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Jazz Club’s Sudden Closure Leaves Musicians, Workers in Limbo

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For jazz fans and musicians alike, Jardine's Jazz Club on Main Street near the Country Club Plaza is a Kansas City institution. But the stage there has been dark and the doors locked for over a week, shocking some musicians who walked up to the front door only to find out that their gig has been canceled.

A sign on the door at the club said that it was closed for repairs and would reopen, and a man at the business told FOX 4 that the owner fired all of her employees for stealing and drinking on the job - a claim denied by employees.

"I got a phone call from my manager, I picked it up and he said, 'Just don't go in there, it's I don't know what's going on, but she (owner) is flipping out'," said former employee Steven Collins. "I was fired, and everyone else who's been coming in has been getting fired on the spot."

Collins was one of over a dozen employees fired from the club last week, and he and the others say that they still don't know why. Collins says that he doubts money was the issue.

"Right now is the time when Jardine's makes its most money, it's the holidays, people are going out and that can get you through a few lean months at the beginning of year," said Collins, who says that repairs aren't the issue at the club either. "I have no reason to believe that anything is being repaired at Jardine's. The problem with Jardine's is not the building itself, I don't think anything is being repaired."

Musician Dave Stephens was supposed to play at Jardine's over the weekend, but says that the owner called and told him she fired her staff but his show was still on. But just hours before his show was set to start, he got another call telling him that the club was indeed closed.

Stephens, who has been playing the club since the mid-90's, says that he was disappointed in how the situation was handled - and the loss of income from the canceled show. But he says that he also feels terrible for all the people now out of work.

"A lot of KC musicians are out of work from this club closing. There's a lot of guys in town who make a lot of their living from that specific club, not to mention the fact that a lot of good people were let go right before the holidays," said Stephens, who says that the club was a Kansas City institution, but after this he isn't sure if he'd be able to play there again.

FOX 4 was told that the club's owner or new general manager would comment on this story, but FOX 4 has yet to hear from them.

It looks for now as though the former employees of Jardine's would have to reapply for their jobs, and most don't feel as though it's worth it. But all agree that the club needs to reopen and continue its support of jazz music.

"It's a cornerstone of jazz in Kansas City, it has been, and I can't imagine Kansas City without it," said former employee Jessie Reed-Schall.

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