There is some seriously fun hang happening right in the belly of the Pike Place Market: Local Color Gallery. This spunky spot is a working art studio, coffee shop, wine bar and live jazz venue all rolled into one. Anyone looking for a great place to listen to jazz should definitely check this out.
Local Color sits on the corner of Pike Place and Stewart Street. I recently went down to check out their “Jazz in the Market” series, which happens every Friday and Saturday night. On this particular night, vocalist Rochelle House was, forgive the pun, in the house along with her killer band: Darrius Willrich on keys, Evan-Flory-Barnes on bass and D’Vonne Lewis on drums. The room is long and rectangular, and a stage sits on the far end of the space. Of course, there is art everywhere. Local Color features works by local artists of all mediums: oil, acrylic, watercolor, photograph and contemporary pottery. There are paintings and photographs on all the walls and cases full of original jewelry. The room is colorful and cheerful. They have a full espresso menu, a nice variety of beer and wine and also a selection of light nibbles, including delicious grilled sandwiches, a la pannini-style. I had a wonderful tuna melt and a very tasty vanilla latte, which was served to me by the friendliest of baristas.
When it comes to the music side of things, owners Frank and Sydne Albanese don’t mess around. They are committed to creating a relaxed listening venue for their patrons and also to making this jazz series successful. They have an outstanding sound system, complete with stage monitors, main speakers for the house and a Mackie mixer. The acoustics were pretty impressive. Initially, we couldn’t hear enough of the vocals through the mains, but Frank quickly adjusted, and it was fine for the rest of the evening. There is a house drum kit and an electronic piano. The stage is well lit with professional gel lighting. Comfortable couches and chairs are assembled in front of the stage, and there are high tables, counters and stools situated throughout the room. This is no coffee shop open mic with a singer-songwriter on a stool in the corner. This is a full-on listening venue that has been planned with careful attention to detail.
Perhaps one of the most striking things about Local Color is the warm hospitality and decidedly pro-music vibe. Frank, Sydne and staff treat everyone like friends, and anyone walking through the door is greeted as such. Frank, in particular, is excited about all things jazz and happily engages in conversations about his favorite recordings or about the upcoming performance of a new vocalist that he is excited about. On the particular night I was there, the room was packed, Rochelle and her band were on fire, and the overall scene felt like a party full of happy friends. I thought to myself, “Everyone should know about this place.”
Local Color has live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights, with the exception of the first Saturday night of the month, when they host a regular art opening. Local Color validates parking after 5pm at the Public Market Garage at 1531 Western Ave. This eliminates the pesky task of parking in the market, which can be very daunting, especially on a weekend evening. Again, Frank and Sydne have thought of everything.
Local Color is truly a wonderful establishment, and I can’t say enough about the sheer fun- factor of hanging out there. In a time when many music venues are struggling to stay afloat, the spirited gang at Local Color forges full-speed ahead. This optimism and enthusiasm will no doubt make this one of the most vibrant rooms on the scene. If you haven’t been, check it out. If you’ve already been, well, you know what I’m talking about.
Local Color is located at 1601 Pike Pl., Seattle, WA 98101. Phone is 206-728-1717. Website is http://www.localcolorseattle.com/