Crosscut’s Eric Scigliano has a nice write-up of Columbia City’s Royal Room and the musician behind it, Wayne Horvitz. Read the whole piece here:
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth, whenever it is a damp, drizzly November or a sweltering dog bark- and firework-afflicted July in Southeast Seattle, whenever I find myself cursing the Rainier Avenue traffic and dreading another descent into the hell that is Lowe’s for lack of a real hardware store, and especially whenever only a strong moral principle prevents me from methodically knocking hipsters’ pork pie hats off — then I account it high time to get to theRoyal Room.
What goes on at Columbia City’s “restaurant, bar, and project room” might have been news when I first intended to write about it, more than two years ago. But I shirked doing so, preferring at first to remain an anonymous ear in the crowd. Then it wasn’t news anymore. Now, however, something happening at the Royal Room tomorrow (Saturday— more about it anon) gives occasion to revisit its history. First, a little background.
Since it opened in December 2011, this establishment — commonly called a jazz club, though it’s much more — has become a musical crossroads like none other in Seattle and perhaps anywhere else since the downtown New York scene of the 1970s and ’80s. Its location itself a crossroads: 5000 Rainier Ave. S., the near-perfect center of the Rainier Valley, in the gentrifying cultural mixing chamber known as Columbia City.
The Royal Room inherits one legacy from its landlord, the Royal Esquire Club, Seattle’s classic black nightclub (with the most nattily dressed clientele in the city). Its co-owners bring their own legacies: Tia Matthies and Steve Freeborn, who run the nightly operation, including a pretty good restaurant and bar, formerly operated the OK Hotel and Rendezvous. Wayne Horvitz, the protean and prolific composer/keyboardist who is its musical demiurge and chief booker, was at the center of that downtown New York scene — the first booker at the Knitting Factory, in fact..