Tim Roberts

Jazzin'
By Tim Roberts

One more example of why it's important to get young people connected with professional live music:

I received an email from a parent last month asking if I knew of any places in town, other than bars or lounges, where her underaged son could hear jazz. This was pleasantly surprising because a) it's good to hear about a young person interested in live music, especially jazz, and b) I've never been asked for advice from a parent before.

She said that her son is an Aebersold jazz camp veteran who has just graduated high school and is heading to college to work toward a music degree. Clearly he's not some kid who is looking for more places to hang out on weeknights before he goes away to school. He is interested in live jazz.

I responded with a short list of places I knew where he wouldn't be hook-fingered by a bouncer or a bartender and asked for his ID. It included Highland Coffee Company (where the Etrio are regulars), Clifton's Pizza (which has had jazz on a few Sunday nights), select nights at Twice Told, and, of course, jazz ensemble recitals at the Bellarmine or U of L music schools (where not much will be going on until the fall semester). I didn't mention the few restaurants in town that have jazz during Sunday brunch. I figured the young man wanted to hear music, not music underneath breakfast conversation and the sound of people clinking their silverware and shoveling scrambled eggs into their mouths.

The mother's question led me to consider how fortunate I am to be over the age when somebody can legally sell me a beer. Notice I didn't say drinking age. I spent the years immediately before I turned 21 filling my gut with most of the beer I've ever drunk in my entire life. But I can walk into Headliner's Music Hall, the Rudyard Kipling, Phoenix Hill Tavern, or any venue in the city to hear jazz when it's available without having to sweat an ID check. Yet there are teenagers who are devoutly serious about the music who play it, read it and even write it who can't get into many of the places where they could, most likely, hear the best of it performed. There are laws that say they can't, and club operators must follow those laws right to the serif points of each letter in each word on every page.

Is the solution more clubs or places to hear music? No, the city is already entertainment-saturated. Resurrect the concept of teen-clubs and occasionally have a jazz night with three or four Louisville acts? Possibly, but who will step up to create one (and how, prithee, will it make money?). Let underage people attend a show in a club but charge them more at the door to make up for the liquor that can't be sold to them? Absolutely not! It's a form of age discrimination (and I understand one venue has already done that with a show featuring a slate of acid-metal acts). Yes, liquor is expensive. Yes, it can help make a profit. And, yes, if kids want to hear the kind of music you have, whether it's jazz, metal, or straight-up rock, they will pack your venue and more than make up for the booze you don't sell.

Again, no easy solution's in sight. The young man will eventually find the professional entertainment he seeks. And by the time he finishes college, he'll be able to make his own.

Upcoming summer jazz festivals give all ages a change to hear some live music. The first of the season happens on Friday and Saturday, July 7 and 8: The third annual Louisville Blues-n-Jazz Festival at the Water Tower on Zorn Avenue. This year blues acts have been added to a festival that was once exclusively for jazz. The combination is still a nice fit. On Friday the Jerry Tolson Quintet opens the music portion at 6 p.m., then Tanita Gaines & The Accused take the stage at 9 p.m.. The Ron Jones Quartet comes on at 5 p.m. on Saturday, followed by Susan O'Neil and the Blues Hounds at 7 p.m., then Lamont Gillispie & the 100 Proof Blues Band finish the evening at 9:30.

Gates to the festival open 5 p.m. on Friday and at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $5. before 6 p.m. and $8 afterward. Kids under 10 get in free. Bring lawn chairs and blankets, but no cans, coolers, bottles, or carry-in food. The festival will have plenty for you to eat and drink. There will also be an amusement area for the kids.

The festival is part of the Brown and Williamson Water Tower Music Series.

"Jazzin'" columnist Tim Roberts has a delusion that he's caused more clubs in the city to lose money on booze, but that Canada Dry's sales are the best in the nation. He invites you to send your jazz-related dispatches to tim@troberts.win.net, or to his attention to the editorial offices of Louisville Music News