“Dizzy’s,” explains Chuck Perrin, “has always been an artist-driven space.” He offers this on a Saturday morning as an explanation for why he is setting up a stage, chairs, and sound system in the Culy warehouse rather than in Dizzy’s home of the past three years, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center in the Harbor Club Towers. “The artist controls what goes on,” he says, the artist in this case being local jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos. “Gilbert had eyes to come back to a space where he used to host a jam and try it again.”
Of late, the Dizzy’s founder has staged at least five different shows in these East Village warehouse spaces. The Culy is really part of three large spaces that are interconnected. The Jack Dodge space faces onto Sixth Avenue and opens into the Culy on Seventh Avenue. Perrin has also produced shows in the cavernous space next door that is now called the Walter Keller. This, he says, is where the original Dizzy’s was housed, along with a packing company and a design firm.
“Cold turkey” is how he describes the closing of Dizzy’s three years ago. “The City came in one day and said, ‘You can’t do any more shows in here.’ It was just like that,” he says, even though he’d already been producing live jazz there for seven years. “This building was on their list to be retrofitted.” Within months, Dizzy’s was up and running in the Harbor Club Towers. Any complaints?
“People always have complaints about a venue,” he says. “But it’s fine. People seem to like it over there, especially those who like to have a glass of wine with their jazz.” (The original East Village location had coffee and cookies but no alcohol license.) “It’s a little more upscale. It’s not exactly what I had in mind for the Dizzy’s experience,” he says, “but my main concern was just to keep doing it, to keep it happening.”
Perrin admits that a few musicians have complained about acoustics and that the equipment load-in at the Harbor Club Towers is more difficult. “There’s pluses and minuses,” he says, “for both [venues].”
Perrin explains the Dizzy’s brand. Long considered to be an homage to jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie (it is, in part), the truer meaning is what Perrin calls “an orientation to the world, to put people in a place where they’re free to have their own ideas and free to react in any way they want to what’s going on.... I don’t own any buildings. The shows happen wherever we can get them to happen.”
4275 Mission Bay Drive (in the showroom at San Diego Jet Ski Rentals), San Diego