Downtown Miami, 1924 – Prohibition was in full force as Al Capone did his best to keep the Magic City as leaky as possible. Bathtub gin, illegal craps games behind secret paneled doors and beautiful women lurking in the dark corners of the local watering holes were common fixtures in the moonlight. Finely dressed men and gorgeous ladies dressed to the nines mingled in a downtown lounge while socializing and talking about the issues of the day as Etta James played in the background. Dark, dingy and very “Miami”.
A jazz quartet takes the stage with their black baby grand piano, saxophone, drum set and upright bass as many of Miami’s white and blue collar workers find their place at the large square bar situated in the middle of the venue. Couples find a cozy table near the front and the single ladies mill around looking for their next target. Mickey calls up the band as a group of local attorneys riding high on a big win step into the club and comment to Mickey as to how great he is looking in his feather accented fedora. A newly married couple walk over to the walk-in humidor to select a fancy Dominican cigar that she lets him smoke every “once in a while” as another couple at a cozy table ask a cocktail waitress for help selecting a wine from a long and impressive list.
The lights dim… Big Sam from Memphis takes the stage as his soothing raspy voice welcomes everyone to Avenue D and begins to lay down the all too familiar rhythm of the delta blues.
This is what Avenue D has recreated in 10,000 square feet of the Macy’s building at 1 Flagler Street, or what was known in the 20’s as Flagler and Avenue D, the exact epicenter of Miami, Florida.
It is mesmerizing to think that something like this exists in a town that is known more for Gucci, Prada and cucumber spa treatments than old school jazz and gin gimlets. A place where you wouldn’t be surprised if Al Capone once visited, or if Duke Ellington once lead the band.
This is Avenue D. Miami, 1924… revisited. www.avenuedjazz.com