As someone whose first – and one of very few – church experiences was a rural Mississippian Baptist revival, tongues-speaking and floor-writhings and all, I’m not one who habitually steps foot into a house of God. Tonight, though, I breathed deep and placed one foot in front of the other to head into St. Cyprian’s, a tiny, stained-glassy structure facing the USF campus.
St. Cyprian’s is a San Francisco kind of Jesus joint. And yeah, there’s a (small) crucifix at the altar, as well as pews and scripture. There’s also, on occasion, it turns out, beer in the basement, cookies in the corners, and a musical legend at the altar. Not only did I see Ramblin’ Jack Elliot tonight, maybe one of the oldest ex-buskers alive (the yodeling octegenarian, previously a rodeo cowboy who roadtripped with Woody Guthrie across the U.S. and is known for his neverending stories on various unrelated subjects), I got slowly drunk while doing so, nursing multiple beers so kindly provided for a minimal fee by a nice church lady. I was one of very few young people in attendance. This meant getting to hang out with guilty middle-aged smokers outside during intermission.
Cyprian’s, as they call it, is becoming a real-deal music venue, playing host to Grammy winners and small local acts alike. A big ol’ bluegrass festival is on the horizon, more strictly than hardly, from what I can tell. Keep an eye out. Instant friends abound, as does good, cheap beer.
2097 Turk St.
Photo from St. Cyprians