Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Eastside music venue The Commodore now open

The Commodore's tagline will be "the touch of class" in homage to its former life

Posted by Kelly Rae Smith on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 1:32 PM

click to enlarge The bar/venue at 504 Meeting St. reopen as the Commodore after being closed for 20 years. - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • The bar/venue at 504 Meeting St. reopen as the Commodore after being closed for 20 years.

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, Charleston left its mark in the jazz world with not only its first-class musicians, like Oscar Rivers, but also its nightclubs, including the former Eastside gem, A Touch of Class.

Closed for 20 years now, the 504 Meeting St. club will reopen its doors tonight with a grand opening as The Commodore, the latest venture from the Palace Hotel's Taylor Grant.

"When I walked in this place, I immediately fell in love with it. I couldn’t contain myself," says Grant, who compares his discovery of the club to "walking into a time vault."

Before closing in the mid-’90s, Ernest Pinckney's A Touch of Class was on the jazz and R&B circuit for top acts, like James Brown and Marvin Gaye — evidence of this has been preserved with a colorful, framed collage inside the bar.

"We wanted to keep the vibe that Mr. Pinckney built, and we felt like Charleston needed something like this — something authentic and real," Grant says. "I wanted to kind of preserve the past and breathe some new life into it."

Relics of the club's history are everywhere. Original murals depicting jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, and Sarah Vaughan remain untouched on the walls. Guests can sit at old leather booths, chairs, and tables from the bar's heyday. And they can dance on the same black-and-white checkered floor that legends and locals graced together many moons ago.

The Commodore opened to the public last Friday with a soft opening that had folks overflowing onto the sidewalk. Inside, local band Mike Quinn and the Funktastics kept patrons on their feet until the bar closed at 2 a.m.

The Commodore will host live music from local bands at least three times a week, beginning with funk vinyl DJ D!Z on Thursday and the Commodore House Band (jazzy funk) on Friday. Grant says a limited food menu is on the way, too.

To experience what has been called "a step back in time" for yourself, stop in between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday. 

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