Power Club creates jazz venue in Auburn

Entertainment director Keith Williams booking array of area musicians
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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A Downtown Auburn pub is jazzing up the menu. The Power Club, part of the Powers Mansion Inn, is bringing in live entertainment on weekends. It’s all being coordinated by new entertainment director, Keith Williams. “For Friday nights, I’d like to see it be completely jazz and that can range from standards from the Great American Songbook all the way through to just straight-ahead jazz,” he said. Williams, a musician himself, sings with a jazz quartet that has already performed twice at the pub. When Power Club owner Alfred Lee approached him about putting together a slate of entertainment, he saw it as a dream assignment. “The way I introduce it is that it is a brand-new venue, and we need help to get it up and running, and we don’t have a budget,” Williams explained. “All these great acts are playing for the door. We charge $8 for the cover. All we ask is that people come out and enjoy the food, beverages and entertainment.” That includes owner Alfred Lee’s microbrews made on site. The acts Williams has scheduled so far are performers in the annual Sacramento Jazz Festival. He credits Sacramento jazz legend Vivian Lee for helping him make the contacts. On tap for March 4 is the Beth Duncan Trio. Duncan performs jazz standards. For the vocalist, who works as a radio news reporter by day, jazz is a longtime passion. “I’ve really sung my whole life. I started in church as many people do and have been singing ever since,” she said Tuesday. Duncan will be making her seventh appearance at the Sacramento Jazz Festival this year and has debuted a jazz CD, Orange Colored Sky. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to perform at Auburn’s new venue. “I love to sing and play wherever I can with the whole jazz scene,” she said. March 11 will feature Al Zaid, another strong vocalist, who is lead singer for the new Platters band. “He does back-up vocals for Al Green and has his own show,” Williams said. The Jeff Alkire Quartet will perform March 18. Alkire, who plays the saxophone, is a “world-class instrumentalist,” Williams said. “His pedigree is endless,” he said. “(He’s worked with) Tony Bennett, David Lee Hooker, Pat Boone. He was a member of the Ray Charles orchestra on and off for nine years. When you get artists like that coming in to play, it is a wonderful, incredible experience and a great honor.” Vivian Lee and her Jazz Quartet will take the stage March 25. Lee is a 2007 Sammie award winner with a longtime involvement in the local jazz community, he said. Williams’ dream is to take it beyond beyond Friday nights, to live shows on Saturdays and holidays as well. For St. Patrick’s Day, he’s booked Stout Rebellion, an Irish band. “They did a six to eight-month run on the Delta King (riverboat),” Williams said. “They do Irish drinking songs — perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.” Then on April 1, the club will feature Latin jazz group Sabor. “People should bring their dancing shoes, because they’re really good,” he said. Williams has been in the music industry for 25 years, starting in England. “I worked the clubs, TV and theater there for many years,” he said. In 1990 he moved to Florida to take a job as a singer with Carnival Cruise Lines. During the next four-and-a-half years, he performed nightly aboard ship during trips to the southern Caribbean and the Bahamas. Then he he met wife-to-be Jeanne, a Sacramento-area resident, aboard ship. After they married, they moved to the foothills. Two years ago, after the couple moved to Cool, he put together a Tom Jones tribute band. But the recession made it difficult for his nine-person ensemble to get bookings. That’s when he changed direction and “slid into jazz,” he said. For Williams, the Power Club, which seats 80 comfortably, is the perfect setting. “The pub has a wonderful, intimate atmosphere,” he said. “It is really ideal for an intimate kind of setting, so jazz is perfect. You can reach every single person in the room and direct a song to them, which is very important.” Reach Gloria Young at ------------ Power Club Brewery Where: 195 Harrison St., Downtown Auburn Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner, later for drinks. More information: Jazz musicians interested in performing at the club can call Keith Williams at (916) 276-7490 Schedule of entertainment: • Friday, March 4 – Beth Duncan Trio • Friday, March 11 – Al Zaid Quartet • Thursday, March 17, Stout Rebellion • Friday, March 18 – Jeff Alkire Quartet • Friday, March 25 – Vivian Lee and her Jazz Quartet • Friday, April 1 – Sabor