Jazzbones has been inspiring and supporting Tacoma’s live music scene since early 2000. Although not operating on a regular schedule since the onset of the pandemic, the venue is now hosting a number of limited-capacity events open to the public.
Notably, Seattle’s ever-popular island reggae band Two Story Zori will return to the Jazzbones stage with two live shows slated for May.
Two Story Zori has played throughout the Pacific Northwest for more than a decade. The band also has performed at various venues across the U.S. next to artists like the Original Wailers, Ernest Ranglin, Kymani Marley, and Inner Circle, to name a few. We recently caught up with its members to talk performing live again, their connection to Jazzbones, and more. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Have you ever played at Jazzbones before? What was your last pre-COVID gig, with actual people in attendance?
Gerald Perez, ukelele/vocalist: Our Jazzbones show was our last gig with actual people, back in February of 2020. Today, looking back at pictures of that night seem so unreal. Standing on stage and seeing the faces of the many people in attendance — being able to engage with the crowd and feed off their energy — means the world to any performer. It’s a rush of excitement and energy that allows us to push ourselves to a greater level.
How does it feel to finally be performing in front of people again?
Perez: Ecstatic. As we all know, live shows at the start of the pandemic became non-existent. As time went on and we did everything we could to stay safe, healthy, and socially distant, TSZ had the opportunity to play some virtual shows. It was exciting after months of not touching a stage, but it wasn’t the same. I remember standing on stage and looking out to where the crowd would usually be, and found myself having to stare down the lenses of four fixed cameras that were strategically placed on the dance floor and trying to personally engage and connect with everyone watching from their devices. It was exhausting and difficult without the usual excitement from the crowd. Even though we will be at limited capacity for our next shows, we are beyond excited to be playing on stage in front of a live audience again.
Wes Campos, bass guitar: Although we were fortunate to have the opportunity to play a few virtual venues, and livestream shows on Instagram and Facebook during the shutdown, we really miss the energy of a live audience. Music in general is a universal language that connects us. When you listen to music on your own (in your car, at home, at work, or working out), you connect with the artist and it brings healing. It makes the listener feel good. Now, add the live music experience and you connect with others in a way that takes it to a whole new level.
Dave Meligro, vocalist: There is nothing like playing a live music venue with a crowd. As a musician, there is no better feeling than the rush you get as a performer. From the anticipation on the drive to the venue for load-in and soundcheck to the ultimate rush of walking onto the stage in front of a sold-out crowd. Nothing in the world compares. I don’t know how other performers feel, but I love it and always get those “butterflies” in my stomach before I hit the stage.
Why do you think venues that support live music are so important?
Venues that support live music are so important for a number of reasons. During this modern era where music is easily accessible, nothing beats the experience you get from live music. Many of these venues that do support live music are small businesses that reside in our local communities. They help communities thrive, bring people together, and create long-lasting effects and memories that will be felt down the road for decades to come. These venues also serve as a hub and a platform for artists and bands to either get their start or continue their growth. Supporting local businesses that support local music is a gesture that benefits and funds full circle.
Original music by Two Story Zori can be heard on stations like Power 98 and Hit Radio 100 in Guam, as well as livestream stations like Island Block Radio, Dash Radio, and Las Vegas Pipeline to Paradise. The band additionally can be found on iTunes, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Sound Cloud, and Amazon.
Jazzbones also hosts Rockaraoke on Wednesdays.