Bipeds of Brookland: Deandre Howard
Deandre Howard met Dr. Alice Lawrence about 9 years ago. He discovered they shared a dream he had since his late 20s: to open a non-alcoholic jazz club. Dr. Alice wanted to provide people with the opportunity to feel like they were in their living room, and yet to share the space with live musicians. Dr. Alice owned the building on 12th Street, Deandre had the skills as a contractor to fix it up and the connections as a musician to book “straight ahead jazz." Together, they opened Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society, a nonprofit organization, two years ago.
“I’m not trying to get rich, I do this for the love of music… I am blessed. Alice is blessed. How many people get to live their dream? This is so much fun. When I turned 18, I said to the Creator: I want to do this for a living.” Deandre played at Utopia every Friday for 22 years and worked as a sound engineer, but “when you’re in the studio all day making money, by the time you get home, it’s night time. All you got time to do is eat and go to sleep. " He is now happy to manage a real jazz club in Brookland. “There used to be tons of jazz clubs in this community back in the day when I was playing.” Deandre knew many of the people whose images are painted on the club’s front wall.
“This is a getaway from all the rudeness and nastiness out on the street. You come in here there is one love, a good vibe. I guarantee you come to one of these shows, you will see everybody talk to you. People in the audience will make you feel welcome. We sell dinners, sodas, tea. We don’t serve alcohol… If I see (alcohol), I’m gonna tell you to get out of here.”
“People say jazz is dead. I say jazz isn’t dead. What’s dead is the presentation of Jazz. .. Jazz is best served in an intimate atmosphere.”
AJACS is located at 2813 12th Street, NE. Most shows are from 6 - 9 pm, cash admission fees. All ages welcome. Food and drinks for sale on premises; no alcohol. Jazz schedule is posted on the website http://www.jazzandculturalsociety.com
Bipeds of Brookland: A semi-weekly Bipeds series introducing the people who make Brookland their home, one step at a time. Article and photo by Tom Sabella