2.21.2007

HR-57: Resolved to be DC's Jazz Outpost

by Caitlin Servilio

Usually when my friends and I go out, we end up going to a concert venue like the Black Cat or 9:30 Club, or to a dance club of some kind. I love to see rock shows and dance the night away (for more background, please see: "(Mis)Adventures in Ticketland"). Don’t get me wrong, but there are some downsides to this as well. For instance, the fact that most everybody else in the club is likely to be a scenester kid, scantily-dressed clubrat, or various varieties of creepster. At a dance club, the music is always the same hip hop/electronica, top-40 junk, and at a rock show you get to listen to the music, but the ambiance is often very unfriendly and impersonal.

That’s why we decided to try something new recently — HR-57, the jazz club in Logan Circle near Dupont (in Washington, D.C.).

As soon as we walked through the door, we could tell it was a completely different place from other clubs in the DC area. Warmly lit and bursting with conversation, the front area was filled with booths and tables, where people were relaxing with drinks and plates of food. Farther back and down the stairs was the concert area, filled with smaller round tables grouped in front of the stage.

There were an amazing variety of people there, too — we were probably the youngest in attendance, but everyone from younger professionals to sixty-year-olds were sitting around, bobbing their heads to the music. It was so crowded, in fact, that it took a while for a group of us to find seats, but when the club's founder, who was floating around, saw us craning our necks to see the band, he found us a table directly in front of the drummer. Nice guy.

The band was pretty tight. Pianist Eric Lewis took the stage first, playing along to a recording of Coldplay’s “Clocks,” but adding his own riffs and improvising as he played. Then his band joined him, playing more covers and original material. The highlight for me was an especially jazzy cover of Cream’s “White Room.” Lewis played not only a piano and a guitar but also a keytar — a new experience for me and one I greatly enjoyed.

We didn’t eat or drink anything while there, but according to The Washington Post, the food’s quite good. The Post also mentions that this club is undergoing a lot of financial difficulties* and needs the support of the community — so if you’re looking for a different, fun way to spend a Saturday night, I’d recommend you check it out.

*HR-57 bills itself as a non-profit institute to promote jazz and blues. The club's name comes from a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987, designating jazz as "a rare and valuable national American treasure."

(Photo by Jacreative of Charlotte, NC using a Creative Commons license via Flickr.)





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