Lucky onlookers donned their hard hats as Brent “Doc” Watkins welcomed the first public viewing of 21st century San Antonio’s first true jazz club, sharing insights and shining construction site lights upon the heart of his creation. A reflection of the man who inspired its design, Jazz, TX appeared elegant yet laid-back, sentimental with the right splash of modernity, and filled with just the right balance of propriety and sweet Southern soul.

As artists began to emblazon the wall behind the stage area with a full backdrop of a Hill Country scene, Watkins shared the reasons to the rhyme, striking chords as perfectly as if he had a piano before him. “This is a high-res photo outside of Leakey, Texas, inspired by the dance halls of places like Sisterdale or Luckenbach,” Watkins said. “They’d paint an old Western scene behind the band, so we took that idea and modernized it a bit.”

A great deal of the design and intention of the joint was brought about by Watkin’s affection for the classic Texas dancehall, all the while encompassing the various modalities of music in South Texas. “We wanted to create a jazz club that felt indigenous to Texas,” Watkins said. “Architecturally we wanted to reflect all of this (music), which was a huge challenge for our architects.”

While areas like the dance floor – made to be flexible to accommodate vivacious salsa nights or the cocktail dress modern jazz conversation – pay tribute to the tight-grained long leaf pine of dance floors in Sisterdale and Gruene Hall, hangar windows and an elevator cage remodeled into an entryway pay homage to the vestiges of the Pearl. “We wanted to reflect the Pearl tradition as well, so we reused items from the old brewery,” Watkins said.

Watkins considers jazz in a loose way, and plans to cast a wider net upon the South Texas jazz culture in order to fill the space with the proper vibrations. “We wanna be really flexible and open-minded in getting as many kinds of styles as we can,” Watkins said, referencing styles ranging from New Orleans jazz to Western swing all the way to Latin jazz and big band. “The biggest factor will be predominantly acoustic music – if the power went out you could still do the gig. That’s important to me.”

While Watkins will have his eye on bigger acts from time to time, he conveyed his philosophy in a similar tone to his compatriots at the Pearl. “A vast majority of our groups will be chosen locally,” he said. “We’ve talked about having local food chefs, finding food from South Texas, and we need to have that same focus worldwide when we talk about the music industry.”

Stay tuned to the Rivard Report for the official opening date of Jazz, TX, geared up for late summer.

Top image: Brent ‘Doc’ Watkins describes the inspiration and materials of the wood bar.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Adam Tutor

Adam Tutor is a Trinity University graduate, a saxophonist who performs with local bands Soulzzafying, Odie & the Digs, and Volcan, and a freelance music contributor to the Rivard Report.