B Sharp's Jazz Cafe

Located on 648 W Brevard St, it is home to all that is jazz. It is a small, snug as a bug in a rug, comfy place where people enjoy listening to the great music while having a small bite or a drink. Throughout this summer, one can attend the jam sessions on Wednesday nights hosted by Alex "AJ" Hall or watch the Director of Jazz Studies at the FSU College of Music, Leon Anderson, perform with his band alongside Avis Berry on vocals.

Ethnographic Question 1

Responded by: Brad Baker

What are the demographics of the audience? of the musicians?
The audience is compiled of kids from my music class and friends/family of the performers. The first group of musicians was a black group from up the street. And the second group that followed up consisted of high school/college aged white kids.
Commentary from group members:

  • Marjorie: There was also a difference in age group between both bands. Unlike the younger crowd of the second band, the men in the first band were probably in mid-50's+ with the exception of the singer who seemed in her mid-20's/30s.
  • Kate: I enjoyed the variety in the demographics between the two groups of musicians that performed that night. Although both groups were performing jazz music, I think that their different cultural backgrounds had an effect on the style with which they played the music.
  • Alanna: The demographics changed slightly when the second band came on but I feel it was mostly because they were also young students who wanted to play an instrument.

Ethnographic Question 2

Responded by: Samantha Kate Wicker

What role does the venue play in people's [performer, audience, researcher] expectations of the musical performance and how does this particular performance meet or fail to meet those expectations?

This particular venue had a profound impact on both the musician's performance and the audience's overall experience. The smaller, more intimate setting provided the performers with the opportunity to more closely relate with and involve their audience. For example, the female vocalist in the first group tried to get members of the audience to actively participate in their performance. She informed the audience what song they would be playing, "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson and invited any singers who knew the lyrics to the song to come up and join in at any time.

The venue's friendly, relaxed atmosphere was very conducive to the participation of many different musicians throughout the jam session. It was very fun to watch the different people contribute their own individual style to the overall sound of the music being performed. The homey feel of B Sharp's enabled everybody there to instantly bond and feel comfortable with one another. Thus, the venue created a relaxed and carefree attitude that added to the overall enjoyment of the music for both the musicians and the audience.

Commentary from group members:

  • Marjorie: I totally agree about the homey feel. For some reason, I was under the impression that the venue was going to be big space but I felt comfortable when I realized that it was in a small space. It made the music experience better for me just because I feel out of place when I go to huge places like the Ruby Diamond.
  • Alanna: I agree with the fact that venue had a friendly and relaxed environment. to me it makes the entire musical performance a more meaningful and personal experience rather than a large crowded concert of some sort.
  • Brad- I also agree that this venue was quite relaxed and personable. After talking with the owner for a few minutes, I realized that this was unlike any other concert I had been to.

Ethnographic Question 3

Responded by: Alanna Lewis

What is the role of economics in this particular musical event?

The role of economics plays a quite small role in this musical event/ club because it only cost five dollars to get in to the café and listen to music all night. It is optional to buy food or drinks that they serve at a low costly price but it is not a necessity. Five dollars for an all night music performance is a low price compared to other venues in Tallahassee that have concerts and music performances for at least ten to thirty dollars depending on the performer.

Commentary from group members:

  • Marjorie: Yup! It was very cheap and I was not expecting to pay $5. I thought at least it would $8 or $10. I do think, however, that the role of economics plays a bigger part in the long run even though it may not seem so at the moment of paying $5 just to get in. The way I see it is that if the fee is low and the music is great, people will be going back in the following Wednesdays that follow.
  • Brad- I had no issue paying to help keep such a cozy venue running, I as well was expecting to pay more.
  • Kate: I think the chose by the owners to keep the cost of cover relatively inexpense was a very important and wise economical decision. Making an event low priced and affordable is especially important to the success of busineses located in a college town, where the majority of people that might be interested in coming are poor college students that simply cannot afford to attend high priced events.

Ethnographic Question 4

Responded by Marjorie Jerez

How does the purpose of the performance overlap and differ from the emotions experienced by the audience?

The purpose of the performances exhibited that night overlapped more than it differ from the emotions experienced by the audience. The whole point of the Wednesday Jam Sessions hosted by AJ Hall is to have a great time among musicians as they jammed out. It overlaps with the emotions experienced by the audience in the sense that as the people on the spotlight are having a great time making music, we as audience members enjoy listening to the music that they are performing. Each time the group was grooving to the beat, the audience members would in turn nod, sway, or tap to the beat as well.

The only difference is that from the musician’s perspective, the jam session is a way to show off your skills. One can hear the confidence of the musicians as they would play away in a solo but one cannot experience that thrill they are feeling at the moment. However, this depends on whether the audience members are also musicians themselves that could comprehend these emotions but even so, not everyone’s “one shining moment” is the same as the next person.

Commentary from group members:

  • Alanna: I think it was important perhaps to show off ones skill in a band-like setting in case the performer may be nervous to play for his first time or something by himself. It was a nice experience to also see the performers so enthusiastic about their music.
  • Brad-I felt that the musicians indeed enjoyed showing off their skills, I had never heard a string bass solo before :x
  • Kate: I agree that the overall purpose of the Wednesday night jam sessions at B Sharp's was for both the musicians and the audience to enjoy each others company, the atmosphere, and the variety of wonderful musical performances. Also, besides simply "showing off their skills", I think the jam sessions provide a unique way for the musicians to practice their performance art and playing with others versus just practicing alone.

Ethnographic Question 5

Responded by: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Who are the performers and what is their relationship to the audience?

We saw two bands that night. The first band consisted on a group of African Americans (three guys and one lady). They played cool Blues. I heard they were invited to B-Sharps that night spontaneously because they were practicing next door. They didn’t seem to be from Tallahassee but they were extremely nice and generous to us.
The second band consisted on a bunch of twenty year olds who all of them or most of them go to FSU. We were invited by the pianist who is a student in our class. He said we wouldn’t regret it and we definitely didn’t. The band alternated between musicians and instruments and they maintained a good conversation with the audience throughout. We were all very happy.

Commentary from group members:

  • Marjorie: I'm glad that Brendan told us about the place because I probably would have never ventured out to go check out the place otherwise. I also went to the Friday show and he did an amazing job.
  • Alanna: At first I did not even realize the first band was not supposed to be there because they were singing jazz and they were very good. Both bands played a big role in my positive experience of B Sharps.
  • Brad- Both bands had something different to offer in my overall experience.
  • Kate: I thought it was really cool that I recognized two of the musicians from the second group as also being student in my world music cultures class at FSU. I really enjoyed listening to them play. I thought they were incredibly talented and inspiring, I would love to learn to play an instrument as well as they could.