Jackie Jones has been a Saturday fixture at Bernal’s own Alemany Farmer’s Market for as long as I can remember, entertaining foodies — and their kids — with her charming musical act. She was at Alemany last weekend, and — the passage of time being what it is — I confess that each time I see her I always fear it may be the last. She is a Bernal Heights treasure.
Jackie’s instruments include a washboard guitar, a hand saw she plays like a fiddle, and a battered boombox she uses to DJ her backbeats via well-worn cassette tapes. Best of all, however, is Jackie’s feline sidekick — a dancing wooden controlled by a foot pedal.
Now more than 80 years old, Jackie was featured in a 2005 article in the San Francisco Chronicle that described at her musical repertoire:
Since she arrived in San Francisco in March 1952 from New Orleans Jones has played music continuously in dance bands bar bands Latin bands Russian bands stage bands gay bands Hawaiian bands country bands and even with the legendary Cockettes. She’s played at county fairs and strip shows and everywhere in between.
Of course, the only way to really experience Jackie Jones is to see her in action. But if it’s been a little while since you last visited the Alemany Farmer’s Market — San Francisco’s very best, as we all know — this short video may refresh your memory. The really fun stuff starts at around 0:55, when Jackie makes her hand saw sing:
PHOTO: Top, Jackie Jones on July 30, 2011, by Telstar Logistics