Over recent months, the gray cap and pipe belonging to late Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society founder Prentice “Pete” Douglas adorned the storied venue's windowsill.
An abandoned beer joint when Douglas arrived in the early 1950s, the building became a place where rapt audiences heard jazz played by top artists in oceanfront intimacy. It was also where, after Douglas' July 2014 passing, top jazz names paid tribute to Douglas by playing the music he loved.
The months after his death, with a mini-season of concerts booked in May and June 2015, were “for me, personally, very emotional,” said Barbara Riching, of Los Gatos. The middle of Douglas’ three daughters, she is now the president of the society.
Keeping the Bach going with help from sisters Linda Tichenor and Virginia Castillo, it was she who set his pipe and cap on the windowsill.
Riching, who strikingly resembles her father, stepped in to help the beat go on, with a 2015 fall series. Tickets are now on sale.
The prospect of filling Pete's shoes doesn't daunt Riching, who grew up exposed to jazz through Pete and visits to jazz clubs like Yoshi's. “It’s not like I’m a complete newbie,” she said wryly. “It is my intention to continue the Bach forever!”
The new season continues the 4:30 p.m. Sunday concert lineup featuring well-established artists, some making their debut at the Bach.
It begins Sept. 13 when bassist Kyle Eastwood and quintet make their Bach debut. From there:
Bay Area singer Mary Stallings, whose distinct jazz vocal style is reminiscent of Carmen McRae, appears with a quartet on Sept. 20; Larry Coryell Passing Dreams Trio, set for Sept. 27. Guitarist Coryell shows Eastern influences with a tabla player; saxophonist Yosvany Terry, making his Bach debut, Oct. 4, with pianist Baptiste Trotignon. Their music reflects Latin and Caribbean influences; Joey DeFrancesco on the Hammond B-3 organ visits with his trio on Oct. 25; Anton Schwartz Quintet will come from the Pacific Northwest to make its Bach debut on Nov. 1; Violinist Mads Tolling and quartet, also making their local debut, on Nov. 8; Bach regular Larry Vuckovich with his Bay Area All-Stars, an ensemble whose members he hand-picked from different groups, will perform on Nov. 15.
Committed to her father's musical tradition, Riching said she will stay involved, hopefully on the board of directors in an advisory and artistic-director capacity. At present, she said, she has been doing most of the managing and administrative tasks herself, but in her own way, and lining up help.
“Dad did it,” she said, “and now I do it.”
The use of technology is one thing that distinguishes daughter from father. Pete, said Riching, had little use for email, and now she is taking advantage of it in working with artists and agents.
She had no trouble lining up the new season. Artists were beating a path to her door.
The Bach “has a huge reputation in the jazz world,” she said. “Playing at the Bach is an honor for musicians. So they call me.”
Concertgoers will find a new ticket system in place, as Riching is using Vendini for ticketing, marketing and box office management.
She is also fostering a membership program, which began with a successful drive. The program offers three levels: Jazz Fan at $275, Jazz Devotee at $675 and Jazz Master at $1,975.
Among the benefits, the levels offer advance ticket purchase, a choice of seating in a special block (Devotee) and a “very first choice” of seating (Master). The levels also include donations to help the Bach continue, she said.
Individual concert tickets run from $35 to $45.
Riching brought in sound engineer Jim Bennett, who has a jazz music show on KCSM radio.
“I hope that over the next five years I can focus on growing a board of directors and hire more management” to assist in the day-to-day tasks, with an eye toward sustainability, she said.
Riching also plans to continue renting the facility, under the auspices of the Douglas Beach House, for weddings, corporate events or parties, with help from local caterer Joy Portelli.
Overall, she described her goal as “bringing the Bach into the 21st century” with no changes to its beautiful aspects like the music, ocean views and wood-paneled room.
“It's about modernizing, making it more efficient and more cost-effective,” she said.
But, she pointed out, “I'm making sure the music still has the same philosophy my dad had: straight-ahead jazz and quality music in an intimate setting.”
Classical and world music shows will join the jazz shows. “I definitely want to mix it up a little,” she said.
But there's nothing confusing about her feelings for the place and her drive to keep it going.
“I am extremely appreciative of the gratitude I get from people for continuing to be open,” she said.
For information or tickets, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.