Web Christman opened Geno’s Empty Foxhole on Christmas Day 1970 in the basement of the parish hall of St. Mary’s Church, Hamilton Village, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The name came from the title of an Ornette Coleman album.
The small space played host to the Sun Ra and his Arkestra, Rufus Harley, Charles Mingus, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Cecil Taylor, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, among others.
Larry Robin, director of Moonstone Arts Center, shared that he took his now-wife Sandy here on their first date. It was Christmas 1976; Betty Carter was performing. In a 2005 interview with the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences’ West Philadelphia Music Project, Christman recalled:
No, just, um my amazement at the hugeness of the crowd for Sun Ra, and later for Rufus Harley those are the two nights when the, there’s a little courtyard and then there’s the Parish hole and then there’s Irving Street which is one of those alley type streets that Philadelphia people were lined up all the way down Irving Street all the way to 40th street waiting to get in.