|Blakes on Telegraph is more than a restaurant, bar and nightclub - it is an East Bay entertainment mecca. The club was initially called Larry Blake's and was founded in 1940 by Larry Blake himself, who manned the helm for the better part of three decades. Having earned a reputation for providing good food in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, Larry sold the business to a group of employees who envisioned expanding the occasional music venue into a full-fledged nightclub.
Blakes initially booked talented local jazz acts such as Ed Kelly, Pete and Sheila Escovedo and Kitty Margolis alongside national acts like the great Cal Tjader, Mose Allison, and Joaquin Lievano. Eventually blues was incorporated into the mix, and within a short period of time, Blakes became the premiere blues club in the entire Bay Area.
The list of blues luminaries who have enjoyed a run at Blakes includes some of the most talented artists in blues history: John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Lowell Fulson, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Otis Rush, Johnny Heartsman, Brownie McGee, Irma Thomas, and Johnny Adams. We've seen some impressive shoes walk through these doors.
World-famous blues guitarist Robert Cray, immediately recognized by then booking agent Tim Kaihatsu as a tremendous talent, was fostered throughout the years by Blakes. When the great Charles Brown decided to step back into the music world, his first comeback performance was at Blakes. Charlie Musselwhite, Lady Bianca, Tracy Nelson, Joe Louis Walker, Roy Rogers, Buckwheat Zydeco, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Norton Buffalo, Rory Block, John Hammond, Boz Skaggs, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Amos Garrett, Maria Muldaur, Roomful of Blues, Elvin Bishop, and Greg Allman have all graced our stage and entertained our customers. For nearly four decades, Blakes was THE blues hotspot in the East Bay.
In 1993, Blakes recognized the need to become more contemporary. They gave the club a facelift, officially changed the name to "Blakes on Telegraph," and started booking modern rock, punk, ska, jazz, funk and hip-hop. Since that time, Blakes has had the good fortune to discover Cake, Third Eye Blind, Box Set, Train and Stroke 9 before much of the rest of the world.