I asked around in Shanghai about the best place to catch live music and I found out that there are many venues and that Shanghai has many genres to choose from: jazz, blues, r&b, soul, electronica, rock, punk and so on. One venue that was suggested several times was the Cotton Club which has a long history in Shanghai and has a reputation for hosting top-notch musicians.
I went to the Cotton Club on Friday night and was pleased to find that it was a smaller-sized listening room (roughly the size of the Evening Muse) with a long bar on the right that stretches from the entrance into the listening room. The club was full of comfortably plush chairs and barstools that encouraged me to stay and listen. The stage is small, but the sound of the room was quite good.
The band was a five-piece (alto-sax, trumpet, guitar, bass and drums) that tore through standard funk and afro-cuban tunes. The bass and trumpet players were from Shanghai and the rest of the group were European ex-pats who have been playing jazz and blues in Shanghai for some time. That diversity showed up in the crowd as well as I saw Chinese, Japanese, Americans and Europeans all digging the tight rhythm-section and the horn solos (the trumpet player used delay and wah effects which wowed the crowd).
It's difficult to compare Charlotte and Shanghai since Shangai has been a booming international city for some time. But it does lead me to wonder, if Charlotte continues to grow and develop, will it one day foster a truly international music scene? Will it ever have its own Cotton Club?