Ever since Memorial Day Weekend, The Blue Room has become an exciting place for both musicians and music lovers. Located smack dab in the center of Pawtuxet Village on 2197 Broad Street in Cranston, …
Ever since Memorial Day Weekend, The Blue Room has become an exciting place for both musicians and music lovers. Located smack dab in the center of Pawtuxet Village on 2197 Broad Street in Cranston, the venue has catered to various styles and tastes. Wednesdays have a piano hour that takes place from 5-6pm while on Sundays there’s an open mic/jam going down from 6-9pm with various drink specials. The rest of the days are filled out with bands and musicians showing off their talents with the calendar being updated regularly on the establishment’s website at theblueroom.com. It’s the perfect addition to an already cool area with the coolness being taken to another level.
I recently had a talk with owner Jen Minuto, who’s a musician herself, about what gave her the idea to start the place, the story behind the name, expanding the kind of music that graces the stage and making The Blue Room feel welcoming for everyone and anyone.
Rob Duguay: What initially gave you the idea to start The Blue Room in the heart of Pawtuxet Village?
Jen Minuto: It’s been a dream of mine and an idea that I’ve had for decades. I started playing the piano when I was five, my mom and dad used to drive me to gigs, they’d take me to places and I’d sit down at the piano while they’d sit and watch me. Over the years I played in jazz clubs as a teenager and my dad always would lean in and say “Jenny, we should get our own place. I’m a really old romantic at heart, so this has been a dream of mine since I’ve been performing as a little kid. When I began playing the piano at five, I immediately started learning the “Great American Songbook” and my parents were asking themselves “Where did this kid come from?”.
I loved Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday when I was little and throughout life I’ve loved to travel. I would be in different places in New York City, I played & toured around for a bit and it was always a dream to open my own beautiful, romantic, elegant and artistic space. I live in the village and I have for decades, it’s my home and when this room became open it was the right timing. I thought, “What do we need more than anything?”, I knew that I needed this and I just just prayed and hoped that other people did, too. The reception has been so magical, when everyone comes in they say “This is just what we needed.”
RD: It’s an ideal location. Is there any meaning or story behind the name?
JM: It started out as sort of a collaboration over the past couple years. I’m in a band with six people, I have a lot of friends who are musicians and we sort of together toyed with the idea of opening a place. The initial idea was to have a musician’s spot for musicians and quickly it turned into me taking this idea and running with it and I have everyone’s love and support, there here every night. It’s amazing and this has really been a collaboration in a lot of ways, but when I took it and ran with it we had meetings about what we should name it. We got a group of artists and poets together and the list only got longer and longer and then shorter and shorter.
We kept adding names, doing research to find historical facts about the neighborhood and other kinds of things. Finally, the name that kept on appearing on everyone’s list that never seemed to get eliminated was “The Blue Room”. I had written a song years ago that actually included it in the lyrics and it’s on one of my records, I didn’t remember at first but it all came together that way. I love the Blue Note in New York City and the blue note in music is the note you play with, it’s a note that has a life of its own. You can do so much with it, especially in jazz, and you can do so much to turn it into different colors.
The blue note is the musician sort of saying that they’re taking this note and really massaging it into their soul. The blue note tradition and “The Blue Room” lyric just made it all come together.
RD: That’s a great story behind the name. Via the calendar so far, there’s a mix of jazz, blues, and folk that has graced the stage at The Blue Room. Do you plan on sticking to those styles going forward or will the music be more diverse?
JM: We’re totally going to expand it. There isn’t a genre of music that I’m not interested in or that I don’t feel passionate about. The room isn’t a large room, it’s in an intimate setting but we’ve done a lot of work to make the place sound really good.
RD: Yeah, it does have good acoustics.
JM: Thank you. The Blue Room is built by musicians for musicians and we have a backline with a great house drum kit. I bought the piano that’s here, we put all the sound buffering up and the lighting. We have a great sound system and musicians can come in here to do what they do best with as little work as possible and be inspired to play. Every genre of music is something I love and I’m interested in and I think we can make it work here. I would like to do some poetry nights, storytelling nights, we might introduce cabaret at some point but we’re looking to have something for everyone.
RD: There’s a lot of diversity within the music scene of Rhode Island and it’s something to really tap into.
JM: There’s so many different cultures around the world and I want them all here. I wanna do fado, I wanna do bossa nova, I wanna do flamenco, all of it. I feel that the village is so ready to have an art and culture center right here.
RD: Going along with what you just said, when it comes to the role that you want this establishment to serve for the Pawtuxet Village community, do you aim to have it ultimately be this arts, culture and music hub?
JM: Yes, exactly. A hub of musical creativity and also a hub of the community, a real arts space and a real community space where people can feel inspired and they can come in and gather. We want to do so much for the local community, we’ve already made so many connections and it’s one of the most exciting parts of this.
RD: For people who haven’t checked out The Blue Room yet, what can they expect? What’s the biggest selling point?
JM: The biggest selling point is the music, it’s all about the music. Right along with that is the love you feel when you come into the room. I want people to come in and feel inspired, I want them to feel creative and I want every single person to feel like they’re completely at home here. This is not a room for a certain audience or a certain part of the community, this is a room for all of us. We have fresh flowers, lit candles, gorgeous cocktails and a loving staff that’s creative in a place where people can hear all kinds of music and live performances that fill their souls.