Brown Derby Jazz Revue Features Live Jazz in Bronzeville Every Thursday Night and Promotes Local Talent
The 51st Street Business Association is focused on the Good New Days to Come and have jumped- started their plans to become an Entertainment and Culinary District in Bronzeville. Every Thursday Night a Live Jazz Event called the Brown Derby Jazz Revue hosted by the Heritage Entertainment Preservation Project is attracting more and more audiences to the area. The Project pays tribute to Bronzeville’s legendary past when clubs like the Brown Derby, formerly located on 51st Street, were frequented destinations to patrons seeking good food and live entertainment. The 51st Street Business Association’s executive director, Sandra Bivens says that the most important lesson to learn from “back in the day” is how to work with what you have. One of the Association’s members is the International Benevolent Order of Elks, Lodge #43 at 51st and Prairie Avenue. Lodge manager, Robert Jackson offered a collaborative partnership by providing a unique venue at the end of a long hallway, known to Elks members as the King Tut Room. The Association found it reminiscent of a speakeasy setting and on Thursday night, the stage is set with tablecloths and candles and a $5.00 Dinner Buffet that makes the spot the place to stay for the after work set. Jackson also has a culinary degree and the menu is Chef’s choice.
The big attraction is the entertainment, since opening in May, international jazz vocalist Maggie Brown has signed on for the 3rd Thursday of the Month. Mistress of Ceremonies and Jazz song stylist Alexis (aka Sandra Bivens) and The Vision Band featuring Roger Weaver (piano0, Keith Austin (drums) and James Thornton (guitar) are a seasoned house band. Local artists know these talented musicians and enjoy sitting in with this trio or staying after the second show for the popular jam session.
Local favorites like Senabella, Kelli Rich, Tracee Adams (Blues) and Marcus Gentry have also become regular featured artists on the monthly calendar. The weekly New Talent Spotlight reflects the goals of the Heritage Entertainment Preservation Project. In the spotlight are two new young women artists who have emerged and are requested to perform by the audience whenever they are in the house. Drummer and Percussionist Taylor Moore, a recent graduate from the University of Illinois (Champaign) and Loretta Love, a German vocalist who refers to her style as “rare funk & soul”. Love recently moved to Chicago convinced that the city’s musical heritage makes it the place to launch her career.
Quarterly, the Brown Derby Jazz Revue will host a jazz showcase of all its artists and new talent and offer a promotional CD of the show to help promote the development of the Entertainment and Culinary District. Development is underway for a dining destination called Bronzeville Cookin’ that will also be located at 51st and Prairie Ave, featuring 3 new restaurants and fresh foods that offer healthier eating options. Bronzeville Cookin’ will be located in a beautifully white terra cotta corner building and has been allotted TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to support its retrofit. These original building structures are unique to Bronzeville’s architecture and built environment and are a key component towards Preserving Heritage Entertainment. The 51st Street Business Association is working with local Alderman Pat Dowell of the 3rd Ward to design a Special Service Area that will include façade improvements, new streetscape designs and smart energy efficient lighting that utilizes solar panels.