CULTURE

Famed venue resurrected with jazz, blues and more

Music enthusiasts in Athens, especially fans of blues, jazz and world music, tend to have nostalgic recollections of Blues Hall in the central Mets district. It was launched back in November 1997 and lasted a brief but sweet two years. Now, seven years later, the same venue is being relaunched, fully renovated and equipped with a new sound system. The revived club has also been given a new name, Planet Music. Even so, the venue’s artistic direction will not differ greatly from that of its previous life. Jazz and blues will again figure prominently but, this time around, the venue will also add a rock dimension to its total offering, with shows by acts from the international indie circuit. The club has already announced a series of shows from December to March next year. Chicago act Big Time Sarah and Blues Cargo are scheduled to perform on December 7. On the 8th and 9th, Louisiana Red will perform a set that should take concertgoers back to the days of Patsy Cline and Louis Armstrong and the easy-listening jazz of the 1950s and 60s. He will also be backed by Blues Cargo. Acoustic and electric jazz shows aside, the revived venue will host a full-on swing night with the Slammers Maximum Jive Band on December 15 and 16. Influenced by the Big Band era and acts such as Louis Jordan and Louis Prima, the Slammers rev up their sound for more of a boogie-woogie tempo. The same goes for Ray Gelato, a well-known performer here as a result of numerous previous shows in Greece. An American musician of Italian descent, Gelato is scheduled to return for three nights, January 25 to 27, with his entire band. The influence of Prima and other jazz masters – all from a previous era when jazz was dance music, or the period’s pop music – is much inherent in Gelato’s work. Gelato’s shows at Planet Music will be preceded by Memo Gonzales, a worthy rhythm-and-blues artist booked for two nights on January 5 and 6. Ethnic act Nightlosers, whose material blends elements of jazz, blues and Irish rock, as well as traditional styles from Eastern Europe, will also play Planet Music in January, on the 12th and 13th.