Live at the Ravens
5:01 Jazz Series regroups
"We were taken by surprise by the PJ's sale," says Molly Motherwell, general manager of WEMU (89.1-FM). For two years, the jazz and blues public-radio station had been presenting the Jan Winkelman 5:01 Jazz Series at PJ's/Goodnight Gracie's at 5:01 on the first Friday of each month from September to May. Music director Linda Yohn and jazz critic/host Michael G. Nastos had booked bands for the third season when the new management announced it was cutting back on live music. Fortunately, one of the station's underwriters, the Ravens Club on Main near Washington, stepped in. "They set up the first show for us in three days," says Motherwell. Bassist Ron Brooks, once owner of the Bird of Paradise, was the headliner, and he packed the place. Many waited by the door but couldn't get seated.
There is little foot traffic on First and Huron, where PJ's was, and a good deal on Main. At the Ravens, 5:01 Jazz now attracts passersby who look into the venue's large windows and drop in. The crowd is younger, and so are many of the artists, such as trumpeter Ingrid Racine, who is booked for April (see Nightspots). Although the space is smaller, the audience has doubled, and the club continues to fill beyond capacity. "It's a problem you're glad you have," says Yohn.
[Originally published in April, 2012.]