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Jazz club strikes the right chord with local music fans

Jazz at the Junction is packing in music fans to hear a variety of music

The club is just over a year old but it's attracting local music fans to a variety of music genres.

Henry Van Brussel noticed a lack of places for bands to play, particularly jazz, and put on his thinking cap.

"If we could provide a venue we could pay the performers $100 each for performing," said Van Brussel. "The setup with the Legion is the Jazz Club can use the venue and charge for admission while the Legion keeps all other revenue, like snacks, meals, bar.

"It is a deal for both of us. The Jazz Club creates more traffic for the Legion and in return gets the use of a room."

So far it's worked out and the club is running break even.

"That's what we are, a non-profit corporation," says Van Brussel, a former sailor who loved going to regattas in his native country, The Netherlands, and listening to Dixieland.

But it's not just jazz, but blues, country and folk.

And he's seeing more of the younger crowd starting to show up.

"It's just something that we don't want to lose. Once it's available people will come."

Joanne Sullivan is a board member and is encouraged by the growth.

"It's coming along slow but sure," she told BayToday. "What I'm finding is that Jazz at the Junction is stimulating more groups to form. So we have a lot more intermingling in the bands and that was not happening before. So we've got new duos, new trios and quartets forming. We've got a Dixieland band that's forming. We've got a big stage band that's in the process of forming out of a military band.

"The club is stimulating music," adds Sullivan. "We're filling a void. If you're a country or rock and roll band you can work but if you're in jazz or folk or blues you're really limited so this fills that void."

It's named Jazz at the Junction because the club calls West Ferris Legion Branch 599 home, and the building is located on Lamorie St. near the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Highway 11 S in the neighbourhood known as Nipissing Junction. The Northern and Pacific Junction Railway ran a track past there in the late 1800's to connect with the Northern Railway of Canada's endpoint in Gravenhurst.

"Everybody likes to play here because the acoustics are so good," explains Van Brussel. "The ceiling and walls are all wood with a false ceiling. It's like a captain's cabin, that's the way it was constructed."

Another attractive point is the intimacy of the setting, with the audience within arm's reach of performers and members of the crowd chatting informally with the band in between songs.

This Tuesday it was David LaRonde and band entertaining and for his music, a blend of folk, folk rock and blues, it's perfect.

See: David LaRonde and Band Tuesday at local jazz club

"It means everything because people sit and listen to the music more and they're more serious about live music as opposed to playing in a noisy bar for example. It's good to get out and have a little quieter place to perform."

Peter Cliche, on this night playing guitar, agrees.

"In a room this size it's awesome. Being able to look out past the microphone and see every individual in the room, being able to speak to people and connecting with everybody, it's absolutely charming.

"They respond to a good solo and not so much to a mediocre solo. It fills you up. You want to play better, I'm amped."

The club holds events twice a month but response has been so positive it's hoped that the frequency can change to every Tuesday.

You can get more information at the website Nipissing - Parry Sound Music and Jazz  Corporation.