If at the Bar, Put a Tip in My Jar

In a past column (TST, September 2022) I mentioned a pub I played in with the Hot Cat Jazz Band called the Griswold Inn. It opened on July 4, 1776 in Essex, CT and has been open ever since—with only nine owners to date! I’ll keep coming back to this storied locale from time to time; if I focused solely on “The Gris,” I’d be able to write this column for the next ten years. From 1992-1998, I worked in the Tap Room of the Inn on Wednesday nights with the band, on Thursday nights as a solo pianist/entertainer, and Friday through Sunday nights as leader of the Griswold Inn Banjo Band (two banjos, a tuba and me). As I played 19 hours over five nights a week, I got to know the staff very well from management to waitstaff to bartenders (these latter with whom I made EXTRA close alliances). While some connections were friendly, others were antagonistic. My relationship with the waiter Izzy fell somewhere in-between. Sometimes we’d liaise, especially when newbies got confused over receiving their change in two-dollar bills and Susan B. Anthony dollars—a long-standing tradition in the Tap Room that continues today: “Waiter, why did you give me 5 quarters and this play money with Jefferson on it as change for my twenty?” Inevitably, the band tip jar would be crammed with these “oddball” castaways: “Here, you guys. YOU think it’s so funny, YOU take them!” We’d alw
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Jeff Barnhart is an internationally renowned pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, recording artist, ASCAP composer, educator and entertainer. Visit him online at www.jeffbarnhart.com. Email: [email protected]

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