Luke jf Schlather home

A couple weeks ago I took a trip up to Columbus to do a little dancing at the Von Jazz Lounge. A friend had asked people to come up and dance, with the reasonable admonition that she had come to Dayton the week before, so six of us happily piled into a couple of cars and rolled up there. (Actually, I got picked up on the way, but I guess one of the perks of living in the middle of nowhere along a major highway is people can pick you up on the way to the middle of somewhere.)

Me and Jay got to the lounge, naturally, before anyone else had, so we moved up to the bar. After a couple of minutes, we noticed that the front man, Silky Ray, was actually at the other end of the bar with a mic running the show from the sidelines. It was at this point we decided that we had really hit a nice place. Von Jazz was more or less a place I thought didn’t exist anymore, but there it is, an alive and kicking Jazz lounge in the middle of Ohio with a great band that’s been playing for years. Silky Ray did at one point get a little pensieve himself about the whole affair. “There ain’t a lot of places like this left,” he said, “and pretty soon, there might not be any at all.”

I take some comfort in my classmate Ben Baker’s regular Facebook updates letting everyone know he’s playing in a Jazz lounge somewhere. Jazz may already have declined as much as it ever will.

After a little bit, Silky moved back up to the stage, and a blind man shuffled in and sat down at the bar. Silky Ray perked up and announced to all of us that the great Tommie Thomas had arrived, and there were some murmurs around that Tommie should get up and play, which he seemed fairly oblivious to until someone stepped up beside him and told him it was so-and-so’s birthday. At this point he didn’t hesitate.

Well we gotta play for her.

Very matter-of-fact, no questions asked, he got up on stage. Birthdays bear no discussion. Music doesn’t in general, but music for birthdays especially. At this point the rest of the dancing crowd began to stream in. I grabbed our putative host Ali, and we jumped out on the dance floor. Fun thing about dancing to a Jazz band that isn’t expecting dancing is that the songs last a while. Really fun if you’re the first pair on the dance floor and there’s no one else dancing.

Some more Columbus folks showed up, and then we all really started dancing. Live music, great dancers, good night.