New jazz bar hoping to bring a diverse nightlife to Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KCRG-TV9)-- "Uptown Live" will feature live music every night in the former "Thirsty Turtle" location at 1323 1st Ave Southeast.

Owner Gerald Seals says he hopes the club fills what he says is a growing need in Cedar Rapids. That's specifically looking for more entertainment options that appeal to minorities.

That's not to say Seals thinks only minorities will go there for jazz and food, he wants everyone to come enjoy it. Seals says a stigma of "trouble" often follows bars and clubs that cater to minority nightlife. Seals hopes jazz can help break that stigma.

He says, "When it's all said and done, we all are community. We are all part of the community, we all work in the community, and we pay taxes here, so I shouldn't have to go Chicago to be entertained. I should be able to be entertained up in the community that I pay taxes."

He says others have tried bringing diversity to the Cedar Rapids nightlife, but have failed. He says, "A lot of bar owners who I have personally spoke to, who I have personal relationships with, everyone has tried it. It's unfortunate that a lot of trouble have followed behind it, but that's not something to give up on."

Seals hopes the love of jazz music will bring people of all races to Uptown Live. He wants to give the stage to a lot of local talent.

He says, "This venue is geared towards more of the live entertainment, which is your jazz, your blues, your funk."

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance says diverse activities is also a way to keep a diverse workforce in town.

Melissa McCarville says, "The more opportunity that we have, the more diversity that we have in our businesses and options, the more likely they are to find what they enjoy and that everyone can stay here, and grow here with us."

Seals hope others will also invest in the community. He adds, "Hopefully we will look into the future and see other minorities take risk with things that we generally won't take risk with."

Uptown Live will be open 7 days per week.