Photos by Katy Kildee
Looking to wind down from a rough week in a place with sophistication and style? Want to meet friends in an upscale establishment and relax to the nuance of improvisation and beat? Or, maybe you just want to have a drink, close your eyes and be taken away by the intricacies of some great jazz? Whatever your mood, motivation or desire, the Soothing Tunes Room is your answer.
Opened in August of 2022 by local businessman Sheldon Banks, the Soothing Tunes Room has been a runaway hit. The club has become THE spot in Flint for top-level jazz and social events. “It’s going great,” says Banks. “We have people coming in from as far as Bay City and Detroit.” The club features the Raphael Banks Jazz Band on the regular, led by Banks’ brother, a jazz bass guitarist. The venue pulls in other jazz masters from across the country such as Ralphe Armstrong, the Black Rose Band, Alexander Zonjic, and Straight Ahead among others. To keep things fresh, the Soothing Tunes Room opens its stage to poets and comedians on special nights. Live shows have a cover charge of $15-$20 at the door. “We want to make sure it is worthwhile for the talent to perform here,” Banks adds.
“We are an upper-class establishment. I want to prove that Flint people can and do have a good time without worry.”
“I’ve been inspired by jazz since I was a young kid,” he shares. “We have places in the area for rock ‘n’ roll, rap, country, blues, etc. and most cater to a younger crowd. I wanted to offer a place for the mature age group. That’s not to say that younger people aren’t welcome – everybody’s welcome. I wanted to create a calm atmosphere where my generation could relax and listen to live jazz.” So, when Banks learned that the former longtime home of the Pachyderm Pub was for sale, he jumped at the opportunity to build his dream. For him, the location at 1408 E. Hemphill Rd. in Burton checked all the boxes. “It was the right size and had freeway access,” he adds. He got to work and began a $300,000 renovation project that included a new patio with gas fire pits to enjoy on cool summer nights. He forged a good relationship with the Burton City Police Department so that Soothing Tunes patrons could feel safe and secure in the establishment and tailored his hours of operation to accommodate nearby neighborhoods. “I’m careful about the neighborhood. It’s why we close at 11pm. I don’t want to disturb the people,” he says. “We have had no problems at all since we opened. We are an upper-class establishment. I want to prove that Flint people can and do have a good time without worry.”
The Soothing Tunes Room was built to offer a classy experience that begins when patrons step up to the bar to order their first drink of the night while the music completes the ambiance. In addition to a full bar, food is available for those who like to enjoy their dinner with friends, no matter who they are. “We are open to anyone as long as you are 21 or older,” quips Banks. As evidence of this statement, the Soothing Tunes Room lends its space to fundraisers for a variety of local organizations, as well as birthday parties, sororities, fraternities and more. “Many of our fundraisers have been complete sellouts,” he states.
The Soothing Tunes Room is currently open Friday-Sunday from 5-11pm. Banks plans to expand hours in the summer to be open on weekdays from 5-8pm. For information on upcoming live performances, visit Soothing Tunes on Facebook or call 810.422.5789 during business hours. Musicians interested in taking the stage there and those seeking information about hosting a fundraiser or other event are invited to call Shayla at 810.922.6818.
The Soothing Tunes Room offers big jazz names within a small community atmosphere. “The support has been phenomenal,” Banks boasts. Come out, listen to some great jazz and relax in the Soothing Tunes Room – a place of refined class.