In memory of Hermann.
How long have you been working with the jazz club?
I started working here in 2000 with a crew of friends and then just kept going. After Hermann died, we set up a society to give the community an opportunity to keep it going. And so I worked on that and this spring we had an agreement that we could lease the club. We had to get a down payment and funds for payroll. We raised the funds mostly through Go Fund Me $100 at a time which is incredible. We took it over on July 15 of this year.
What’s the story of the club?
Hermann always talked about the need for a social place, a place where anybody could come and hang out. So it’s operated under that guise the whole time.
What is your biggest inspiration?
I know it’s the right thing to do. When I walk into this room I get happy.
What’s the most rewarding part of the work?
For me it’s not losing it. When Hermann died the future of this place was really uncertain. And so to do the things that we’ve done over the years to make sure it stays open and to see the community respond the way they have, it just feels so safe.
What are the biggest challenges?
The club has been through many iterations. There’s something in here that’s the core of it all but every time it goes through a transition that whole thing is threatened. That’s a challenge even now, is to really come into step with the culture.
Why is downtown Victoria the right place for the club?
The community is used to it being downtown. This parkade on View is a blessing. The fact that we’re wheelchair accessible is a blessing. A lot of our clientele are elderly because they’ve been coming for so many years.
A lot of us believe that Hermann’s is important for the vibrancy of the city as it’s developing. A lot of theatres have been pressed out of the core.
We’re really proud to be here, it’s really worth it to work through it so that the club can stay here.
Do you have support from other businesses in the arts?
We’ve done a lot of talking. There’s an open space upstairs right now and there’s been a lot of interest in using it to increase rehearsal and performance space downtown. It’s built like a two-story theatre up there, it’s a treasure.
What do you personally like about downtown?
There’s always musical things happening down here, I’m a bit of a junkie for that. I also appreciate that during the day I can bring my children downtown and there’s always exciting things for them to be involved in. We’ve built our life in a way that downtown is something that helps us. It’s always really close to home but not right on my doorstep.
What’s something people might not know about Hermann’s?
The club is all ages. Children are welcome to the stage and as customers. It’s actually almost a mandate of Hermann’s Jazz Club, certainly it was really important to Hermann, that we always keep a license that allows us to have that participation. We have some really incredible shows with the best of the best coming to town. You can find us online so it’s easy to tell if there’s something that suits.
Aspiring singers and musicians can come and have an open mic kind of idea. They can sign up through the U-Jam’s programs. In the second part of the show aspiring artists can get up and play.
We draw performers from all over the world and here at Hermann’s new artists can get up there on the same stage.