“There are people that come here from Brooklyn and New Jersey,” says general manager Jack Baboub, who has been with the club for the last ten years and who is in charge of booking various local acts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The place’s décor makes you think of a country bar - there are saddles, bullhorns and pictures of Western legends and on its walls are posted several reviews that have appeared in local papers. The beer list is impressive - there are over 200 beers - and they also offer a vast variety of tequilas. The menu is moderately priced - a bison burger sets you back for about $7 - dinner options rarely go over $14 and the service is effective and courteous. The kitchen closes at 11 pm on Fridays and at 1 am on Saturdays, offering a more limited late-night menu.
The music offered at the club varies from night to night, as the club tries to change their acts every now and then, so on any given night you might find the Chicago-styled blues of The Michael Packer band, the traditional jazz of saxophonist Bob Kaiser and Friends or the more hardcore bebop of Monk’s Monks. The club offers the music with no cover charge, something that the management seems to take pride on when asked about.
“I like to book the music for its quality, not the draw”, says Baboub. “We have a wide range of musicians here and we often change the pace - sometimes we have something harder to find, such as a jug band. I would say it’s a wild mix and the audience, which varies from a younger crowd to people in their 50s or 60s, seems to respond well to that”.
Adobe Blues also hosts a jazz and blues jam session on Wednesdays, when house band The Wolfpack backs various vocalists and musicians who hope to play the club’s improvised stage. The band is considered to be the club’s ambassadors. Formed by Larry D’Albero (bass), Rick Howard (guitar) and Tom Baker (drums), they handle all of the improvisation that a jam session requires and on a visit there, they handled everything from 12-bar blues to more sophisticated jazz tunes. Vocalist Betty Miller was one of the guests, performing a haunting version of “Masquerade” among other tunes.
On a Saturday night a few months back, blues band Queen Tipsy took the stage at 11 pm, performing a mix of original jazz and blues tunes. Covers included Etta James’ “Damn Your Eyes” and some other standards. The mostly standing crowd at the bar didn’t seem to pay much attention to the band (the bar area is a bit more detached from the stage), but those at the tables listened attentively, responding with steady applause at the end of each number. The patrons that night were very mixed - groups of young men and women in loud conversation and several people in their 40s and 50s who were either dropping in for a drink or coming for the music.
“The club is very music-centered,” says Phyllis Foreman, the vocalist for Queen Tipsy, who has made regular appearances there for about a year and a half. “They want quality musicians, and they really listen - you play at the jam and often get invited and they’re very supportive.”
~ Ernest Barteldes