While a new addition to the downtown Concord scene, the soulful sound of jazz that permeates the air from the new jazz club the Purple Pit on Friday nights seems like such a natural fit that you would think it has been there forever.
Currently open only on Fridays, for the last two months the Pit has treated jazz fans to internationally renowned jazz artists playing a multitude of varieties of jazz and talented locals who just love to play. Co-owner Steve Guerrera, who hosts a jazz radio show on WKFL, explained that he opened the club in downtown Concord because "it was needed."
"Jazz is like muscle cars - they happened here," said co-owner Tom LeMieux on why he loves jazz. Both LeMieux and Guerrera said that they play jazz, Guerrera explaining "Tom's an old friend; we played in bands 25 years ago."
Guerrera continued to say that while the downtown has a lot going on, the addition of a "hip club" is just what the doctor ordered for a town that continually craves culture.
The Pit's patrons definitely seemed to agree.
Dwayne Swenson of Concord said "the club is very different for the scene around here, very refreshing."
"I love the variety of the jazz that they have played," said regular Katya Brennan of Concord. "Big band type jazz, Latin jazz, last week was kind of like a Miles Davis type jazz. It brings live music to downtown Concord and something to do on Friday night. Going to the Purple Pit is a nice way to spend an evening and not spend a lot of money."
Guerrera said it is not a problem to have incredible jazz from different musicians every week because, he said, as a jazz radio show host, "I know the talent pool."
Tim Wildman of Concord said that the best part of the Purple Pit was that they give "a place for local musicians to play, which is a dream come true," while also bringing in top talent from New York and Boston.
A lot of the patrons remarked that what made the club even more appealing for Concord residents was the fact that it is within walking distance for many residents.
The Purple Pit is set up as more of a lounge than a club, with couches, small intimate tables and deep blue lighting that Swenson called a "relaxed atmosphere."
Guerrera said that the motivation for the retro feel of the club was the mantra "Make it simple."
The Pit's uniqueness extends beyond their decor and music, but also to their alcohol policy. Patrons over 21 are allowed to bring their own alcohol but none is sold at the club.
"Concord could use a jazz club, and BYOB? This could end up one of our favorite places," laughed Laurie Asselin of Bow.
Guerrera said the decision to not sell alcohol was deliberate. "We wanted to focus on the music. If we sold alcohol than we might as well be a bar, and I don't want to do that."
Guerrera went on to say that the Purple Pit to him is "the best man-cave in all of Concord," with "hot jazz every Friday night."
Playing the night we visited was a Boston-based, sax-led group, the Daryl Lowery Quartet. Joining Lowery was Consuelo Candelara on piano, Bruno Raberg on bass and Bob Tamagni on drums. Lowery explained that while all four had played with each other in the past, they had never played with all four together at the same time.
One of the mysteries of jazz and music in general is that you either you have chemistry or you don't regardless of experience or talent, and these four had obvious chemistry and talent.
"It's top-notch entertainment. I love the venue, I hope it catches on." Paula LaBontee of Concord said of the performance.
For two hours Lowery and his crew played exceptional and mostly originally composed jazz. As the evening wore on more and more people would fill the club, with many explaining they just heard the music from the street. (next page »)