In the Pantheon of Cities that Contributed to the Birth of Jazz, Philadelphia is on Mount Rushmore
Starting in the 1940s and continuing through the 1960s, Philadelphia launched the careers of some of jazz’s most influential artists. “The Philly jazz scene has always been a hot spot for talent,” says Joe Fogerty, GM of one of Philly’s hottest new jazz bars, Heritage. “From the likes of John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Patti LaBelle, there have been a slew of musicians from this city.”
All throughout South Philly and lining Cecil B. Moore’s “Golden Strip”, the city was bustling with jazz clubs. But with the growing popularity of rock and roll, most of these clubs were forced to close – and Philadelphia’s golden age of jazz came to an end.
Thankfully, there has been something of a jazz and blues resurgence in Philadelphia over the last five years. New restaurants and bars are dedicated to honoring this city’s jazz and blues roots, bringing new and exciting talent to Philly audiences. Of course jazz and libations go hand in hand. What’s better than enjoying some jazz, while sipping on a great drink? And in a city like Philly, whose beer scene is second to none, these new establishments are taking full advantage of our stellar beer selection and jazz talent.
Heritage in Northern Liberties opened its doors in 2015 and has offered live music every night since. A modern, rustic restaurant with a seasonal, locally-sourced menu, Heritage is quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite, with events like Mike Boone’s Jazz Jam on Thursday nights. “Mike’s Jam is a sight to behold,” says Fogerty. “It’s upbeat and seamless. No matter who he has with him on stage, you know it’s going to be good.” Featuring over 30 craft beers on draught, including Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing and Allagash White, Heritage is a must for beer and music fans alike. “That’s the best part about working in a bar that hosts jazz musicians, I get to enjoy good beer and fantastic music on a regular basis.”
SOUTH, on the corner of Broad and Mt. Vernon Streets in North Philadelphia, boasts delicious Southern fare, “accompanied by the best live jazz in Philadelphia,” says Harry Hayman, who manages the jazz parlor. “The rich and storied history of jazz in Philly makes presenting [new artists] here an honor.” The acclaimed restaurant, which has been named one of America’s “Great Jazz Venues” by Downbeat Magazine, features a music lineup that is second to none, with artists like The Bad Plus and Roy Hargrove having been recent headliners.
“Jazz adds a wonderful element to the dining experience,” says Hayman. “It’s unparalleled. The future of jazz in Philly is bright and SOUTH is fully committed to upholding [that tradition] every night we’re open.”
The Twisted Tail in Philly’s historic Society Hill offers its own distinct brand of blues in its upstairs juke joint, as well as acoustic acts in their downstairs bar. Mikey Junior, who leads The Twisted Tail’s house band, Mikey Junior & Friends, also curates the venue’s musical bookings. “We offer a fantastic environment for a memorable evening of dancing, dinner and drinks,” says Junior. Featuring live music six nights a week, since opening seven years ago, The Twisted Tail has become a home base to many of this region’s local musicians. “The Philly jazz and blues scene is a tight knit group of people,” says Junior. “We all know each other.”
Junior suggests it’s that sense of community, as well as a respect for Philly’s musical “roots” that make the music environment so rich. “When I think of the Philadelphia sound, I go back to the Sigma Sound Studio recordings of the late Teddy Pendergrass, the Soul Survivors and others from that era.” Junior says that being aware of that history, being in conversation with those artists, is what ensures that, “Philly’s music scene is in good hands. Stop by and see for yourself!”
“SOUTH is one of America’s great jazz venues.” – Downbeat Magazine
Whether you’re a student of jazz or just looking to experience something new in Philadelphia, these bars have you covered. Not only do they offer an elevated dining and drinking experience, they also honor Philly’s musical history. “Jazz’s history is a large part of what makes it so appealing,” says SOUTH’s Harry Hayman. “And Philadelphia is full of jazz history.”
Abita’s Got the Beat
For an authentic, New Orlean’s-style jazz experience in your own home, try the Big Easy’s local beer – Abita. Enjoyed in clubs on Bourbon Street and beyond, Abita is as authentic as the music and food of this gem of a city.
Travel to New Orleans and you’ll see Abita Amber at just about every bar you waltz into. This Munich-style lager is used frequently in the recipes of great Louisiana chefs and clocks in at only 4.5% ABV.
Abita Light’s label transports drinkers to the French Quarter, where the sounds of jazz meet you at every turn. This super smooth and flavorful beer packs only 118 calories.
You can’t talk about New Orleans without mentioning Mardi Gras. The yearly carnival features elaborate costumes, massive parade floats and of course, tons of jazz! Abita’s Mardi Gras Bock is a tribute to this eccentric celebration that is distinctly New Orleans.