I’m publishing this press release because hubby and I are huge fans of jazz and we ADORE Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Center City. If you recall, we took in an amazing dinner and show a couple of years ago which featured local jazz legend Pat Martino. We have been catching the livestreams as often as possible and donating as much as we can to do our part to keep this beloved food & music venue from closing. The production quality is so good and you almost feel like you are there. If you are a fan of live music and delicious Southern-style cuisine, please considering donating to this new GoFundMe to keep the music playing at Chris’ Jazz Cafe!
The inability to serve guests indoors combined with a dearth of jazz lovers supporting livestream performances could finally mean curtains for the longest operating jazz club in the City of Philadelphia. On the brink of closure, the venue – which celebrated its 31st anniversary in September – is hoping a new GoFundMe campaign will keep the music playing at 1421 Sansom Street. Chris’ has launched the crowdfunding initiative in order to continue to book and compensate musicians for future livestream jazz shows. 100% of donations will go to the artists who perform on stage and to the engineers who make the livestream magic happen.
“Somehow we have managed to stay afloat during these difficult nine months by utilizing PPP, business loans, and grants, but now we’re just hemorrhaging money,” said club owner Mark DeNinno. “The recent COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia have shuttered our physical doors, but to keep the livestream shows alive and to employ the musicians who play on our stage — we’re finally at the point where we’re in need of the community’s help.”
DeNinno has tried everything to pivot and adapt to the changing pandemic landscape, but surging virus numbers and the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions by the city has made it impossible to survive. “We don’t have outdoor dining and the city has completely shut down indoor dining and live music venues,” he said. When the pandemic hit, the chef and restaurateur tried a variety of things to keep the lights on, including pivoting to livestream concerts; investing thousands in transforming the space into a state-of-the-art audio/video recording & streaming studio; and opening the business to artists who play other genres of music – not only jazz. But it hasn’t been enough. “We need about $50K to keep the music playing and get us through March, which is when we hope coronavirus cases will decline and the city will ease restrictions on businesses.”
One of the first big-name artists who has agreed to play for donations is Philly native Eric Wortham II, whose livestream show is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 17. The uber-talented piano virtuoso has toured with international superstars Adele and Seal, and has collaborated with the likes of Vivian Green, Music SoulChild, and Grammy award-winner Jill Scott. DeNinno and his team are reaching out to other high-profile artists in the hopes that those who care about the country’s jazz legacy will step up to aid in fundraising efforts.
“This GoFundMe is our last-ditch effort to continue to offer jazz, but sadly we may now face the same fate of more than hundreds of restaurants in the city that have already been forced to close this year. Without additional support, our legendary club is in danger of closing forever, which would be a tremendous loss to the Philadelphia arts community.”