San Diego may have lost two concert venues recently, but hip-hop and reggae fans have a newish haunt to scope out: Headquarters Cafe, a coffeehouse at 5841 El Cajon Blvd. in the College Area.
With a laid-back, left-wing vibe, the modest-sized café has comfy couches, organic coffee, hookahs and vegetarian paninis named after revolutionaries and artists like Che Guevara and Frida Kahlo. Since opening in August, it's host a handful of shows a month, mostly featuring hip-hop and reggae acts.
Owners Pearl Ayon and Wayne Scherer say they're starting a weekly schedule of events in early February, with an open-mic on Thursdays, hip-hop and reggae on Fridays and R&B on Saturdays, with spoken-word events mixed in. They plan to eventually get a license to sell beer and wine.
The space has a simple sound system and a folding stage. Lately, producers Beatsmith Resist and Aki Kharmicel have put on shows for a DJ / producer series called "The Beat Bombardment." Rappers Odessa Kane, Black Mikey and Aki Kharmicel will play a benefit show for an orphanage in Tijuana on Friday, Jan. 25.
Scherer and Ayon say they want to build a hub for activists, musicians and other progressives.
"The French Revolution manifested out of a café," Scherer says. "This is our way to get out that energy, you know? Contribute, and hopefully make a living at it."