Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bobby Floyd Trio plays at The Lobby.

Saturday evening destination is a “no cover charge” performance of the Bobby Floyd Trio. My wife and I are meeting two friends to sample the Saturday night music.

The destination is Greg Roddy’s night spot on the far eastside, a lounge called The Lobby. It is a bar I’ve driven by many times. Near the corner of S. Hamilton Road and East Kimberly Place. The glimpse you get when you are driving on Hamilton Road is an ordinary neighborhood lounge in a storefront.

Nothing on the outside proclaims the special talents on the inside and the agreeable experience that awaits.

The most convenient entrance is from the parking lot. The parking lot is well-lighted.

A man in a heavy-starched white dress shirt is taping a schedule to the door.

He greets us and opens the door to invite us in.

Later, I talk to him and learn his name is Mark Jones. He is marketing and promotions agent for the The Bobby Floyd Trio. Friendly and helpful.

As a press agent should be.

Later we also learn from another sign that a ten dollar cover charge will begin in January. We conclude that ten dollars is a bargain price for the musical experience that awaits in The Lobby.

The room is large. Two bars, one to the left and a second to the right.

The lighting is soft from red and blue neon lights. There are a few track spot lights focused on the band pit.

There is a raised stand for a dee-jay and another sign informs us that dancing begins at 9:00 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.

The second bar is closer to the band pit. And about thirty patrons sit or stand at this second bar.

The first bar area at the rear fills up with about nineteen patrons as the Bobby Floyd Trio begins its first set.

There are eight, maybe ten tables in the area between the two bars. The tables were half-filled when we arrive and completely filled as the first set progresses.

The audience is almost even between men and women. I don’t detect a pattern to their age.

The attire of most people is respectful of the musicians. Not casual but not formal either.

There are a few men and women in their twenties. One man, Jimmy Ross, is convivial and, a soi-disant 82 year-old retiree. I remain skeptical about claim to 82 years. Much younger, I’d bet. Most of the audience are in the thirties to sixties range.

I recognize a few faces in the crowd. Neil Rector, a local art collector and occasional lecturer at the Columbus Museum of Art and other art museums. Donn Vickers, director of the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company and now-retired director of the Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts. Egle Gatins a Bexley artist.

These are all people involved in the visual arts which strikes me as a little surprising. I suspect there are musicians in the audience too; I just don’t recognize their faces.

Bobby Floyd is a local musician who is familiar to many Bexley residents. He performs at the Bexley Monk now and then. Capital University musicians and academics respect his work. He also is a featured artist performing with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, The Columbus Symphony, and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. He is also a regular performer at the Lincoln Theatre, Kings Art Complex and the Southern Theatre.

Signs on the walls tell us details that go a long way to explain the friendliness we experience at this bar. One day a week there is the longest happy hour in Columbus: 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. That is seven hours of reduced price drinks. Two days have reduced price specials. Twisted Tuesdays $2.00 shots and $3.00 Long Island Teas; Get Wasted Wednesdays $2.00 shots and $3.00 Long Islands. In a tough economy, bargain prices on bar bills make sense. Now that would be a sensible federal stimulus serving.

No bar food tonight. During the summer months, I’m told that there are pavilion tents in the parking lot and soul food is sold. Seated nearby is a man named Jimmy Ross, a convivial soi-disant 82 year-old retiree.

Jimmy has a pocketful of jokes printed on small sheets of paper. The little papers get a laugh without fighting against the music. Jimmy asks whether I am a preacher before he gives me one of his printed jokes. The joke was funny. Blue. Not funny fare for a parson but okay for a reporter. Even one like me with a repressed sense of humor.

As we talk, Jimmy and I learn we have some overlapping friends and acquaintances. He knew the now-deceased Columbus jazz band leader Percy Lowery and also is acquainted with Percy’s son Irv Lowery and daughter-in-law Carol Lowery. Another patron, Charlie James, knows Carol Lowery and a discussion of potato salad begins. James says that Carol Lowery should be told that Christine Franklin makes the best potato salad in Columbus. The Lowerys are in Florida but I will pass on this potato salad challenge.

The music begins.

With Bobby Floyd are Derek Dicenzo on the guitar. Tonight, the drums, usually tended by Reggie Jackson, are danced with by Mansfield’s Jerry Powell.

The first set begins with the Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, and Edgar Sampson standard “Stompin’ at the Savoy” followed by a pretty abstract interpretation of the Gershwin brother’s “I’ve Got Rhythm.”

During the break Bobby Floyd told me that the third piece was a quick “Kind of Blues” theme from Miles Davis. The final piece in the set was an insightful rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.”

Bobby Foyd was playing his Hammond organ.

During the break, I asked guitarist Derek DiCenzo whether the organ is the famous B-3. Derek said that for all practical purposes, the organ is a B-3, but in fact it is an A-100 model. Then, sensibly, Derek said not to go into the details of the differences between the B-3 and the A-100. I couldn’t resist googling Hammond A-100 this morning. Derek was right. The details aren’t important.

Derek DiCenzo is a full-time Columbus musician who works in many venues and with many performers. He has been a successful professional musician for ten years. Besides the guitar he also plays the acoustic bass and Jamaican steel drums.

On drums tonight is Jerry Powell, a student at University of Toledo. His major is jazz performance and, besides Columbus, Jerry has played at venues in Detroit, Cleveland and Toledo.

The performances are complex and the music beat is fast. The musicians are animated. Floyd moves his head with the rhythm and the pattern of the music; DiCenzo’s shoulders are his metronome; and Powell’s knees have the motion of a butterfly’s flight pattern, flitting from flower to flower.

Watching all of this movement is intoxicating.

An intoxicating performance by the Bobby Floyd Trio.

Are you surprised when I disclose that The Lobby offers its patrons the stiffest mixed drinks in town?

During the set-break, another aspect of the bar’s personality is visible.

A man named Connie (sp?) was given the microphone. He announced that there is a fund-raiser scheduled for Tuesday, November 24 at The Lobby to raise awareness about musicians and the federal healthcare legislation working its way through Congress. Connie said that few professional musicians have health insurance and the federal proposal will be an improvement for musical performers.

December 19 is the final week of Bobby's 'Floyd's Finest Gift' Holiday Drawing which is equally benefiting the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Triedstone Hope Outreach Center. Participants can bring in a non-perishable canned food item or make a $1 cash donation for a ticket eligible for prize drawings that evening. The tickets are also eligible for the Grand Prize Drawing on December 19. The grand prize is valued at $500! Chances to do good and listen to jazz.

As we return to Bexley, the question for the night is who is Greg Roddy? Calling him a bar owner does not do him justice. He has created a friendly venue and a place of pleasure and excellent music. A man who helps people be happy. A proprietor who makes smart, intelligent music available to us.

Even the double “d’s” and double “b’s” of the name “Roddy’s Lobby” have a happy appearance. Like balloons; like bubbles. “Roddy’s Lobby.” "Bobby at Roddy's Lobby" Look at all those balloons. Have fun and enjoy excellent jazz.

“Bobby at The Lobby”
2390 S. Hamilton Rd
Columbus, OH
530 p.m. Every Saturday unless scheduled
Bobby Floyd Trio
Bobby Floyd at the Hammond Organ with Derek DiCenzo, guitar and Reggie Jackson, drums

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