The Chapel in San Francisco

Feb 1, 2013 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz

New Club Runs Smoothly With Networked System


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photo of Robert Earl Keen, Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Robert Earl Keen (pictured at right) sits in with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at The Chapel

A new venue needs to offer something special to carve out a space in San Francisco’s crowded club scene. The Chapel should have no problem. This newcomer to the city’s Mission District is outstanding on every level: leadership, support staff, atmosphere, music, refreshments, sound.


Photos of The Chapel

Owned by restaurateur/real estate developer Jack Knowles, The Chapel is built in what was originally a mortuary that dates to 1914. The former chapel is now a uniquely beautiful performance space, while the rest of the building is divided into upstairs lounge and offices, full bar and, coming in the spring, a full-service restaurant and outdoor cafe featuring Knowles’ acclaimed cuisine.

The audio side of the ambitious build-out was handled by Delicate Productions, headed up by George Edwards and, initially, by project manager Coty Shipe.


The Chapel's QSC Audio specs

“I got a call last summer from George saying they had this project in the works,” says Jon Graves of QSC Audio. “There were a couple of line arrays on his radar, but I think he felt our total-solution approach would not only sound great, but also make the installation run smoother. I went up, took a bunch of photos, talked to George and Coty, and got together a proposal with the help of QSC’s Application Engineering Team. After more conversations, we made some tweaks to the design, but of course everyone wanted to hear it first.”

In mid-September, Graves shipped the proposed rig for the main venue to San Francisco and came along to supervise a demo. “We pushed all the carpenters out of the way and ground-stacked the rig—the final rig would be flown, but we ground-stacked it—and George brought in a band that did a five-song demo to see how everyone felt about it.” On-site for the demo were Knowles, Edwards and Shipe, and Lee Brenkman, the head of audio for Slim’s Presents, which runs two popular San Francisco venues. Brenkman was brought in as an audio consultant to help choose the system and oversee ongoing audio operations. A few days later, Graves got the news that QSC’s proposal had been accepted, but the club had to be show-ready in just a couple of weeks.

“It was an extremely tight timeline,” says Nick Fletcher, who took over project management for Shipe as the installation began. “It became kind of a rolling install that was somewhat unconventional. They wanted to open so early that we supplemented with rental gear, and as parts came in, we gave the owners what they’d purchased. Getting it done combined concert production with more conventional installation.”

Completion dates were fixed because the venue had already booked several shows in association with the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. Preservation Hall Jazz Band were slated to play over several nights with guest stars Justin Townes Earle, Steve Earle and Alison Moorer, Robert Earl Keen, and Elvis Costello, who played two charity shows on the second night of HSB. “It was, ‘Yes, and by the way, we have Elvis Costello coming in. Try to get this done for us,’” Graves says with a laugh. They got it done.

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