It was like a VH1 Story Tellers episode, where a group of local songwriters sat on a stage, played songs and talked about the stories behind the songs. One artist said, “If you know a songwriter, and you do stupid stuff, you’ll be part of a song.”
Halfway through a concert a day, and Fort Worth Library’s Third Thursday Jazz concert series had the largest crowd. Easily 200, 250 plus people sat in the grand atrium, at times standing cramped against back walls. I expected a couple dozen people chilling while the standard piano, sax, bass and drum players went through jazz staples. Oh, no.
This was an event. With cookies.
The musicians enthusiastically played Duke Ellington, Herbie Hankock, Miles Davis. The drum and bass solo received shouts of “yeah!” and a swell of applause. People in Fort Worth appreciate their jazz.
In front of me sat a WWII veteran in a wheelchair. He bopped along to the rhythm of the music, and at one point yelled, “The Duke!”
Mambo’s Cantina is an odd little bar. Tucked away on Houston Street at the bottom of a hotel, you’d miss it walking by. Inside, the blood red walls and sparse lighting create a macabre vibe. If you’re hungry, they serve Mexican food. The jazz lounge feel and south of the border cuisine make a unique combo with a Texas blues singer songwriter on stage.
Jason Elmore played for a light but growing crowd, earning catcalls from the ladies and approving nods from the gentlemen in the room. His finger ran up and down the fretboard strumming traditional blues chords and rhythms.
My favorite line of the evening, “I asked for water/she brought me gasoline”.
It felt like 1943 at a USO dance. Jazzy, swing band, led by a velvet voiced songstress made contemporary with a ukulele and had claps. The Leftover Cuties played old time style ballads and uptempo songs. The songs were fun and warm and made you want to go buy war bonds and plant a victory garden.
The Grotto makes the first venue I double up on as it’s the only place I’ve found thus far that has live music before 9pm on a Monday.
I caught the tail end of JJ and the Lobsterdogs’ set, and after a brief stage change, Songwriter Showcase began. First up was Kilane (I’m not sure how she spells her name), introduced as her first time performing. She could sing and play the guitar, reminiscent of Tracy Chapman with a velvet voice and bluesy vocals.
After she finished a song, she admitted she flubbed her lyrics. A regular yelled, “we don’t know that!” And another advised, “just say I nailed that shit!”
The Grotto’s crowd is definitely supportive, to say the least.