Portland jazz club The 1905 calls it quits following fundraising campaign

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s the end of an era. The 1905 has permanently closed, following an announcement that club owners had to shut down the jazz venue despite their “sincerest efforts to overcome challenges.”

Portland’s jazz scene will feel the loss of the venue that had become a staple since opening in 2016, but for many, the closure isn’t a total surprise.

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Over the summer, friends of The 1905 launched a fundraising campaign in an attempt to keep its doors open. According to the GoFundMe, the club raised more than $67,000 of its $100,000 donation goal. In late October, owner Aaron Barnes shared that $50,000 had been used to cover wages, performers, rent and operations.

And on Thursday, he disclosed that the club could no longer stay afloat.

“With heartfelt gratitude to our incredible community, dedicated staff, and supportive advisory board, we extended our journey for another month, inching closer to the envisioned sustainable 1905,” Barnes explained on the club’s Instagram. “Regrettably, financial constraints hindered us from reaching that milestone. We express our profound thanks for the cherished memories we’ve created together.”

Just this year, music magazine DownBeat named The 1905 among the best jazz clubs in the world.

Christopher Brown, the acclaimed jazz musician who takes after his legendary father Mel Brown, can attest to that. He’s played in music venues all over the globe, but The 1905 was his performance spot nearly every week from January 2017 until now.

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He told KOIN 6 that he officially learned of the club’s closure shortly before what would’ve been his show on Wednesday night, but he was aware of a potential shutdown beforehand.

According to Brown, The 1905 was just a room — but the people were what made the place. Internationally-acclaimed artists would visit the venue, which excited fans, burgeoning artists and young musicians who wanted to interact with the greats.

“These musicians were maybe in high school or in college or just fresh out of college,” Brown said. “The fact that they could go to a place like that and potentially rub shoulders with a famous recording artist who’s just passing through town and potentially develop a relationship, and maybe even a working relationship, with them — that’s huge.”

Other local jazz venues may not have the recent acclaim that The 1905 does, but places like Jack London Revue and sometimes Amalfi’s give music-lovers other opportunities to hear the soulful genre live.

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As far as the future of the Portland jazz scene goes, Brown noted that people have claimed the genre is dead since its first record was released in 1917. He asserts that the genre doesn’t need life support, but a rebrand.

“My wife said it best a number of years ago. She was like ‘The thing about hip hop, why it’s so big, is you see it. In fact, you see it actually more than you hear it,’” he recalled. “Jazz music is not so visible anymore… We need to get back to being the ones to tell our story.”

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