The sound of jazz fades in Duluth

Jazz, the uniquely American art form, is dying in Duluth in one of the most interesting locations: a strip club.

Club Saratoga has been hosting jazz sessions on Saturday afternoons at its Canal Park location for more than 30 years.

No more, the Duluth News Tribune says.

Jazz fans are aging, they can’t walk long distances, and there isn’t enough parking to make it easy for them to get to the music. So attendance has been dwindling.

From all accounts, the strip club is doing fine because the entertainment is at night, however.

“It had run its course,” Club Saratoga co-owner Dan Lowe tells the paper. It didn’t make money for the owners, but that wasn’t the goal. “If it had been the purpose, we would’ve stopped 16 years ago when we took over ownership.”

Not surprisingly, at Saturday’s finale, you couldn’t get a seat. We don’t appreciate the finer things until they’re taken away from us.

The owners say they won’t replace the Saturday afternoon music with another form. Just strippers. Presumably the sprightly fans will have no problem walking the long distance to see them.

Another jazz club, Black Water Lounge had already announced it is shutting down — temporarily, apparently — on New Year’s Day, blaming road construction on Superior Street.

“It’s been challenging on Superior Street and will continue to be for the next few years,” the club said in a post on its Facebook page. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel as we eagerly anticipate the expansion of Essentia Health and the brand-new street improvements, once they are complete.”

The musicians who performed at the Saratoga say they hope they’ll find another place to play.

“After six months, there will be a need for it or there won’t be,” said Paul Ierino, who played piano in the ‘Toga Trio.

From the archive: Duluth reprieves Saratoga (MPR News – 2006)

  • MrE85

    While staying at the Lake Superior Inn, I noticed the Club’s sign promoting “music” and “dancing,” but I never knew what type of music, or what type of dancing, until now.

    • JonasGrumby

      They still have music, that’s what the stripper’s dance to.

      • MrE85

        If you say so. I know only church hymns and ballet. 😉

  • dpsours

    “Jazz fans are aging…” The implication being that there is no army of younger fans rising up to take their place. Very sad. I guess that explains why I recently heard KBEM refer to itself as “Jazz and Roots music”, and the The Dakota Jazz Club announced it is now simply The Dakota (not surprising given the decreased emphasis on jazz performers).

    I have a hard time understanding why it doesn’t appeal to all generations, though. The incredible talent required to improvise – essentially composing on the spot in front of an audience – boggles the mind. If the young ‘uns appreciate freestyling in rap, why wouldn’t they appreciate this?

    My prescription: Make Ken Burns’s documentary required viewing in our schools, followed by a listening session where Diz and Bird’s 1945 Town Hall concert is played. If I were ever granted one ride in a time machine, that’s where I’d go. It just doesn’t get any better.

    • Al

      Some of us who grew up in jazz know better, and understand we’re just in a lull. I think “younger” acts like Kamasi Washington are continuing to make jazz better known among millennials. The Twin Cities have a great jazz scene; it’s just not as well-known or as well publicized as our rock and hip-hop scenes.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      I don’t know if that’s a new moniker for KBEM. My wife over the years has listened to Folk and other music on KBEM on Saturday mornings. I think they might have expanded those offerings, but it seems whenever I turn it on it’s still Jazz 88.

      • dpsours

        When I heard that, it was during normal jazz time, not during their Saturday morning bluegrass. Also, I recently heard them play a song (again, during normal programming) that was decidedly not jazz and could be considered rootsy.

        • Postal Customer

          They do latin music at times too.

    • RBHolb

      “My prescription: Make Ken Burns’s documentary required viewing in our schools, followed by a listening session where Diz and Bird’s 1945 Town Hall concert is played.”

      While I like your sentiments, I can think of no better way to demonstrate that jazz is the art form of the past than to show the Ken Burns documentary. Contrary to what he seems to have been saying, jazz did not revolve around Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (which may just reflect the limitations of the medium of television), and it did not stop evolving sometime in the early 60s (over-deference to a certain trumpet player involved in the series).

      I recommend that you read Nate Chinen’s book Playing Changes. It opened my eyes to a lot of the innovative music being performed out there.

    • John

      If it doesn’t get any better than a concert from 1945, then I hate to tell you this, but it’s dead.

      I like jazz. I listen to 88.5 sometimes on my way to/from work. I hear more modern jazz musicians on the Current than on the jazz station.