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Photo by Frank Couch.
Tremayne and Karen Thompson, owners of Perfect Note Jazz and Dining in Hoover.
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Photo courtesy of Perfect Note.
The club is open Wednesday through Saturday, 6 to 11 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. The menu features American food with a Southern twist including chicken and waffles, blackened catfish and garlic herb chicken breast. There is no fee to have dinner or cocktails in the bar area, which opens with happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday.
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Photo courtesy of Perfect Note.
Hoover’s music scene welcomed a new entry with the spring opening of Perfect Note, a jazz and dining venue on U.S. 31. At about the same time, the founder of Moonlight on the Mountain announced he was looking for someone to take over the operation of the acoustic music concert room when he retires at the end of the year.
Karen and Tremayne Thompson said their lives have always been about music, and this spring they achieved a lifelong goal with the opening of their own jazz supper club in Hoover, Perfect Note. Located in the old Piccadilly Restaurant space, the venue is at 1845 Montgomery Highway S., Suite 201.
“Our tagline is, ‘the perfect place for your live music and dining experience,’ and so far, our customers’ response supports that claim,” said Karen Thompson. “Doing this has always been our dream.”
But the two are by no means new to the music business. Born and raised in Indiana just outside of Chicago, Karen Thompson sang in a choir with her mother, a church musician, and Tremayne Thompson traveled with a gospel group that opened for major entertainers, she said.
Eventually they began organizing concerts and doing tour productions and artist management bookings primarily for mainstream gospel artists and Christian comedians before transitioning to jazz via the influence of a friend who was a jazz radio station DJ. But the desire to be closer to family brought the couple to Alabama, where they settled in Helena.
“That’s when a friend introduced us to Ona Watson, and we realized that his downtown jazz club and the Preserve Jazz Festival were about the only two things going on in the area,” Karen Thompson said.
So in 2012, the Thompsons started jazz productions at Watermark Place in Bessemer, bringing in nationally acclaimed jazz artists — the likes of Marion Meadows, Brian Culbertson and Najee — every other month.
“We were there 2½ years and had so much success we had bands from all over, including Europe, wanting to play,” Karen Thompson said.
It’s the Thompsons’ production company, TK Productions and Events, that books all Perfect Note regional and local talent as well as national artists who perform jazz, blues, old school R&B, big band and gospel, she said.
The club is open Wednesday through Saturday, 6 to 11 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. The menu features American food with a Southern twist including chicken and waffles, blackened catfish and garlic herb chicken breast.
There is no fee to have dinner or cocktails in the bar area, which opens with happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. And Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, there’s no cover charge to dine and listen to music in the main stage area unless a national artist is performing, Karen Thompson said.
Perfect Note may be a relatively new venue with a 190-seat main dining room with stage, but the Thompsons already have a fall expansion in the works that includes an 85-seat banquet facility and a 40-seat executive lounge.
“We couldn’t be happier with the reception we’ve received, and we’re proud to be able to bring something that others can enjoy,” Tremayne Thompson said. “It’s work, but we never see it like that. We’re just glad to see people leave here so happy because that’s the perfect product.”
For more information about Perfect Note and its performance lineup and schedule, go to perfectnotelive.com or call 986-7280.
Keith Harrelson may be retiring at the end of the year, but he’s in search to keep his concert venue creation, Moonlight on the Mountain, continuing on into 2017 and beyond.
Harrelson, who turned 66 in March, has operated Moonlight for the past six years, presenting primarily singer/songwriters and their original acoustic music in a small, intimate setting of about 90 seats at 585 Shades Crest Road.
“We’ve had people who were traveling through from other parts of the country and the world mixed with local artists and many from outside our immediate market,” Harrelson said.
But the Bluff Park resident is quick to say that he’s not really offering Moonlight on the Mountain for sale, but rather seeking to “pass it on.”
“I’d love to see a small group of people who could contribute their individual skills to support the facility be able to take it over,” he said. “It’s not really an identifiable business but more like an art gallery that exists for the sake of the art and the artists. Almost like taking over a Scout troop — an activity that’s meant to serve the community and participants.”
The Moonlight Music Alliance is the nonprofit organization that operates in conjunction with the venue and pays its operating expenses — a necessity because the facility pretty much squeaks by financially. Cover charges usually range from $12 to $15 a show, most of which goes to the artists. And Harrelson sells neither food, drinks nor alcohol, though customers are allowed to bring their own.
“We’ve had contributors, but operating a not-for-profit organization is not my strength, and if someone more knowledgeable was one of those taking it over, it could make the future much more secure,” he said. “And people could choose to run the facility as a nonprofit and have very little trouble operating the two.”
From the Birmingham area, Harrelson was a writer and spent 30 years as an advertising photographer.
“But I always wanted to present this type of music and have a coffee house,” he said. “So after photography got worn out for me, I took a swing at it in Vestavia.”
That was the Moonlight Music Café, which he operated from 2003 to 2006 and presented more than 1,000 different artists. He then joined a group of friends presenting house concerts at various homes or other locations before opening Moonlight on the Mountain in 2010.
While the venue is booked through September, Harrelson said the fall “gets a little dicey” because he can’t compete with college football Saturdays. But as in the past, he plans to have an active schedule through New Year’s Eve before relinquishing responsibility for the Moonlight Jan. 1.
Harrelson said his plans for retirement are to “leave town, travel and even spend some time with friends outside of the Moonlight circle.”
“But I’m so grateful for it and I cherish all the relationships it’s brought me including our wonderful volunteers, customers and our landlord,” he said. “All our artists are very special people to me, and it’s great to have been able to bring them this place to play and do their work in front of those who do them the courtesy of listening.”