World Class Jazz Comes to Laconia New Hampshire

Posted 02/29/12
Pitman's Freight Room

Photo by Rob Clifford

About three weeks ago, after much prodding from friends and overcoming a little skepticism, I ventured out to Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia NH for an evening of jazz. I was treated to one of the most delightful nights of live entertainment that I have had in a very long time. I haven’t missed a show since!

Jonathan Lorentz, NH Jazz

Jonathan Lorentz

The New Hampshire Jazz Center has partnered with Pitman’s Freight Room to bring a dazzling collection of nationally and internationally known jazz musicians to play their hearts out to a small audience of one to two hundred jazz enthusiasts every Thursday night. Jonathan Lorentz, Director of NH Jazz, does an outstanding job of seeking out the most amazing, talented, and diverse artists.

Before every show, Jonathan takes the stage to introduce the evening’s entertainment, and begins the night by requesting the audience remain silent during the show. He remains vigilant throughout, seeing to it that his request is heeded.  The resulting silence ensures that the amazing talent on stage will be heard and enjoyed by everyone. This is the reason Jonathan affectionately refers to the venue as a ‘listening room,’ a term I was previously unfamiliar with. I have quickly become a fan of the concept.

To complement this amazing display of music is an eclectic, bohemian environment well suited for the kind of

Philip Hamilton at Pitman's Freight Room

Philip Hamilton

avant-garde performances that are often heard at Pitman’s.  The building is an oddly shaped, turn-of-the-century warehouse that still bears evidence of its original use.  Its triangular shape is wedged between the road and the railroad tracks on the fringes of Laconia, and is accompanied by an actual caboose to further remind you of its once utilitarian function.

Pitman's Freight Room interior

Photo by: Maureen Bieniarz-Pond

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As you enter through the giant, rolling, barn-style doors, you are greeted to a vast space made up of largely the same details that were used to create the building over a hundred years ago—high, open, rough-sawn beamed ceilings, warm hardwood and brick floors, unplanned wood siding—the story of its past is all around you.

Pitman's Freight Room Stage

Photo by: Maureen Bieniarz-Pond

Reasonably comfortable folding chairs are lined up around the stage, many of them accompanied by small tables, allowing everyone an outstanding view of the performance. If you desire a more relaxing, comfortable seat, you can sit on one of the many couches along the perimeter of the room and still be afforded a reasonable view and excellent sound.

Laconia Village Bakery

Laconia Village Bakery

Before the show and during intermission, you can enjoy some wonderful soups and sandwiches made by the Laconia Village Bakery, as well as choose from an assortment of beverages that are available for purchase. Currently, Pitman’s does not have a liquor license, but policy does allow you to bring your own alcohol. We brought along a bottle of our very own Hermit Woods wine.

If you’re a fan of jazz or simply enjoy hearing live music at its best, Pitman’s Freight Room on a Thursday evening is the place to be. Between the extremely talented musicians, the warm and friendly atmosphere, the intimate setting, and the ‘listening room’ environment, you are not likely to experience a better show anywhere in New Hampshire.  Sure, you can see some outstanding performances at the Music Hall, or the Capital Center for the Arts, but none so up close and personal as you can at Pitman’s. And the artists, although not always as well known, are invariably as good!

The show starts every Thursday evening at 8:00 sharp and typically lasts until about 10:00. You can get there early to ensure good seats and have a bite to eat before the show, or call ahead (ideally a day or two) to reserve your favorite spot. It costs $10 to get in, although it may go up to $12 sometime soon to help support the artists who play there. Parking is available in the lot behind the building or on the street.

There is simply no better venue for music of this type or quality in the Lakes Region. Hope to see you there!