Tuesday, November 10, 2009
What Will We Tell the Children??
Tula's has been around for a long time. For jazz clubs, surviving more than, say, two years is a remarkable achievement. But Tula's has been around for at least 15 years, so they must be doing something right. Speaking of that, do any of you longtime Belltowners remember their belly dance nights? They were a wild Thursday night institution for something like five years. Seattle's favorite jazz drummer once told me that belly dance night was how they paid their bills, so they could take a loss on the other six nights of jazz. For one reason or another, belly dance night came to a close. It was replaced by the Hawaiian revue. It didn't last long for a number of reasons. Let's see...the stage was too small for the hulking grass-skirt-wearing guys in the show (it's also too small for most of the bands that play there, too), it was way too loud (I could hear everything quite clearly at my place nearly a block away, even with their doors and my windows closed), and the show involved a lot of fire. So yeah, it didn't last very long. But while it was there, it was kind of cool to see these large guys in grass skirts out front smoking and practicing their fire twirling. Since then, it's been a full-on jazz club. Heck, I had my very first live gig there. It was a student show organized by my sainted teacher, saxophone legend, Don Lanphere. It was in 1999. I was terrified. I nervously waited around till one in the morning to play "Just Squeeze Me" with a rhythm section that just wanted to go home. I survived, but just barely. A short time later I was back with the Seattle Central big band. I think I mentioned that Tula's stage is small - even if you're playing with a quartet. Well, just imagine fitting 17 people up there. It was madness. Every gig, the whole night long, trombone slides would be shooting past both ears. After a while, I got used to it. And a while after that, I left the band. I always wanted to play at Tula's with my own small group, but that hasn't happened yet. First of all, I need to organize a small group and then we need to rehearse a lot. Those two things aren't happening any time soon, because 1. I hate to organize jazz bands when there are zero gigs on the horizon, and 2. jazz musicians, including myself, hate to rehearse. Oh well, if Tula's has managed to keep its doors open for 15 years, it can go another 15. Maybe by then I'll have my act together - complete with extra-bad jokes for between-tune banter. Of course, I'm just assuming that Tula's will always be a jazz club. Something I saw today gave me pause to ponder, though. Observe:
Yeah, a punk show at Tula's. Sacrilege! What's next in topsy-turvy world, the Julliard Quartet at the Crocodile? Actually, I have absolutely no problem with them doing punk shows there; it's just that it's such a small venue for that kind of young person's music. Certainly, if they're unpopular punk bands, then the problem solves itself. It'll be slow - just like any one of a thousand jazz nights they've had in the past. Only the haircuts will be different. But maybe it will be packed.
If you're feeling so inclined, go to this show and tell me how it is. I'm out of town on Friday, but I'd really like to hear about it. You only need three bucks to get in!