Saturday, April 20, 2002

Saved Wisp singin' the blues no more

By Larry Nager,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jazz landmark the Blue Wisp is staying in Cincinnati, moving from its basement in Garfield Place to the plusher setting of the Walnut Street theater district just north of the Aronoff Center.

        “I'm just kind of glad it's over. I've been in limbo for the past five months,” said owner Marjean Wisby.

        “The hope is that they're in there by the first of July,” said Cincinnati Councilman Jim Tarbell, an outspoken supporter of the revered nightspot. He helped make the move possible with a grant/loan package from the city totaling $90,000.

        The Blue Wisp has not had a lease on Garfield since 1999 and was forced to move this year to make way for the expansion of the Foundation Savings & Loan, which occupies the ground floor of the same building on Garfield. The building's owner, Presidential Plaza, allowed Ms. Wisby to keep the Blue Wisp open until a new location could be found.

        At 3,000 square feet, the 708 Walnut St. location marks a significant expansion, up from the club's current 2,400 square feet.

        The Blue Wisp has presented live jazz on Garfield since 1989. Ms. Wisby's late husband, Paul, opened the Blue Wisp in O'Bryonville in 1973. The club's most dependable draw has been its Wednesday nights with the all-star Blue Wisp Big Band, which draws jazz lovers from around the world.

        “For the last 14 years or so, the Blue Wisp has been a local success story in promoting and presenting jazz,” said Mr. Tarbell. “Maintaining that tradition is essential. For an operation that size, (the grant/loan) is a lot of money, but it's a pittance in terms of what it's going to accomplish.”


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