As the weather continues to heat up, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen will be breaking the ice and resuming its annual outdoor music season. Starting with Nick Jaina on Apr. 8, Sophia’s will host shows on their outdoor balcony and continue booking until mid-October.
Located on 129 E St., Sophia’s has become a convenient destination for bands embarking on tours of the West Coast that pass through Davis on their way to San Francisco or Portland.
“Touring bands love to stop somewhere in between,” said Garrett Pierce, local musician and upcoming performer. “Though Sacramento has had some decent venues come and go, Davis has consistently been a great spot for musicians to land on their way through the West Coast.”
With ample playing-space and a welcoming attitude toward traveling musicians, Sophia’s has all but guaranteed an audience of loyal patrons.
“Often there are only a few major shows happening in a week, so people tend to bring more excitement and energy when they go out,” Pierce says. “Compared to a larger city where there could be several ‘must-see’ shows happening in one night, the audience (could) take bands for granted.”
This year will mark the fifth music season at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen since it opened in 1996 as the first Thai restaurant in Davis. While Sophia’s continues to showcase local musicians, it has garnered a wide range of performers from independent scenes and major labels as well.
“We get a lot of great bands here, and it’s likely a few of them this year will breakout and have some mainstream success,” said Sophia’s current owner and impresario Kevin Wan. “Some bigger names who’ve played here are Jackie Greene, Brett Dennen, The Dodos, Blind Pilot, Port O’Brien and The Morning Benders.”
Michael Leahy, founder and manager of Crossbill Records is among those eagerly anticipating the upcoming season. “I’m really looking forward to the opening night with Nick Jaina who has an incredible new record, some notables also on the schedule include Megafaun, Hillstomp, Dawes, Sallie Ford, Frank Fairfield.”
Other musical guests currently booked for the upcoming season include Garrett Pierce, Boca do Rio, Dawn Landes and Sea of Bees, among others.
Nick Jaina will be starting off the season on Apr. 8 and promoting the upcoming release of his new album, A Bird In The Opera House on HUSH Records. Reportedly written in thirds – one third written on a hill circled by a flock of red-tailed hawks, another third while snowed in a Portland cabin and the final while leaving a local Waffle House – the audience can expect Jaina to perform songs from his most conceptual album yet.
Julie Ann Bee, who bills herself as Sea of Bees, will also be promoting the release of Songs For the Ravens, set to be released on Mar. 26 from Crossbill Records. She’s a versatile singer and songwriter, often penning melodic and elegiac songs about heartbreak and longing, and ambition and joy. She leads a full band and will be headlining with labelmate Garrett Pierce on Apr. 9.
Still, part of the charm of Sophia’s commencing outdoor music nights is that it manages to maintain an informal balance between music and mood. It continues to provide a confined, yet accessible niche that attracts both music lovers and those simply seeking a low-key night out- without the strobe lights and rowdiness that come with many other college town bars.
Leahy said that even if the music isn’t the main attraction, the outdoor music season only adds to the present appeal.
“You can find a place to chill and talk, shake your ass and rub against a stranger or you can come and hang out on the deck and take in the music,” he said. “The acts are solid and it sounds good, plus the outdoor setting is unique.”
For more information and a complete listing of the scheduled performers for the upcoming music season, visit sophiasthaikitchen.com.
AMBER YAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.