FOR A TOWN of 21,000 people located at the far northern reaches of the Midwest, Marquette is starting to act more like a cosmopolitan city of a half million or so.
A jazz bar will be opening downtown this summer.
That’s right, a freaking jazz bar–compliments of Karl Numinen, one of the U.P.’s most prominent attorneys.
“Jazz is a passion of mine,” Numinen says. “I play the trumpet almost every day. It’s something I love. And we don’t have a venue like this anywhere around here.”
He’s calling it The Depot. Appropriate because it’ll be located in the former passenger train station on Fifth Street, just off of Washington Street. Right next to the bike path which, of course, follows the former path of the train tracks.
The station was built back in 1946 for the Soo Line but then when passenger service ended in Marquette in the Sixties, the station closed down, never to re-open again, until Numinen swooped in last summer to buy it with the sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane swirling in his head.
Fortunately, the building never got much use and seems to be in remarkably good shape. “Structurally, almost nothing has to be done,” Numinen says. “Cosmetically, we’re putting in new surfaces.”
The thing is, you don’t want to do too much. Jazz bars should not be slick, shiny, and new. They should be…funky and old, reeking of history, even if it’s a history that harkens back only to the Forties.
The Depot’s not huge–only 2000 square feet–but this is where it gets really interesting. Numinen foresees it being divided up into 1) The main room, where the performers will play to maybe 40-50 people (talking discouraged) 2) The bar in the back, tentatively called the Caboose Bar…and then this: 3) The former ticket booth will become a recording studio.
Sounds like Numinen has pretty good business sense. It’s not likely that jazz performances alone will make The Depot profitable, so he sees it also as a recording and rehearsal venue for all types of musicians throughout the week, and a special events spot (parties, anniversaries) throughout the year.
And no, the performing musicians won’t be exclusively jazz in all likelihood, but they’ll be tasteful. Not head-bangers.
Opening day? Numinen’s hoping for late summer. He still has to deal with a liquor license and a few permits but he doesn’t expect any major delays. And if anybody gives him any trouble, well, he can always take them to court.
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