A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published September 5th 2014
Last Chance to See Some Great Live Jazz
I felt very sad to recently read that jazz club icon Bennetts Lane is to close in June 2015.
Bennetts Lane is so named because it's located in Bennetts Lane, tucked away off Little Lonsdale Street in the Melbourne CBD. It's a wonderful venue, an intimate space where the audience is up close and personal with the musicians. It's one of few venues of its type in the world where, as I recently read, the music is more important than the club. As it's been operating for more than 20 years, the closure of Bennetts Lane feels very much like the end of an era.
Bennetts Lane is tucked down a laneway off Little Lonsdale Street
Owner Michael Tortoni has said that it's the cost pressures associated with running a music venue in the heart of Melbourne, in a space that's overshadowed by high rise buildings, that has led to his decision to sell to developers.
In the past, Bennetts Lane has played host to a range of world class musicians, including Chick Corea, Harry Connick Jnr and Herbie Hancock. The venue has even had Prince drop in for a guest appearance!
The iconic Bennetts Lane has been operating for over 20 years
One of my favourite moments at Bennetts Lane was hearing New York based jazz/funk/soul group Snarky Puppy perform. We 'discovered' Snarky Puppy at last year's Melbourne International Jazz Festival, hearing them first at the Forum Theatre. So impressed were we that when we heard they were playing at Bennetts Lane just a week or so later, we bought tickets straight away. It's that intimate experience that is so different. You can sit at a table, enjoy a drink and a snack (no full meals are served, just things like cheese platters, dips and the like), and be able to interact with the band members. As Snarky Puppy's drummer walked out on the stage, he said to those of us sitting close by - 'hey, you people are in drum land.... could get a bit noisy out there!'. This was said with a big grin on his face.
It's a personal experience that you couldn't hope to get in a more formal musical venue.
The intimate experience one gets at Bennetts Lane is special
So yes, I will be very sad to see the end of Bennetts Lane. But, to keep a positive note, at least we've got 9 more months of opportunities to see some wonderful live music there before it goes! There's always a rich offering of music; to see what's coming up, click here.
Bennetts Lane is open every night, from 8.30pm (check website for opening hours over the Christmas/New Year period). Tickets range from around $18-25. Note it's worth getting there early to make sure you get a good seat/table (as there's no allocated seating).
Don't miss your chance to check it out!
All images in this article are from the Bennetts Lane Facebook page.