It was the Monday night after that first snowstorm in January, and through the crunching of snow under foot and the traffic on Main Street, the big, bright and brassy sounds of jazz were bleeding out from The Met. It had been six weeks since the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra played a gig. For a band that had a regular, weekly show for 17 years, six weeks is basically a lifetime.
“In 25 years we’ve never had more than two weeks off,” says bandleader and trumpet player John Allmark. “Everyone’s ready to play again.”
They sounded it. The band played their guts out and the packed crowd – stationed at tables and chairs set up across the usually empty venue floor – was hanging on every note. Despite the jarring start to their 25th year, the band was making a spectacular debut at their new weekly venue.
News that their old home, Bovi’s Tavern in East Providence, was closing came with little warning, though John admits that it wasn’t entirely a surprise. Regardless of there being some writing on the wall, Bovi’s had been home for almost 20 years, and thanks to the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra – and the house band that had played for 20 years before them – Bovi’s had become a legendary local jazz venue. Luckily Rich Lupo was ready to offer the band refuge at The Met.
“I’ve always thought the Met would be a good spot for [them],” say Rich, whose wife Sarah had enlisted John to play on her album a few years ago. “It’s a classic part of the Rhode Island scene. We’re excited.”
Every Monday will see the band playing two sets – the $8 admission is good for both – for all ages crowds. Down the road John is hoping to welcome guest performers like high school and college ensembles to open for the band, something he had done at Bovi’s and that the Lupos are excited to continue.
“It will develop itself, it always has,” John says. “The Met was the first place I thought would be a perfect fit. I think it’s going to sound awesome.”
It absolutely does. Clear your Monday nights. This just might be the coolest show in town. Every Monday. All ages. Doors at 8pm, first show starts at 9pm. $8. 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket. Facebook.com/JohnAllmarkJazzOrchestra