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Things That Really Happened Along the Way:  The Greater Fool

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Saturday, June 3rd is The Velvet Note’s Fifth Anniversary.  You can attend our celebration by making a reservation at http://thevelvetnote.com/fifth-anniversary.



When The Velvet Note first opened, no one knew exactly what we were.  It was unexpected for a jazz club to be located in a suburban strip mall, between a sub shop and a Brazilian wax salon.  People wanted to see for themselves before making reservations.  Individuals and couples would walk by and peer into the tinted glass of the door, trying to determine what went on inside.  After a while, I would schedule my office hours for the high-traffic times of the shopping center.  When I’d spot the curious taking a look, I opened the door and invited them to come and look inside.  Then, I would tell them about The Velvet Note and what made us different from all the others. 

As months went on, these “orientation” visits took longer and longer.  Some people would take a seat and talk for hours (literally!) about how they had always wondered what it would be like to have a jazz club.  They had lots of ideas about what they would do– install a dance floor, have a weekly happy hour, bring back Ladies Night or Singles Night and really pack ‘em in, offer a singing competition with prizes, knock out the walls on either side (or both), give away the music for free to get people in the door, have theme nights paired with them foods, the list went on and on.  Over time, these sessions began to take on an odd tone:  the curious person would give their advice, then listen as I talked about what we stood for and then get a look of pity on their face, which could only be translated as the discovery of delusion. 

Yes, I confess—I am an example of what financial markets refer to as The Greater Fool.   I believe in things that no businessperson in their right mind would embrace. The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego, who believes that he or she can succeed where others have failed.  This whole country was built by greater fools, and I am proud to be one of them.  Specifically:

  • We believe that an artist is a person, not a commodity, and deserves the respect of our knowledge and understanding.  Every artist deserves to have someone stand up and say something about them and the path that has led to this one moment in time when they put their heart and soul and expertise and practice on the line for our listening enjoyment.
  • We believe that it takes just as much money to hire a few smart people as it does to hire a bunch of not-so-smart people.  The staff who work at The Velvet Note are or have been entrepreneurs and musicians and bankers and special education teachers and architects and human resources executives and technologists and graduate students, and we will continue to hire the best people we can because we can.
  • We believe that the enjoyment of live music doesn’t have to come at the cost of compromising creature comforts.  A bad sound system, dirty bathrooms, bad food, hostile service, uncomfortable seating don’t enhance the experience or make the vibe more authentic, it’s just bad business.
  • We believe that the customer is always right, but not everyone should be our customer.  Serving the least common denominator isn’t nearly as inspiring for us as serving the better angels of our nature.
  • We believe that the greatest luxury isn’t being bigger, but providing our customers with unique experiences that touch their lives and linger on in their hearts and minds. 

Most people don’t understand why we do it this way, but a few do, and those are our customers.

About six months in, a woman came to the door of The Velvet Note in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day.  She was stunning, with long, dark hair, and she wore a cotton-candy-colored pink dress.  She said she had always wondered what was behind the door.  I invited her in.  She didn’t seem to be in the advice-giving mode, so I used the time to talk about our business model and what we had to offer. She listened attentively, then waited for me to finish, and then she began walking though the Living Room in silence.  Slowly, she took one step after another…letting her eyes settle on each component before her.  I was reluctant to interrupt her with banter—this was so unusual, I was mesmerized.  After about fifteen minutes, her silent, meditative tour brought her back to the front of the house and almost out the front door.  Then she stopped, and turned, and looked at me and said, “Advertise”.

With that,  she walked out the door.   I think she got it.

Lesson Learned:  It takes leadership and discipline and stubbornness and money to be The Greater Fool.  Most of the time, it doesn’t work out.  But sometimes it does. 


The Velvet Note at 5 Years Old: Things That Really Happened Along The Way

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Saturday, June 3rd is The Velvet Note’s Fifth Anniversary.  You can attend our celebration by making a reservation at http://thevelvetnote.com/fifth-anniversary.

