Walking into the Candlelight Lounge
About the Candlelight Lounge
The Candlelight Lounge is a social place for jazz enthusiasts located in Passaic Street in Trenton, NJ. It is also known as the last surviving jazz lounge in Trenton. The jazz performances happen every Saturday from 3PM to 7:30PM. Not only a lot of Trenton-based artists perform, the Candlelight Lounge is a stage to numerous jazz artists such as Richie Cole, Tia Fuller, and Larry Hilton. Other than jazz events, there are other music events happening in the Candlelight Lounge during weekdays, such as reggae nights and hip hop nights. Surrounded by the low-income household, Trenton's jazz scene is considered a rarity, and the Candlelight Lounge is considered one of the most well-preserved part of Trenton jazz history.
Parking the Car
We left to the heart of Trenton to go to the Candlelight Lounge. The sun was setting as the city started to wake up. We stopped near local businesses where the sound of children playing and adults finishing their work filled the air. There was a charm to it all though the appearance of the surrounding area seemed mundane it held a diamond in the rough.
Approaching the Candlelight Lounge
As we approached the Candlelight Lounge, we saw photos of performers strewn over the streets and hung on the walls. The glorification of the artform was astounding. This showed how jazz has shaped the area throughout time.
We had finally made it, and initial impressions were underwhelming, the last surviving bastion of jazz was a simple brick building. Not big or imposing from the outside we moved closer.
Entering the Lounge
The entrance looked like any other plain bar, however we were already able to hear a group of performers trying to set up their instruments and microphones along with a group of people grabbing drinks and waiting to enjoy a good performance.
An Unexpected Discovery
Once inside we discovered a variety of people at a bar, people tired and ready to hear jazz. A hard working owner who was the bartender talking to all his customers as if he knew them personally. A dimly lit room that encapsulated the spirit of trenton in one room.
In the meantime…
Some people were watching the television while waiting for the performers to get ready. Even if the performers were still in preparation, the people were looking forward to seeing a jazz group live in person. Even setting up instruments was an entertainment to the audiences.
The Party is Here!
There was a special “reserved” area for special occasions, especially for birthdays. We were curious as if it was for children’s birthday parties, and we remembered that there is a bar right next to the reserved area. The reserved area was for people who were coming to the Candlelight Lounge as a special or rare occasion.
While waiting for the performance to begin, we saw that the walls were covered with famous artists who performed in the Candlelight Lounge throughout time. Most of the artists were based in Trenton, and the framed pictures showed the pride jazz enthusiasts held in the Candlelight Lounge.
The performers were done setting up their instruments, and they were about to start. One of the members were testing the microphone by talking to some of the audiences and playing his instrument. The excitement was palpable as the show was about to start.
Ready? 1… 2… 3…
As soon as the performers were ready, it was time for the show to begin. Music spread throughout the entire lounge replacing the TVs and conversations with the passion of jazz. The entire bar shifted its focus and became entranced and even outside passerbys would stop to listen to the infectious music.
Written by Joanna Lee and Eric Entwistle
Photos taken by Joanna Lee