Dazzle Bows Out With an Afternoon Bang Before Level Red Closure

Dazzle is going out with a bang.
Danielle Lirette
Dazzle is going out with a bang.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the new Level Red restrictions go into effect in Denver at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 20. That means indoor events and dining are canceled for the time being. So Dazzle is hosting one more gig this afternoon before the jazz venue and restaurant will have to stop hosting concerts and in-person dining for the foreseeable future.

Trombonist, seashell player and vocalist Stafford Hunter, who was on the schedule for Friday night, is now playing an afternoon set starting at 3 p.m. with tenor sax and flute player David Bernot, pianist Stuart MacAskie, bassist Bill McCrossen and drummer Colin Stranahan. The gig ends at 4:45 p.m. and owner Donald Rossa says guests must "run out the door."

Rossa says Dazzle has gone to great lengths to provide a safe environment, including radically scaling back occupancy.

"I want to thank all of you for your compliance," Rossa wrote in a letter to patrons. "We were able to keep a healthy staff and healthy musicians. I know this gig is financially important to the artist. If you need a ticket refund, I certainly understand. But even if you bought more, they would be elated, especially at this holiday season."

Rossa says that what hurts most about the new COVID regulations is getting stuck with perishable food and tapped kegs that will go bad during the closure, as he was when the first round of coronavirus regulations went into effect in mid-March.

"It was a huge bill in March that we are still trying to pay off with Shamrock," Rossa says. As for the food, "most we donated to charitable causes at their suggestion. But Shamrock would not pick up any product. It's easier for them to re-sell non-perishables. And discounted nothing. All other purveyors worked with us. Bastards.

"This time, though, we had much lower inventories," he adds. "But it is all relevant. What credit does a business get for this? Insurance still does not cover this loss. Most importantly, nothing again for the gig employees and tipped employees."

While Dazzle will have to stop hosting live music for a while, it will still present live-stream concerts from Mighty Fine Productions. And both Dazzle and the hi-dive are getting grants from Live Music Society, a new nonprofit philanthropic organization offering financial support to music venues with deep roots in their communities. The organization is giving $2 million in grants in its first two years of operation to support the live-music ecosystem around the United States. Grants go to music venues that have been open for three years or more with a sellable capacity of 250 occupants or fewer. The one-year individual grants range from $10,000 to $50,000.

“Music is magic," Live Music Society founder and board chairman Pete Muller says of the organization's mission. "It has tremendous power to connect people and create energy. There are small venues around the country that create soul-filling experiences for their audiences, staff, and for the local and touring musicians that play there. These clubs are a precious and important part of our nation’s music ecosystem, and our goal is to help them continue to be excellent at what they do.”