Saying goodbye to Jazzy’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Grill
When I moved to St. George seven years ago, I did so not sure of what I might find other than the English lecturer position I had moved for. I had left a large and encouraging creative community in Logan, and I quickly realized I might suffocate if I didn’t find one down here. Where that community started, for me, was with a little creative writing open-mic Chelsea Linderman and I started. That open-mic drew and nurtured a small but dedicated following. Let me put some extra emphasis on small. If I remember correctly, our largest crowds those first years were around 20 people or so.
Two years and two venues later, our little open-mic found a new home at Jazzy’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Grill. It was an instant and natural fit. I had been to Jazzy’s before, good burgers, great fries, and a musical open-mic night that saw the little venue bursting at its seems. I knew it would be a good spot for our little creative community to grow. I couldn’t have known just how much Jazzy’s would help it grow.
Quickly, regular attendance at our open-mic shot past our largest numbers from the years before. Jazzy’s had a way of drawing creative individuals to it. I ran that open-mic every week for three years at Jazzy’s. We saw enough growth within our community that for two of those three years Jazzy’s also hosted a monthly poetry slam competition. From those competitions, southern Utah qualified to send a team to compete at the National Poetry Slam two years in a row. Many of those slams, especially in that first year, saw standing room only.
But, those aren’t really what made those years at Jazzy’s important to me. Those things came and went, leaving experience and fond memories. What was really important about Jazzy’s was the people. I have made so many life long friends from my days (or rather nights) at Jazzy’s. I watched blossoming writers grow in skill and confidence. I saw dozens of people who had never spoken in front of an audience before or shared their writing with anyone find their voices on that little stage. I saw people cope with loss and pain leaning on that mic stand. I met a 15 year old (who only showed up because she thought it was the music open-mic night) who has one of the most remarkable voices as a writer I’ve yet to find. We suffered loss together as we were forced to say goodbye to friends who left us too early. We grew together as a community.
Jazzy’s also enabled us to feature poets from all over the world. Whether it was a Utah poet coming down from Salt Lake, a hysterical prose writer from Logan, the slam team from Vegas, or the biggest spoken word artist in the UK, those visits allowed our writers to form connections that reached far beyond the community we had formed.
This all is such a small, small corner of what Jazzy’s was. To a much larger community Jazzy’s was music! Jazzy’s birthed a family of artists and musicians as close as anything I’ve seen anywhere. I’ve read as many people noted on social media how influential Jazzy’s was in their life and their development as a creative individual. It gave voice to a local music scene. The yearly rumble was attended religiously. I had the opportunity to help judge the rumble one year. It stands as one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever had the privilege to participate in.
Jazzy’s played hosts to variety of musical styles. It featured first time artists and those with a much larger reputation. It enabled me not only to see one of the greatest So-Cal punk bands, but to share a drink with its drummer. Places like Jazzy’s are rare. They are a refuge and a bastion for those who might not feel as if they fit so well in regular society, the creatives, the rabble rousers.
In the months that follow, there will be many people looking for a place to fill the needs that Jazzy’s provided. To some extent, they may find them. Other venues may step up to support local musicians, giving them a platform to share their work. But for so many people, their roots will always be firmly planted among the tie-dyed wall hangings and brass instruments turned mood lights that added flavor to Jazzy’s, among the smiles of friends, among a place that was home to so many.