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Jazz Night at The Artisan Cafe

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Event: -
Dine out and enjoy live jazz in relaxed surroundings
The Artisan Cafe comes alive with jazz
The Toffs at The Artisan Café. Photo: H. Radford.


It is early evening on a Friday and the home going traffic stretches along the Main Road, weaving through Blackwood. I park my car and get a shiver in the dark as the cold night settles in to confirm another chilling forecast. I waiver between cooking at home and eating out. What's it to be? Can I really be bothered cooking, when there are a number of fine local restaurants to choose from. I procrastinate over my choices. Hold everything, what is that I can hear? It sounds like a live jazz band. Yes, it is. I listen to it picking up the tempo, playing some warm, welcoming jazz. Can this really be? Here in Blackwood? And it's coming from over there in The Artisan Café…the tinkling of a keyboard filling in the gaps, the soothing notes of a clarinet and the throbbing heartbeat of a bass.



For your listening pleasure, The Toffs at The Artisan. Film: H. Radford

I enter the Artisan Café. Patrons are engrossed in cosy conversations while enjoying the ambience. In a corner three consummate musicians, Pem Gerner (piano), Ron Flack (clarinet) and Brian (Sam) Sampson (bass) calling themselves The Toffs, reinterpret the legendary jazz songs of The American Songbook.

I am greeted by a friendly waitress who takes me to my table. I order a bottle of Lobethal Bierhaus Bohemian Philsner. Since the Artisan Café opened May 2010, it has been a popular venue for its fine restaurant-style meals and beverages with exceptional flavour, using the best available locally sourced drinks, food and free range animal products. I study the menu. So many enticing choices. My problem of deciding on what to have for dinner is solved. I order the main course of Salt and Pepper Atlantic Salmon with stir fry vegetables.

I settle in for the evening to listen to The Toffs perform songs like What a Wonderful World, Autumn Leaves, Ain't Misbehavin', Careless Love, Deep Purple, Fly Me to the Room, Hello Dolly, Misty, Night and Day, On the Sunny Side of the Street, All of me, Whispering, and many more from the pens of Louis Armstrong, George Gerswin, Fats Waller, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer and others.

Many of these "American Standards" have been performed by some of the world's great artists, Ella Fitzgerald, Satchmo, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. They are songs that have never gone out of style among traditional and jazz singers and you are sure to recognise many of them with the renewed popular interest by various rock, country and pop singers, Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson, David Campbell and Diana Krall, to name but a few.

The Artisan Cafe comes alive with jazz
Café owners, Jonathan and Heather Holmes-Ross supporting local arts, literature and music. Photo: H. Radford


Over the years, Heather and Jonathan have supported local arts and literature. On 'The Wall' for one-month works of art are displayed. Two poetry reading groups gather together once a month to share their works.

"With this thriving hills district continuing to grow and develop we felt the need to offer live music suitable to the indoor and alfresco dining at The Artisan Café," said Heather. "A couple of years ago, Jazz seemed to be the flavour of the month. We began with a piano player tinkling the ivories in the background. Then these guys, Pem, Ron and Sam approached us to play. It made good sense."

"Why should our local residents need to drive all the way into the City of Adelaide to dine out and enjoy live jazz, when we can provide it right here in Blackwood. The Toffs play music that doesn't intrude into conversations," says Heather. "Many of the songs most people, irrespective of their age group, would recognise and would be familiar with. We are very lucky to have a band like The Toffs."

In addition to playing in Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Malaysia, Pem as a qualified architect has a lifetime devotion to drawing. A collection of his works has been exhibited on "The Wall" at the Artisan Café. Ron has played in venues throughout Australia and has organised at least five of the Murray Bridge Jazz Festivals, and very importantly is a founding member of the local Southern Jazz Club.

The Artisan Cafe comes alive with jazz
Pem Gerner's exhibition on The Wall at The Artisan Cafe. Photo: Heather Holmes-Ross.


The Toffs so impressed with Heather's devotion to the arts, awarded her a post-nominal degree, a rarely awarded HHC (Hostess of High Culture). She was the proud recipient of this award.

Adelaide has a fine history of jazz musicians and venues. Between them, Pem, Ron and Sam have extensive individual experience in playing throughout Australia, and in Malaysia, USA and Europe, along with the cream of Adelaide's jazz talent, with brilliant musicians like Jim Bailey (vibraphone virtuoso), Bruce Hancock, Bruce Johnston (who is now the professor of English at NSW University), Sydney Jazz Trio, Adelaide Jazz Quartet, Southern Jazz Club Inc., performances at the Murray Bridge Jazz Festivals, and at "Jazz in the Hills" at The Bridgewater Hotel with Bill Munro (Trumpet), Bob Wright (Tuba) Johnny Malpas (Guitar). They were the alumni of musicians in Australia.

Or depending on your age and memory, you may stretch back to the 70's to The Early Hours Jazz Band at the Flagstaff Hill Hotel, or to the 60's with Norm Koche on banjo. Many will remember Norm from the local TV program ( Country & Western Hour). Norm and Blair Swartz played Jazz regularly at The Pizza Palace as well as other popular gigs with The Southern Jazz Club Inc. program which has been going now for over 46 years.

The Artisan Cafe comes alive with jazz
Southern Jazz Club Inc. Photo courtesy of Ralph Dutton.


The Artisan Café has two jazz evenings monthly, on the first & third Friday from 6.30 – 9.00pm. To avoid disappointment, booking a reservation is recommended.

The Artisan Cafe comes alive with jazz
Artwork courtesy of Pem Gerner.
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Why? Dine out and enjoy live jazz in a relaxed alfreco surroundings.
When: JAZZ NIGHT: First & Third Friday from 6.30 – 9.00pm. ARTISAN CAFE OPEN: Monday - Saturday 7.30am - 5.00pm. Sunday 9.00am - 5.00pm. Public Holidays Closed.
Phone: 8278 9888
Where: 252-254 Main Road, Blackwood SA 5051
Cost: FREE Admission. Reasonable prices for high quality meals.
Your Comment
Intimate jazz sessions,with healthy food sounds good to me..especially as I live close by.I can remember going to the Cellar in Twin st. way back in the 1960's late into the night,,,a cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich was all you could get..great atmosphere and jazz though.
by noelp (score: 3|1124) 15 days ago
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