Not only was the ambiance smoldering, but the music was pretty hot too. Shaun Booker, a well known Columbus blues singer, performed, and she is always a treat. Being more accustomed to experimental and avant garde jazz, I'm not always too enthusiastic about blues singers, but Shaun was on last night. Her stage presence captured the audience, even being separated from where I was seated by curtains, and various infrastructure that could have made it challenging to appreciate the performance. She did a lot of standards, and I really enjoyed the Tracy Chapman she threw in. She is always performing around Columbus, including hosting a jam session at the Phoenix Nightclub on Thursdays, hosting the CBA Blues Jam August 17th at The Thirsty Ear, and performing yearly at events like the Community Festival and the Hot Times festival in Olde Town East.
I was less thrilled by the musical offerings when the band played without the assistance of Shaun Booker. While her songs were sultry and creative, and allowed the other musicians to show off their talents as well, as soon as she stopped singing it was like the band reverted to a bad wedding band. But my friends loved it, as did some of the older people in the crowd who didn't look like they probably get out to hear a lot of jazz. So a bunch of Ph.D. students and suburbanites had a chance to dance and sing along to songs like Mustang Sally while the rest of the crowd quickly thinned out or ordered another drink.
The club is still auditioning artists, but from who they have booked so far, it looks like it is leaning strongly towards blues and soul, so if you go, don't expect jazz, just because of the name, but expect a great time.
One of the biggest challenges Vonn Jazz may have is getting people to drive to a strip mall on the northwest side of town. It is located at 2151 W. Dublin Granville Road just east of Linworth Road, so it will have to develop a reputation as a destination spot. The service was kind of slow, but hopefully they will improve. And one waiter/bartender was very friendly and brought over a birthday shot for my friend towards the end of the evening, and seemed genuinely interested in how we liked the place. I hope it succeeds!