At the Velvet Note, our #1 priority is to provide each guest with an unparalleled, up-close live music experience.   This includes the quality of musician/music, sound and acoustics ambiance, food and beverage, customer service and and up-close access to the artist.  There’s alot to do and we don’t spend much time talking about ourselves or our own company—many people don’t know that we’ve been around for five years.  But over the next two weeks as we approach five years, I want to share with you some of the stories that have stayed with me across this journey. They say that the first five things of anything—a profession, a business, a marriage—are the hardest. Some of these tales illustrate how tough it is to make a true jazz club work, others illustrate the enormous rewards.  As we continue to grow, the people we meet along the way mean so much to us and we’re always learning how to be the best we can.



It was a steamy, hot evening in July, about a month after we had opened for business.  I was up late at night at The Velvet Note, sitting in a bucket chair, worrying about how we were going to make this thing work.  The crowds had been thin in our first month of business, and we didn’t yet have a liquor license so the people who were coming in loved the music, but weren’t too happy about the overall picture of what we had to offer.  We didn’t even have an outdoor sign yet—just a banner that hung off the awning in front of our door.  A couple of more months of this and we would surely hit a wall and go out of business.  Needless to say, I was feeling sorry for myself.

The harshly cool air of our A/C system was starting to get to me, so I decided to step outside.  I unlocked and opened door at 3am.

 There was a man directly in front of me.                                                               

I quickly closed the door, locked it again and took a moment to catch my breath.  His presence had scared the crap out of me.  What the heck would someone be doing outside our door at 3am?  My heart was pounding in my chest, my adrenaline was coursing through my body.  Should I call the police?  What did he want?  Would he be pounding on the door?  I heard nothing.  I crept back to the door and looked outside the tinted glass that allowed me to see him but not the other way around.  Now, he was sitting on our sub-shop neighbor’s patio table.  What did he want?

I opened the door again and walked outside, phone in hand and approached him.  He stayed in the chair, and looked up into my face.  He had worn and weathered skin, turned tan and leathery from exposure to the sun and age, I would guess.  His eyes were blue.  His hair was long and unkempt, down to his shoulders, and his scraggly, dishwater-colored beard was spotted with grey and overgrown and taking over his entire face.  Beneath his bushy eyebrows, his eyes were kind and alert. 

“What are you doing here?” I asked in my most authoritative, don’t-mess-with-me voice.

“I’m waiting for a friend to pick me up.”  His voice had a gentle tone and his eyes conveyed no fear.  He clutched a bag on the ground sitting next to him.  I looked down and saw a crumpled brown bag—a grocery bag—that looked like it had some clothes in it.

“Where are you going?”

“He’s taking me to Pennsylvania,” he said, matter-of-factly.  Yeah, right, I thought.  You’re going to Pennsylvania via route of Alpharetta, Georgia?  Seriously, dude?  It sounded like implausible to me. 

“Would you like something to eat?” I asked.

“Yes, please, he replied.  And some ice water, if you have it.”

I went back inside and looked into the refrigerator.  We barely had enough money for a full week of groceries.  All I had were some slices of NY-style cheesecake.  I put one on a plastic plate and brought it out to him.  As I leaned down to serve him, my thought was that I should not feel sorry for myself.  I still have something to offer, even if it’s just a slice of cheesecake and some cold water on a hot night.

I turned around and went back into the club and locked the door.  Inviting him into the cool air would be hospitable, but it didn’t seem like a good idea from a safety perspective.  I  sat back down in the chair and this time, I could close my eyes and drift off. 

It was 6am.  My eyes opened at the first light of day and I could hear birds chirping.  I wondered if the traveling man would still be there.  Would he want something more from me that I could not provide, such as a job?  A handout?  It occurred to me that he had spoken perfect, grammatically-correct, unbroken, English without a dialect or accent, which was very unusual.  It was bizarre, actually, and I pay attention to that sort of thing.  Who was this man and was he still there? 

