Once a weekly venue for various student jazz combos, the Underground is dropping its Thursday night jazz in favor of a more diverse program. In place of Jazz from the Underground, the bar beneath Broad Street Downtown Market is hosting College Night, a Thursday evening program including a DJ, live bands, trivia, karaoke, and comedy.
Because attendance to jazz nights had dwindled to just a handful of people last spring, the Underground is seeking more variety, general manager Kevin Kirwin said. The College Night program, which kicked off Sept. 17, will run from 7 – 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.
Kirwin is trying to recruit student bands of all genres now that student jazz bands are no longer performing weekly, he said.
During the ’14-’15 school year, the Underground’s Thursday jazz nights included performances from Spencer Amaral ’14, student bands, and the McQ5. Composed of Amaral, Director of Jazz Studies Chris McCourry, junior Gianna Marchese, Sandra Pooley, and Sam Nead, the McQ5 was paid for its weekly performances.
Because the Underground also lines up bands for Friday and Saturday nights, it could not continue to book the McQ5 each week, Kirwin said. However, the Underground would not be opposed to having them perform in the future.
“I would listen to them any time,” Kirwin said. “They are a fantastic group.”
McCourry declined to comment on the situation.
Junior Danielle Adams, who performed regularly at the Underground, said the opportunity to play jazz in an informal setting offers a degree of freedom and creativity that a recital hall does not.
“Jazz really blossoms with a highly engaged and involved audience,” she said. “It was a great place for students to grow as musicians in a live and casual setting where they felt more comfortable taking risks.”
Jazz from the Underground was so unique that professors at other Michigan schools had heard about it, she said.
“The student aspect of the program was known statewide for its innovation and the fact that it offered so much opportunity to give real world experience to students.”
Nevertheless, the Underground’s customers were interested in more variety, Kirwin said. This summer, the Underground featured DJs and local bands and hosted a multi-week Battle of the Bands.
College Nights have maintained variety with a performance from student band The St. Joe Trio on Sept. 24 and a lip sync battle the following week. The entry cost for those 18 or older is $2, but students 21 and up can attend College Nights for free.