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Somethin' Live combines jazz with atmosphere

Somethin' Live combines jazz with atmosphere

Although Somethin’ Live is located in Printer’s Alley, the mood and atmosphere in Nashville’s newest jazz club hearkens back to such celebrated nightspots as Small’s Paradise in New York City or the Lighthouse in Hermoso Beach, Calif. Portraits of jazz greats line the walls, flanked by old 7- and 12-inch records. As they listen to live jazz and blues from such local groups as the Richard Griffin Quartet and Keith Floyd and Friends, patrons relax, mingle, and chat.

Somethin’ Live has only been in operation since November, but it has already attracted a sizable reputation. Combining fine jazz and urban music with a comfortable atmosphere, the club provides adult professionals with an entertainment alternative that previously hadn’t been available, especially in the downtown area.

“We’ve patterned ourselves after some of the classic jazz and entertainment clubs in other cities,” says Melonie Kennedy, assistant to the club’s general manager. “We wanted to make going out for the evening something special again, the way it used to be. We’re featuring the kind of live entertainment and concerts that will attract a clientele that has been ignored too often.”

In addition to live jazz, blues, and old-school R&B, Kennedy points out, the club also features a number of special events. These attractions include a weekly Tuesday-afternoon affair called “Rush Hour Blues” that begins at 4 p.m. and is designed to attract commuters who want to avoid getting entangled in traffic jams. “This concept came about because we watched people rushing out of work and then having to sit in traffic for two hours trying to get home. We wanted to give them something to do besides just sitting in their car and getting angry. They come here, listen to blues, watch videos, and just interact and relax before they head home.”

Both the Tuesday event and Friday’s Happy Hour are free—and both offer culinary delights in addition to musical ones. Somethin’ Live is housed in the former Captain’s Table, and the current operators are fully utilizing the building’s kitchen resources, offering fried chicken, catfish, and spaghetti during their functions. There’s also a monthly “Apollo Night” competition that’s modeled after the Harlem club’s legendary talent shows. Contestants audition to win a spot on the show, which takes place the first Thursday of every month.

Somethin’ Live is owned by former Vanderbilt and current Miami Dolphins football star Corey Harris. It’s currently the only club in Printer’s Alley owned by an African American, and manager Cheryl Grant emphasizes that all Nashvillians who enjoy contemporary jazz, blues, and vintage R&B are welcome. “We’re offering many things that we think aren’t available at any other place in Nashville, especially in regards to music and entertainment. We try to poll our customers often to see what kind of groups and performers they’d like to see.”

Past Somethin’ Live concerts have spotlighted charismatic urban and soul vocalist Howard Hewitt and the exciting singer and guitarist Jonathan Butler, whose two shows attracted overflow crowds. The club holds concerts in a special room that can hold up to 350 people. The next concert will feature a rescheduled date with urban and smooth-jazz vocalist Miki Howard, who performs 7 and 9 p.m. May 24.

Another of the club’s newest attractions is a monthly “Men’s Night,” which reverses the popular “Ladies’ Night” concept. “I think we’re the first club in town that’s held a Men’s Night,” Kennedy says. “It’s just the same as Ladies’ Night: Men get in free, they get two-for-one drinks, and they can get women to buy them a drink. We did our first one on May 1, and the response was overwhelming.” Most Thursday nights, the club holds comedy-night specials, patterning the evening after HBO’s Def Comedy Jam program; “Big Daddy” Fisk is the host.

The club’s dress code is “business casual” most of the time, although no denim wear is allowed. Occasional special events require formal or semi-formal attire, but for the most part customers are encouraged to come dressed as they would for work or for dining out.

Though it has only been up and running a few months, Somethin’ Live has already made a considerable impact on the Nashville entertainment community. Those whose tastes run counter to rock, country, or dance music now have a viable option for dining and music—and another reason to visit downtown at night.

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