Sat 21apr–Key’s Lounge, Ft. Worth, 9p
Keys to Success – from FWWeekly
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 09:14 Last Call
A live-music/neighborhood bar that’s been around in one form or another for about 30 years is currently undergoing a makeover. Keys Lounge owner and veteran bluesmen Danny Ross has expanded the Southside venue.
Fort Worth’s legendary Juke Jumpers are one of several major acts that will be playing the re-energized Keys Lounge over the next couple of months.
The owner also have installed a new stage and, perhaps most importantly, have begun scheduling shows by marquee national acts, including Doyle Bramhall, Fort Worth’s Tejas Brothers, and Gary Nicholson, a.k.a. Whitey Johnson, who’ll be playing next weekend with Dallas stalwart Anson Funderburgh (see: this week’s HearSay, pg. 45). Also, a reunion of the legendary Fort Worth outfit The Juke Jumpers is scheduled for Labor Day weekend.
“We’re going to be pushing for bigger shows,” Ross said. “We want to do several touring acts per month.”
The owner was once a Keys regular himself — once played in Funderburgh’s band, has backed Keys regular Holland K. Smith.
The club hosts Bobby Counts, who for about a dozen years, has run a blues jam that often has sitter-inners of the likes of drummer Bill English (Willie Nelson) and guitarist Pat Boyack (Marcia Ball).
The opportunity to buy the club came about two years ago, not long after the previous owner, Jamie Jaimerson, had passed away. Jaimerson’s widow approached the two musicians and asked them to take over the place in a strip mall on Westcreek Court. “It’s a nice neighborhood bar that needed fixed up,” said Ross, who makes his living off his landscaping company. “I’m just trying to have a nice place for people to go.”
In addition to the aforementioned changes, the owner has installed two smoke suckers – apparently, smokiness was a major problem – and expanded the staff to seven. New manager is Jim McNeil, who spent about 10 years managing Jubilation, a popular blues joint that closed about eight years ago, and who also ran Jim’s Food and Blues, a hangout that shut its doors about four years ago.
Ross’ inspiration is the beloved, defunct Como bar The Bluebird Blues Club, where he often jammed with its owner, the late, legendary guitarist Robert Ealey. Keys Lounge, Ross said, attracts “people in their 20s and people in their 80s, black, white, Mexican, bikers – it’s like the old Bluebird, sort of.”
Non-blues music, however, is welcome. “If a there’s a good reggae band coming through …,” Ross said.
In the planning stage now are a patio and possibly another 1,000 square feet
“We’re all about the bands and customers being treated well,” Ross said. “And we’ll spend money to do it.”
– Anthony Mariani