This is feature I wrote for Creative Loafing Atlanta. The original story was part of their annual music issue in 2018.
Mondays nights in East Atlanta Village were relatively quiet. Now two weekly pop-up music events are trying to make Mondays a destination for good times and good music.
The Churchill Grounds jazz trio kicks off the evening’s session at Jazz-Art Martini Mondays at Ten Atlanta. Playing traditional jazz favorites, the trio continues a longstanding tradition of allowing local musicians and singers accompany and jam with the band. The result is a full house of jazz lovers and musicians that hope to excite and continue Atlanta’s jazz legacy.
“The advantage at Ten is there is a built-in clientele for the hookahs and they just dig it,” say trio keyboardist Dave Ellington. “The art form is not being left behind. It may be in pockets but its surviving quite well. I see all these young players and they keep coming.”
Since the brick and mortar location closed in 2015, Sam Yi has continued to keep the imprint of his signature club and its jazz history alive by sponsoring his house band at jazz night jam sessions around the city. For him, its not just about the music, but the legacy of his club.
“You have to stay relevant, I don’t care how great your brand is, if you don’t expose it and keep it dormant it loses its thunder,” says Yi. “It was a great brand for two decades and everyone recognizes and identifies jazz in Atlanta with Churchills Grounds, and I didn’t want to lose that.”
Throughout the night there is an ebb and flow of performers and audience enjoying the lively jam sessions, hookahs, and martinis. This collaborative energy is what Yi hopes Jazz-Art Mondays will continue to bring to East Atlanta Village.
“We’d like to create a scene in this area,” says Yi. “I feel like there are a lot of young kids that hang out here and its an opportunity for a younger generation to get hip to this art form.”
Meanwhile just a few doors away at Union East Atlanta another sort of jam session is happening. The music is not traditional, the scene is not quite as formal but according to Jon Shingler, the creator of the Atlanta Jam Collective, its another outlet for musicians and artists.
Like Yi, Shingler provides a house band, Fooshee’s Forecast, for local musicians to accompany and jam with. Throughout the evening, Union is filled with a mashup of pop, funk, soul, rock, metal, and electronic. While music is a central theme, the goal of the Atlanta Jam Collective is to provide a place where adults can relax, play and enjoy themselves in a creative environment.
“It’s a release from the mundane,” says Shingler. This is a place you can express yourself. Its completely improv open jam. If you play a wrong note no one is going to judge you.”
Photo by Edward Adams.
There are no rules with the Atlanta Jam Collective other than have a good time. There is live painting, games, and paint and canvases for people to create their own art while enjoying music. Shingler believes everyone needs a place to unwind and release the stress of their daily lives and hopes his weekly jam session helps the community and visitors of East Atlanta.
“Atlanta is always the city too busy to hate, but with all that busyness we also need some free time and down time to let loose a bit.”
Sam Yi (Churchill Grounds at Ten Atlanta): 404-664-7936 • Jon Shingler (Atlanta Jam Collective at Union East Atlanta): 404-697-5623