An emerging jazz hub in Sioux Falls


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There is a new live music hub emerging in downtown Sioux Falls. R Wine Bar on E. 8th Street has been open for less than a year, but it’s already a place to be for live jazz.

“There’s something about live music,” R Wine Bar co-owner Riccardo Tarabelsi said. “It changes the whole vibe, and the atmosphere, and the ambiance.”

It changes the moment, too.

“I’ve been in hospitality for almost 20 years in Sioux Falls, and I’m all about ambiance, how can I create an experience that not just a meal, or a drink, it’s about the whole experience,” Tarabelsi said.

Similarly, with live music, it helps to have more than just a horn. Or a drum. It’s about the whole, full-band experience.

“We’re proud to provide a venue for these musicians,” Tarabelsi said. “We love supporting local artists. We love the support that people are showing us as a local small business.”

Tarabelsi had some questions for trumpeter Jimmy Speirs.

“What do you think of the acoustics, what do you think of the venue, do you think this would work, and so we booked our first jazz night in November, a couple weeks after opening, and we have had it every Thursday since,” Tarabelsi said. “We haven’t looked back.”

“Oh this place has been tremendous,” Speirs said.

There’s live jazz here every Thursday. But it’s not the only night with jazz.

“The first Wednesday of every month is jazz jam night, it’s kind of a, the simple explanation, it’s open mic night for jazz musicians,” Tarabelsi said. “People literally show up with instruments in hand, or drum sticks, or their voice. We provide a house band.”

Touch of Europe and its live jazz used to call a building a few blocks away at W. 12th Street and S. Phillips Avenue home, too. But now, Touch of Europe is gone.

“For a long time, the jazz club in Sioux Falls was Touch of Europe, and then the club went out of business, and there wasn’t really any venues to play jazz,” guitarist Dan Donahoe said. “So we’re really happy that we can do that here.”

“I’ve heard a lot of guests compare us to Touch of Europe, and again, that’s an honor,” Tarabelsi said. “If I can come close to what Touch of Europe did, and what Touch of Europe meant, especially to the jazz community here in Sioux Falls, priceless.”

Speirs says R Wine Bar is turning into a home for jazz in Sioux Falls.

“We haven’t had a home since the Touch of Europe closed,” Speirs said. “You know we floated around, we’ve got some really wonderful places that we’ve played, but there hasn’t been a place that has said, ‘let’s do jazz consistently every week.”‘

Speirs, Donahoe and bassist Reuben Rodriguez say R Wine Bar could fill a role that Touch of Europe once filled.

“I do think so,” Donahoe said. “I think that as long as they keep having great music in here, it’s a wonderful venue, and I think the opportunity is there to fill that position.”

“Not only can they, I think they already are to a certain degree,” Speirs said.

“I would like to think that Touch of Europe offered something that nothing else could, and I feel like this meets that and offers something entirely different, so like both beautiful in their own fantastic ways,” Rodriguez said. “Nothing’s going to fill the gap of what that was, but this fills the function and it offers a little bit more.”

Some of that “little bit” extra, he says, is room.

“The size of it allows like larger groups,” Rodriguez said.

Groups that might be from well beyond Sioux Falls.

“We’re now starting to get calls from people that we know that work in New York, Omaha, we’re getting, I just heard from a group from Texas that is going to be in town and would like to play here,” Speirs said.

A home for a music that’s all about living in the moment.

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