Food and Drink

Jazz, TX Opens Tonight!

Jazz, TX Opens Tonight!

Brent "Doc" Watkins plans to open Jazz, TX, by the end of August.

Brent “Doc” Watkins plans to open Jazz, TX, by the end of August.

BY Benjamin Olivo

If the anticipation is any indication, Jazz, TX, will instantly become one of the hottest venues at the Pearl. Band leader Brent “Doc” Watkins gave a tour last week and said he hopes to open the 100-seat music club with bar and dinner service before August ends.

Although Jazz, TX, will be the latest at Pearl, it’s been years in the making.

“The collaboration with Pearl goes back to 2009,” Watkins said last week during a tour of the venue. “My groups were performing for some of the early Pearl events . . . when the Pearl was in the early stages of development, and they were wanting to incorporate entertainment into their farmers market and other events. This was before most of the restaurants were open, before the hotel was open.

“So we were kind of involved in the music and entertainment at Pearl from Day One, and that collaboration was always a really pleasant one.”

What will result will be a small and intimate basement club in the Pearl Brewery’s old bottling department building near the Hotel Emma.

Watkins, a jazz band leader himself, said the club will be a “basement jazz club that has great food and a great bar.”

“We’ve sought to combine elements of a Western dance hall with an upscale jazz venue with the dynamic and aesthetic of Pearl,” Watkins said. “Going to hear great music is great, but it’s even greater if there’s great drinks and great hospitality and great food in a comfortable environment.”

Watkins hopes to book acts of the acoustic ilk — jazz, blues, Texas swing, salsa, conjunto, big band, etc.

“We want to combine as many different elements of jazz and of Hill Country/South Texas music as we can,” Watkins said. “Primarily acoustic just because it’s not a huge space. We have room for about 100 people in here. So there are certain styles of music that are naturally not going to really work, but we want to do as many quality acts as we can possibly find.”

So local acts like Jim Cullum, Santiago Jimenez and Hank Harrison, for example. As soon as Jazz, TX, is established, Watkins wants to book national acts like Lyle Lovett or Harry Connick Jr.

Initially, hours of operation are set for 5 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 am. Friday and Saturday.

It’s a basement with the stage in the front, followed by the small seated area and bar and kitchen and restrooms in the back. A large Hill County vista of a mural looms over the seated area, and blue and purple tinted windows.

Bar manager Derik Cortez will be slinging up mostly classic cocktails but with a South Texas twist. For example, he wants to do a classic gin cocktail but infused with anise fennel, or a riff on a Negroni but with Tequila and ancho peppers infused.

In the kitchen, chef Lorenzo Morales plans such staples as a brisket taco with foie gras and cabbage slaw or a country fried pork chop served with creamed greens. Morales was particularly excited about its assortment of pickles it plans to put on the menu.

It’s all designed so that the music, drinks and food complement each other, Morales said.

“Each of the different aspects we have match each other, and one’s not outshining the other one.”

Watkins said it will vary.

“I think you’re going to find that certain nights you’re going to want to get dressed up and have a really classy night, and then other nights, during the week, maybe a little more informal. I think there’s going to be something for everybody just about.”


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Ben Olivo

August 23rd, 2016

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