(photo by Ben Williams, courtesy of Jazz Artists of Charleston)
“This is your Blockbuster card.” Those were the words out of the bouncer's mouth the first time I attempted to go to Mezzane above Sermet’s. I was a 19-year-old College of Charleston freshman at the time. I’d somehow arrived at the club via Emily, a strange sophomore who had taken me under her wing and decided I needed to experience a real night out in Charleston. A “real night out” being crashing a party on Bull Street and mainlining fluorescent colored Jell-O shots. Which summarizes why giving the bouncer my video rental membership seemed the logical choice.
“Ahh, what the hell. You can go in, just don’t buy anything from the bar,” the bouncer agreed, swinging the door open to a dimly lit room. Seated on couches and stools a relaxed crowd sat bobbing their heads. On the stage, a mesmerizing drummer grabbed my attention. Dreads flying, his whole body quaked with percussion. What was this? Some kind of Birdland Narnia? Emily moved to the bar and I attempted to follow but the tangy taste of raspberry gelatin overwhelmed me and I tumbled into a couch. No one seemed to notice. All were transfixed on the sounds and the scene.
I woke up the next morning believing it was a dream. Only a few months into my first semester, I couldn’t locate the amazing jazz club the next day. I traipsed downtown attempting to piece together the evening, knowing we’d entered a side door somewhere off of King. But my wanderings were for naught. It wasn’t until another friend brought me back on an evening (entirely Jell-O-free) months later that I figured out where the secret spot was located. This time poetry was being read between jazz sets. Within the cool environment of Mezzane suddenly slam poetry felt more agreeable, trumpets sounded more seductive, and I instantly felt like I had been given the secret phrase to a clandestine speakeasy. I wanted to go there every weekend but school and friends and activities kept me away.
And then one day Mezzane was gone. Hearts quietly broke.
Over the years I can’t count how many times my husband and I have strolled past Sermet’s and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Mezzane was still around?”
The gods of jazz must have heard our prayer. Thanks to that intoxicating drummer I heard so long ago, Quentin Baxter, as well as restaurateur Sermet Aslan, and entrepreneur J.D. Madison, Mezzane lives again, this time in the form of The Mezz. The jazz club will reopen later this month with seating for 80, a bar, and a late night menu. Even better the Jazz Artists of Charleston’s 5th Annual Jazz Series will be held in the new venue starting May 20.
Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door—Blockbuster cards not accepted.
JAC 5th Annual Jazz Series
May 20 - June 8, 2012
GENERAL INFOset 1 7:00pmset 2 10:00pm[unless noted as a special event]each set is approximately 75 minutesdoors open 30 minutes prior to each setfood and beverages available for purchase2nd floor, no elevatorgeneral admissionfirst come, first serve seating
TICKET INFO$20/set advanced$25/set day-of[unless noted as a special event]all major credit cards, cash, check
To buy tickets, click here