Saturday, March 21, 2009
Baker's Keyboard Lounge
At 75 years old, Detroit's Baker's Keyboard Lounge is the oldest running jazz club in the world. It's small stage has seen the likes of Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Cab Calloway, John Coltrane, and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few. But just as the club is preparing to celebrate it's 75th anniversary, owner John Colbert has made it known that it's doors may soon be closing.
"The business has dropped considerably...by about 35-40% four nights out of the week," says Colbert. "Our cash reserve is down to keeping us open about 2 and a half months at most".
He acknowledges that Jazz's hey-day has passed, causing their clientele to diminish in the past decades. In an attempt to keep customers coming, the club expanded their event repertoire to include new genres. But opening a lunch and dinner restaurant at the club is what really kept the money coming in. Now that people are eating out less, Colbert believes the recession may put the final nail in his club's coffin.
The night after an article about Baker's dire situation came out in the Detroit Free Press, the club was crowded with people there to support it and take in the sounds of Gerard Gibbs (on keys below) and his band. Colbert hopes that as news of the club's situation spreads, help will find a way of arriving.
At the end of the night, a waiter tallies up bills on a piano in the corner.