I stepped out the door in to the early morning light.  He was gone.  His worn, brown crumpled suitcase-grocery-bag was gone too.  The only thing that remained was the plate and fork and knife, and about a quarter of the slice of cheesecake and about a third of the cup of water.  The remains of his snack were proof to my groggy mind that I hadn’t imagined it, it had really happened.  Clearly, he hadn’t been all that hungry or thirsty, or perhaps his ride to Pennsylvania arrived before he had expected.  Or maybe he was there for some reason that I will never know.

I typically don’t spend much time thinking about things I can’t logically or rationally explain, but since that July evening, I have often thought of the traveling man with gratitude for the gift he had inadvertently given me.  For a moment, when my fear had gone, I had stopped feeling sorry for myself and could get on with the business of The Velvet Note. 

The Lesson:  Life can be Hard.  Business can be Hard.  Feeling sorry for yourself is debilitating and unproductive, and it keeps you from seeing the beauty in this moment.  Do what you came here to do.

 Thank you, Traveling Man.  Thank you.

Are We Advancing Backwards?

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

This past weekend was the first in forty-something years that I have been uttlerly and completely unaware of the change back from Daylight Savings Time.  That’s right–apparently my life is so technologically advanced that there is virtually no need for me to engage in the outdated practice of setting my clocks forward.  My OnStar system reset my car clock, the internet and my iOS reset my computer, iPad and iPhone, and I hadn’t looked at my stove that day because I ate at a restaurant.  Like many other folks, I get all of my television content streamed online, so there was no friendly newscaster to warn me of the pending sleep deprivation. In fact, I remained shielded in ignorance until late Sunday night when I overheard someone mention it in conversation at The Velvet Note.  

And then I felt sorely out of touch, which is ironic because the whole point of Springing Forward is to reconnect our creature comforted life with the reality of…well…reality.   Has my life become so programmed that I’ve advanced backwards?  What else will I be missing– Seasons?  Weather?  Gravity? And where are all of the big thoughts I should be thinking with my big brain that no longer bears the pesky burden of keeping track of time?

One of many things I love about great, live music is that it never advances past the point of touching my soul.  I know– old school, but oh, so good.

For a look at our upcoming shows, click HERE.  I hope to see you this week.  Up close….

xoxo, Tamara

The Velvet Note Makes a Big Announcement in the December Issue of Northside Woman

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Read our article in Northside Woman Magazine (Click Below):


Teresa Williams’ Autumn Affair

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

teresakaywilliamsOriginally from Louisiana and then raised in Colorado and Alabama, Teresa Williams was the youngest child born to her Air Force family. She was quite a bit younger than her two siblings and remembers spending a great deal of her childhood alone. “I would come home from school and listen to the radio by myself in my bedroom…singing along with country, pop and other singers of the day, such as Patsy Cline and Dinah Shore, and even the singers from the Lawrence Welk show.” Teresa was particularly drawn to torch songs—the songs of longing and wanting and sadness and love unrealized. “If you knew my history, you’d know that here was a lot of sadness in my family. I am always trying to grow past that…trying to be the best me that I can be.”

In college, Teresa studied architecture, quite possibly inspired by the inspiring buildings at The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, as well as evenings watching her father chop wood and build things in the back yard, breathing in the cool, crisp took a class in opera and classical music, which ignited her interest in learning to use her vocal instrument. She went on to take private lessons with Kevin Bales and the famous Jan Smith Studios, honing her skills, and eventually, finding her way to the stage.

Today, Teresa is a practicing architect who also enjoys performing and will soon release her long-awaited debut album. Listen to a sample HERE:https://soundcloud.com/teresa-kay-williams-749644497/the-moon-was-yellow

When asked her if her torch songs have been influenced by her romantic life, she says, “I teresakaywilliams_146haven’t had much of a romantic life, with the exception of choices that I look back on and realize weren’t the right ones for me. You know, the ones that make you ask yourself, ‘what do I need to learn about myself?’ So, in some way, it’s about longing for something that has never been there. It’s about all kinds of love…not just romantic love, but agape and family love too.”

