The C-Note: opening of the first jazz club in Luquillo | Business Gallery
Luquillo is set to open his first jazz club with an iconic name: The C-Note. Construction began months ago on an existing three-story building located in Calle Fernández García, with spectacular views of Luquillo Beach. The facade is adorned with a fresco painted by Puerto Rican artist Frank Andujar, whose art is steeped in Spanish, African and Creole influences. Located in a prominent corner just off the town square, the colorful club stands out from its neighbors.
The C-Note is a concept conceived by Charlie Sepulveda, the Latin American trumpeter from Puerto Rico, his wife Natalia Mercado, who sings with Charlie, and Lori Bluett, co-owner of Wicked Lilly in Condado and longtime real estate developer. Erika Suárez, an award-winning Puerto Rican chef and former executive chef of Wicked Lilly and El Conquistador, completes ownership of the concept.
A real jazz club has long been a goal for Charlie. “Having my own jazz club is a dream for me,” Charlie said. After hearing Charlie’s music with his band, The Turnaround, Bluett asked Charlie to play the big opening night of Wicked Lilly and his bar Tryst two years ago. Bluett and Charlie shared their dream of having a jazz venue on the island. The C-Note was born that night.
Since Lori and Charlie both live in Luquillo, they decided their town was the right place. “Luquillo needed musical energy,” she said. Lori was looking for an ideal building for a jazz club on the beach. She also has other real estate projects underway in Luquillo and around the island.
Jazz is an integral part of Bluett’s family from California. His father was a jazz musician and was trained on the clarinet. He gave up being a professional musician to support his family and became an engineer on a full scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley. Lori’s son shares the same musical passion, and he wrote an essay on jazz which he shared with Charlie to seal the deal to open a jazz club with his mother.
Lori’s father’s 1940s clarinet will be an integral part of the C-Note. It will be hung on the third floor behind the painting of Andujar by a clarinetist. Charlie was amazed at the sight of the family treasure when Lori unveiled it at a promotional event.
Charlie’s last big gig, just before the pandemic, was a three-night sold-out run at the famous Dizzy’s Club in Lincoln Center in New York City, where a reviewer predicted the need for a jazz club in Puerto Rico. “The performance was historic for several reasons. This dispelled the misconception that Puerto Rico lacks a robust jazz scene. Additionally, sold-out shows have demonstrated that there is an unmet demand for Puerto Rican jazz (club owners, beware!). “
The C-Note will offer live music throughout the week. Charlie has engagements with local jazz greats Nestor Torres, James Williams, Henry Cole, David Sanchez, Randy Brecker, William Cepeda and Miguel Zenon. Charlie will also play his jazz, sometimes solo, with his quartet, and with The Turnaround. A magnificent Baldwin piano, cello and drums are permanent features of the second floor.
Fridays and Saturdays will offer two shows with different groups, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Charlie plans to perform with students at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, where he teaches. Sundays will be devoted to a Jazz Brunch. They plan to offer fresh oysters on Sundays, along with other delicacies.
The first floor will serve tapas and include a wine and cigar store. The second floor is dedicated to live music and will have a seating area. It will also house a recording studio. The top floor, with stunning views of the rolling waves of Luquillo Beach, will be a cigar smoking area with a whiskey, bourbon, scotch and wine bar.
Recently, Charlie gave a free jazz concert on the street outside C-Note, and Chef Suárez cooked a delicious gumbo in New Orleans. The C-Note will complement existing concert halls in Puerto Rico, including the Cannon Club Piano Bar and Carli’s Bistro and Piano Bar, both located in Old San Juan.
Charlie and Lori are aiming for November for their first opening concert. There are plenty of parking spaces in the large free car park next to the town square. More information about the club can be found on the C-Note website at www.cnotepr.com, where tickets can be purchased.
Good things are happening in Luquillo.