'BuckingJam Palace': Couple hosts jazz concerts in their Mount Royal heritage home

Jazz used to make Lisa Buck's head spin, but now, her living room is jam-packed at least once a month with jazz-loving Calgarians.

Lisa and Tom Buck are trying to be patrons of the arts by hosting musicians in their living room

Tom and Lisa Buck see themselves as grassroots patrons of the arts in Calgary. They host jazz concerts in their home and, when needed, they give the visiting musicians a place to stay. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

Jazz used to make Lisa Buck's head spin, but now she hosts much-loved concerts that have become a destination for musicians and fans.

But these concerts aren't in a classy club downtown. They're in the living room of her 109-year-old Upper Mount Royal heritage home — and they're often packed. It's called BuckingJam Palace.

Buck and her husband, Tom Buck, host the near monthly shows that range from organ jazz music to crooners, to listen-and-learn sessions. They do it to encourage new fans. Jazz can be considered, she says, "the olive of the music world," or an acquired taste.

"I believe that we in Canada need to learn to be grassroots patrons of the arts," Buck said.

Filling a need

The Bucks got the idea after nearby Mount Royal University closed its jazz program six years ago. As a parent of a jazz drummer, they felt the loss acutely.

"It was really tough on the jazz musicians here. No place to jam, no place to session," she said. 

Many would drive right by Calgary going between the famous Yardbird Suite in Edmonton and Frankie's Jazz Club in Vancouver.

"We thought, 'OK, let's open up a venue where we can host touring musicians whatever day of the week it suits them and get a really good attentive, enthusiastic audience,'" Buck said.

The couple also puts up any musicians performing at BuckingJam Palace who need a place to stay. It's a big bonus, Tom Buck says, because they get to know them and chat music over a glass of wine the night before the show.

Many bands and jazz musicians perform at BuckingJam Palace, which opened to fill a need for concert space in Calgary. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

The informal venue's name, of course, is a play on their last name. But credit goes to their son, who used to bring colleagues home to jam and rehearse. His friends nicknamed the place "BuckingJam," and it stuck.

"I was not a jazz lover either. I learned to love jazz through my son and hearing a lot of jazz," Tom Buck said. 

"He said to me, 'You know, the thing about jazz, Dad, is if musicians really want to go for it and be creative, jazz provides the venue for them to go crazy.'

"That's what we've learned to love about jazz … you never know how the story is going to get told in front of you, because they're making it up as they go."

The house concerts are announced on Facebook and by newsletter. The next show is with the BMC Organ Trio from Toronto on Jan. 26.

With files from Danielle Nerman and the Calgary Eyeopener.


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