub’s covering 5 ½ acres, this is a great place to get lost amongst the flowers.  The best part, there is no entrance fee and this is the only rose garden in California to be an official Display Garden for the All-America Rose Selections (Intersection of Naglee Ave and Dana Ave, San Jose CA). (more…)

Road Trippin’: SF’s Richmond District

June 8, 2010

Getting up close and personal with a city you do not know is a bit like angling to meet the Rolling Stones after the show without a backstage pass: if you don’t have someone who can hook you up, you’ll have to be content with being held at a cordial arm’s length, no shots of Jameson with Keith for you.

For the next few months, as part of our Road Trippin’ California summer, we’re going to be sharing our personal itineraries from the places in California we love. We hope it inspires you to get out and explore the Golden State and experience some of the authentic sights and scenes we’d want people to share with us.

Today, I’m writing about my own neighborhood, San Francisco’s  fabulously untrendy Richmond District. If you’re looking for packaged faux-bohemian or sidewalk cafes avec the stroller set, the Richmond probably isn’t going to ring your bell. I love it for its sunny days, good food, cheap rents (with great views), and its nearness to both Golden Gate Park (the city’s legendary outdoor playground) and the beach. It’s also got humility going for it, like the best people and places who aren’t terribly aware of their charms.

Here’s my top 10 list for the Richmond. I hope you will read it with rapt attention, takes notes, and make a visit next time you are in our fair city by the bay.

1. Kamei Restaurant Supply – honestly, forget Chinatown for tablewares and tchotchkes and head to Kamei, where you can find all the sushi ware your heart desires, a vast selection of rice cookers, tea pots, and other culinary lovelies at affordable prices (525-547 Clement St., San Francisco).


Beauty on the Road

June 4, 2010

Lori MacGregor is the PR & Marketing Director for LATHER, the California-based natural skin care brand. LATHER provides the Bamboo Lemongrass bath and shower amenities for Joie de Vivre Hotels.

Having worked in beauty PR for over a decade, I’ve become a bit of an expert on both business travel and the best products to help me look glamorous on the go. This has been helpful when packing for pleasure trips, too, when my look is a bit looser and I can let my (naturally curly) hair down.

There are two big beauty challenges I regularly face: one, packing a week’s worth of products into a single carry-on to avoid the dreaded “checked baggage” fees; and two, meeting the subsequent requirement that all carry-on liquids be under 3 ounces AND fit into a quart-sized Ziploc bag. That’s a tall order for anyone with contact lenses, curly hair, and combination skin. Here are my top tips for fitting it all in: (more…)