Central Station’s Cool Jazz

by Richard Santos
     Central Station, at 1001 North Charles Street, offers a wide array of live entertainment Mondays through Thursdays.
     The bar, which predominantly serves an alternative crowd, is comfortable for everyone, dimly lit and cozy. Upstairs is a beautiful restaurant isolated well away from the noise and chaos of the bar below.
     The weekly schedule is: Mondays--Karaoke Night, featuring the hilarious female impersonator Tia Chambers; Tuesdays--’80s Music with ’80s prices; Wednesdays--Jazz Night; Thursdays--Doug Yetter at the Piano Bar. Central Station does not charge cover on any night of the week--a welcome rarity.
     One recent Wednesday night singer Viki Dee--more R&B than jazz--was featured. She’s a local performer whose influences include Nancy Wilson. Her songs ranged from Madonna and Janet Jackson covers to various familiar disco songs such as “I Will Survive.”
     Viki has released a CD and plans on supporting it with a trip to Los Angeles as well as touring the Maryland area. The CD contains original work as well, which had a good sound when she performed it.
     Her setup was simple. The keyboardist, Dave, was in charge of programming one of the two laptop computers they had with them. These computers were responsible for most of the music. Besides Dave’s keyboards, Viki was adept at her bongo drums.
     When I first saw this set-up I said to myself: “She’d better have a great voice.”
     I was rewarded. She has one of those voices that makes you wonder why she hasn’t made it big yet. During the break, Dave said he didn’t even like doing backing vocals because Viki’s voice is so beautiful.
     The friendly crowd at Central Station increased throughout the evening. Everyone looked as if they were just out to have a great time.
     If you’re looking for jazz on a Wednesday night, try Central Station. Upcoming acts this month include: Jazz Caravan, a seven-piece jazz band, on November 11; New Legacy Jazz Band on November 18; and Larzine Jazz Trio on November 25. The other nights sound like fun, too.

     Central Station is open 7 days a week. The bar opens at 3 p.m.; the restaurant begins serving at 4 p.m. The place closes at 2 a.m.

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This story was published on Nov. 4, 1998.