North Texas Daily

Denton coffee shop offers evening of jazz

Denton coffee shop offers evening of jazz

Denton coffee shop offers evening of jazz
July 17
18:23 2014

Samantha McDonald / Staff Writer

Broad melodic tunes rise from the back of the coffee shop on Bryan Street. People walk back and forth at the bar as a soprano sings the words to Frank Sinatra’s “All or Nothing at All.”

The voice belongs to Dallas-based jazz vocalist Carolyn Lee Jones, who is making her third appearance at the Whitehouse. As a guest artist, she performs anything from old swing hits to modern jazz songs heard in her recently released album, “The Performer.” The pairing of vinyl-record music with old-style home features makes the Whitehouse one of Jones’ favorite places to perform casual jazz.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s like being in your living room.”

It’s no mistake that the Whitehouse has risen the ranks as one of Denton’s most beloved hangouts since its opening in March last year. With the addition of “Jazz at the Whitehouse” six months ago, the espresso bar and beer garden has also become a favorite among local music fans.

Unlike most jazz shows in Denton, “Jazz at the Whitehouse” focuses on the role of the singer, who is generally overlooked in a standard jazz band, said producer Jeffry Eckles.

“I wanted it to be a vocal showcase,” he said. “Vocalists generally don’t have the same outlet as instrumentalists do, so I thought, ‘Let’s create an outlet for the vocalists to be able to share their talent and their art.’”

And so began the tradition of jazz night every Wednesday from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Musicians Ginny Mac and Rosana Eckert perform on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, respectively, while the second and fourth Wednesdays are reserved for different guest jazz artists.

Catering to a crowd of 40 to 50 people on a typical jazz night, the mini-concert is well known in the area not only for its variety of musicians, but also its dedication to putting on a good show.

“Rain or shine, it always goes on,” said Samantha Melomo, a Whitehouse barista – or baristar, as fellow employee Katelynn Ewing likes to call them. “It’s a fun, easygoing environment, and [Dentonites] enjoy the local feel of it.”

This popularity as well as the successful business that jazz night brings to the Whitehouse has persuaded Eckles and shop owner Mike White to keep it a regular Denton evening event.

“People are starting to realize this is a place to come any Wednesday and hear great live music,” Eckles said. “We are so lucky to live in this fruitful community with so many tremendous artists and wonderful musicians.”

Feature Photo: Heather Paterson, right, Jim Riggs, left, and Jeffrey Eckels perform for a crowd gathered in the Whitehouse Espresso Bar and Beer Garden’s back patio. The weekly jazz ensemble is accompanied by a new vocalist for each performance at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Photo by Christina Ulsh – Senior Staff Photographer

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