Where It's At
Ruby Bennett's Hang Spots
Cool cats and swanky kittens, rockabilly swells and sweet little vintage gals might unify around these few truths: the foot-tapping appeal of a swinging boogie-woogie beat, the swagger of bold and brassy sax solo and the eternal appeal of a blues woman’s sultry wail, rounding the bend of heartbreak and pine, right at the mighty junction of Ruth Brown and Etta James. And James happens to be one of the monumental inspirations behind the soulful croon of longtime Alameda vocalist Ruby “Baby” Bennett (née Heidi), as is Little Willie John and his heartrending warble and Ike and Tina Turner and their down and dirty grooves.
Bennett has lent her talents as a frontperson to the Lucky 13s and the Pleasure Seekers and taken featured vocalist turns with the Dutch Falconi Orchestra and Tom Fay’s Rhythm Kings.
But from the sound of the recordings she made last year of early rhythm and blues movers, backed by local players like the Frisky Frolics’ Rick Quisol on drums, the best is yet to come from Bennett.
All we can say is more, please. In the meantime, holler at Bennett at what she calls her “favorite Alameda hang spots.”
Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden
My home away from home, a sanctuary where I can curl up on the couch with my iPad, a perfect grilled cheese and homemade sauerkraut, or meet with my friends in the gorgeous garden patio for the best iced tea in town, squirrel watching and conversation. I’ve performed there on music night, Tuesdays, and love to see the live bands that come through.
1223 Park St., (510) 865-2385, www.juliestea.com
From my first visit I was hooked! This little eating spot makes me so happy. I literally eat to the beat as they always have a cool mix of lively pop music playing, the owners greet me by name, and the sushi is fantastic. Reasonable prices, fun artwork on the walls and nothing pretentious.
1221 Park St., (510) 523-4120, yojimbosushi.com
The Japan Woodworker
This is my favorite place to take out-of-town visitors and also to get my knives sharpened. I am fascinated with all the beautiful woodworking tools and examples of carving sprinkled throughout the store. You will also find a unique selection of kitchen and garden tools, including gorgeous knives, every kind of grater and beautiful tongs.
1731 Clement Ave., (510) 521-1810, www.japanwoodworker.com
A classic little diner — grab a delicious burger at the lunch counter. The service is soooo friendly. My favorite though is breakfast — my order: huevos rancheros, potatoes instead of rice, and add an order of “Hippie Mix” (grilled veggies with basil and garlic). Cash only.
1541 Webster St., (510) 523-4600
Small Dog Park
Poki, my 14-pound furry companion, and I love to chase geese and squirrels around the tennis courts, stroll past the duck pond, smell the beach air and frolic in the dog park.
Eighth and Portola streets, (510) 521-0162, www.ci.alameda.ca.us