Oakland Bookstore Brightens Up, Brings Live Music and Comedy to Piedmont Ave

Piedmont Avenue is a cute little haven of shops, restaurants, boutiques and the occasional pop-up show. Perhaps there’s one thing the Ave is missing – more music and laughs. Well, at the beginning of February the long-time Piedmont bookshop, Owl & Company, had a quiet re-opening. We spoke with one of the new owners, Dot Amesbury (who bought the store with Walker Glenn and Angela Robles) about how we’ll see the space change, and what kinds of shows we should expect.

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“Opening a bookstore was never a dream exactly,” says Amesbury, who for years worked at another Oakland favorite, Walden Pond Bookstore. “I’ve always been a very avid reader and then suddenly, through various friends and coworkers this opportunity presented itself. The timing felt very kismet because I was looking for my next project, and a unique and successful bookstore ‘for sale’ doesn’t occur often.”

I ask if I’m allowed to climb the Beauty and the Beast-style library ladder. “Totally. People do it all the time!” she says as we look up to the books reaching the ceiling. The new owners are planning to clear those top couple of shelves, perhaps install some art, including commissions from local artists.

“I’m hoping to bring a brighter local feel to Owl and Company,” Amesbury says. “We’ll be focusing on local tarot card decks, local zines and local cards.” Over time, they plan to expand new inventory, to include sections like the Women’s Prize for Fiction, The Booker Prize, Nebula Prize winners. “And literally, to ‘brighten it’ up. More lamps!”

The charming little bookshop plans on bringing regular music and comedy shows to the space as well. “My interest in doing shows really comes from over a decade back,” says Amesbury. “A group of friends and I lived in the Berkeley flatlands and all had various art and musical interests. We would host bands to play in the basement, make flyers, put up artwork, record. It was kinda magical. And, lots of fun to connect all your favorite people.”

The Owl has a nice little outdoor patio space, but in the beginning they’ll be hosting their public events indoors. The book-lined walls make more for some great acoustics, there’s a grand curtain in the back that can draw and undraw as performers take the tiny stage, and apparently the massive desk in the back belonged to a former Vice President of the United States. Charmed, I’m sure.

The venue corner will host performers with small, quieter sets. Think jazz, folk, acoustic sets of various sorts. The first official Owl & Company show is March 13th, a comedy show hosted by Don’t Tell Comedy Oakland. Beginning in April, Owl and Company will also begin hosting a monthly comedy showcase called NiteOwl, in addition to local author readings.

Artists interested in performing should contact the owners and stay tuned for a mailing list to highlight upcoming events. Support your local everything and head on over to Owl & Co. Watch your step on that ladder but crawl on up and fetch yourself a book.

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Owl & Company
3941 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 788-5821

Written by Michelle Kicherer

Michelle Kicherer is a fiction writer and music journalist living in Oakland, CA. She writes for several Bay Area and national outlets. She enjoys long walks and her second novel is in the works. IG: @michellekicherer

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