House band Flattop Tom and His Jump Cats performed at Club 507 on Sunday to commemorate the venue’s one-year anniversary.
“He’s been part of the dance community for a long, long time,” said Club 507 volunteer Nancy Crawford. “So, you know, we know where the dance bands are gonna be. And we go there, and then our dance friends come, and then we meet new people, and we tell them of the places we go, so we kind of help spread it around the whole community.”
According to the band’s official website, Flattop Tom and His Jump Cats formed in 1992 and has received acclaim for their discography that spans multiple genres including big band swing, blues and rockabilly. The band was one of the first to perform in the newly opened Club 507 in 2023, and the venue invited them back several more times throughout the year.
“I love Flattop Tom,” said event guest and occasional volunteer Ramona Dolan. “They’ve been performing this kind of music since the ’90s. Flattop Tom himself, Tom Hall, is like a swing dancer. He’s even won awards for that, and he’ll get out and dance, he’ll lead his band, and the music is fantastic. Everybody loves it.”
Club 507 is housed within American Legion Post 507, which was formerly a 1940s movie house. The venue hosts various bands covering multiple genres and offers free dance classes to help newcomers and advanced dancers alike have more fun in the venue. The Sunday event was also supplied with Italian food catered by the American Legion Auxiliary.
While Club 507 has no official ties to any veteran organization, those in charge of the event were still grateful for the Legion’s support.
“The American Legion people here are great,” said Club 507 promoter Wende Mintz. “Everybody is very supportive. They’re all happy with what I brought in. They have their Legion people coming in and they bring dinner for our guests, which is really kinda cool.”
The venue’s success is also supported by a steady supply of volunteers, including Kathy Brandon, who is also a close friend of Mintz.
“Wende was looking for a place in this area to promote swing dancing, and she found the American Legion and they were able to accommodate us for a while,” Brandon said.
Club 507’s grand opening on Jan. 21, 2023, was a relatively muted affair, but those who were there spread word of the venue and their enjoyment to others, slowly increasing Club 507’s level of patrons.
“It started out slow, but as you can see, it’s building,” said Brandon. “And it’s just a lot of fun with a lot of people.”
“The grand opening, there weren’t a whole lot of people,” said Dolan. “People didn’t really know about this place yet. But it’s been building up word-of-mouth, and all of the American roots music, the live music and the swing music that’s all in Southern California? They’ve started to come here to play.”
“I didn’t even know it was the grand opening, but I had fun,” said event guest Santiago Martinez, who marked the anniversary event as his second time seeing Flattop Tom and His Jump Cats. “Jazz is really fun, but I personally prefer rock and roll, but I totally like jazz. It’s fun to dance to and it’s really relaxing.”
As for plans regarding Club 507’s second year, Mintz’s major goal is to bring more patrons into the venue.
“[Flattop Tom] was here seven times last year, and there are seven members in his band,” said Mintz, who also owns the entertainment company Dynamo Event Works. “That’s a big band to pay. So we definitely have to keep bringing in the people so that they can help us pay for the band.”
“I just want to get bigger,” Mintz continued. “I want more of the community to come out. Because who started here were my friends from the San Fernando Valley. And they don’t mind coming, but we want more of the community. So I’ve been to the farmer’s market trying to get people to come, but we’re gonna do more stuff to get more people to come.”
Repeat guests also agree that Club 507 can contribute to the health of Southern California’s music scene.
“I traveled from Bakersfield because we don’t have a lot of swing music and live jazz and live dancing in Bakersfield, and this club has rockabilly, swing, blues, and dance classes before the actual concert performance,” said Dolan. “For me, it’s so important that this club continues because there’s nothing else in the area here and there’s nothing else in Bakersfield like it.”