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No surprise then, that city commissioners Johnny Winton and Art Teele took an interest in the establishment, promising to look into county permit costs, listening to the owners' concerns, and likely alerting building department officials to step up the process. The rental tower falls in Winton's district, which is also part of a city-designated media and entertainment district. According to Teele the club may be eligible for funding from the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, which administers dollars collected from a specially taxed district in which Sax is located.
The trick will be surviving long enough to see if the developers and politicians make good on their promises. So far the biggest draw is the Tuesday open-mike night, when reasonably good musicians who can perform loosely within the parameters of blues and jazz can use the house sound system for a gig. "Word is getting out," says Segalla of the jams that have extended until closing time. "If you're good and want to test yourself, you can do it here."
It will be awhile before Sax can book big-name headliners on weekend nights. The vocalist Carol Mitchell and Trio and the less-than-Kenny-G-smooth saxophone of Sha-Shaty have been featured, but those names will likely change as the owners grow their business. On Wednesdays after Reed's turn on the keys, the club offers a blues stomp with Albert Castiglia and the Miami All-Star Blues Band at no cover charge.
While Castiglia belts out the blues on a recent Wednesday, Keith, a sloshed former 1800 regular, hoots and hollers. Reclining on one of the piano-bar seats, his feet rest on another chair. Haylor is obliging, wrapping an arm around the patron's neck. He doesn't ask him to straighten up. Instead the local bar owner holds on to what little is his during the first days of business. Outside, gates surrounding the construction at the park cut off access. About a dozen patrons sit scattered at the bar and at Sax's tables, two smoking cigars. "Right now we're bleeding," Haylor admits, "but I'm not crying pauper."