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I could always disappear into live jazz. Live jazz has been a wonderful addiction that I have never been able to shake. Players with mystical skills talked to me with sounds that they had just thought of but that carried a lifetime of wisdom. It was way too complex for me to unwind., Those who played it were miracle makers. It showed up in the pictures I took. We are now taking a forced break from live music,  I remain in awe of those who can play it and those who bring it to us. These are the special people whose passion is greater than their aversion to risk. The proprietor of the Dirty Dog Jazz Club, Gretchen Valade, is one of those people. She has always made decisions with her heart. Those around her knew this and conspired to make her vision a reality. For the last six years I have written about this phenomenon. What a great gig it was.

Edouard Munch

These are strange times.

Last week I was notified by an email from the Dirty Dog Jazz Café’s accountant that the blog I wrote and the photography that I have taken there will not be necessary during the club’s mandatory shutdown. I was told that the blog was not financially sustainable.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Café has apparently elected to go silent until an intimate jazz club can reopen. For this reason the Dirty Dog blog has been terminated.

The club has had to close temporarily, but we can hope this grand idea will live on.

Here is the reality that I face

Returning safely to jazz clubs will be a hard task. What makes live jazz wonderful also throws up red flag after red flag. There are shared surfaces everywhere with the bands, chefs and wait staff jammed into small workplaces. There are small aisles with volumes of exhaled breath coming out of horns and exuberant customers shouting and whistling. Ugh. It will require more effort on everyone’s part. Even when we are told that we can go to bars and restaurants, the customers will be entering a much more sterile environment than the name Dirty Dog implies. My return to jazz clubs is even more daunting because of my age and chronic asthma. I am deeply saddened at missing out on  one of my greatest pleasures, the hugs and smiles of friends. I hope to see everyone next year.

We are all defined by how we behave under pressure. We stand strong, we blink, we are a rock, we crumble, we are decisive, we retreat, we shrivel, we show empathy, we are self serving, etc. etc. Adversity can bring forward all our best instincts and can sweep away the cover revealing our weaknesses.

In order to defeat the virus we will have to continue to give up some intimacy. To save our institutions and our livelihoods during this period of sacrifice we will need an infusion of supplemental financial assistance. Half full venues will only be possible if the proprietors don’t go broke. Our re-entry into normalcy will be complex. For a while we must avoid  acting in our own self interest. To be successful we will have to stay alert and act in unity. If we commit to the common good, listen to scientific data and have some discipline we can get back to work and play a littler sooner, and in time with a vaccine we will return to intimacy and perhaps some smiles and hugs.

I will try to continue to blog with a new purpose.

A pleasurable part of my life has been spent in crowded events, in a chock full jazz club, in a packed Noni’s restaurant filled with artists, shoulder to shoulder at an arts opening and elbow to elbow at the Eastern Market. As a high risk octogenarian it will be some time, if ever, that I will be comfortable with intimate gatherings. I hope that proper procedures can be put in place so that we can once again enjoy shopping for produce, sharing thoughts with artists, standing in awe of art and sitting in rapture with great live music.

I feel strongly in my heart that we must stay relevant. When everything gets so drab and ordinary we need a shot of color. Those who add that color are in a desperate place.


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At this moment it seems that it is more important than ever to do something that supports artists in Detroit not just during these hard times but all the time. Lets have an honest discussion. Lets do it together.

Stay tuned.

John Osler

#DirtyDog #DetroitJazzFestival #RodneyWhitaker #Jazz #DetroitJazz #DirtyDogJazzCafé #JudyAdams #RayseBiggs #JazzinDetroit #RalpheArmstrong #GretchenValade #DaveBennett #musicDirtyDogJazzCafe

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