Update: Cafe International's Open Mic Night Will Go On

Mike Gaworecki / Hoodline
By Mike Gaworecki - Published on March 18, 2015.

Yesterday we reported that Cafe International (508 Haight St.) was planning to shut down its open mic night due to pressure from music rights organizations BMI and SESAC. But today, cafe owner Zahra Saleh tells Hoodline that she has decided to continue the open mic events, despite pressures over music rights that she called "a nightmare."

"They want us to shut it down, but I'm not going to shut it down," Saleh says. "We will keep it as long as people follow the rule."

The rule, of course, is that covers are not allowed, and that all music must be original. BMI and SESAC first came after Saleh and Cafe International over the music being played over the sound system, so now, Saleh told us, she pays a monthly fee for a satellite radio station.

The music rights organizations then shifted their attention to the open mic nights. Representatives from the organizations have sometimes stayed at the cafe all night to make sure no one performs any copyrighted material, and on at least one occasion secretly recorded the performers to use as evidence against Cafe International.

But Saleh says she will not be bullied into pulling the plug, and after an outpouring of support in the comment section of yesterday's article, the news should come as a relief to fans of the cafe. "Open mic is still well and alive," she says.

Now Saleh just has to figure out what to do with the thousands of CDs she collected over the years. "I used to go to Amoeba almost every week," Saleh says. Now that she can't play them in the cafe, they're gathering dust in Cafe International's basement.

BMI and SESAC have not responded to requests for comment on this story. 

13 minutes ago
San Francisco Golden Gate Park

Illuminated LED 'forest' coming this winter to Golden Gate Park's Peacock Meadow

Beginning Dec. 1, Peacock Meadow will be illuminated by 2,000 LEDs that will be entwined within and surrounding three sculptural trees. “Entwined,” as it’s called, is an installation by Bay Area artist Charles Gadeken, and it is part of a small series of activities to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park during the pandemic. Read More

About 2 hours ago
San Francisco Cole Valley Corona Heights Upper Haight

Ghouls, clowns, and a grave for "Kellyanne Conwoman": visiting a Corona Heights Halloween landmark

Wade Joffrion and Greg Price's Corona Heights "storybook house," the 1917 brick-clad cottage at 45 Upper Terrace, is regularly the most-decorated house in the neighborhood and a seasonal highlight for passersby at Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Halloween — and this year's display is worth a detour. Read More

About 3 hours ago
San Francisco

SF restaurants won't be increasing indoor capacity just yet as COVID cases rise

With daily COVID case numbers and the number of hospitalized patients ticking up slightly in the last two weeks, SF city officials are not moving forward with a pledged date of November 3 for further reopening of businesses. Read More

About 4 hours ago
San Francisco

Long live the new parklets as ‘Shared Spaces’ program gets extended through June 2021

With more than 1,800 businesses now sprawled onto sidewalks and streets, City Hall has approved a six-month extension of the popular arrangement. Read More