Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Listen Up! New Room at Crooners to Feature Bösendorfer, Top Jazz and More

© Andrea Canter

"Our aim is to inspire pianists, music educational institutions, concert halls and music lovers the world over with our legendary sound." -- Bösendorfer

Suppose you owned a supper club, bar and lounge in Fridley, MN that already featured music seven days per week... and had an opportunity to "borrow" a 9 1/2-foot Bösendorfer grand piano? For Mary Tjosvold, owner of Crooners Lounge, there was little hesitation. The piano needed a space and musicians to play it. The metro area had a serious audience in search of more opportunities to relax and listen to the high caliber musicians in our midst. And musicians needed another venue where music would be regarded as art deserving that attentive audience. 
Bill Carrothers

On December 22, the Dunsmore Room at Crooners will officially open with music provided by the Dave King Trio, with native son Bill Carrothers caressing the Bösendorfer. Laura Caviani's Holiday Show, originally slated for the Lounge, instead will provide a preview of the Dunsmore Room on December 17. And curator Andrew Walesch already has the room booked through January, as well as a special evening with Geoffrey Keezer in late March.


The Dunsmore Room

Larry and Mary*
The Dunsmore Room is named for the late co-owner of Crooners Lounge, vocalist/pianist Larry Dunsmore, who took lessons with Thelonious Monk, accompanied Ella Fitzgerald and Barry Manilow, and spent his life singing and playing for the royalty of the world, including even the Queen of England. This intimate listening space will be devoted to jazz and other great music two-three nights per week in what is otherwise the Lakeside Room.  

With a seating capacity of 85-90, one of the top pianos in the Midwest, a new stage and acoustics, the Dunsmore Room will boast a schedule featuring the best from the local and national scene, reserved tables, and "never a cover." Instead, reasonable drink and food minimums will be set for each show, generally $15 for most local artists, with chef-planned specials to help keep those minimums realistic. (In the bar and lounge, which will continue to host music 7 days per week, the no-cover, no-minimum policy will continue.)

The opportunity to have available the 9 1/2-foot Bösendorfer grand -- considered by many to be the best piano line in the world--provides a rare opportunity for metro area audiences, as well as for pianists from the metro and beyond. Much of the music to be scheduled in the Dunsmore Room will take full advantage of this amazing instrument.

The Music

At this time, the Dunsmore Room will host live music two to three nights per week, including two of the series initiated recently in the Lounge:

Three Sundays each month, singer, pianist and host Dan Chouinard brings his newest creation, The Birthday Club, to the Dunsmore Room, celebrating the music birthdays and anniversaries of the month, featuring a stellar guest singer each week.

Tuesday Jazz Night will move into the Dunsmore Room, presenting the finest instrumental artists and small ensembles (and usually taking advantage of the piano!).

On the first Thursday of the month, "In the Crook" will feature a star vocalist "in the crook" of the Bösendorfer, accompanied by one of the area's top pianists. The January honors go to Rachel Holder-Hennig with Rick Carlson (January 7).

On Mondays or Wednesdays a few times per month, the Dunsmore Room will host an impressive roster of artists presenting themed events in this intimate setting.

Reservations and Minimums
As with all music at Crooners Lounge, there is no cover or ticket for music in the Dunsmore Room. However, there will be minimum drink and food charges for these shows, generally ranging from $15 -$40. New Chef Ben McCallum will prepare some specials that take the minimums into account. This means that for the minimum charge (similar to covers and ticket prices at other venues), you will be charged for food and beverage at that amount, with additional purchases added to your final bill. Order with the minimum in mind. Of course patrons can order less-- but note you will nevertheless be charged the minimum.
Reservations for The Dunsmore Room are encouraged as seating is limited, and can be made in advance at  (763) 571-9020. Be sure to specify that you want reservations for the Dunsmore Room. 

Schedule, December, January
Laura Caviani

December 17: Pre-Opening of The Dunsmore Room

Laura Caviani Trio Holiday Concert, 7-10PM

Feat. Gordon Johnson, bass and Dave Schmalenberger, drums 

$15 Minimum

December 22: Grand Opening of The Dunsmore Room! 

The Dave King Trio, 7-10PM

Feat. Bill Carrothers, piano and Billy Peterson, bass

$20 Minimum

December 29: Jazz Tuesdays

Jake Baldwin Quartet, 7-10PM

Feat. Ted Godbout, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; and Andres Crovetti, drums 

$15 Minimum

December 30: Pre-New Years Eve With Connie

Connie Evingson Holiday Concert , 7-10 pm

Feat. Dave Karr, sax; Mary Louise Knutson, piano; and Chris Bates, bass

$40 Fixed Dinner (Salad, Choice of Entree and Dessert)

January 5: Jazz Tuesdays

Butch Thompson Plays the Bösendorfer, 7-10 pm

$15 Minimum 

January 7: In the Crook

Rachel Holder-Hennig, vocals and Rick Carlson, piano, 7-9 pm

$15 Minimum 

January 10, 24, 31; February, 7, 21, 28,

The Birthday Club with Dan Chouinard & Friends, 6-8 pm

$20 Minimum

January 12: Jazz Tuesdays

Peter Kogan Quartet, 7-10 pm

$15 Minimum

January 19: Jazz Tuesdays

Mary Louise Knutson Trio, 7-10 pm 

$15 Minimum

February 14: Stay tuned for an incredible Valentine's Day!

March 23:  Geoffrey Keezer feat. vocalist Gillian Margot

7-9:30 pm

$40 Minimum

Crooners Lounge is located in Fridley at 6161 Highway 65 North, just north of I-694, about 15-20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. Visit www.croonersloungemn.com/the-dunsmore-room/. Music for Happy Hour and in the Lounge, see www.croonerslounge.com

* Photo courtesy of Crooners Lounge

Geoffrey Keezer -- in the Dunsmore Room, March 23 2016