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Kansas City's Newest Jazz Club in the Birthplace of Pat Metheny

By Way of Lee's Summit: The 1909 Club

In this post-pandemic world of deeper live music appreciation and musicians back at it full time, the Kansas City scene continues to show its combined strength in opening new venues for the jazz community. The latest example is in Pat Metheny’s birth home in the modern bustle of Lee’s Summit, MO.

It’s called The 1909 Club and is a classy expansion of a popular craft cocktail joint called Libations.

“We named it after the year this building was built by Todd George. Our inspiration was to make an intimate and cozy music hall feel that you would get only if you traveled back in time,” Owner Seth Allen explained. “Or if you went to New Orleans and found that cool out of the way place. Something very unique.”

The dream for Seth began back in 2017 when he opened the doors to Libations in a smaller space next door to the current two story, spacious building it’s currently housed in.

“In the beginning, the concept was to reinvent the liquor store concept. What I wanted to accomplish was a place for patrons to find unique bar items and a cornerstone in education,” Allen said. “I wanted to provide a knowledgeable place to discover a great cocktail and the making of it.”

This penchant for both quality in music and drinks began when he was a kid and grandparents to aunts & uncles all had a swanky bar in their basements that they showed off.

“I wasn't thinking about drinking. I was enamored by the labels, bottles and instruments,” Allen said. “I think a lot of that has been lost and I wanted to find a way to bring that class back to the people.”

During his first year, Libations was a huge success and created hundreds of custom drinks and provided the community with an epic education that started the proverbial conversation.

“Music has always been important to me. It's been extremely important for setting the Libations atmosphere,” Seth said. “In the beginning, there were some customers who introduced themselves as playing gypsy style french jazz. They played on Friday evenings and it exploded. It was hard to ignore that it was huge and I began adding more bands.”

Due to the popularity and large crowds, the fire marshall halted the music for safety concerns. That was until he got the building next door in 2021 and the dream of a quality live music venue started becoming more of a reality.

“We got our bar on the main floor with the plan to open a live music venue that would feature the best musicians in Kansas City,” Allen noted. “We would celebrate what we have here in a little corner of the city that doesn't have it.

As Seth took his time to get things just right, he began getting the stage, lighting and artwork just right. Done in the ways of class and nostalgia that have always been a hallmark of his drinking establishment.

“We have gone to the extent of having all of the furniture custom made by a company called Of Iron and Oak out of New York City,” Allen said. “They made all of the leather furniture for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and blockbuster movies. It's pretty incredible stuff. You will be experiencing this show in the highest quality and comfort.”

Seth and Club 1909 enter into existence in a town known for jazz, famous for live music and ready to keep that KC history going in the right direction.

“It's an extension of what I originally wanted to do, which is to bring something to our patrons that they really want and can't find anywhere else,” Allen said. “I saw the look on our customers' faces when we had live music and the sip of that beverage that I made. That's the ultimate reward for me.”

This reality commenced on the evening of February 18, 2023 to a sold out audience that experienced the Joana Berkibile Quartet as an iconic neon from the old Minton’s glowed off the proverbial stage. It’s only one of two in existence and it symbolizes quite a bit.

“The list of folks is immense of folks that have passed it to perform on their stage. Now it's hanging over our stage,” Allen said. “It makes it feel like we are reaching back in time and shaking hands with those that created music in this city that will forever be loved. It continues to live on in a different little corner of the city.”

by Joe Dimino

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