Nostalgic jazz lyrics waft past the doorway of the Steele Street Lounge. “Oh, if you miss New Orleans, like I miss New Orleans …”
Every Friday is sit-down, snack-and-relax night with jazz drifting through the lounge from 6 to 9 p.m. and free appetizers starting at 5 p.m.
It was a perfect way to end the grinding workweek. I sat down to enjoy the first part of the night, just before the jazz started up, and sample a few of the appetizers. The appetizers featured stuffed potato skins, warming in a chafing dish, Nanaimo squares and brownies, and fresh vegetables and dip.
Not too shabby at all, and a great way to begin a night out.
This Friday wasn’t quite as relaxed because it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and Pittsburgh and Detroit were settling the score from last year’s playoffs. The TVs were blaring and it was tough for the two jazz musicians to reconcile the gentle music with the game.
Attention was definitely taken away from the musicians, but they gamely played on for those of us not so into the playoffs.
Because of the hockey, tonight’s crowd was composed of middle-aged men in jeans and caps. This surprised me because I thought it might be a tourist venue, being located in the epicentre of Whitehorse tourism.
Under the watchful eyes of a painting of a sympathetic bartender pouring a Crantini, Anne Turner, resplendent in a flowing purple tunic, played her towering bass.
She swayed and tapped with the music and seemed to be really into it despite the widescreen TV, right above her head, broadcasting the game. She and fellow-guitarist Dave Haddock played gentle jazz, a nostalgic interlude at the lounge.
Haddock also performed vocals with a rich, earthy tone that blended well with the soft music. He sang, “There’s no greater love, no heart so true,” while Turner accompanied him on her bass.
Haddock is no stranger to local performance and can be found jamming with most any musician, on any stage, at any time, in the Yukon.
Turner is also accomplished in the local music world, a wonderful combination of teacher and artist. She is a jazz bassist and also received the MusiCan Teacher of the Year Award, in 2006, for her work with the Vanier Catholic Secondary School concert and jazz bands.
Together, Turner and Haddock played a lilting and fun jazz set while the last song I stayed for was a bit snappier, with some jump to it.
Haddock lent his vocals out again, this time to bring the beer drinkers back to life and listen to more than the game. I admired the musicians for toughing it out to a rather distracted crowd, and I know any other night they would have had the audience’s full attention.
They sure had mine.
You can catch them, and other local musicians, on Friday nights at the Steele Street Lounge, at the Westmark Whitehorse, from 6 to 9 p.m., with free appetizers starting at 5 p.m.
Definitely worth checking out as a way to wind down from the week or rev up for the weekend.