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Published: April 5th 2007
Having dedicated the first night in Shanghai to sleep, we decided the second night should be spent in search of entertainment. Let's Go China listed a live Jazz club 'House of Blues and Jazz' on Maoming Nan Lu which boasts live music, reasonable prices and a casual atmosphere. Our perfect combination. Jessica knows a thing or two about jazz and fancied checking out the scene in Shanghai.
We emerged from the MRT into a trendy looking area full of boutiques. The streets of low-rise buildings somehow reminded me of Chelsea in London or Greenwich in NY. I could see myself shopping here on an average Saturday if I lived lived here. The goods were not even that expensive.
A type-o disturbed our otherwise pleasant stroll.
There is sometimes a world of difference between 159 and 158 when it comes to house numbers! 159 was listed as the building number of the club but was revealed to be a vacant lot that looked derelict and dark.... We paused and looked around. No club. We persisted down the street not really sure what to do. Then Jessica spotted some flashing lights and so we walked on. Just before the
Give it up..
..for Miss Evelyn Champagne!
lights, we stopped at a gothic looking building and Jessica just happened to look up... the words 'Blues and Jazz' arched above the solid wood door...
XYZ: 'It looks closed.'
Jessica: 'But it says 'Pull'!' (That was the one other word she could read!)
She pulled and the door opened. This was building number 158. Inside was a dimly lit, intimate space with a bar along one wall and a stage along the opposite wall. Filling the gap between were candle-topped tables. We were seated and served by a rather American sounding waiter. Good cocktails. Crinkle-cut chips. Not so good nachos - they got the jalepenos and cheese, but thought tomato-chilli sauce was salsa.... Certainly not reasonable prices, but I guess the guide is way out of date anyway.
The jazz appreciating crowd of Shanghai makes for interesting people watching. Pony-tailed men wearing leather jackets, wine drinking and chain smoking; women in black everything, dark rimmed glasses and also wine drinking and chain smoking; ex-pats in woolly jumper casuals, beer drinking and chain smoking. Spot the theme. Then there was the backpackers table, making so much noise you'd think they hadn't noticed the band at all. A local expat repeatedly told them to pipe down.
The band was a mottley crew. The trumpet player is a 6th generation Jazz musician from New Orleans. The Singer had pornstar-esque 'Evelyn Champagne' as a stage name and was also from N.O. There was a drummer - a Mr T look a like, a pianist/saxophone player - Mr Funky Fingers and the only white person on bass - Woody Harrelson Jr. The music was really good. They don't just plan the same old same old, but mix it up with their own compositions and variations on standards. I don't usually like singing when it comes to jazz, but I did like this singer. She had a wonderfully smooth voice. We stayed for all three sets. The third set was somewhat ruined when a girl in the audience decided to share her body-popping dance skills with everyone and started dancing in front of the stage. We didn't know where to look. So Jessica and I ended up looking at eachother rather than at the stage...
Exiting the club at 1am, I worried about getting back to the hostel at the other end of the city. I also wondered about the taxi drivers. Would they try to rip us off? Would they refuse to take us?
A taxi was waiting just outside, uniformed driver with white gloves... They have uniformed taxi drivers here. And no hassles about destination or cost, the meter goes on automatically and they issue receipts. There is even a rules and regulations notice for passengers in Chinese and English.
Thank heavens I can make myself understood here. We arrived back at the hostel not a hair out of place.
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