Hearne: All That Jazz; AMC MainStreet Ups Ante on New Marquee Lounge

Out with the old, in with the smoking hot new…

After scarcely a year of operation, the powers that be in the Power & Light District have re-themed and fine-tuned the elegant space just off the entry of the AMC Mainstreet movie complex at 14th and Main in downtown Kansas City.

“They’ve given it its own identity now,” says spokesman Will Gregory of the redo. “You used to feel like you were part of the lobby of the movie theater, which it was. Now it’s getting its own entrance, its own awning and discounted valet parking. Parking’s been one of the biggest issues down there. Before it was the Marquee Bar & Grill, now it’s the Marquee Lounge.”

There’s more…

“It’s no longer open for lunch,” Gregory says. “And the dinner menu is now small plates versus burgers and the like.”

“We’re a downtown meeting place before and after the show or before or after dining downtown,” says Marquee operations manager Jim Watry. “The food’s terrific but it’s more about the cocktails and the atmosphere.”

With original 32 foot high ceilings, distressed brick walls, elegant concrete columns and snazzy terrazzo tile flooring, the Marquee harkens back to the days of the old Empire Theater and beyond.

Which brings us to the entertainment factor.

“The Marquee will be a place now for people who like live music and jazz,” Gregory says. “People who want to go out and have a good time but don’t necessarily want to go down to the Live Block. This is more for the wine and martini crowd versus the beer and shots.”

And this just in…

The Marquee has inked a deal to have its jazz acts booked by Jardine’s owner Beena Brandsgard’s new biz, Talent by Jardine’s.

Which should insure that Kansas City’s foremost jazz musicians will now be gigging downtown. As opposed to the mostly forgettable hotel lobby riffraff at other area venues.

The Marquee will be closed

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14 Responses to Hearne: All That Jazz; AMC MainStreet Ups Ante on New Marquee Lounge

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a smart move.
    Can a Groupon be far behind?

  2. Anonymous says:

    That Beena just doesn’t downshift. Good for her. I think this concept is filling a void because there’s really no premiere spot before and after downtown concerts. Thumbs up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Live music AND jazz?”. That sums it up pretty damn well.
    Most “jazz” in KC is crap. Most jazz fans are poseurs that don’t really understand the music from a historical or technical perspective. Jazz is the advanced calculus of music. The number of those in KC who can properly perform it or appreciate it beyond a sonic boundary are few given the genres legacy here.

    Unless you’ve got a turntable and some serious “vinyl” in your collection don’t call yourself a serious jazz fan. Listening to jazz on a CD, MP3 or ipod is like banging your gal with 3 rubbers on. You’re NEVER really gonna feel what’s goin’ on.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have to tell ya, the best jazz musicians in KC play at Jardine’s hands down. That’s not to say if you are a total jazz head and prefer classics or internationally recognized names, you’re not going to find that in a local club. With odd exceptions. But there are a number of younger up-and-comers on the scene and some old pros that are very talented and entertaining to watch and listen to. Trust me, I’m not wildly big on jazz in general but I’ve, uh, seen a lot of it the past year or so

  5. Anonymous says:

    Harold Smith
    smartman, you have a way with words. For a snobby a-hole. Go suck on your “vinyl”.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Some of Kansas City’s foremost jazz musicians already gig downtown, at The Majestic, The Drum Room and The Phoenix. But an additional venue is always welcome.
    HC: For sure but add the following caveats to that list. The Majestic went broke, closed and reopened in the last year or so with an aging owner and the jury is still out on that operation. Ditto for the Phoenix which is under a new owner after being closed for quite some time. Worse yet, it has a piano that is SO BAD that I personally have heard every local jazz pianist from Mark Lowrey on diss it for being horrible. And it will take a $20,000 plus fix which the owners cannot afford at this time. It also has a teeny, tiny stage which is a major limitation for many of the top local acts. The sight lines at the Drum Room are absolutely horrible. I wrote about it in the Kansas City Star when it opened. They built a huge booth that blocks all but the heads and shoulders of performers to 90 percent of the room. The only way you can actually see the acts is to hit the dance floor or sit in one of like two tables on the lower level. I even quoted Megan Birdsall – the room’s signature act – as saying it was awful

  7. Anonymous says:

    All City Champ
    While we’re on the subject of clarity and word usage (e.g. “live music and jazz”), the correct phrase is “harks back” rather than “harkens back.”

    The words have different meanings.
    Being nit-picky? Perhaps. It’s only language right? And what’s that got to do with a blog or credibility?
    HC: So spank me

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ll get right on that Harold, but I’m more of a licker and not a sucker. Ya know what I’m sayin?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good call All City Champ. I learned something new today!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Allow me to suggest that language is always changing and evolving – word usage in particular. If you Google “harkens back,” it’s clear that many credible journalistic organizations are using it as it was used here.

    There are always and will always be sticklers, who fight the good fight, trying to prevent such evolution. However, I would argue that using that argument to call credibility into question is indeed quite a stretch.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A response to Hearne’s response to my earlier comment (just keeping the conversation going): The Majestic today is run by the owner of the building, so as long as he’s taking in enough to pay his mortgage, employees and utilities (and I don’t know if he is or not), he’s likely there to stay. The Phoenix has more problems than the piano and stage size (and a good used piano can be had for much less than $20,000). Ever try actually hearing the music there? Another blog has questioned whether it’s even really a jazz club. The Drum Room has moved the music into the bar area (ask Beena; I’ve seen her there). The problem now isn’t sight lines, it’s horrible acoustics. Power and Light Grill downtown is also playing with jazz, though whether or not they’ll keep it seems an open question. Getting outside of downtown and into the West Bottoms, R Bar has a smallish but functional stage and an excellent sound system (better than Jardine’s), but program jazz irregularly. Jardine’s and Blue Room are decidedly the best joints for jazz in KC, though if Jardine’s is full (and it’s not a special act that everyone paid extra for), hearing the music there can be mighty miserable, too.

    Back to Marquee Lounge: Are they booking more than duos? I see Mark and Shay – but only the two of them – are there each Wednesday through October. If they’re only paying enough for two musicians at a time, they’re going to have a hard time being seen as a legitimate jazz venue.

  12. Anonymous says:

    All City Champ
    It can be slippery slope, Hearne, that’s all I’m saying.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m thrilled that a sophisticated establishment is coming to the area for the “adult” crowd because many of the other places in the area seem to be aimed at college kids. Small plates and happy hour drink specials – I’m there after work for sure! And finally, discounted parking and valet … that’s gonna be a big win!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Kia Zi
    I like jazz. It is hard to find good jazz. It sounds great, like it might actually work out to be something really nice.

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