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Port Orchard pub Moondogs Too goes House of Blues
New Sunday evening series aims to give live jazz a local home this winter.
Live jazz has had a fickle time finding a home in Kitsap.
Scores of venues have played host to various musicians, concerts and festivals over the past few years, while short-lived steady dwellings and a countywide jazz society have surfaced, stalled out and dissipated.
Other jazz club-like venues have turned away from the old-style entertainment altogether.
This winter, the Port Orchard pub Moondogs, Too steps up to the plate with a free, all-ages Sunday evening jazz series.
“I look at it as a House of Blues-style venue you might see in San Francisco or Los Angeles,” Moondogs’ owner Darryl Baldwin said. “The really cool thing is that you’re right there with the musicians and able to visualize and feel the emotion these artists put into the music.”
Moondogs kicks off the series this month with local jazz master Mark Lewis — a man who’s provided one of the area’s most secure jazz outlets of late — every Sunday from 4-7 p.m.
He opened to a decent-sized crowd Nov. 1.
“It’s pretty mixed,” Lewis said, describing the audience. “It’s nice because the kids can come, though you don’t see a lot of them. But you know, if your audience is too old, you won’t have an audience for long.”
Lewis has worked as a saxophonist/flutist/pianist, composer and producer for decades. Bouncing from Seattle to Europe to San Francisco and eventually making his way to Bremerton, he knows well the woes of a non-celebrity professional musician — which might lend a bit of insight into why jazz struggles to find a steady home in Kitsap. While an aging audience is certainly part of the equation, Lewis said he went without playing live for a few years in protest of declining wages for musicians. Still, he says, it seems to be getting worse.
“When you can make more money playing on the streets than you can in a club, something’s wrong,” he said.
While Moondogs may not be able to single-handedly address that prevailing professional musicians’ conundrum, plans are to keep the jazz night alive throughout the winter with an alternating slate of musicians, Baldwin said.
All shows are all ages, no cover, from 4-7 p.m. Sunday evenings at Moondogs, 714 Bay St. in Port Orchard. Info: www.moondogs-too.com.