“This whole venture is based on friendship and synergy,” says Todd Barkan, jazz nightclub impresario and co-owner of Keystone Korner Baltimore, which opened on April 30—International Jazz Day. Barkan has partnered with high-profile restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier to bring this top-notch jazz club and restaurant to Baltimore, which hasn’t had a truly national-level jazz club since the D.C.-based Blues Alley shut down its location (formerly Ethel’s Place) there in 1990.
For Barkan, the wait has been about as long. He bought the original Keystone Korner in San Francisco in 1972 for $12,500 ($5,000 down, with $400 monthly payments) and turned the former blues bar into one of the premier jazz clubs of its time, playing host to Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Betty Carter, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and other legends. The club, which often teetered on financial collapse, eventually closed in 1983. Since that time Barkan has created various Keystone Korner concert series—in Japan, New York, and at the original site of Yoshi’s in Oakland—and he worked for a few years as the manager of Dizzy’s at Jazz at Lincoln Center. But the dream of opening another Keystone Korner has haunted him for the last 25 years.