The Dock provides an eclectic and enjoyable music environment

Review: The Ithaca venue's Tuesday Bluesday and I-Town Community Jazz Jam events impress with their atmosphere.

If you’re looking for an excuse to go to Ithaca, The Dock offers weekly music nights dedicated to blues, jazz and reggae. Particularly, if you suddenly realized you care about jazz after seeing La La Land, Tuesday nights from 9­ p.m. to midnight are for you — I-Town Community Jazz Jam.

Sometimes, you just have to drive an hour away to satisfy your jazz craving. Last week, I had one of those nights. I strolled into The Dock on Tuesday night just in time to catch the last song of Tuesday Bluesday, which goes from 6-9 p.m. every Tuesday night. I order a five-dollar rum-and-coke and move to the edge of the venue, along the ten feet of dancing space in front of the stage.

Photo: Abby Rose Sugnet

I sit on a barstool with my drink when the only person on the dance floor makes his way over to his drink at the seat next to mine. He wears an old T-shirt, cargo pants, a bandana over his long gray hair, and large, thick, circular-framed glasses. His raggedy gray beard reaches his heart. He lifts his PBR and nods his head at me, taking a swig and replacing the can on the table. He’s back on the dance floor, grooving with every inch of his body. He seems like a regular here.

While the stage shifts from Tuesday Bluesday to Jazz Jam, the dancer strolls back over to me. He says this is his first night out in a while, and he loves to dance. He prefers dancing to jazz because blues is too predictable. He asks me if I play, and I tell him I dabble in piano, guitar and singing. “The beautiful thing about the voice is that it comes everywhere with you,” he says. He smiles, nods, lifts his PBR and turns back to the dance floor.

Jazz night finally begins at 9:35 p.m. The keyboardist leads the drummer and bassist to the end of the first song and listens intently to the drummer, who carries the band from the first piece to the next. The keyboardist’s focus is evident in his facial expression and body language, leaning his left ear in towards the bass.

A woman joins my dancing friend on the floor until the second piece comes to a close. While the band takes a very short break, the dancer catches up with the keyboardist.

Though the third song may sound like muzac (e.g. elevator music) to non-jazz listeners, watching the band interact with one another and improvise would give anyone an appreciation for the art of jazz and the talent of its musicians. As I watch the bar empty to a mellow fifteen audience members, I have to remind myself that it’s late on a Tuesday night, so the town of Ithaca has an excuse for missing this free jazz show. The longer I watch, the more impressed I am with the band’s key changes and my dancing friend’s moves. “That was Blue Suede Shoes by Charlie Parker,” says the bassist. He introduces Nick, the keyboardist, and drummer Jamie Powell, and eventually tells us his name is Raphael.

The band seems to hit all speeds and subgenres of jazz. Half an hour into the show, the band invites a trumpet onstage. Throughout the rest of the night, new musicians make their way to the stage— “Brotha Fitz and Sista Robin” come up to take over the keys and bass, respectively, with the same drummer. Raphael comes up later to introduce a new drummer, Cory, and Luke on the trumpet.

As I gather my things to make my hour-long drive back to Syracuse at 11 p.m., the first keyboardist, Nick, introduces himself to me. I assume that it’s unusual for a girl with a camera and notepad to show up alone to this bar for jazz night. He thanks me for coming and hopes to see me again here soon.

All in all, I can’t say that I would drive an hour to Ithaca just for that jazz night again, but you’ll have to make that decision for yourself. If you happen to be in Ithaca on a Tuesday night, I would definitely suggest stopping by The Dock.

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