Kate O'Toole had thought about opening a bar since she was thirteen and saw The Color Purple. "There's this scene in the juke joint where Shug Avery sang this song called 'Sister' to Celie and she was just getting down and then everyone was getting down," she remembers. "It was super soulful and I got goose bumps over my whole body and I was like, 'I wanna make that happen one day.'"
And at the beginning of January, O'Toole finally got her bar. She took over the 120-year-old building at 3862 High Street that's been home to numerous saloons since 1902, including Marco's Place and the High Street Speakeasy (Denver's Best New Bar a few years back), and dubbed her place Jezebel's Juke Joint & Brothel.
O'Toole thinks the building was originally a whorehouse; the second floor is divided into sixteen small rooms, and some tenants and customers have insisted that spirits lurk around upstairs and occasionally make their way downstairs. Eventually, O'Toole would like to renovate the upstairs and rent out rooms to creative types like photographers and tattoo artists.
Right now, though, she's concentrating on getting the downstairs bar up and running, bringing in blues and jazz acts on Fridays and Saturdays as well as the Rowdy Shadehouse Funk Band on Sundays. In March, the Belles of Jezebel's, a Roaring '20s-themed cabaret troupe, will start performing on Thursdays - which is also ladies' night, appropriately enough.
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The Belles, along with Vivienne Vavoom and bluesman Sammy Dee, will make their debut during Jezebel's grand opening, a masquerade Mardi Gras party, on Fat Tuesday, February 16.