Blues, meze and all that jazz

 

Ok, before we start I’m going to make one thing very clear. I did not get paid to write this. I did not get free tickets, I did not get free drinks, in fact no one from the management of this place was aware of my presence (or probably my existence) on either of my visits.

And now we’ve got that out of the way… I LOVE Peggy’s Skylight. The new (nearly two months old) jazz club on George Street is just the best place to spend some time if you like great music, a great atmosphere and some pretty decent red wine and coffee.

I have to confess I was excited about Peggy’s Skylight even before it opened. I read somewhere (probably Nottinghamshire Live) that the owners were taking inspiration from Ronnie Scott’s and I adore Ronnie Scott’s so I couldn’t wait for it to open.

I didn’t go to the opening weekend because I was saving myself for this.

Maniere des Bohemians play gypsy jazz and it was just the most fantastic evening. We booked a table for dinner. The club serves Middle Eastern meze. It’s a tribute to the jazz ambassadors like Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie and Lois Armstrong who traveled the Middle East playing jazz in the 1960s.

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The food was delicious. We had duck with pomegranate, slow cooked lamb and green beans, eggs in harissa, flatbreads and it was all lovely. But this is meze and you are not going to come out of here stuffed. The waiting staff were charming, the drinks and coffee were flowing and the atmosphere was buzzing.

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Maniere des Bohemians were exceptional and the ticket price on the door was just £6 per person. There were people of all ages just soaking up a great atmosphere and having the best time.

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It was such a good evening that I haven’t stopped going on it about it for the last month – in fact, I was singing on the bus (I also love Nottingham City Transport) all the way home, much to the dismay of the other passengers and Phill who did his best to pretend I was with someone else.

I couldn’t wait to go back and so last night we did. This time not for lively, flamboyant, colourful gypsy jazz, but for a good old dose of the blues.

Rollo Markee and Lewis Fielding took to the stage last night. It was a very different pace from our first visit to Peggy’s but just as enjoyable. We didn’t dine there this time, we just paid the admission charge – it may have been £8 this time, I can’t remember – grabbed one of the only spare tables at the back, ordered some drinks and enjoyed the music and the atmosphere.

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I really hope Peggy’s Skylight is a huge success because I think it’s a fabulous venue and I can’t wait to go back. In fact I’ve already got a Sunday afternoon of Gershwin booked in with the Andrew Wood Trio next month.

And, of course, it is one of the venues participating in next Sunday’s Hockley Hustle (which I am very excited about).

Now last night I was chatting to Sarah the Maitre D and I asked her about the name of the club.

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It’s named after Peggy Hitchcock, New York socialite and patron of the arts. Or more specifically, it’s named after her skylight. Peggy used to hang out with jazz musicians at her Manhattan home. There was a skylight in the house that she wanted to replace with a blue material so the sky would always look blue. Sadly the planning authorities wouldn’t let her (bloody building regulations). In consolation her friend Charles Mingus, one of the greatest jazz double bassists ever, wrote her a song – Peggy’s Blue Skylight.

After uncovering the skylights in the venue, owners Rachel Foster and Pauls Deats came up with the name. It’s a fabulous name for a fabulous venue.

The front of the building has huge windows – afternoon teas are served there during the day. They’re next on my list of things to try, particularly if there’s a jazz pianist tinkling the ivories while I indulge.

The stage is surrounded by tables and chairs for diners and behind that is a bar. There’s tiered seating, Ronnie Scott’s-style going up beside the bar and a single tier at right angles to the stage. The lighting helps to create that intimate atmosphere that all good jazz clubs should have.

Oh just go, it’s brilliant and every good city should have one.

As an interesting aside, Sarah told me last night that Peggy Hitchcock is still alive and she’s trying to find her and invite her to Nottingham to see the club named after her. I hope she finds her and Peggy accepts the invitation. And I hope she enjoys her namesake just as much as I do.

Check out Peggy’s Skylight website here.

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Traveler, writer, photographer, seeker of knowledge

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