Join us on Sunday, October 9th at 7:00pm as Teresa sings her songs, shares her longings, and continues to be the best she can be. With Kevin Bales on piano, Craig Shaw on bass and Justin Chesarek on drums. Tickets available at http://thevelvetnote.com/teresa-williams.

Open Mic Jam LIVE on Thursday, September 8th

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Open Mic Jam 9_8_16

Open Mic Jam at the Velvet Note – Sept 9, 2016

Posted by The Velvet Note on Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Importance of Connecting with your Spouse

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

By Socrotiff  Michael

We are all busy, with work, with meetings, with schedules, with children, with life!  However, in the hustle and bustle of life, are you connecting with you partner? Do you find yourself so exhausted by the end of the day that you have no energy to connect with your spouse? It is important to have a meaningful and intentional connection with your spouse. Intentionally connecting with your spouse each day is an essential part of keeping your marriage healthy and fulfilling.  As wonderful as that sounds, and as much as you love your spouse, you may ask, how do I do this?

Three Tips to Help Your Intentionally Connect with Your Spouse today

  • Set aside time every day to connect with your spouse- this can be 20 to 30 minutes a day. What does this look like? It can be a walk in the neighborhood, a drive to get a sweet treat, sitting together in a coffee house, and just plain talking. Some questions you can use as conversation pieces are: What was your rose of the day-Positive, what was your thorn-Negative.  Healthy married couples have an interest in what is going in each other’s lives, they make it a point to know.  No one else should know what is going on more in your spouse’s life more than you.  Another way to connect with your spouse is to send messages throughout the day to your spouse. You can connect by phone calls, sending short, but thoughtful texts, and email messages.  Surprise your spouse by sending them a sweet, unexpected message today!


  • Your spouse should not get your last. If you are working 8 to 10 hours a day and giving your job the best of you and your spouse gets what’s left over, over time this will wear on your marriage leaving your spouse feeling unimportant. They may start to feel as if they are not a priority and an emotional gap could widen until there is nothing left.  How do you remedy this? One way is by having healthy boundaries.  When work is over, let it be over, make an intentional and conscious decision to stop all work activities before you walk in the house. This means, no talking on cell phone, or texting as you come in the door.  Give your spouse the same undivided attention you are able to give your work when you arrive home.  Putting this into practice, will help you to reconnect with your spouse.


  • Date night is an important way to connect with your spouse as well. Arrange a date night and keep it consistent each week.  Healthy couples never stop dating each other.  No matter how long you have been married, you must continue to date your spouse.  The old saying goes, “whatever you did to get them, you must continue to do to keep them.”  This is true! Before you were married, you got dressed up and went out and enjoyed each other’s company, but somewhere between dating, getting married, raising kids, and careers you stopped doing the very thing that made you connect in the beginning-dating each other, taking significant interest in each other, and focusing your undivided attention on each other.  If you recognize yourself in the scenario above, you can change it now.  Plan a date night with your spouse, and it is important to note, it is not fair to leave responsibility to your spouse to plan every date night. Take turns and plan date nights for each other, each spouse keeping in mind what the other spouse likes.  If you are having problems figuring out what your spouse likes, ask thSocrotiff1em to give you three options to choose from.

Words of Wisdom: Healthy marriages are two people who are always thinking about the other person!

Socrotiff Carruth Michael, is a Velvet Note customer and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist & Licensed Professional Counselor.  She provides therapy to couples and co-owns Michael & Michael Counseling & Consulting, LLC, with her husband Original. please visit their site at: www.counselingwiththemichaels.com

Prince: Reflecting on his Life as we Reflect on Marriage

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Prince12By Socrotiff Michael

This post is dedicated to Prince, the music icon who left this earth earlier this week and who will be missed by millions of people around the globe. As we explore his life and his music, there is much a married couple can learn. Prince had a style that was timeless, he stayed true to who he was, and he left a legacy that will be remembered for many years to come.  This model is one that can also be exemplified in marriages.


