Van Dyke Cafe Closes: Ten Classic Moments from Miami's Favorite Jazz Club
Photo by Laurie Charles Sayōnara, Van Dyke.
The intoxicating blend of the percussion, the smooth brass sound of the trombone, the deep rhythm of the bass, and the bluesy, jazzy tunes of the harmonica resonated from the corner of 846 Lincoln Road.
It was the closing party for the Van Dyke Café and crowds of locals and tourists alike swarmed the street to watch Oriente pay homage to the place that became one of Miami's musical gems for 20 years.
"We've been playing here, upstairs, every second Sunday of every month for about five years," said the band's lead singer and guitarist Eddie Balzola. "It hasn't just been us; it's been every kind of good musician in South Florida."
The music has officially died for the Van Dyke. Soon, mannequins will stand in lieu of instruments. The ringing sound of cash registers and Top 40 hits on repeat will replace the jazz and blues that once filled the lounge. But as Balzola said right before he led Oriente to their last song, "Life without music, it can't go on."
Here are ten classic moments at the Van Dyke Café, according the club's booking manager Randy Singer and Balzola himself.
The Van Dyke's Musical Vision
"I saw it from the very beginning," recalled Singer. "I remember when Mark Soyka and Tony Goldman were gonna open the Van Dyke. It was all Soyka's vision who wanted a jazz club. He kept it alive all this time, and if it wasn't for him, this wouldn't have existed."
"I've never seen a club run this way," he admitted. "We've had the most amazing musicians from salsa, rock, reggae, blues, tango nights, songwriter nights, horn sections, tributes, CD releases, comedy ... It's been such an honor to be the custodian of the legacy."
Al Di Meola
The musical vision may have been what set the foundation for the Van Dyke, but crooning artists, like Al Di Meola, who performed upstairs were the ones who gave weight to the name.
"Al Di Meola. That was a great performance," Singer said about the legendary guitarist. "He did it as a favor for me. There was no way we would've been able to afford him."