We have heard from many in the community that the Hotel Henry Summer Jazz Series has been the highlight of their summer. Beautiful starry nights and astonishingly superb jazz music have accompanied the Hotel Henry bucolic setting and the superb food and drinks provided by the 100 Acres Kitchens. In what will be forever known as the summer of the pandemic, the series borne out of the partnership between JazzBuffalo and Hotel Henry will be one of the pleasant lasting memories during a difficult time in our lives.
Recently, the New York State Department of Health and the State Liquor Authority issued a clarification to guidelines established in March of this year. Essentially stating music must be “incidental” to a dining experience and not the draw itself. Inspectors visiting the series event on Friday, August 21 determined that despite being associated with a dining experience at the 100 Acres Kitchens, the draw of the music on the South Public Lawn far exceeded the intent. That the music became the “draw itself.” This determination is made in spite of the full cooperation many of you exercised respectively to social distancing and wearing a mask.
As a result, we are left with little choice but to suspend the jazz series and outdoor live music we came to enjoy. This is a decision by the DOH/SLA met with much disappointment. However, as we indicated in two previous commentaries on the rules clarifications (A Change In Rules Leaves Out The Audience and New York State SLA Responds To Questions On Phase 3/4 Guidelines), we fully respect the intent of the DOH and the SLA to protect the public interests by enforcing COVID-19 safeguarding measures.
Without question, the music helped to provide the 100 Acres Kitchens at Hotel Henry with full capacity reservations. While at the same time, enabling the community to enjoy bringing folding chairs, order food or drinks from the 100 Acres Kitchens stand, bring foods from local establishments such as Daniela’s or Mister Pizza, and pack picnic baskets. We did not know what to expect in the beginning but it became obvious very soon that the yearning for live music and the arts, in general, was strong.
The fabulous staff of the Hotel Henry, led by Geno and Diana Principe, and the superb sound engineering provided by Mark Percy quickly adjusted. Providing a fulfilling experience to the community who began to fill up the public South Lawn in addition to the diners at the 100 Acres Kitchens Patio. Resulting in magical jazz performances from some of the most immensely talented jazz artists in our city. And, the fantastic photography of Jack Zuff forever etching in memory the evenings we experienced.
Looking forward, positively, we as a community discovered a new treasure not fully realized before. The beauty of the Richardsonian Romanesque structure of the Hotel Henry and a setting like the South Public Lawn provided the perfect canvas for all of us to come together in ways we have not experienced before.
JazzBuffalo and the Hotel Henry are fully committed to establishing a well-produced summer jazz series and dining experiences post-pandemic. Just as the original Hotel Henry Jazz Concert Series forged a strong connection with the community, so will future endeavors to produce a high-quality Hotel Henry Summer Jazz Series.
We wish to thank you all for your participation and support. Contributions made to the “Keep Local Jazz Alive” Fund were met with much heartfelt appreciation. They enabled us to continue to produce the summer jazz series and help us plan ahead for creative ways to present jazz to the community. We will continue to look at how we can bring music and dining experiences together during the times of the pandemic for musicians, venues, and JazzBuffalo. (Thus, contributions to the fund will continue to be welcomed. You can contribute via PayPal: paypal.me/jazzbuffalo and Venmo: @Jazz249.)
As is usually the case when the community comes together as we did, the lasting memories include the people we met along the way. It was a joy to meet many wonderful people basking in the glow of the beautiful environment and the sounds of jazz artistry.
For this, we say in the immortal words of the jazz standard song originally written for Shirley Ross and Bob Hope to the many we met along the way, “Thanks for the Memory.”