Victoria’s Hermann’s Jazz Club launches first and only pandemic plea amid struggles – Victoria News
Early ’90s cigarette smoke filled the air as the venue’s namesake treated revelers to a round of peach schnapps, before rhyming a German toast atop the stage.
Times have changed from Ashley Wey’s earliest childhood memory of Hermann’s Jazz Club.
But its place as a revered musical institution in the capital has not budged for what will be 41 years next month.
However, even after an almost virtuosic performance in navigating pandemic shutdowns over the past two years, the recent round of restrictions have reduced Hermann’s operational capital to a critical level.
“This is our first and only call,” said Wey, the club’s bookings manager and longtime performer. “What we need is for people to consider giving us a gift that will help preserve this important musical institution and the legacy of Hermann’s Jazz Club for future generations.
“This is our cry for help right now.”
The venue attracts world-class artists to stop in Victoria on every tour and is essential for a host of local non-profit music organizations, Wey said. Hermann’s had live streams running days after the first COVID-19 lockdown. Wey said these kept people connected and raised more than $100,000 for local artists in the first nine months of the pandemic.
The club are determined not to shut down, but urgently need some help to get through the next six weeks. The Hermann’s team have been working hard to ensure they can get going, with shows ready once they can return to full capacity.
Thousands of people consider Hermann’s Jazz Club their living room, Wey said, or a place they’d rather be than their living room. Victoria’s music community is like a family, a family maintained by Hermann’s, she said.
Wey recalls the effect of the club’s first reopening for in-person shows, how it lifted the spirits of people she’s seen frequenting the club over the past 30 years.
“People were so happy to come back,” she said, noting how the tight-knit community passed notes between tables because they couldn’t mingle.
Few cities have a place like Hermann’s Jazz Club, Wey said, where all ages can experience and be inspired by world-class artists.
“We are lucky to have that in Victoria. I feel like I was born and raised there,” she said, adding that “the arts are what help people through tough times.”
The club is launching a series of fundraisers, starting with a live-only Valentine’s Day show. A full list of upcoming performances, most of which are a hybrid in-person/livestream format, can be viewed online at hermannsjazz.com/upcominghows.
Donations can be made instead at any time at Arts On View website (artsonview.ca/donate/) or by mailing a check payable to Arts On View Society at 753 View St., Victoria BC V8W 1J9). Those wishing to make a large donation can email [email protected]