In late February at Humboldt Park, the California Clipper woke up from its pandemic slumber with some cosmetic changes and a brand new owner. Change is nothing new for the 84-year-old tavern space which has seen different diets, drink menus and clientele pass through its doors near the corner of California and Augusta.
Local musicians entertained patrons using the small back stage. New owner Orbit Group — which also owns resurgent Italian restaurant across the street, Segnatore — says it’s upgraded the space’s sound system and made other updates. They say the stage was underutilized and hope better sounds and other changes will attract bigger acts on occasion.
With that in mind, on Wednesday, April 6, the Clipper will host the Dave Miller Quartet, featuring Grammy-winning jazz drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts. It’s a free show. Watts was scheduled to perform at other venues, but those dates fell and the Clipper was ready to pounce.
The bar and music venue industry is hip-bound, and the pandemic has hurt both. As COVID restrictions loosen, audiences feel more confident attending shows. Clipper management says it wants to host bigger names, like Watts, a few times a year. Kristina Magro, beverage manager at Clipper, said the key would be to provide locals with the entertainment without a cover, when other venues in town might be more inclined to charge a ticket.
Either way, Clipper’s new management seems determined to find new ways to entice customers. Check out the show tonight and stay tuned for announcement throughout the year.
Dave Miller Quartet, at the California Clipper, 1002 N. California Avenue, 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 6, free for ages 21 and over