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Live Jazz is Back at Mr. Henry’s

Mr. Henry’s is gonna blow their top this Friday.

That’s because jazz is back upstairs at the local hotspot -starting this Friday, June 11 with Maija Rejman.

Rejman has been performing in the DMV since the 1990s. With two critically acclaimed CDs to her credit, Brazilian music has always been a centerpiece of Maija’s shows and albums.  Rejman’s shows at Mr. Henry’s are known to have many a guest artist to regale the crowd, to their unexpected delight.

The crowd has been waiting a long time for Rejaman and all of the musicians that usually perform at Mr. Henry’s (601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). It’s been a 14 months since live music last drifted from the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The restaurant and bar first made a name for itself by hiring local schoolteacher Roberta Flack to perform on the second floor three nights a week back in 1968.

Since then, the Hill landmark has provided a venue for local and national acts, from Burt Bacharach to Ramsey Lewis to the performers that get on stage from the audience during the Wednesday night Jazz Jam, hosted weekly by Herb Scott and Aaron Myers since February 2015. The two who went on to found the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation in 2017.

The Capitol Hill Jazz Jam has taken place at Mr. Henry’s Wednesdays at 8 p.m. since Feb 2015! They’re back again Wednesday, June 16. Photo courtesy Capitol Hill Jazz Jam

Back to Community

That all crashed to an end in March 2020, leaving musicians without a live venue –and with a reduced paycheque, said Scott. Many stepped away from music to take other employment, or relied on unemployment or grants.

“It was devastating,” said Scott. “But it was amazing to see how much support there was for online streaming.” Musicians live-streamed from the Mr. Henry’s facebook page, performing for their own followers and those of the Capitol Hill Venue.

However, live performances came with challenges, both technical and artistic –could the audience see and hear performers. Many regular attendees of live performances weren’t as into virtual concerts, so performers had to start from scrtach tobuild a cirtual audience.

Still, Scott said, while virtual concerts were not the same as performing live, “there were weeks where there was overwhelming support from people that tuned in and tipped,” said Scott.

Ready to Jam

Mr. Henry’s General Manager Cathy Nagy said that, with the larger venues opening. With the entire staff fully vaccinated and with District COVID metrics in a good place, it was time to reopen.

She reached out to musicians to see if they were ready to return. “Oh my gosh –the response was overwhelming –they can’t wait to come back.” Mr. Henry’s has filled their music calendar for the next two months, she said.

Nagy said that she can’t wait for the upstairs venue to be filled with music again. Preparations have been going on all week, with staff moving glassware and bottles back upstairs, restocking, cleaning and even wiping down the distinctive panelling. “It’s almost like opening a new venue again,” she said.

Scott is also very ready for the call to get back in front of the audience at Mr. Henry’s and he is preparing himself to host the first Jazz Jam next Wednesday, June 16.

“I was very excited [to get the call],” he said. “I’m ready to get back in front of the audience and the jazz community.”

Dominique Blanco performs at Mr. Henry’s Thursday, Juen 17. Courtesy: Mr. Henry’s

The Show Goes On

Mr. Henry’s is also excited ready to welcome you. They continue to practice strict COVID sanitation procedures, and the entire staff is fully vaccinated.

You can feel the music roll over you again upstairs at Mr. Henry’s starting this Friday, June 11 with Maija Rejman.

The full weekly schedule resumes next Wednesday, June 16 with the Capitol Jazz Jam, followed by Dominique Bianco with Latin Jazz on Groove Thursdays; WCP 2016 Best Performing Artists the Lionel Lyles Quintet the night of Friday, June 17; and critically-acclaimed troumbonist Shannon Gunn Saturday, June 18.

Get more information, the full schedule of live music –and tickets to see it soon! –at Mr. Henry’s by visiting mrhenrysdc.com/music.

COVID-19 sanitation protocols remain in place. Mr. Henry’s staff are fully vaccinated and have the option to be unmasks. Unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks within the restaurant. UPDATE: As of July, Mr. Henry’s requires all patrons to provide proof of vaccination.

The Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation is planning this years Hillfest Jazz music festival for Oct 5-9 of this year. Details soon at hillfest.org.

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