Rebirth of a Legend - The Return of Kansas City's Hey! Hey!
Jazz Club in the Basement of J. Rieger & Co. with General Manager Josie Herrick
As the Kansas City Jazz world enters a new post-pandemic live era, the town continues to contradict predictions of shuttered clubs and slow growth in a new inflation rich America. Yet, new clubs continue to emerge in 2023 times. The latest phoenix to rise is the new reincarnation of the old Hey! Hey! Club in the basement of J. Rieger & Co. Distillery in KC’s Electric Park.
“The Hey! Hey! Club is obviously a special place inspired by the original one from the 1930's,” General Manager Josie Herrick noted. “The club actually opened right before the pandemic began and had to almost immediately close down after not even being open for 6 months.”
It’s back at full strength now and every Thursday night the classy world of jazz returns to a world that was once thriving as the Paris of the Plains. As history comes full circle, the jazz rich 20’s are back in a new era bringing the best of jazz to a historic location.
“The idea of the club goes hand in hand with the distillery and prohibition when jazz was huge in KC. When prohibition went away, so did the jazz,” Josie said. “Bringing back the jazz means bringing back those old world speakeasy type joints. Our goal is to bring an elevated experience to all visitors. A different experience that they wouldn't expect to find in this area of town.”
This historic building was originally built for the Heim Brewery in pre-prohibition tims as a bottling plant. Parallel to the railroad tracks, they used to load up rail cars from the front door. The owners wanted to bring that classic live music, quality cocktail experience back. You notice the ambiance the minute you hit the entrance lobby.
“They got an original re-creation of the Hey! Hey! sign from the set of the Robert Altman Film Kansas City that came out in 1996,” Josie said. “Plenty of Kansas City history happening is alive here, so why not bring the sign back.”
All signs point to success. The crowds are consistent, new acts are coming in and musicians love the space.
“The special thing about J. Reiger is their commitment to history and restoration. Not just making something new. Breathing life into a space and an idea that has existed before and got lost over time,” Josie said. “Everyone that comes down has a great time and has heard nothing but good things.”
Josie hails from a small Kansas town south of Emporia and never thought that she would land in a town like Kansas City. Her dream was California or Chicago, but the charms of this jazz town have her thriving in KC.
“Geographically, this town takes up a lot of space, but it feels small. This town is so young and has so much potential. I really feel like Kansas City is on the verge of something great,” Josie said. “I'm glad life led me to Kansas City. I never appreciated the awesome things about KC when I was younger.”
As the club grows and the lore looms larger each week, the goal is to expand to more nights of music yet paying attention to keeping the experience high quality all the time.
“Obviously jazz is very important to the club at its core. Everything is paying homage to the original club,” Josie said. “It's awesome to see the community come back and support modern jazz.”
by Joe Dimino
More on the Club, Calendar & Reservations - https://www.jriegerco.com/heyheyclub