From a house on Adeline Street in West Oakland, nestled between a liquor store and an empty lot, the sound of live music spills out into the street. In the backyard, people of all ages gather around, sitting on chairs, benches, and blankets, jamming to the sounds of the Oakland Jazz Funk Project.

It’s another Friday night at the Tiny Garage Concert Series.

Anyone can attend the concerts, which are held on the third Friday of every month and always feature local musicians. There’s a minimum $5 donation that goes towards paying the musicians and providing free beer and snacks, which are available all night. The music starts at 7 p.m. and ends promptly at 10 p.m., early enough to not disturb neighbors and be a first stop for those who want to keep the party going elsewhere.

The Town Cycles
Oakland Jazz Funk Project performed at this month’s Tiny Garage Concert Series. Credit: Amir Aziz
The Town Cycles
Past supporters, neighbors, and newcomers gather at the monthly series in West Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

Tiny Garage started in August 2017 when husband and wife duo David Boone and Maddie Orenstein wanted to find a way to build community in the North Oakland neighborhood where they lived and where Boone had his bicycle shop, Towne Cycles

“Maddie said, ‘Your bike shop is a community space; you need to figure out a way to intentionally invite people in,'” Boone told the crowd last Friday night, recounting how the series came to be.

The couple decided that live music was the way to go, and Boone began reaching out to musician friends who might want to perform inside the bike shop’s small garage. The first six months went “ok,” he said, but as word spread, the monthly series began to take off. Tiny Garage became a space where up-and-coming musicians could play, and neighbors and friends could mingle.

As the series grew, other people wanted to get involved. Paula Junn has been a fan since attending her first Tiny Garage show in 2018. Later that year, in December, Boone and Orenstein allowed Junn to host a storytelling show in the space. 

“Maddie remembered me. She’s warm and welcoming and makes you feel right at home,” Junn said. “I love Tiny Garage and the magic it brings. After every show, the vibes are high, and I can’t wait for the next month.”

Junn now spearheads the logistics for every show, procuring some of the performers and handling the Tiny Garage Instagram account.

“Paula is our secret weapon,” Orenstein said. “We have a new baby, and Paula keeps us organized.”

The Town Cycles
From left to right: Paula Junn, David Boone, and Maddie Orenstein. Credit: Amir Aziz

In early 2020, Tiny Garage had already scheduled a list of performers, but the pandemic happened. The team paused the concerts that March.

Then, in January 2022, Boone and Orenstein and their baby Ky moved to West Oakland. The couple had searched endlessly for a fixer-upper that could accommodate both their growing family and the bike shop.

“We had the opportunity to buy this place,” Boone said, a move that made their life in Oakland “more permanent, and just more viable.”

After a year of remodeling and making the new place their own, the couple wanted to revive the magic that was Tiny Garage, but there was one problem: their new home didn’t have a garage. 

“We couldn’t see the vision for it. We were also still mourning the loss of the old space, and giving [the concert series] up was the hardest thing to do,” Boone said. “We had built it up to a point where it felt like a peak experience every month.”

Besides not having a garage where bands could play, Orenstein and Boone felt strongly that restarting the series would also require first getting to know many of their longtime neighbors who call West Oakland home.

“We wanted to take some time for Dave to build up the shop here and for people to understand what we’re doing,” Orenstein said. “And for neighbors who have lived around here forever to come into the shop and feel like it was a home for them to bring their bikes. That felt important to do first.”

The Town Cycles
Attendees jamming at the last Tiny Garage Concert Series. Credit: Amir Aziz

This past March, the couple held their first concert at their new home. Past supporters and newcomers from the neighborhood have welcomed back the monthly series—although some do have questions about the name.

“It’s a hard name to give up because it spoke so accurately to the experience and what we were trying to cultivate in the last space,” Boone said. “There was a sense that it had been happening forever.”

Although the Tiny Garage concerts no longer take place in a literal garage, the essence of the series—building community and giving musicians a much-needed space to play—is still there. 

“We’re not trying to do anything cool,” Orenstein said. “We want people to feel included and like they can come to dance.” 

Correction: The name of the bike shop was misspelled, and so was the name of Boone and Orenstein’s baby.

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.