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Last days for Santa Rosa's Last Day Saloon

The Last Day Saloon in 2008.

PD File
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.

After 12 years of staging live shows by both local and nationally known musicians in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square, the Last Day Saloon will close.

Its final live show, an afternoon concert by the Gold Coast Jazz Band, is set for May 5.

Owner Dave Daher has put the club (and the building) up for sale, and he's throwing his own retirement party April 28, with live music by country rocker Commander Cody and others.

After owning and running the original Last Day Saloon in San Francisco from 1973 to 2005, and the Santa Rosa version of the club since 2001, Daher said he's ready for a rest.

The future of the Santa Rosa venue is uncertain, depending on how Daher's efforts to sell it turn out. But Daher said he's through with the day-to-day business of running nightclubs, and will close the club.

“There may be other musical endeavors in my life, but not on the scale it has been,” said Daher, who turns 65 in July.

Over the years, the Santa Rosa club has hosted blues guitarist Elvin Bishop, Geyserville harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite and the now-famous Texas blues and rock band Los Lonely Boys — “before they got big,” Daher said.

During the years Daher ran his San Francisco club, he booked Richie Havens, Huey Lewis, James Cotton, Buddy Guy and many others.

“I got John Lee Hooker to come out and play again when he didn't even want to,” Daher said. “Bighead Todd (head of the rock band The Monsters) signed his first record contract in my kitchen at the Last Day Saloon in San Francisco.”

Local musicians will mourn the loss of a large venue for live music, said Josh Windmiller, director of North Bay Hootenanny, an event production company that has been putting on shows at the Last Day Saloon for the past two years.

“I am thankful for all the chances that the Last Day Saloon took in hosting up-and-coming local bands,” he said. “Now, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: What will fill the huge void left by this venue?”

Daher originally intended to make his April 28 retirement party the last event at his Santa Rosa nightclub, but decided to give San Francisco soul music revue Pride & Joy one more date on May 3.

“They've been with me for 30 years, starting back at the San Francisco club,” Daher said.

Singer-songeriter John Courage and others will play the club May 4. The Traditional Ragtime And Dixieland Jazz Appreciation & Strutters Society, which has been booking jazz bands into the Last Day Saloon the first Sunday of every month for the past nine years, will present its last show there May 5.

Daher and his wife, Nancy, have lived just outside Santa Rosa for 25 years, and their four grown children live in the area.

“We're not moving away, but we want to take a vacation,” Daher said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. See his ARTS blog at http://arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.)

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