Hotel Carlton’s daily wine reception is a longtime favorite with guests. Every evening, travelers from all over the world and all walks of life assemble in the colorful lobby of the San Francisco hotel to sip a glass or two, make conversation, and listen to live local music. But wine hour wasn’t always so lively.
Back in 2007, Theo McKinney, a dynamic front desk host who has been at the hotel since 1988, realized that something was missing from the daily gatherings. He created Snazz, an alter ego of sorts, who sang, played the keyboard, wore crazy costumes and took photos with hotel guests. Snazz served another purpose as well: helping McKinney overcome his stage fright.
“I wanted to be a musician since I was very small, and Hotel Carlton finally made it happen,” he says. “Snazz made me a musician. Eight years ago I didn’t think I could sing in front of people.”
Now he performs original songs regularly and is quick to extend the opportunity to other San Francisco musicians, offering them a space to perform and gain exposure. Over the years, Snazz grew a loyal following and evolved into Local Vocals, a show connecting guests with the vibrant soul of San Francisco by featuring rotating bands and musicians.
McKinney exudes hospitality and Local Vocals is a classic San Francisco scene: grassroots, colorful and a bit quirky. McKinney was even a finalist for a Hotel Heros Lifetime Achievement award.
“Doing something good for the artistic community is very powerful,” he says, echoing the ethos of Joie de Vivre hotels, a brand built around authentic local experiences. By fostering this daily celebration of music and culture Hotel Carlton has grown into a patron of the arts and continues to give back to the community.
McKinney dreams of building a library of original albums by local artists that will someday be the soundtrack of Hotel Carlton.
“This is why people come to San Francisco,” he says. “We’re reinvigorating a culture that has fallen asleep. Hotel Carlton welcomes travelers from all over the world and Local Vocals adds richness to the guest experience.”
Stay at Hotel Carlton to experience wine hour and see a Local Vocals show for yourself, nightly at 5:30pm in the lobby.