Prince was a timeless artist; a musician that was, many have said, before his time.  He sang about 1999 in the 80’s during a time when it seemed so far away and made us excited to see the year 1999. We can create Prince14timelessness in our marriage by continuing to give our best to our spouses, to dedicate ourselves to being the best version of ourselves in your marriage.  In your marriage be timeless, keep your spouse excited by continuing to challenge yourself, whether this is earning a new degree, taking up a cooking class, or learning a new language, keep them guessing and giving them the best of you.  Never allow yourself to be so routine in your marriage that it becomes boring and predictable, allow yourself to step outside of the box once in a while and shock both yourself and your spouse!

What works for you? – Now do that! “To thine own self be true”

Prince25Prince lived his life based upon what worked for him, not what worked for anyone else, he stayed true to himself.  How are you and your spouse in your marriage? If you take an inventory of your marriage, can you honestly say you are staying true to the spirit of your marriage? Are you looking at your neighbor’s marriage and trying to compare your marriage to theirs? Or feel compelled to match what their marriage is doing? If you are – don’t! Embrace the ability and the beauty of your marriage and create a relationship based upon where you are, not where someone else is.  Understanding that, your marriage is completely unique to you both is the beginning of freedom to accept your relationship for what it is.  There is no perfect blueprint to fit all marriages, but you can create your own specific relationship that fits you.  I challenge you and your spouse today, to make your marriage your own.  Give yourself permission to be different and fully celebrate all that makes you different.


Prince leaves a rich legacy. He will be remembered as an accomplished musical genius who achieved countless awards for his music.  Have you Prince37thought about the legacy you will leave when your life is over?  What type of spouse do you want to be known for?  A loving spouse, a moody spouse, a spouse who took good care of his or her family?  A spouse who worked to provide and gave all he had to all he knew? A spouse who was angry, selfish, or a spouse who never made time for their partner?  The great thing about life, is even if you are living a life today that you are not proud of, you have an opportunity to change. If you are not the spouse you want to be in your marriage, you have another opportunity to change, starting today. Your legacy will not just be one thing; it can be many.  You can change and become more intentional with creating a legacy that will make you and your family proud.

Words of Wisdom: Hey! look around, there is always something we can learn about marriages in this life!

Socrotiff Carruth Michael, is a Velvet Note customer and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist & Licensed Professional Counselor.  She provides therapy to couples and co-owns Michael & Michael Counseling & Consulting, LLC, with her husband Original. please visit their site at: www.counselingwiththemichaels.com

Louis Heriveaux Releases His First CD

Monday, April 11th, 2016

LouisHeriveaux-TriadicEpisode1000WEDNESDAY, April 13th @ The Velvet Note: We must confess, We LOVE Louis Heriveaux! And I mean, LOVE. And we’d be willing to bet that you do too!

The quiet humility…the self-effacing giggle…the moment when he stops laughing and gets down to business…his endless generosity in support of others, elevating their music beyond their wildest dreams. Louis Heriveaux is a fixture of the Atlanta scene, but until now, the pianist has mostly stayed in the shadows. Heriveaux has been content to lend his bubbling, inspiring voice to some of the best bands throughout the region, but with Triadic Episode, he’s stepping out on his own. The album’s music is a mix of originals and covers that have played a part in Heriveaux’s development as a musician. Triadic Episode is Heriveaux’s first recording as a leader. It’s been a long time coming. Are you coming? With the Curtis Lundy and Dave Potter. Tickets are selling like Wednesday night hot cakes—get them at The Velvet Note at http://thevelvetnote.com/louis-heriveaux or 855.5.VELVET.

All That Jazz: People Who Listen To Jazz Are Smarter And More Creative

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

By Dan Scotti

From one end of my iTunes library to the other, there is generally a different type of music for every occasion, so to speak.

For example, rainy days, full of storm clouds and grey skies, I make sure to play James Blake’s Overgrown – in full – to at least set the proper score, for the mood.

JazzSmarterWhen I’m driving around Long Island in the summer, with my windows down, you can rest assured Billy Joel is blazing through my stereo.

