It’s sad to see a beloved music venue close its doors forever, but even sadder to witness a favorite club’s gradual decline as it slowly loses its soul, struggling to remain relevant long past its expiration date. You return to that place you know so well, where you’ve performed dozens of times, over nearly half your life, and each visit is like a reunion with an old friend. You share so much history. So many memories. The joint seems almost unchanged, a little older and worn around the edges perhaps, but the hall, the stage, the dressing rooms, all seem the same as they ever were. But something has been lost. The people who created this special place are long gone. Those noble souls who built its reputation for quality and good times have moved on, replaced by a revolving door of well-meaning but inept functionaries. They’ve raised their prices, expanded the menu, added trendy new cocktails, remodeled the restrooms, and slashed the talent budget. The line-up, no longer a who’s who of jazz, is now a desperate jumble of lesser known acts representing no particular genre. At show time you learn that the audience, too, has changed. People still come here, but it’s not the same crowd. Where are all the celebratory music lovers, out on the town, dressed to the nines? Where are the beautiful women in fancy hats? Who are all these distracted hipsters, looking at their phones? Why are they here? More importantly, why am I? I’d rather remember this place as it used to be. There are other rooms, old and new, where music matters.