7 Mile House, with an iconic and historical landmark in Brisbane, California, has seen the gangs, the violence, the sports, the gambling and the generations of jazz musicians for 160 years.
Every Sunday night at 7 Mile House, the band Dog House Jazz Jam rocks the floorboards with sounds of post-bop jazz from the 1950s and ‘60s. Andrew Speight, an SF State professor of music, plays the saxophone for this group and displays his talents that have accumulated for 40 years.
“I’ve been playing here at 7 Mile House for about five years now,” Speight said. “They have great food, great service, and I always look forward to meeting new musicians within this restaurant.”
As a the instruments quiet down to silence, Speight comes to center stage for one of his many saxophone solos. Heads turn and televisions mute as Speight lays down rift after rift to coincide with the soft beat of top hats and snare drums in complete unison.
“Playing alongside that guy is like dancing with a chainsaw,” said Vince Lateano, long time drummer of the Dog House Jazz Jam. “It has always been that way since we began playing together.”
Speight was born in Sydney, Australia and began playing the saxophone around eight years old. He crossed over to the United States at the age of 21 and has called San Francisco his home for 27 years.
“I’ve been coming to this restaurant every Sunday since I moved here from Louisiana and love the music,” said Kristopher Reeves, new Brisbane, CA resident. “They’re always on point with the sets and I get to see new musicians perform all the time.”
After 17 years of teaching jazz under his belt and leading a Coltrane seminar at SF State, Speight can’t imagine a life without a friendly saxophone in his hands and a community a fellow performers by his side.
“I didn’t really choose the saxophone. The saxophone chose me,” Speight said. “Being here at 7 Mile House with other musicians coming and going helps me to adapt with new sounds and how I want to play with certain instruments.”
Speight encourages students and graduates to come out to 7 Mile House on the second Tuesday of every month where they can play in front of the live crowd.People take turn to play their instruments on stage and jam out with new musicians who all want to improve their musical skill.
“My advice for upcoming musicians from our campus who would like to get their talents recognized is just to come down to 7 Mile and listen,” Speight said. “Everyone here who plays up front is extremely supportive and wants all the future musicians of this city to just get better and enjoy themselves.”