House of Blues and Jazz Tours – Shanghai, China
House of Blues and Jazz
About this place
The House of Blues and Jazz is located on the illustrious Mao Ming Rd, site of the former expat bar hub in Shanghai. Since Mao Ming was essentially shut down in 2004, the bars that still remain open are a little downtrodden and fairly empty. However, the House of Jazz and Blues defies the new standard, as it manages to attract an impressive crowd of upscale, yet low key music lovers. Be wary of the beggars that still hang out around Mao Ming Lu. Their 3 year old children follow you around for blocks in desperation.
From the moment you lay your eyes upon the exterior of the House of Blues and Jazz, you’ll likely feel as if you’ve stumbled upon a secret club in Memphis, Tennessee – the heart of the blues tradition. Set in a modest gray stucco building, the large doors with small letters stating “House of Blues and Jazz” provide the only clue to what lies inside. While the interior is decked out with warm wood and leather furniture, it is still simple. It remains obvious that the main embellishment is meant to be the music. The acoustics are great, and the music is not overwhelmingly noisy, but loud enough to allow the musicians to truly strut their stuff.
The musicians are a mix of foreign and Chinese guests and locals. The busiest nights usually take place when groups from abroad make a visit. I highly recommend reserving a table for these nights – check with your hotel. Note that the venue can become extremely packed. Unless you like being pushed by patrons heading for the bar, the standing area is nothing to speak of. One time I simply had to leave for this reason, it was driving me crazy. Depending on the night’s lineup, there might be a “hidden” cover charge. The charge won’t be at the door, it will be included with your first drink, which is usually 80RMB. Afterwards prices drop to about half of that.
While the music is comparable at both spots, the House of Blues and Jazz definitely exudes a different feel than the Cotton Club. It is certainly a little less swanky, slightly less claustrophobic, and less filled with cigarette smoke, if that’s a concern.
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