In the fall months, when I’m lonely, I typically fancy Drake (or Nick Drake, when I’m extra lonely).

In the spring, I tend to be more Grateful Dead heavy. And regardless of the mood – or the weather, for that matter – I’ve got my Travi$ Scott sh*t on deck, for whenever I need a boost.

As you can probably see – wherever I go – it’s a pretty safe assumption that I have music playing. Even during those times when music, or any type of sound, is typically frowned upon – like in the library, while studying, for instance.

As counterintuitive as it may sound – listening to jazz music, while studying for an exam or writing a thesis paper, usually helps block out any wandering thoughts that might be floating around my head.

There’s something about that mid-20th century bebop jazz, whether it be Charlie “The Bird” Parker or Thelonious Monk, that just puts any apprehension I might be harboring to bed. For me, no other music could duplicate this effect.

I mean, put it this way. If I’m listening to Young Thug while driving, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that I’ll soon hit double the speed limit, without even being conscious of it – I doubt bumping “Thugger,” while face down in a textbook, would improve my final grade.

Yet, with jazz music, there’s something about the lack of words (even though Miles Davis’ trumpet, Harmon mute and all, does all the speaking necessary), which has always enabled me to focus better on my studies – despite the “background noise.”

As it appears, science supports my impression of the improv-based music form.

According to Dr. William Klemm, of Psychology Today, there are a multitude of different cognitive benefits that enrich your mind while listening to jazz music.

It relieves stress.

It’s always been somewhat of a cliché that jazz music is for “cool” people – you know, sitting carefree on a barstool off in the corner, wearing sunglasses and a Kangol beret. As Dr. Klemm writes, however, there’s also a great deal of truth behind that understanding.

According to the University of Nevada, Reno’s counseling services, music and stress levels go hand in hand. While faster tempos can get you up and going, slower ones – such as the standard tempo of jazz music – will soothe both the mind and body.

Klemm makes a powerful connection between stress level and one’s ability to study, too, noting how stress is the “arch-enemy of memory ability.”

Following this logic, by listening to jazz music while studying – and lowering your stress levels in the process – you’ll also find yourself much more likely to retain the information that you’re attempting to learn.

It stimulates the mind.

There’s almost like a “monkey see, monkey do,” relationship that your brain will follow under the influence of jazz. Because of jazz’s, at times, herky jerky, pulsating, rhythmic patterns – your brain tends to mimic this improvisation, and we’ll see that through increased neural stimulation.

In a separate study, conducted by Dr. Charles Limb of Johns Hopkins University, brain scans of jazz players show the impact of this style of music on the brain.

As Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press writes, new research now shows that the back-and-forth playing style of music affects the brain, much in the way that spoken language does.

This characteristic of jazz music activated the regions of the brain correlated with the syntax of language, which acted almost as exercise for this feature of cognition.

It boosts creativity.

According to Beth Belle Cooper, on the blog buffer social, ambient noise improves creativity. As explained further by Cooper, not only the type of music you listen to – but also the volume at which you listen to it – is critical.

Cooper states that moderate volume levels are the most optimal for mental function, saying “moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty, which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity.”

In short, by forcing our brain to do extra “work,” but not too much work, we will ultimately find our brains working at maximum efficiency – and think further outside of the box, while doing so. This is where the creativity portion of the relationship comes into play.

Another report, done by Katrina Schwartz of Mind/Shift, provides additional ways to boost creativity through jazz music. According to Schwartz, creativity is not a black or white, rigid, character trait – in fact, it can be developed over time.

She uses a practice-based analogy to describe the attribute, crediting how “the more you do it, the better you’ll become at it,” school of thought.

Schwartz also makes mention of the JHU study conducted by Dr. Limb, citing his suggestion that jazz music – and art in general – is the best way to train our brains to think creatively.

If you guys have a test coming up, or just want to be more creative – and more inspired – I recommend all of you download Coltrane’s entire discography, and start there. I have a feeling you’ll enjoy studying a lot more.

Call Now To Reserve Your Tickets!

(855) 583-5838

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