Last Night: Jazz Jam at Churchill's


When I pulled up to Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., a police patrol car was parked out in front. The lights were on and two officers were talking to a young man. What a lovely way to start a night of jazz music.

As me and my friends walked into the pub, the sounds of old-school jazz filled the room. No one seemed interested in listening to a single note. People were carrying on and having their own conversations. The DJ continued to play old tracks but no one roused from their seats.

It can’t stay this dull, I thought. Luckily, it didn’t.

A group of musicians took the stage, and people shifted in their chairs and bar stools to get a better view of the action. After an initial warm up session they started playing a song and a hush settled over the audience. People tapped their feet, some clapped silently, but the sounds were barely audible. Everyone was enthralled with the music being played.

At the end of each song people clapped excitedly, and quieted as the artists started playing their music again.

“There are no rules [for the musicians] here,” said Mike Wood, the man who runs the Monday night jam sessions at Churchill’s. Wood is a bassist himself and reserves the last set of the night.

This event began seven years ago with the donation of a piano, said Wood. The piano has since been retired, but it still gathers dust in a corner of the pub. As is true with most jam sessions, the artists all know what the others are playing and hop in at different intervals during a set, sometimes spontaneously.

An artist was painting to the sound of the music in a corner, almost as if he didn’t want to be seen by anybody.

As the artists continued to play, people started to flood the place. It was a huge crowd for a Monday night show, but I guess most of these folk were forsaking some sleep to enjoy a night of relaxing jazz in a care-free atmosphere.

Having visited Churchill’s for punk rock shows, the mood and feel of the place was eerily different, haunting. However, it was good to see that the beers and cigarettes still remained unchanged.

The show picked up after 10:00 p.m. and after leaving I had the feeling that the folks who frequent this have it right. Jazz may quite possibly be better than sleep.

“The last set is from 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. That’s not beyond your bed time is it?” said Mike Wood. -- Elvis Ramirez

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Tovin Lapan