Every thursday night, i go to Liquid Smoke. Not necessarily for the beer or cigars, or the hookah for that matter.
I go for the jazz, but mostly, the hip-hop, and something I can’t fail to mention, the nicest bathroom in all of Murfreesboro.
Every Thursday, jazz begins around 9:30 p.m., and no matter what kind of music you listen to, the jazz will get you moving.
MTSU student Herschel Van Dyke started the weekly jazz night, open to all improvisers, about a year and a half ago.
“I really didn’t think much of the gig at first, but it’s really snowballed,” he said.
The night received a boost in a new direction a few months ago when Trey Call added a hip-hop element.
Generally, hip-hop in Murfreesboro can be hard to come by, but thanks to Call and Full Hows MC 247, who hosts the hip-hop portion, local MCs have a showcase.
“The first night we did it, the turnout was very positive,” 247 said. “It’s definitely a good thing. (Liquid Smoke) has a great environment.”
Around 11 p.m. hip-hop takes off, starting with some fresh records spinning, courtesy of local DJ’s such as DJ EQ, then moving on to a MC freestyle session.
Hunter Barnett, a regular at Liquid Smoke, always unleashes his freestyling skills.
“It’s awesome; it gives us (MCs) a venue to do what we do,” Barnett said.
While the combination of jazz and hip-hop might seem strange at first, both are very dependent on improvisation and Van Dyke, not to mention the crowd, likes the mix.
“An MC and a jazz improviser fit well together,” Van Dyke said.
Both must create music spontaneously, and the same goes for a DJ.
While a jazz player builds music out of scales, though, a DJ builds music out of prerecorded records and beats.
A local band played a huge role in combining the two styles and inspiring the night, Van Dyke said.
“Spooky Johnson was the first big Murfreesboro band to combine jazz and hop hop,” he said.
Members of Spooky Johnson frequently perform at both ends of the weekly Liquid Smoke night: keyboardist Matt Roland and Andy Vincent on the jazz side and 247 and Berk Gibbs on the hip-hop side.
Van Dyke still plays drums with all the jazz cats nearly every Thursday, as his friendly white dog, Gator, runs around the place.
He said he’s encouraged that the crowd seems to grow each night and many get there at 9 p.m. to make sure they catch the whole show.
“It’s good to have a jazz gig that people appreciate as much as a rock show,” he said.
While Thursday nights have taken off, Liquid Smoke is a happening venue other nights as well, featuring local bands, bringing in cigar connoisseurs, offering a wide variety of beers and also hosting a Tuesday night open jazz session.
Every few weeks they have art shows for local artists, so you can always see local talent on the walls. Whatever your senses are in need of, they can be fulfilled at Liquid Smoke.
Another one of Liquid Smoke’s perks is you can buy 25 cent single cigarettes. I’m not sure you can do that anywhere else in Murfreesboro.
I spoke with Murfreesboro resident, Justin “Squeak” Kee, who comes to the venue often, about what he enjoys about Liquid Smoke.
“I like going there because they have a great selection of beer, there is a fun atmosphere, lots of cool folks, and good music, its squeaktastic!” he said.
So if you haven’t been to Liquid Smoke on a Thursday before, you should check it out. You might catch some random happenings or special guests, such as Boom Box Collide-a-Scope, who played recently. Sometimes there’s 5 DJ’s scratching records, one at a time, on one set of turntables.
You must be 21 to go though. My advice is to use the tip jar and the bathroom and I assure you, you’ll have a positive night.
Dedicated to DJ Tanner.