Losing our religion: The Lost Church says farewell — for now

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Brad Barton onstage at The Lost Church.

With all the tears shed and (Internet) ink spilled bemoaning the death of the Mission District at the hands of the tech bubble, it's easy to forget lately that there actually are still artists here. There are people who give a shit about community here — even people who've dedicated their lives to building it.

Brett and Elizabeth Cline, who own the homey, intimate, lovingly decorated, and lovingly weird music venue/performance space The Lost Church, are two of those people. The couple (a longtime stage tech veteran and seamstress, respectively, who also play in the band Juanita and the Rabbit together) live behind the space, so it really makes perfect sense that it feels like someone's very cool living room — a living room where Jonathan Richman and Sonny Smith sometimes drop by to play shows, and cheeky, demon- and Rolling Stones-inspired musical theater takes over at Christmas.)

Long story short: The place, housed in a delightfully unusual and storied David Ireland-designed building featuring windows intended for moon-viewing, is a gem. And now it's trying to go legit. After a series of benefit shows starting tonight [Wed/28] through Saturday the 31st, the venue will close for renevations to expand the performance area and current 50-person, folding chair seating space into an additional 600 square feet on the building's ground floor. The goal is to add an ADA-approved bathroom and entrance, as well as a kitchen for food service and an official ABC license, so, you know, that cold beer in your hand as you watch the sweetest, funkiest multi-media folk/punk/theatrical act you've ever seen will also be legit.

No official word on how long the venue will be closed, but the Clines are asking for any help they can get — ahem, passing the hat, if you will. You don't even have to put on your Sunday best.