Jazz Up Your Night in Washington, DC
Do you like jazz? Did you know that Washington, DC is the birthplace of jazz legend Duke Ellington? DC is also home to several jazz clubs, like Bohemian Caverns where Ellington spent time. Bohemian Caverns delivers that classic 1920s jazz club experience as does Blues Alley in Georgetown.
Another unique venue is the KC Jazz Club on the rooftop of the Kennedy Center. The club is intimate and more casual than you would expect. Black Fox Lounge and Twins Jazz Club are also intimate venues where you can enjoy jazz in the district.
If the bar scene is more to your liking, you can enjoy jazz at Takoma Station Tavern, Columbia Station or Madam's Organ. There are also numerous jazz nights at restaurants throughout the district, like Georgia Brown's.
Not to be missed for jazz enthusiasts is HR-57, the music center named for a House Resolution that called for the preservation of jazz and blues. HR-57 is a non-profit organization that offers lectures, workshops and lessons in addition to weekly jazz performances.
So, whether you're looking for that classic jazz club experience or you just want to enjoy good music and cocktails with friends, one of these ten venues are sure to fit the jazz bill.
10 Twins Jazz
Red walls set the mood in this intimate restaurant where guests enjoy live jazz in a laid-back, no frills setting. On the menu at Twins Jazz Club, you'll find Caribbean and Ethiopian fare like fried plantains, curry chicken, and whole red snapper prepared in a Creole sauce. Twins offers a full bar in addition to a full menu, which comes in handy when you need to meet a per person purchase minimum on top of a cover charge. Just be sure to place your order before the show gets started so you can enjoy the music uninterrupted. METRO: U Street. (202-234-0072)
9 Georgia Brown's
This upscale restaurant attracts a wide mix of politicos and world citizens longing for South Carolina's Lowcountry cooking. Barbecued salmon fillet, shrimp and grits, Frogmore stew (seafood, no frogs) and Southern fried chicken are menu classics that come with cornbread, biscuits and lots of animated conversation. Vegetarians find warm embrace in meatless dishes like sautéed black-eyed pea cakes. Fried catfish, biscuit-battered French toast, country ham with gravy and other brunch delights also gain wide approval. Some say that this type of food is a bit heavy -- others simply nod and butter another biscuit. Reservations are recommended. METRO: Faragut North. (202-393-4499)
8 Madam's Organ
Madam's Organ will definitely provide you with an interesting night out. Known as the place to enjoy the blues in DC, this bar features live musical performances every night of the week. Squeeze onto the tiny dance floor to enjoy the blues, jazz, R&B or bluegrass. Or play a friendly game of pool to the rhythm of the music. Fair warning, though, this party can get kind of wild; Madam's Organ is where the "beautiful people come to get ugly." Fun Fact: the name Madam's Organ is a play on words. The bar is named after its DC neighborhood, Adams Morgan. METRO: Woodley Park/Zoo (202-667-5370)
7 Columbia Station
Music pours into the street from the nightly jazz performances at Columbia Station. Inside, the atmosphere is cozy, family-friendly and very down to Earth. Guests dine on an American menu that features soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and pizzas. Columbia Station also features a full bar with aptly named cocktails like The Duke, Fats Manhattan and the Billy Holiday Tini -- the perfect complement to a late night jazz session. Sit inside or outside on the patio; there really isn't a bad seat in the house. Dress is casual to decked out for a night on the town. METRO: Woodley Park/Zoo. (202-462-6040)
6 Bohemian Caverns
Bohemian Caverns is an authentic supper club that's been entertaining jazz enthusiasts in the district for more than 85 years. Guests dine from a full menu while enjoying one of two nightly jazz performances. Menu items include small plates like lobster mac n cheese, salads, sandwiches and entrees like Jerk Chicken Pasta and Southern Shrimp and Grits. A full bar is also available. Food and drinks are not included in the ticket price, however, nor is a minimum food and beverage purchase required. Arrive early to grab a good seat. Doors open one hour before show time. Dress is upscale casual. Bohemian METRO: U Street. (202-299-0800)
5 Blues Alley
A great place for jazz lovers, Blues Alley presents top-name jazz artists in an intimate setting that echoes the jazz clubs of the 1920s. Past performers include Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis. Groove to the rhythms while enjoying Creole cuisine, steak or seafood and a well-mixed cocktail. There is a $12 food and beverage purchase minimum per person per show. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the first show and no earlier than 9:45 p.m. for the second show. Tickets are available online, over the phone or at the box office. Seats are first come first serve. Dress is business casual. METRO: Foggy Bottom (202-337-4141)
4 Black Fox Lounge
Quietly sexy, Black Fox Lounge is a well-thought-out repose located in the heart of Dupont Circle offering an experience that is all at once fresh and contemporary yet possessing an Old World sensibility. Revel in impeccable service in an atmosphere where you can pause, delight in simple pleasures, and if need be, transact business. Enjoy classic and original cocktails, boutique wines from around the world, and a light Continental food menu. The refined, relaxed setting is ideal for hosting intimate private events. Live music performances are featured on most evenings, including jazz, blues, r&b, swing and soul musicians. METRO: Dupont Circle. (2024831723)
3 KC Jazz Club
Order your tickets, grab three of your friends (or plan a double date) and gather round your table for four and enjoy a jazz concert on the rooftop of the Kennedy Center. The cabaret setting of the KC Jazz Club creates an intimate venue where you can enjoy performances by new artists and seasoned jazz musicians. The season starts in October and continues through May with performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. Dress is casual; you're welcome to come as you are or dress to the nines. A full bar is available but the menu is limited to snacks. METRO: Foggy Bottom (202-467-4700)
2 Takoma Station Tavern
Takoma Station Tavern hosts a variety of live music acts, the majority of which are local favorites although some are national performers. Jazz jam sessions are held on Tuesdays from 7-10 p.m. Wednesdays feature reggae and Saturdays feature soul. You can also catch live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. The tavern is closed on Mondays. Recently renovated, Takoma Station Tavern offers a limited menu featuring typical bar fare such as burgers, fries and chicken wings. Enjoy the VIP treatment by reserving a table in the VIP section and ordering champagne, wine or vodka from the bottle menu. METRO: Takoma (202-829-1999)
1 HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz & Blues
Named for the House Resolution that declared jazz an American treasure, HR-57 is a music center non-profit dedicated to the preservation of jazz and blues in the district. Its a cultural arts venue that attracts amateur and professional jazz musicians as well as jazz aficionados, fans and students. The center offers lectures, workshops, lessons and weekly performances. Performances are typically held Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Jam sessions are held Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are sold as singles or in groups of two or four. HR-57 also serves lunch from El Caribe on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. METRO: Union Station (202-667-3700)
About Shannon Morgan
Shannon Morgan is a writer and editor, most recently for Maryland Life magazine. Shannon has also written for Food Network magazine, Frederick Magazine and several parenting web sites. She writes most often about travel, food and fitness. Shannon has appeared on WYPR, the Baltimore affiliate of NPR, sharing fun events in Maryland, and spoken about social media strategies for travel organizations at local and international conferences. She is a mom of two kids with food allergies, a runner and drinks more decaf coffee than one writer should.
Read more about Shannon Morgan here.