When I sing, trouble can sit right on my shoulder and I don’t even notice.
— Sarah Vaughan

Musicians knew where it was. Word had been passed at gigs coast to coast. After a night's work, Elmore Skinner's Blue Hotel was still jamming with an atmosphere more complex than a D-Flat mambo and warmer than Madame Rachad's “house” next door. Here, the bar never closed, and immortal melodies were born.


Over time, the greats of Jazz, Blues, Swing, Country, and old Rock 'n Roll checked in at the Blue Hotel to check out—and perform—legacy music. Willie Dixon. Cole Porter. Miles Davis. Bessy Smith. Eric Clapton. Bonnie Raitt. George Gershwin. Muddy Waters. John Lennon. Herbie Hancock. Patsy Cline. And Elvis, who never left the building at all.

Opened by Elmore in 1931, the Blue Hotel featured house bands who not only played brilliantly in their own right, but knew how to welcome traveling musicians to the stage, located only four feet from Elmore's mahogany bar.

In October, 1989, a heart attack dropped Elmore to the floor during an extended solo by the house drummer, Norm Parker. It was a great solo, lasting almost three minutes, and the small 2:00 a.m. crowd was so enthralled, no one noticed Elmore. (He would have enjoyed that.) But when the last note that night had been sung by vocalist Mimi Hardiman, it became the last note ever heard at the Blue Hotel.

Such was the impact of Elmore's loss that the hotel just quietly—and immediately—went out of business. So Norm and Mimi reluctantly started looking for a new gig, accompanied by the rest of their band: bassist Ben Ferrini, guitarist Don Laurila, saxophonist Michael Jacobs, and pianist Carl Zukroff.

They put down roots in New England, and sanctified Elmore’s legacy. And now they do it all in any venue for any private event: dinner dances, fundraisers, anniversaries, Dixieland funerals, and...well, you name it. They pattern themselves after all those musical legends, and they still retain the name that launched a thousand legends.