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Hanna Rifkin & The Handsomes: SoMa’s Favorite Jazz Cats

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The Performer You Should Know series highlights local artists before they perform something awesome, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep San Francisco a strange and wonderful place.

All Photography by @Vita Hewitt Photography

Every now and again you need to see good jazz music in a low-lit bar, to remind you of why you live in a city and how good live music makes you feel.  Live jazz vocals and cocktails are as American as whole milk and apple pie, but twice as fun.  And SF’s jazz scene, despite a pandemic, is actually still pretty fucking cool.  Local artists are what have kept this city from becoming one large, boring tech conference, and in SoMa (ground zero for tech flight) the Driftwood each month hosts Hanna and Handsomes while they play jazz/blues originals, classics, and keep it old-school, cozy, fun, and remind us of what made SF a dope place to live, and explore.

So meet Hanna Rifkin and her handsomes, performers you should know…

Performers:  Hanna Rifkin & The Handsomes

Artist Site:

The Handsomes perform 70% jazz, 30% mixed and 1% standup comedy- all done with extra grit

All Photography by The exceptional Vita Hewitt

BAS.COM: How would you describe your music, and who are some bay area musicians (s) you think people should be listening to?

HANNA: It can be humorous, emotional, and it keeps you on your toes.  We like to take space in a song, as well as work a good crescendo — it depends on the song and what it asks for.

You’re a Bay native, what were your first jobs in SF?  

My first jobs in SF were: a Peachy Puff, telemarketer for the SF Symphony, selling wine over the phone, selling foreign currency services to CFOs, selling olive oil, actress for The Go Game, waitressing, catering, selling vegetable boxes, I made a terrible temp, and maybe some others.

Drums – John Lakian

What’s your favorite venue to play?

Driftwood on 8th / Folsom.  The owner Chris is a genuinely good person, the lighting is flattering, and the cocktails are creative and taste good. It’s the kind of place you can show up alone, and have a new friend by the end of the night.

Upright Bass – Thomas Edler

Who are the handsomes?  And which one is your favorite?

The Handsomes are the handsome and talented men who play music in Hanna Rifkin & The Handsomes.  They are: Jeff Hobbs – saxophones and violin, Mark Ignatius – guitar, Thomas Edler – upright bass and John Lakian – drums. They are all God’s children and so they are all my favorite.

Violin & Saxaphones – Jeff Hobbs

Is heroin still a big jazz drug?  Or is that just a stereotype from the 1930’s? 

I like food too much to get into that stuff.

Guitar – Mark Ignatius

Write any new songs lately?

Started one about my dog, Bindi.  My fiance and I adopted her unplanned this year. She’s so wonderful, and distracts me from finishing many tasks, like finishing songs.  I didn’t just get a dog so I could blame things on her.

Any Jazz happening in the Bay this winter you think people should know about?  Where do jazz musicians go see jazz?

The Rite Spot on 17th/Folsom and Mr. Tipples on Fell near the Civic Center, Club Deluxe in the Haight (reopens this winter),  Black Cat Jazz Supper Club is a classy joint, there’s the SFJazzCenter of course too.

There is so much talent in the Bay Area.  I’d recommend seeing anything with any of these musician’s names in it:
Katy Stephan, Patrick Wolf, Daniel Fabricant, Karina Denike, Vic Wong, Rolf Wilkinson, Safa Shokrai, Dave Ricketts, Adam Kubota

What’s coming up next for you? 

Hanna Rifkin and the Handsomes play one Wednesday per month at Driftwood on Folsom/8th Street, and they play there monthly, don’t be a stranger.

Next show
Wednesday, November 9th, 8 – 10 pm
1225 Folsom St. at 8th
San Francisco, CA 94103

Free Show

 Hanna Rifkin & The Handsomes:
  • Violin & Saxaphones – Jeff Hobbs
  • Guitar – Mark Ignatius
  • Upright Bass – Thomas Edler
  • Drums – John Lakian
  • Vocals – Hanna Rifkin
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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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