Historic Velvet Lounge Reopens to Continue Creative Music
Special grand opening concerts set for Aug. 11-13
Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge reopened Friday, July 28, 2006, in the South Loop's historic Motor Row district at 67 E. Cermak Road between Michigan and Wabash avenues. The famed jazz venue relocated from its previous home nearby at 2128 ½ S. Indiana Ave.
The new club, located on Cermak, midway between McCormick Place to the east and Chinatown to the west, is featuring several inaugural sets in the coming weeks as a part of its soft opening. Also, special grand opening concerts are slated for the weekend of Aug. 11-13.
"I'm just trying to keep the music alive," said Anderson, 77, Velvet Lounge owner and noted tenor saxophone player. "It's amazing! We were only closed three months. I am glad we were able to do it. The musicians need it and the fans need it. We all want to keep this music going. Without everyone's support, we would not be here. We are proud to reopen the Velvet for the music."
Anderson has operated the Velvet Lounge as a training ground for many of Chicago's creative jazz musicians since 1982. It is one of the few clubs in the world that provides a venue for musicians to learn alongside seasoned professionals and to experiment with new sounds. The importance of the Velvet was acknowledged earlier this year by Joe Segal and Wayne Segal when they lent their Jazz Showcase stage to Anderson and a cadre of Velvet musicians on successive Mondays in January for successful fundraiser concerts.
For more than a year, "friends, fans and Fred" worked nonstop to raise the funds and do the work necessary to build the new Velvet. The effort included several benefit concerts at which musicians performed for free, hundreds of private contributions and countless volunteer work hours. The Velvet also received assistance from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, Architectural Artifacts, Asian Improv, Delmark Records, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, the Hideout, Hothouse, Jazzman Consulting, the Jazz Showcase, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Rent Com Inc., Steve Maxwell Vintage and Custom Drums, Thrilljockey Records, 3030/Elastic Arts Foundation, and Uptown Snack Shop.
More than $100,000 was raised in private contributions to build out two new storefronts for the Velvet Lounge. In this larger, nonsmoking club, fans will find better amenities and a column free view of a larger stage. Improvements include a vintage Chicago art deco bar, booth and chair seating, a musicians' locker room and accessible restrooms. Fans will also find many treasured artifacts from the old Velvet, such as the trademark chandeliers, the Schlitz sconces and the Velvet lady painting. Plans call for the enigmatic Velvet wallpaper design to return soon as a window covering.