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On The Town with Jason Downs

| Community, Entertainment | August 29, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! We’re fortunate enough to live in one of the great entertainment meccas of the world — join me as we celebrate all the area has to offer!

Here’s what I got up to this week: Sunday Night Jazz with a local legend, and the best steak I’ve had in a long while at Valencia’s hottest new entertainment venue.

Looking for an adventure to cure those Sunday night blues? My wife and I hit the jackpot, friends — jazz at the Black ‘N Blue.

The Al Pascua Project, a top-notch band of musical brothers who know their way around a jazz tune, had the audience wrapped around their fingers at the stylish Black ‘N Blue lounge at the Valencia Town Center on Sunday night.

Left to right: James Graham (drums), Terry Collier (band manager), Al Pascua (keys/vocals), Lance Rickman (sax/flute), and David Cook (bass)

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As soon as we walked into the restaurant our senses were aroused by the smooth sounds of Al Pascua, the inviting lighting, the laid back vibe, the smell of lobster, and last but not least, the staggering number of beautiful people filling up the place. That’s right, folks, it was as though all the beautiful people of Santa Clarita had descended upon the Black ‘N Blue just waiting for us to discover them…from the waitresses to the patrons it was a veritable feast for the eyes (and we’ll get to the actual feast in a moment).

Al Pascua and his band mates were beautiful (he hails from Hawaii, so no wonder); Al’s manager, Terry Collier, who welcomed us into the fray with open arms was gorgeous; the owner of Black ‘N Blue, Lee Kan, was ruggedly handsome; the wait staff was a runway of models; and of course, my wife was the crown jewel looking as stunning as ever in her long, flowing, low cut dress. I was surrounded by beauty! The bar was magnificent. The booths were inviting. The band was killing it. And then the food arrived…

First, let me just say, when we saw the relatively low prices on the menu, especially for the filet mignon we ordered, we were expecting a small piece of USDA steak. We were extremely and oh-so-pleasantly surprised when a choice cut of Angus, still crackling on a cast iron hot plate, was delivered to our table.

Next, we sliced into the filet and saw that it was the perrrrrfect medium rare…and still sizzling from the piping hot plate.

Then, we each took a bite.

THEN, we died and went to heaven.

You’re getting serious value for your buck here, people. The wine (we tried a Sauvignon Blanc) was outstanding. The baked potato was infused with a yummy mixture of butter, herbs and cheese which was also outstanding.

Then, we ordered more wine (because the alcohol was also less expensive than most places) and started to feel like dancing! But that would have to wait because the band was finishing their first set by now. Mixed among the applause and the cheers was a collective disappointment that they needed to take a break at all. “Keep playing, Al,” a group from across the room pleaded.

By special request, Mr. Al Pascua himself joined us at our booth for a moment and we got to chat music and compare stories. (I’ve had my run-in with the music industry as well, but we can unpack all that implies at a later date.) My wife remarked that she’d never seen a jazz group engage so well with their audience before (we’ve seen a lot of jazz back in New York), because usually they seem to be so involved with the art of jazz or the personal pleasure of bonding with the other musicians that little attention is paid to drawing in the crowd.

Mr. Pascua credited this unique trait to the years he’s spent educating folks about the joys of jazz…caressing and coaxing his audience into an appreciation by incorporating broader music into his set and tying it all back to jazz. This practice of “audience education’” began back in Hawaii (before moving to LA to work for Disney) where Mr. Pascua played for years with a hit band called Music Magic.

Purchase his current album by searching The Al Pascua Project on any of your favorite platforms. Take a moment, it is well worth it. Mr. Pascua is focusing on his music completely nowadays and we are the lucky benefactors. His set consists of classics and originals, both of which draw you in and onto the dance floor. Not just because the band is so tight and are such pros, but because they invite you to be a part of the experience with infectious smiles and obvious love for the music.

You’re probably thinking I’m a paid advertiser at this point, but my wife and I walked away from the evening thinking we would definitely be coming back on a regular basis. The Black ‘N Blue is the hang out, folks. Owner and operator, Lee Kan, knows what he’s doing and I for one (and my wife for another) couldn’t be happier he’s doing it here in Santa Clarita! This type of venue is just what we’ve been looking for…especially on those nights you just want to dance. Wednesday through Saturday they have a DJ playing all the greats from the 70s to the present with the many screens peppered throughout the room showing the corresponding music video.

Prefer to play Jenga while sipping a cocktail and listening to some great jazz on a Sunday eve before the busy week begins? Check out The Al Pascua Project every other week starting September 15th.

To cap off a perfect evening, when we stepped onto the sidewalk of Town Center an adorable old-fashioned trolley pulled up alongside us, beckoning us to climb aboard. We did, and it carried us off to our car.

In the words of Plato, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything.” Hear, hear! (Pretty insightful guy, I’m told.)

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appétit!

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One Response to “On The Town with Jason Downs”

  1. Great food & awesome music at the Black n Blue!!!
    We’ll be back!

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