Music will soon rise from the cellar of the old Bottling House building at the Pearl Brewery when the renowned local musician, Brent "Doc" Watkins, opens his new music venue, Jazz, TX, in spring 2016.
"Jazz, TX, will have the class of an upscale jazz club with the grit of a Texas dancehall," Watkins said.
The 3,500 sq. ft. jazz club will add a new experience to the Pearl beyond retail and restaurants, a place where people can come to listen and dance to the music of South Texas and beyond – with food and drinks on the side.
Watkins, a pianist, organist, band leader, and composer, aims to revitalize the music scene in San Antonio, which he said has diminished over the past 10-15 years.
"A lot of music venues have closed down and a lot of musicians have left the city and others have given up trying," he said. "I think this venue is going to be a huge catalyst. ... I have lived and worked in the city for 10 years and we really need a venue like this."
Watkins plans to host jazz, blues, big band, Texas swing, salsa, conjunto, and Americana music, but he's open to all kinds of acts, as long as the bands look and play the part.
"I am encouraging other musicians and bands to work hard and rehearse and get their act together because there will be opportunities for them if they do," Watkins said.
Jazz, TX, will be open Tuesday through Saturday nights, including lunch on Saturdays. The club will offer a simple, small-plate menu from local chef Lorenzo Morales. The food will be a great addition, but Watkins isn't technically opening a restaurant. Music will be the main course. Each night, one band will play during happy hour, then another band will come on later at about 8:30 p.m. Watkins plans to play about half of the shows.
The lively concept of Jazz, TX is reminiscent of Watkin's Summer Dance Hall Series at the Pearl Stable which hosted its final session this summer (see video below by Hilmy Productions), but decidedly more intimate and less kid-friendly.
From music, to aesthetic, to food, to drink, Watkins is focusing on quality.
"So many musicians just kind of show up and don’t get dressed up," he said. "We want to raise the bar for music venues really statewide."
Watkins is working with architect Jonathan Card of Urbanist Design on the design of Jazz, TX.
"We (don't) want it to feel like a jazz club in New York or Chicago," Watkins said. "We (want people to) feel that it is in San Antonio, Texas."
Watkins will host a series of events prior to the venue's debut. Follow the Jazz, TX Facebook page for more information.
*Top image: Doc Watkins and his Big Band on stage at The Empire Theatre. June 10, 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.