Every Wednesday, Rhapsody Restaurant, 18 Public Square, Nelsonville, hosts a Jazz Night for its patrons to enjoy the classical and innovative sounds of jazz music.
The performers, Kay Carter and the Bernie Nau Quartet, play their sets each week from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Jennifer Yanity, food and beverage director at Rhapsody Restaurant, said the Jazz nights began as a summer event series and have now continued months later as regular events for the restaurant.
“They started on July 14, and (the performers) were trying to bring something to Nelsonville for the summer to get people up here and make it a little bit more lively,” Yanity said. “And we've been doing it every Wednesday since pretty much.”
Carter, a seasoned musician who plays trumpet, guitar and also does vocals, said she had been playing at the Rhapsody Restaurant for years before suggesting the addition of jazz nights to the restaurant’s lineup.
“I've been there doing a solo gig playing guitar and singing for probably 20 years,” Carter said. “I still do that twice a month. And then on Wednesday nights, we started a jazz night because I really wanted to get jazz into Nelsonville and expose more people to another kind of music, and it's really just fantastic. We've had really, really good attendance. It's been a great ride.”
Matthew James, professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Ohio University, said the enticement of jazz performances is particularly special when heard in a live setting like Rhapsody Restaurant.
“Like most other music, jazz is most fulfilling when heard in a live performance setting,” James said in an email. “Over the course of its history, jazz music has evolved in real-time on the stages of clubs, theaters and other venues across the U.S. and abroad. Performers feed off of each other, and off of the energy of live audiences. Regionally, it’s important to support establishments like Rhapsody who put forth the energy and finances to make live music happen. So hats off to Rhapsody for being a long-time supporter of hosting live musicians and live jazz. Plus the food is terrific and good music only serves to enhance the experience.”
Yanity said the jazz nights have been very successful, prompting the continuation of the performances each week.
“They've just been a great success, and they've really added a lot to the community, (particularly) the music and the enthusiasm of the crowd, and the fact that it just brings a lot of people in in the middle of the week that wouldn't otherwise have anything to do,” Yanity said.
Carter said there are many misconceptions associated with jazz and the culture, and enjoyment within the genre actually transcends age barriers.
“Jazz night is extremely gratifying,” Carter said. “(People may) think, ‘Oh, it's just gonna be older people.’ It isn't. It's young people and students, and they all come in, and they enjoy it so much. And it's just such a great happening. We've had really good attendance and a lot of good support from people. So, it's just really fun. I know, a lot of people may think that it's slow and it's dragging. But it just isn't. It's full of life and purpose.”
With the excitement that the jazz nights have to offer, James encourages OU students to attend the events to experience the culture of both the music as well as the Nelsonville area.
“The historic square of Nelsonville is something every OU student should check out,” James said in an email. “Spending a little money on good music and food in a town like Nelsonville is one small way to give back to the community.”