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Leonard Patton’s army marches on La Mesa

Light bulbs go off in favor of live jazz

Leonard Patton thinks the time is right for live jazz on the Boulevard.
Leonard Patton thinks the time is right for live jazz on the Boulevard.

There’s an old joke that says the only way to make a million dollars in jazz is start out with two million. Given that, and given the reality of post-pandemic life, it seems like opening a jazz club just now might be a serious risk. But San Diego vocalist Leonard Patton doesn’t see it that way. “It’s actually kind of a perfect time. Things are opening back up again. After fifteen months of being locked down, people need the escape. Everyone wants to see live music, live theatre, and live art.”

Place

Jazz Lounge

6818 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Patton recently opened The Jazz Lounge at 6818 El Cajon Boulevard. The venue is located in a small strip-mall; the space was the previous home of The Light Bulb Center. The property belongs to a musician friend. “We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years,” Patton recalls. “She sent me a text in April [2020] and said the previous tenant was leaving. The pandemic had just started, but I decided to go for it. I’ve had the space since June of last year. So far, I’ve mostly been doing livestreams while I get the place ready, because I knew that the restrictions were going to ease.” In the meantime, “I’ve built up a team of people to help us. I can’t do it all by myself, but it’s my creation. It’s my thing.”

The Jazz Lounge will seat about 40 listeners comfortably, and will feature live music and dining around four nights a week, at least at first. Patton finds that the rent is comfortable and has a way to incorporate food into the experience without getting into the restaurant business. “We serve food, but I don’t create it. I have a partnership with a restaurant that’s a block and a half away called Terra American Bistro. We take the orders here, and they make the meals. My wife picks it up. So we have food, and it’s cool because I don’t have any overhead at all.”

So how does it work? What’s all this going to cost? “It’s going to be pre-ticketed events. We just had our opening weekend, and it was a huge success. People get tickets from our website. It’s $40 for the music and $20 for the food. The first weekend worked out great. People are really excited about what we’ve created here.”

Past Event

'90s Reimagined

  • Thursday, September 2, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
  • Jazz Lounge, 6818 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Jazz fans are usually finicky about the sound in a place, but Patton says not to worry. “The room sounds great. And the cool thing is that, because of the size of the room, we don’t need to amplify too much. We have done a few livestreams, and that sound is good too. The bass sounds really good in here, and we add a little piano into the mix. There have been no complaints.”

The project has already produced shows by vocalist Aimee Nolte and Music Beyond Borders. And Patton has big plans for the future, drawing from an army of increasingly busy players. “Right now, there are a lot of gigs opening up, and the competition for booking the musicians is pretty fierce. Starting in September, it will probably be a hundred percent booked from there on out. In September, we’re going to do a ‘90s Reimagined show, and in October we are doing a Blue Note celebration. Right now, everyone has gigs booked, which is a blessing. I’m glad that everyone’s working. But my plan, ultimately, is to be booked three months in advance, with shows about four times a week. There might be days when people rent out the space for their own events.”

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Leonard Patton thinks the time is right for live jazz on the Boulevard.
Leonard Patton thinks the time is right for live jazz on the Boulevard.

There’s an old joke that says the only way to make a million dollars in jazz is start out with two million. Given that, and given the reality of post-pandemic life, it seems like opening a jazz club just now might be a serious risk. But San Diego vocalist Leonard Patton doesn’t see it that way. “It’s actually kind of a perfect time. Things are opening back up again. After fifteen months of being locked down, people need the escape. Everyone wants to see live music, live theatre, and live art.”

Place

Jazz Lounge

6818 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Patton recently opened The Jazz Lounge at 6818 El Cajon Boulevard. The venue is located in a small strip-mall; the space was the previous home of The Light Bulb Center. The property belongs to a musician friend. “We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years,” Patton recalls. “She sent me a text in April [2020] and said the previous tenant was leaving. The pandemic had just started, but I decided to go for it. I’ve had the space since June of last year. So far, I’ve mostly been doing livestreams while I get the place ready, because I knew that the restrictions were going to ease.” In the meantime, “I’ve built up a team of people to help us. I can’t do it all by myself, but it’s my creation. It’s my thing.”

The Jazz Lounge will seat about 40 listeners comfortably, and will feature live music and dining around four nights a week, at least at first. Patton finds that the rent is comfortable and has a way to incorporate food into the experience without getting into the restaurant business. “We serve food, but I don’t create it. I have a partnership with a restaurant that’s a block and a half away called Terra American Bistro. We take the orders here, and they make the meals. My wife picks it up. So we have food, and it’s cool because I don’t have any overhead at all.”

So how does it work? What’s all this going to cost? “It’s going to be pre-ticketed events. We just had our opening weekend, and it was a huge success. People get tickets from our website. It’s $40 for the music and $20 for the food. The first weekend worked out great. People are really excited about what we’ve created here.”

Past Event

'90s Reimagined

  • Thursday, September 2, 2021, 6:30 p.m.
  • Jazz Lounge, 6818 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Jazz fans are usually finicky about the sound in a place, but Patton says not to worry. “The room sounds great. And the cool thing is that, because of the size of the room, we don’t need to amplify too much. We have done a few livestreams, and that sound is good too. The bass sounds really good in here, and we add a little piano into the mix. There have been no complaints.”

The project has already produced shows by vocalist Aimee Nolte and Music Beyond Borders. And Patton has big plans for the future, drawing from an army of increasingly busy players. “Right now, there are a lot of gigs opening up, and the competition for booking the musicians is pretty fierce. Starting in September, it will probably be a hundred percent booked from there on out. In September, we’re going to do a ‘90s Reimagined show, and in October we are doing a Blue Note celebration. Right now, everyone has gigs booked, which is a blessing. I’m glad that everyone’s working. But my plan, ultimately, is to be booked three months in advance, with shows about four times a week. There might be days when people rent out the space for their own events.”

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