Roger Springall awoke this past Saturday to a missed call and strange voicemail, logged at 2:49am, from an unknown number. He was alarmed. He’d already learned of the deadly warehouse party fire in Oakland, which killed 36 late Friday night. “I have a 25-year-old son who lives in Oakland,” Springall says. His son is fine, but echoes of that initial fear are still rattling around in Springall’s head. “I’m still kind of freaked out by that.”
Springall says he worries about the same sort of disaster occurring in the South Bay. The Oakland warehouse, known as the Ghost Ship, was not zoned for residential use. However, early reports suggest many individuals lived on the premises.
As the owner of the Caffe Frascatti coffee shop in San Jose’s SoFA District, he knows and employs local artists. This is the exact demographic one might expect to find at an underground warehouse party—like the one that was just getting started at the Ghost Ship when a fire broke out and quickly tore through the building. “They’re all the same kids that are around here,” he says, gesturing to his cafe and the street outside.
That’s why Springall is hosting an impromptu benefit concert this Saturday. At the show, which will feature a number of local musicians—including Kurt Porter and Leslie Victoria, Cado, Christian Vela, Bird and Willow, Chris Reed, and Claymoon—Springall will be asking for collections to pass along to those directly affected by the Ghost Ship fire. He will give all money collected to a relief fund set up by Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Frascatti regular Sara Cole rents a space at The Citadel, a local warehouse that has been converted to an artist workspace. Cole says she feels very safe at The Citadel and insists that she no longer knows of anyone living at the studio complex—though some have in the past.
Springall’s daughter, Caroline, says she’s known people who’ve lived at The Citadel—or other places like it—illegally. The building is only approved for use as a workspace and is not designed to be lived in, as it lacks the amenities that even a single-room occupancy hotel might have, like multiple bathrooms and showers. As long as rents remain as high as they are in the South Bay, people will live in places like The Citadel, she says. “Things are so expensive. I can totally see how a living situation like that would happen.”
Ghost Ship Benefit Concert
Dec 10, 8pm, Free
Caffe Frascatti, San Jose