Deadline Detroit | Nonprofit to revive Storied Jazz Club on Detroit’s West Side


The Blue Bird Inn at 5201 Tireman.

A long-closed Detroit jazz club that hosted greats like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Yusef Lateef could reopen by 2025, bringing what one resident calls a “spark” to a neglected part of the West Side.

The nonprofit Detroit Sound Conservancy’s effort to rehabilitate the Blue Bird Inn on Tireman gets a long and colorful run in the Detroit News this week. The newspaper reports that the building became a bar and restaurant in 1937, according to documents from the city’s Historic Designation Advisory Board.

The first commercial appeared the following year, “featuring Thursday jam sessions and swing music from the Sonny Boy Williams quartet”, the authors said. “The bar also featured the Jimmy Caldwell Orchestra and Ella ‘Black Beauty’ Lee, a blues singer who has also performed at various clubs in Paradise Valley.”

The city’s Paradise Valley and Black Bottom neighborhoods were considered the social and commercial centers of the burgeoning African-American population at the time, but Tireman was a focal point of the Old Westside, where many later moved in response to the declining conditions.

Meanwhile, clubs devoted to jazz were flourishing, eventually making the city a destination of choice. So in the 1940s, the son of (owner William) Dubois tried to attract more customers through improvements and the promotion of live music, said Jim Gallert, a jazz historian who co – author of “Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit 1920-1960”.

The Blue Bird Inn quickly became “a favorite hangout for jazz musicians from across the city,” Detroit officials said. For at least the next decade, many aspiring artists, wealthy patrons and ordinary people crowded into the blue-fronted hall to see artists such as…Davis, a regular for several months in the early 1980s. 1950 while trying to get rid of a drug addiction. .

The club became less active in the 70s, then closed, reopened and changed owners until it was finally put up for auction in 2007. The nonprofit bought the building in 2019 and has since raised at least $280,000 in grants for his rehabilitation.

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