Comfortable, friendly Jazzy Blues seems more like a pub than a club

ON NIGHTLIFE

New Jazzy Blues has a pub, not club, feel

December 21, 2006|By SAM SESSA

Add another name to Baltimore's long list of offbeat bars.

The Jazzy Blues Club, a new corner nightspot in Upper Fells Point, is hard to pin down.

The place is actually more pub than club -- there's not much room for lounging, but it does have a long bar, video poker machines and a large TV. The overhead sign hanging out front has the club's name and a picture of a saxophone churning out notes, which is kind of misleading, considering the bar has no live music.

Instead of live bands, the South Ann Street club has a fantastic surround sound system, which played (surprise!) crisp, rich jazz and blues. Last week, the tunes were kept at just the right level, so the handful of people inside could hear each other without hollering. The music transitioned smoothly from a jazz guitar solo to a blues tune and gave the place a laid-back feel.

The service was also impressive. The bartender shook my hand and introduced himself right off the bat. There were unfortunately no beers on tap, but plenty of bottles available. I ordered a Sam Adams, which came to a decent $4.

Posters of jazz greats and framed records dotted the walls. John Coltrane and Barry White were both part of the decor. Though the new-looking video poker machines were tacky, the place was clean, and the patrons were friendly. I spent a good 15 minutes talking sports on and off with another guy there last week.

Like most corner bars, the club is long and fairly narrow. If you walk past the bar and down a hallway, you wind up in a room with a deli feel to it. Last week, the lights were a little brighter back there, an old piano was in one corner and a few people sat at the counter by the far wall. The space smelled like mustard and processed food. Behind the counter, a man was taking orders.

"The specials tonight are meatballs and hot dogs!" the guy behind the counter said.

It was surreal. I felt lost -- as though I'd walked into a different club altogether. Hot dogs and meatballs? Though tempted, I didn't try the food.

While it's not too far from busier streets like Eastern Avenue, the Jazzy Blues Club might benefit from a better location. I went on a Thursday night, and parking was hard to find. After circling the block a few times, I settled for a spot two blocks south on Eastern.

But then while walking up to the bar, I noticed a small dry erase board sign in the window that said "Valet Parking $5." Frustration! I don't know whether I would have shelled out $5, but it's nice to have the option. I wasted a solid 10-15 minutes looking for closer parking -- on a Thursday night no less.

The club's Web site says it aims to attract a middle-age crowd, but it also says it's in "Falls Pointe." I'm not sure what to believe. Either way, the club is within walking distance of the Timothy Dean Bistro and the Fell's Point Corner Theatre. If it can consistently lure some of the theater's or Dean's patrons up Ann Street, it could become a regular nightlife destination. The service is solid and the club comfortable enough to deserve it.

The Jazzy Blues Club is at 301 S. Ann St., at the corner of Gough Street. Call 410-327-8098 or go to jazzybluesclub.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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