The sound of jazz fades in Duluth

Jazz, the uniquely American art form, is dying in Duluth in one of the most interesting locations: a strip club.

Club Saratoga has been hosting jazz sessions on Saturday afternoons at its Canal Park location for more than 30 years.

No more, the Duluth News Tribune says.

Jazz fans are aging, they can’t walk long distances, and there isn’t enough parking to make it easy for them to get to the music. So attendance has been dwindling.

From all accounts, the strip club is doing fine because the entertainment is at night, however.

“It had run its course,” Club Saratoga co-owner Dan Lowe tells the paper. It didn’t make money for the owners, but that wasn’t the goal. “If it had been the purpose, we would’ve stopped 16 years ago when we took over ownership.”

Not surprisingly, at Saturday’s finale, you couldn’t get a seat. We don’t appreciate the finer things until they’re taken away from us.

The owners say they won’t replace the Saturday afternoon music with another form. Just strippers. Presumably the sprightly fans will have no problem walking the long distance to see them.

Another jazz club, Black Water Lounge had already announced it is shutting down — temporarily, apparently — on New Year’s Day, blaming road construction on Superior Street.

“It’s been challenging on Superior Street and will continue to be for the next few years,” the club said in a post on its Facebook page. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel as we eagerly anticipate the expansion of Essentia Health and the brand-new street improvements, once they are complete.”

The musicians who performed at the Saratoga say they hope they’ll find another place to play.

“After six months, there will be a need for it or there won’t be,” said Paul Ierino, who played piano in the ‘Toga Trio.

From the archive: Duluth reprieves Saratoga (MPR News – 2006)