Let the trumpets sound: The Jazz Station is formally re-opening after more than a year of being closed down for COVID and for a remodel. The grand re-opening will take place at the Station, 124 W. Broadway, with a mystery guest performing 7:30 to 10 pm Friday, Sept. 10. Admission is free.
And on Saturday, Sept. 11, Eugene chanteuse Halie Loren performs two shows. The 7 pm show is sold out, but tickets ($20 general admission) remain for her 9 pm performance.
A Sept. 9 re-opening celebration gala at the Station has been canceled.
The Station requires proof of vaccination as well as mask wearing for all audience members and performers.
Further, following a late-August board meeting, the Station will limit seating to 50 percent capacity, or 30 tickets per show, while local hospitals are operating under emergency staffing protocols.
Due to COVID-19, the downtown Eugene jazz venue closed abruptly in March 2020, as many local businesses did. The Willamette Jazz Society Board, which operates the Station, decided that the closure was the ideal time to do a long-awaited remodel.
As Eugene’s only venue dedicated to jazz, finding a time to close its doors for time to remodel was no easy feat. Torrey Newhart, board president of the Willamette Jazz Society, spoke on how the Station has been able to afford the remodel. “It was through a lot of savings that we could do this remodel that we had been talking about for years.” Supporters can view a remodel tour at TheJazzStation.org.
Newhart says the Station made its $30,000 annual fundraising goal even while it was closed down due to the pandemic and remodeling. “We have people who really want this place to be here,” he says.
The Jazz Station has been in operation for more than a decade, producing entertainment with local, regional, national and international performers. Its mission, according to the nonprofit’s website, is “to foster a vibrant local jazz scene through concerts and educational programs that encourage our community to love, study, and perform live jazz.” The Jazz Station has a history of presenting both classic jazz music and encouraging new artists to gain experience.
The 2,200-square-foot venue seats 70 people and has been updated to improve the flow of space. Tickets are sold online and at the door. An option of a few beers on tap as well as a white wine chilled in the Station’s new kegerator is served in the bar at the front of the venue.
“There is nothing quite like it in Eugene,” says Eugene vocalist Halie Loren, a long-time Jazz Station supporter. “It feels very close and personal, like a formal house concert.”
Concerts are generally presented Thursday to Saturday evenings from 7:30 pm to 10 pm. In addition to holding concerts featuring a diverse set of musicians, the Station holds jam sessions for attendees to workshop their music with the accompaniment of a professional at 2:30 pm on first and third Sundays and 7:30 pm on second and fourth Wednesdays.
First Monday Night Big Band performances are indefinitely on hold because of pandemic restrictions.
Although COVID-19 has made it difficult for venues like The Jazz Station to fill their spaces, the hope is to reach full capacity once again. “We are really reaching out and working with the city officials and with our neighbors making sure we have a nice storefront,” Business Manager Eve McClure says.
McClure says donations and volunteers keep the doors open. “A lot of people come in and they think that it is just a venue and that we run solely based on our shows, but really it is because of the volunteers and the donors that we are alive and kicking.”
Newhart says the Station has also managed costs “through cost-cutting in every way possible, canceling services that we did not need and negotiating down as many bills as we could.”
Even with the hard cost-cutting it has done, a third of its yearly revenue comes from members and supporters. Loren says, “The Jazz Station is not just a local treasure, it is an extremely important part of the Northwest jazz scene. It is a beautiful blend of national and international acts, and a place for both local acts and learners.”
For community members looking to support The Jazz Station, sponsorship is available through TheJazzStation.org.