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DJs and blues switcheroo

Jazzbones changes up its regular nights

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Bobble Tiki doesn’t claim to be the most observant Tiki in the world, but he’s fairly adept at noticing the obvious. When Bobble Tiki slipped inside Jazzbones last Wednesday, it didn’t take him long to realize he wasn’t looking at the Blues Theatre he was expecting. Randy Oxford was nowhere to be found.

Bobble Tiki took note. Wednesdays at Jazzbones had changed.

What Bobble Tiki saw last Wednesday, the same thing you’ll see every Wednesday at Jazzbones from now on, was people dancing and DJs spinning. What Bobble Tiki saw was a young, moderately hip and decently sexy crowd having a good time and getting drunk — enjoying mash-ups from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s mixed with spinnin’, scratchin’ and original dance beats that made Bobble Tiki long for a dehydrated and sleep deprived warehouse from his past. The Jazzbones calendar (available online) confirmed it. Mix Tape is what they’re calling it, and it’s now a Wednesday staple.

But what about Blues Theatre, and Randy Oxford’s Jam? Bobble Tiki loves DJs and loves to get his groove on, but he also loves Oxford’s exuberance and the Blues Theatre’s crowd of regulars.

Luckily for all involved, Blues Theatre hasn’t disappeared, it just moved to Thursdays. After a brief three-week hiatus, Blues Theatre will resume Thursday, Jan. 17. The night, conveniently enough, will also be an Art Slam with Tacoma’s favorite eccentric artist, Teddy Haggarty. It’ll be quite a note for the Blues Theatre to resume on, and certainly a note Bobble Tiki wants to hear.

“Randy’s schedule for 2008 dictated the jam be moved to Thursday nights. Jazzbones didn’t want to lose him or the jam, so we moved it,” says Jennifer Johnson, one of Jazzbones’ talent buyers and entertainment directors.

“Jazzbones had a DJ night on Thursdays a few years back. It went OK, but kept getting bumped for national live music acts. We think Wednesdays in the later spot are a better fit and wanted to give it another go.

“We started Mix Tape which features Ocean Grooves DJs. For the month of January, we will have the DJs at 9 p.m. It’s free and all-ages until 11 p.m. In February, we’ll switch it up a bit and have an early all-ages live music show at 7 p.m. before the DJs go on at 10 p.m. We were trying to find a way to still offer live music on weeknights that people would come out for and still have entertainment that went until at least midnight.”

By the looks of things, they’ve figured it out. Jazzbones is nothing if not resourceful.
In other news, and possibly a contributing factor to changes in Jazzbones’ bookings, longtime owner Jason Mackinnon has returned to work at the Boneyard and is teaming with Jennifer Johnson to improve what is already one of Tacoma’s most successful clubs.

“Our main goal with the Wednesday jam is to get people out to experience live music and participate in it. The amazing amount of energy that pours off the stage during a really great jam is impressive. Plus, the MacKinnon Youth Music program, which works to put musical instruments into the hands of kids that otherwise would never get to play is always on our minds. Tommy Carson (this rag’s marketing director) has solidly handled the program for the last year in Jason MacKinnon’s absence. We look forward to an even greater response from music instructors, sponsors and generous donors in the community now that he’s back,” explains Johnson.

“We’d really like to see more kids and young adult musicians under the age of 21 come to the jam for the first portion of it. It’s completely geared towards them from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and we want them to utilize that opportunity to get up on a real stage with professional musicians and soak it in. Hopefully, they’ll learn a bit too, but it’s mostly about having fun, of course.”

As for Oxford, he seems to share the visions both Johnson and Mackinnon hold for the possibilities of Blues Theatre. As always, he was exuberant.

“Our goal in ’08 is to give away even more instruments to kids. We are always looking for more donated instruments of any kind because there are always kids who are looking for their first instrument to help get their music careers started,” says Oxford.

“Jason McKinnon was the first guy to give me the green light for the Blues Theatre all-ages open jam at Jazzbones two years ago and now he is back at Jazzbones and he really wants to step up the instrument giveaway program even more. Jennifer Johnson and Rose Peterson as well as Terry Suzuki at Jazzbones are also big supporters of what we do at the weekly Blues Theatre. I think the instrument giveaway program has been a huge success and a major part of what we do at the Blues Theatre weekly jam, so we will continue to focus on this in ’08 as well as featuring even more exciting professional performers and kids from all over the region.”

As always, Bobble Tiki doesn’t care what you do this week because he doesn’t even know you. In fact, unless you can predict to Bobble Tiki how many times he’ll see Matt Hasselback’s famous “We want the ball and we’re going to score” moment before this week’s playoff game, Bobble Tiki is pretty sure he doesn’t want to meet you. Join Bobble Tiki for breakfast every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Spew, and consider yourself as close as you’re going to get.

[Jazzbones, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Bobble Tiki is going out of his head via e-mail  and MySpace.

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