Fort Worth's legendary
Juke Jumpers are one of several major acts that will be playing the
re-energized Keys Lounge over the next couple of months.
The owner also have installed a new stage
and, perhaps most importantly, have begun scheduling shows by marquee
national acts, including Doyle Bramhall, Fort Worth's Tejas Brothers, and Gary Nicholson,
a.k.a. Whitey Johnson, who'll be playing next weekend
with Dallas stalwart Anson Funderburgh (see: this
week's HearSay, pg. 45). Also, a
reunion of the legendary Fort Worth outfit The Juke Jumpers is scheduled for Labor Day weekend.
"We're going to be pushing for bigger shows,"
Ross said. "We want to do several touring acts per month."
The owner was once a Keys regular himself -- once played in Funderburgh's band, has backed Keys
regular Holland K. Smith.
The club hosts Bobby Counts, who for about a
dozen years, has run a blues jam that often has sitter-inners of the
likes of drummer Bill English (Willie Nelson) and guitarist Pat Boyack (Marcia
The opportunity to buy the club came about
two years ago, not long after the previous owner, Jamie
Jaimerson, had passed away. Jaimerson's widow approached the
two musicians and asked them to take over the place in a strip mall on
Westcreek Court. "It's a nice neighborhood bar that needed fixed up,"
said Ross, who makes his living off his landscaping company. "I'm just
trying to have a nice place for people to go."
In addition to the aforementioned changes,
the owner has installed two smoke suckers - apparently,
smokiness was a major problem - and expanded the staff to seven. New
manager is Jim McNeil, who spent about 10 years
managing Jubilation, a popular blues joint that
closed about eight years ago, and who also ran Jim's Food and
Blues, a hangout that shut its doors about four years ago.
Ross' inspiration is the beloved, defunct Como bar The Bluebird Blues Club,
where he often jammed with its owner, the late, legendary guitarist Robert Ealey. Keys Lounge, Ross said, attracts
"people in their 20s and people in their 80s, black, white, Mexican,
bikers - it's like the old Bluebird, sort of."
Non-blues music, however, is welcome. "If a
there's a good reggae band coming through ...," Ross said.
In the planning stage now are a patio and
possibly another 1,000 square feet
"We're all about the bands and customers
being treated well," Ross said. "And we'll spend money to do it."
- Anthony Mariani