Jazz, Blues and Cuisine
Jimmy's Jazz & Blues Club in Portsmouth offers inspirational jazz and blues paired with fine dining, libations and a lively scene
If you’ve walked the streets of Portsmouth over the last year, you’ve probably noticed a variety of scaffolding scenes and construction around a building across from The Goat on Congress Street. Behind the boarded up windows and doors, crews have been hard at work pouring their hearts and souls into bringing a new one-of-a-kind venue to life — Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club.
The club is housed within the Labrie Group’s meticulously restored multi-story 1905 YMCA building located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth. Its spirit dates back to when the landmark structure was the source of cultural and community life, and when musical pioneers in the deep South were discovering and creating musical art forms that would become known as jazz and blues. Come opening night on September 30, the venue will offer its guests a visually breathtaking environment featuring leading-edge acoustical design and state-of-the-art production, sound and lighting technologies, not to mention Southern-inspired culinary experiences by Executive Chef Nathan Varney, impressive cocktail and wine lists, and a range of performances by jazz and blues artists and Grammy-award winning musicians alike from Christian McBride to Mavis Staples.
Brothers and co-owners of the Labrie Group, Michael and Peter Labrie are both motivated by their passion for the music and their vision to enrich the community they love by establishing a space for the community to come together and connect over extraordinary musical, cultural and culinary experiences. “We want to make a valuable contribution to jazz and blues music and felt the best way to accomplish this was to create one of the best jazz and blues clubs in the world — right here in the greater Portsmouth Seacoast that community my brother and I love so much,” says Michael Labrie. “Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club will help sustain the valuable contribution of jazz and blues music to our communities, and to our society. We also want Jimmy’s to help expand the audience base for jazz and blues music because we feel this is the best way to keep live performances of jazz and blues music available for future generations.”
The Labries describe Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club as an intimate, state-of-the-art venue that nods to the classic jazz clubs of the past and forges new terrain with cutting-edge recording and live-streaming capabilities. The first floor of the building houses a new contemporary art museum, while the main stage on the third floor provides guests with the opportunity to take in the thrill of the music from either the luxury lounge area or the spacious balcony. The wide-open, brick-and-beam interior includes original stained-glass features, two majestic bay windows hand-crafted from old photographs, plus a new, multi-floor glass and steel addition on the back.
Andrew Sidford Architects also designed a dynamic two-story glass addition in the rear of the building that expands the building and washes the space in natural light, while showcasing the original and iconic YMCA stained-glass windows. Furthermore, the performance and function hall at Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club is a full restoration of the original YMCA gym/theater/civic center, whose highlights include exposed, first-of-their-kind riveted steel trusses and a dramatic upper-level mezzanine that is fully handicapped accessible. Visitors will discover an architectural treasure that is a blend of lovingly preserved historic details and new meticulous construction, complete with the original wooden beams and trusses, brick walls and fireplaces. With a multitude of different rooms designed within the overall space, each guest can make a dozen visits and have a different experience every time — all the conditions are in place for that special connection between artist and audience to truly come alive.
“Our vision is for Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club to represent the highest standard of excellence for a jazz and blues club,” says Peter Labrie. “We want to provide our guests a one-of-a-kind world-class experience where we deliver the highest quality music, food, and service – within a magnificent environment – for them to enjoy. We want to create the most positive and memorable live music experiences for every guest who comes through the door at Jimmy’s. We are extremely excited about the first performances booked here at Jimmy’s because jazz and blues music enthusiasts will be thrilled.”