The Willow Glen Resident Back to Writings

Photograph by Skye Dunlap

Bluestown: All decked out in '50s tweeds, the Jumpin' Jukes bring blues and dancing to Goosetown Caffe each weekend.

Chicago-style blues band
jams at Goosetown Caffe

Now Glen residents have place to dance

By Michelle Ku

Until two weeks ago, dancing on the Avenue was an event restricted solely to Willow Glen's annual street fair. Now residents have the opportunity to dance the night away every weekend at the Goosetown Caffe. Every Friday and Saturday night since Jan. 23, Jumpin' Jukes has been shaking the walls from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Goosetown at 1072 Lincoln Ave. "This will be our home spot, the place where we play every week," said Danny Denaro, leader of the Jumpin' Jukes and vocalist and harmonica player for the band. A four-piece rhythm and blues band--upright bass, harmonica, guitar and drums. The Jumpin' Jukes specializes in traditional Chicago-style blues. To inspire the proper rhythm and blues atmosphere, the band members get decked out in their nattiest 1950s attire. The band was formed in August 1997. "We're trying to go more traditional, rather than rock & roll, in the style of the old Chicago blues players," guitarist Johnny Ray said. "The upright-bass player is more in keeping with traditional Chicago blues." Goosetown owner Gary Rovia began having the band play to entertain his customers and to attract new customers. "We have a little dance floor, and we haven't really used it yet," Rovia said. "It's dance music, it's subtle, and it's not overbearing. You can come in and talk and have a cocktail." Since the new no-smoking law went into effect on Jan. 1, business at Avenue establishments that previously allowed smoking is generally down, but the addition of live music to the Goosetown lounge could attract more people. The live band at Goosetown could really pack in the crowds, said Howie Morgan, a regular patron. "The band is good, and where else in this area can you hear a blues and jazz band like this?" he said. "This band is for everybody of different ages; it's not just for the 21-year-old crowd." Despite the quality of the live music, Goosetown regular Michael Langhams does not believe that the band will necessarily fill the joint every weekend. "It's great that there's live music," Langhams said. "But you can have a good band, but 90 percent of the people who go to bars smoke. The band works well, but the [no-smoking law] will detract from it." In searching for a band to play his lounge, Rovia checked out a number of different musical styles. Besides rhythm and blues, he looked into the possibility of having a Motown group or a piano bar. The Jumpin' Jukes had a test run when the band played at Goosetown on New Year's Eve. The positive feedback helped Rovia make the decision to have the Jukes play at Goosetown every week. "Customers loved the band," Rovia said. "The people who came in were totally entertained." The Jumpin' Jukes play three 45-minute sets each night. Their first set is mellow and soft, geared toward the dinner crowd. While the first set is all instrumental, Denaro provides the vocals for the songs in the second and third sets, which are more lively and upbeat. The band plays music by B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, Junior Wells, Little Walter and Charlie Musselwhite, to name just a few artists. "Live music is a fabulous idea," said club regular Debbie Hedrix. "[The Jumpin' Jukes] are good, and they keep me going. I think once it's known that they're down here, people should start coming in. I don't see any reason why people wouldn't come in."

This article appeared in the Willow Glen Resident, February 4, 1998.
©1998 Metro Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

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