Get there early - and make a reservation if you want to have any chance of getting in to the South County Jazz Club's weekly jam session on Tuesday nights at Snook Haven in Venice (music from 5:30 to 8:30, home by 9:00). Otherwise, you may find yourself at a table al fresco - out on the deck overlooking the Myakka River. I called first thing one Monday morning and was told all the inside tables for the following night were reserved already, but sometimes folks cancel their reservations and seats open up.
In addition to the regulars who sit in most weeks, there have been some treats of late. Rhode Island pianist Mac Chrupcala, who's in the area for six weeks this winter, subbed for Tommy Goodman on February 7 (after sitting in a couple of weeks earlier for a few tunes.) He joined regulars Dane Hassan (drums) and Dominic Mancini (bass) as the house rhythm section. Mac's wife, singer Nancy Paolino, joined the jam for two tunes. (See top photo). That was a treat, particularly since they have separate Newport-area bands and never work together back home in Rhode Island.
For the past two weeks, trumpeter John Willis was one of the new jammers. The resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula didn't know about the club's Snook Haven jam sessions when he arrived at Venice Campground next door on vacation. Fortunately he brought his horn. He headed back to Michigan on Wednesday, but some jam regulars hope he'll be back with his spirited playing next winter.(bottom photo)