The Southgate House isn't the only storied and beloved local music venue shutting down after its New Year's Eve show. Saturday also marks the end of local Jazz institution the Blue Wisp Jazz Club … at least in its current home on Eight Street. Unlike the Southgate — where the future is up in the air as the new owners' next move remains unclear and the current owners have yet to announce a location for their planned new club — a new, bigger, better Blue Wisp will reappear just a few blocks away within a week (if all goes as planned). The venue's owners are moving to its new spot at the corner of Race and Seventh streets, onetime home to restaurants like RedFish and Bagpipes.
The final show at the Eighth St. location isn't a Jazz one (the genre most identified with the Wisp), but a New Year's Eve edition of "Unity Jam," the eclectic, multi-cultural mini music fests presented by local AfroBeat musician Baoku Moses throughout the year. Saturday's Unity event features everything from AltRock to exotic World music, with performances by Taste of Cindy, Mayan Ruins, Black Stravinsky, Ben Lapps, the Chuck Land Band and Baoku and his Image AfroBeat Band. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. and runs until about 11:30; from midnight until 2:30 a.m., the club presents a mix of Funk, Rock, Hip Hop and Neo Soul dance music. Admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
The owners will be moving into the new space (where they'll be more visible and able to offer a full food menu) the first week of January. A "soft opening" is on the schedule for Jan. 6, with music from the Ellen Rowe/Ingrid Jensen Quintet. Bookings so far appear to be in line with what the club has offered over its nearly 35-year history in town (from its original location in O'Bryonville through its moves to Garfield Place and then Eighth St., where it has been since 2002), with strong emphasis on some of Cincy's best Jazz players (yes, the Blue Wisp Big Band will continue its every-Wednesday residency) and a nice mix of nationally-known touring artists. The club has March 2 reserved for an appearance by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, a well-known, progressive Jazz outfit that has a strong following in the Jam band scene.