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A spirit that is not afraid

Jazz makes a home in Auburn

Featuring a team of Auburn alumni, the Piccolo lounge at The Hotel at Auburn University has fostered a community of jazz fans in town

Nestled inside the Hotel at Auburn University is Piccolo, a bar and lounge area that hosts live jazz every Friday and Saturday night.

Adam Keeshan, who graduated from Auburn University in 2006, started out as a bartender at The Hotel and now is the assistant manager of food and beverage and witnessed the growth of the jazz lounge first-hand.

The hotel had a space that wasn’t generating any revenue, so it asked the interior design program at the University as one of their semester projects to come up with something different. The jazz lounge was the winning concept.

“The design was an authentic jazz lounge down to the art on the walls, to the lighting, the food, the drinks and, of course, the music,” Keeshan said.

The lounge is not what most would associate with a city like Auburn and looks similar to something one might see in New York City, in part due to the vision the team at The Hotel and Hans van der Reijden, the managing director of the hotel operations, created.

“Hans has this vision of that New York feel of literally a narrow skinny room that’s very intimate,” said Auburn alumnus Tim Chambliss, managing partner of Modern Media Consulting and owner of Four Star Music.

Chambliss has been a long time resident of Auburn working as the University’s gymnastics PA announcer and performing in his band, Kidd Blue, which he formed in 1985.

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While finding the praised performers that have come through the jazz lounge, Chambliss and his band have also performed with their music highly influenced by jazz sounds.

“Jazz is truly an emotional art form, and with the last couple years being emotional with the state of affairs in our country, I think to some degree people come here and try to escape that through the improvisation and sound that jazz brings,” Chambliss said. “People might come here to hear something they are looking for within the music that they may need. You may find something in your soul that comes out through a horn or any of the instruments.”

Regulars have been loyal to the lounge that offers a refined and different night out that is separate from the usual downtown routine most may expect.

The lounge is open to everyone, not just the guests at the hotel, but it draws them in Keeshan said.

“Our clients vary from weekend to weekend and season to season, but it’s a great addition to their experience if they want to come and enjoy some amazing live talent,” Keeshan said.

Performers come from the Southeast, but there are a lot of talented jazz musicians in Auburn that people may not know about.

“There is just a wealth of talent that has gone unrecognized for so long, and this is a great place to pull them in and showcase their talent,” Keeshan said.

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Certain artists draw their particular fans like Kenny “on the keys” Heard, Kenyon Carter and Grammy-nominated trumpeter Darren English.

“It’s not the same people every weekend, and that’s what makes it so exciting and special,” Keeshan said.

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