We all have memories of childhood gifts. Some gifts we played with to their extinction, some we hugged, a few we carefully preserved, and others we cherished until the next great gift came along. Later in life our focus became more on giving gifts. This is the greatest gift.
It is a shame when we lose the joy of receiving gifts. Maybe we just don’t recognize them. One thing we can do is to pause our lives for a moment and accept the gift of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. Some of us do. Many times I have watched customers come up to Gretchen Valade and thank her for the gift of having given them such a great experience. The musicians playing the Dog certainly recognize and acknowledge the treasure we have in Gretchen and her passion for Detroit and its music.
The next time you come to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café you can wallow in the gift Gretchen Valade has given us. She has created a warm place to hear great jazz and be served with grace. She has honored the artists with four day gigs and the respect they deserve. All that she does is a reflection of her generous heart
A VERY PERSONAL GIFT
It was 2008 and the world was in the grip of a serious recession. There were foreclosures and bankruptcies including Detroit’s auto industry. We all felt the downward pull. I went to a place that has always been therapeutic. I went to a local jazz club. It was a new, somewhat upscale place, called the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. I sat at the bar and at some point started talking to Carl, the club’s bartender and therapist. We talked about art and jazz. I asked if it would be OK to photograph the artists for reference for future painting. He pointed to a bar stool and told me to sit there during the first set on a Wednesday night. I did as I was instructed. Before the band started up Carl introduced me to a handsome lady next to me. That was how I met Gretchen Valade the owner and proprietress of the Dirty Dog, a genuinely classy person, the guardian angel to many and the savior of Detroit’s jazz at its darkest hour. It turns out I can be added to the list of those who have benefited from Gretchen’s big heart.
I came right out with my request to take pictures in her club. That was the first time I heard Gretchen use the phrase which I associate with her: “Why not?”
I have brought my camera to the club most weeks and have filled the club’s back corridor with the results. I try to stand out of the way like a fly on the wall. This has given me a chance to observe the staff and management prepare to welcome the artists and customers. I have seen efficiency and laughter. I have listened to the artist’s stories told between sets in the green room that have given me an even deeper appreciation for the players. I have witnessed a continuous parade of joy and good cheer. What a gift I have been given.JAZZ MUSIC
DETROIT JAZZ – THE BOOK
A few years ago I self published a book of my photography that would celebrate this gift.
The book, DETROIT JAZZ Documenting the legacy of Gretchen Valade, is my tribute to Gretchen and all my friends that I have met since that first conversation with Carl.
BY THE WAY
YOU CAN GIVE YOURSELF OR A FRIEND A GIFT OF DETROIT JAZZ
The book is $29.95 and can be purchased at the Dirty Dog, by going to the website DETROIITJAZZ.NET. or by giving me a call at 313-886-4728. Thank you.
THIS WEEK’S ARTIST: THE GIFTED THORNETTA DAVIS
PERFORMS AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ DECEMBER 14 – 17
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