Jazz Noir

Spring                                                                                       Planting Moon

And some rain.  Ta dah!

The Hamm Building in downtown St. Paul anchors a vibrant outdoor cafe scene.  A week ago today the snowplows would have been roaming St. Peter, tonight young couples sat at tables, drank beer, ate, talked.  The energy was good.

The Artist’s Quarter formerly of 26th and Stevens in Minneapolis, formerly of Lowertown St. Paul, is now in the basement of the Hamm Building.  A room light on decor, with lots of black it feels like a jazz joint.

The play tonight, the radio drama, broadcast live over KBEM to what is now its international audience, was a period piece set in 1929 just before and just after the crash, most of the play taking place in a boarding house run by Avon Davis and her Dad.  On Rondo Avenue, now under Highway 94.

It didn’t shy away from identifying Avon’s grandparents as former slaves or the pride Avon’s father had in owning and operating his own business.

Avon was a budding talent on the jazz piano, encouraged by a novelist and week by week resident of the boarding house who had been working on his novel for 17 years and now needed J. Beam to achieve the mood to write.

It was fun.  The audience had a part.  When the applause sign lit up, we shouted or spoke lines from one of two colored handouts.  “That’s hot.”  “She sure can play that thing.”  “Oh, baby.”

The place had all chairs and tables filled and it felt like the start of something, something uniquely Minnesota, yet going out to the nation and the world.

 

 

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