People flow into Nocturnem Draft Haus in downtown Bangor most days looking to taste a variety of beers from across the globe. Tuesday nights however bring a different sort of people looking for something not found in Bangor until recently — jazz.
Black cases containing cornets, saxophones and guitars are lugged through the front door. At times it’s hard to tell who is there to play and who is there to listen. Those there to play write their name and song down on a piece of paper and wait for their name to be called to perform.
Those there to listen welcome the fresh faces that are called to the microphone and are rewarded with performers belting out songs worthy of a standing ovation or a saxophone blown with precision. In return performers receive a hearty round of applause from an appreciative audience.
Budding drummer Maxx Mether, 12, of Hampden sits with his mother as a teenage girl carrying drumsticks walks in with her parents. Glances are exchanged between the two as Maxx is called to play “Autumn Leaves” with the band.
“It’s good for me. If I want to be a pro, I need to play in front of an audience,” Maxx said, and if he messes up, he added, he learns from his mistakes.
Maxx is congratulated after performing and thanked by band members as he walks with a smile to his mother’s side.
House band members include bassist and leader Wells Gordon, drummer Andrew Clifford, guitarist Josh Small and keyboardist Brian Catell.
“This is an outlet for musicians to play with a good backing band. Everyone’s nurturing,” said Gordon.
Singer Amy Briggs of Ellsworth knows this well. “It’s a safe place to come to try some stuff out. It’s going to be fine because these guys got your back.”
After singing “Route 66” with a full horn section, Briggs said, “That was amazing, it was a wonderful night. I took the roof off that place”
The Nocturnem Draft Haus Jazz Jam is held every Tuesday night from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and is located at 56 Main Street in Bangor.