Mugshots, the bar in Ottawa's downtown jail hostel which had hosted many jazz shows over the last 19 months, shut its doors abruptly Thursday afternoon. A jazz show scheduled for that evening was cancelled.

The Rake-Star Arkestra played their multi-layered, intense music at Mugshots in February. © Brett Delmage, 2015
The Rake-Star Arkestra played their multi-layered, intense music at Mugshots in February. © Brett Delmage, 2015
In a posting on Facebook, the hostel management said the closure was due to “issues with noise levels” which affected “our guests' experience” at the hostel.

“As such, the bar is closed. Should the bar re-open, it will only be available to our guests in the hostel. This was an extremely difficult decision, but a necessary one."

The bar had a full schedule of 18 shows scheduled for July, including open mic nights, DJs, indie rock, and a trivia night. On July 9, the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble was scheduled to perform; on July 18, the Adam Saikaley Quartet was set to play its monthly jazz night.

Starting in December, 2013, Mugshots had hosted monthly shows by the Saikaley Quartet. They were joined in February, 2014 by monthly appearances by the Mike Essoudry-Don Cummings drums-organ duo Bumpin' Binary. Jazz crossover groups like the Four Heavies, the Chocolate Hot Pockets, and The Super Awesome Club also appeared there in 2014.

In February and March of this year, the Rake-Star Arkestra played its Sun Ra music at Mugshots to packed houses. In April, Essoudry ran a month of innovative duo shows with different Ottawa musicians, including the Mirror Duo with Michel Delage.

Many of the shows which attended at Mugshots were loud, but also included significant dynamic range down to practically whispers.

The bar was located in the basement of the hostel and accessed via the former jail's courtyard. It was a long low space, with thick stone walls, curving brick-lined ceilings, and heavy pillars marching down the centre of the room.

This was the second bar closure this week affecting Ottawa's jazz scene. The Rochester Pub also suddenly announced it was closing at the beginning of the week. The Beeched Wailers hosted their last weekly jazz jam at the Rochester Tuesday night, with a large crowd of local musicians there to play and commiserate.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read's previous coverage of Mugshots: