Jazz Like Home

Stephen and Mary Merriman wanted to create a place where musicians could share their work with the community — so they started a small jazz club. They welcome the traveling musicians, serve them home-cooked meals, and share their love for music.

“We do want them to feel at home,” Mary shares. “I always feel like we’re friends with the musicians by the end of the night. It’s like they’re kind of part of the family.”

Video Transcript

Stephen and Mary Merriman run this small jazz club.

(Musicians set up their instruments on stage)

Mary Merriman: Road food’s not fun. So I always try to have something that’s a little more healthy for them.

We do want them to feel at home — the musicians that are touring and the people coming in. Well, first of all, making the atmosphere comfortable.

Stephen Merriman: And that’s what we’re doing here, and that’s why we created this place, is to have an opportunity for artists to present their work in an environment conducive to hearing it with sophisticated listeners. So without any further ado, what do you say? Darren Johnston!

(Jazz band plays on stage)

Before COVID, the Merrimans hosted touring musicians in their home.

Mary: So we kind of set up the basement rooms kind of like a dorm.

Stephen: So we would take the day off before and the day off after. It was a two-day event.

Mary: It was a two-day event for me because I did a lot of cleaning. Then I would make breakfast the next morning, a big giant breakfast.

Stephen: Some of the best times we had were at that breakfast.

Mary: Oh, we had so much fun though.

Gustavo Cortinas: In 2014 I went to play for y’all. And we ended up spending the night in y’all’s basement. And prior to that, you made an amazing meal for us, and we had a really nice hang. I think my request for evidence from the visa guys, they were asking for extra evidence, and I was like, what evidence do I have? And I was like, well, I’ve got the gig. So y’all wrote this really amazing letter for me so that I could get my artist visa.

The hospitality that you’ve extended to me goes well beyond a place where I can go and showcase my music every once in a while. It’s a place where we can be ourselves. It’s a place that has allowed me to be home in this country. It’s a place where I learned s’mores. Y’all taught me what s’mores are.

Darren Johnston: Also, I should say this is probably our last tune for this set. So thank you so much. I’ll say right now, thank you so much for being here, and thank you to the Merrimans for having us. And please come up and say hi. We do bite, but we don’t scratch. So it’s cool.

Mary: I always feel like we’re friends with the musicians by the end of the night. It’s like they’re kind of part of the family. There’s like a brotherhood. I feel like they’re all my jazz brothers, you know?

Stephen: Yeah.

Mary: I do. I really truly feel like that.

Stephen: There is a need for these artists to have us here. They need us, and we really learned that early on, and to not stop if we can possibly help. And so that’s really carried us a long way — to be able to do that now, here, and in the future.

Mary: Yes.

Jazz club patron: Well, so I was born and raised in south Louisiana, so jazz is a huge part of the culture and there’s a huge scene down there, especially in the New Orleans area. So I came here, I felt like I woke up on Frenchmen Street down in New Orleans and got to hear some really great jazz music. I love the ambience, the sense of community here, the sense of connection. You can feel the passion emanating for the stage. And so what’s not to love?

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