| SPOTLIGHT ON THE PERFORMER: Roland Gass (right) and Negara at Airplay Cafe. |
IMAGE: Anna Ottum
OPEN AIR: Striding into the Airplay Cafe (701 E Burnside St., 808-7908) at just a shade past 10 pm, I knew something was wrong. The jazz show scheduled for the night was long over, and though the place was pretty deserted, the blame lies squarely on my shoulders for showing up, well, aimlessly late. Still, plenty to take in: Airplay hosts a wide, open space, dotted with wood tables, blindingly white leather-back chairs and a huge orange beanbag—it’s like space-age California in there. Despite the Saturday-night lull, the cafe offers something few venues in the city can match—a beautiful, pristine sound system (owner Andy Simon is a musician and obviously quite the audiophile) and a warm, welcoming space conducive to family gatherings or a quick catch-up with old friends. We grabbed pints of Full Sail Amber Ale ($4) and a cup of coffee ($1.35) and talked about returning sometime for breakfast cereal ($3) and “Open Tike”—a pun that, despite the odd spelling, is really what it sounds like: an open mic for children of all ages (the Airplay Cafe is, if you couldn’t tell, exceedingly family-friendly). Aiming to emulate the coffeehouses of the ’70s—when the spotlight was placed on the performer and atmosphere instead of booze and chatty, pretentious patrons—Airplay could find a sizable niche in this city. Just make sure you get there on time. .