Jun 4, 2019
Thirty-six years have passed since Todd Barkan’s historic San Francisco jazz club Keystone Korner closed its doors. From 1972 to 1983, greats like Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Bobby Hutcherson, Stan Getz and Max Roach, among countless others, played there. The venue continues to live on in written history and through a series of seminal albums recorded live in the Vallejo Street nightclub.
In the nearly four decades since, Barkan has further cemented his legacy in jazz as a record producer and an operator of clubs in New York (and, from 1990-1993, of Keystone Korner Tokyo). Now, at 72, the newly minted Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts is ready to give Keystone Korner another go—and it’s happening in Baltimore, Maryland.
Keystone Korner Baltimore, a collaboration between Barkan and Washington D.C. chef Robert Wiedmaier, is now open at 1350 Lancaster St., in Harbor East. The venue will seat up to 180 people, with tiers for premium and more affordable pricing.
“My goal is to create something that’s long-lasting for the city of Baltimore, and is a healing place where the music comes first, where we can celebrate the music together,” Barkan said.
Barkan said his club will honor Baltimore’s history of jazz dating back to the 1940s through the 1960s, when Pennsylvania Avenue’s jazz clubs hosted premier homegrown and national talent. The new Keystone Korner will include shrines to the late Ethel Ennis, “the first lady of Baltimore jazz” who ran Ethel’s Place in Mount Royal with her husband during the 1980s, and to the Left Bank Jazz Society, which brought the likes of John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock and many others at The Famous Ballroom from 1967 to 1985.
Podcast 681 features Todd talking about what made him get back to the front lines of a jazz club and why he thinks this is the right time for jazz clubs in America, and reminisces about the old days at the Keystone Korner on the West Coast.