John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Commuters can now decompress to the beboppin’ sounds of a big band.
What’s the best way to avert a meltdown over late buses? How about having commuters decompress to the groovy, toe-tapping sounds of a jazz ensemble?
That’s now a possibility in Pittsburgh, thanks to a new bus shelter at 9th Street and Liberty Avenue. Whether you like jazz or not, jazz is what you get when you step inside. Speakers pump out recordings from the nonprofit Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, which over the years has hosted luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, and Stanley Turrentine. The quality is crystal, according to a woman interviewed by KDKA-TV: “It sounds fantastic in there. It sounds like my living room.” (More footage with audio is posted here.)
MCG Jazz dreamed up the swingin’ shelter as a way to “promote jazz music as Pittsburgh’s greatest arts export,” according to marketing manager Amy Kline. Awesome Pittsburgh helped fund the idea with one of its 2014 $1,000 grants, and by this month the shelter was open for business. Where exterior movie-or-perfume advertising would normally go is a sign reading, “This is not just a bus shelter. This is Pittsburgh's Smallest Jazz Club. Please come in." The interior is decorated with images of musicians playing a sax and bass and making the constipated faces of jazzmen totally in the moment.
The shelter will keep the bebop flowing until late August. As for what’s next, fans are already suggesting ideas on Facebook, from building broadcast stations on “bicycle rental stations around the city” and inside “a UPS truck. It’s a traveling small jazz club.”