It was 10 years ago that Annapolis' Maryland Inn opened the doors of its newly restored King of France Tavern in the historic 200-year-old building. Inn owner Paul Pearson decided to put his favorite music, jazz, into the acoustically charmed former wine cellar, and for 10 days beginning Wednesday the tavern will celebrate the decade with a different performer every night from the roster of those who have been regulars there.
The headliner on Thursday will be four-string guitarist Tiny Grimes, who says he will do "lotsa ballads, plenty blues and Thelonious Monk's " 'Round About Midnight." Grimes, who grew up in Newport News, Va., and now lives in New York, performed in amateur shows in Washington in the mid-'30s and went on to associations with a long list of jazz greats that includes Art Tatum, Earl Hines and Jay McShann. Asked why he alone, of all jazz guitarists, uses the abbreviated instrument, he jokes, "I never could afford the other two strings."Actually, he admits, his fingers wouldn't reach over all six strings when he first started "fooling around" on a borrowed guitar.
"My first four-string guitar came out of a pawn shop for $5 and I tuned it like the first four strings of a six-string guitar. I really found that I didn't need six strings to do what I wanted to do--I can play any song that anybody else can play."
Vocalist Carol Sloane will open the 10-day series on Wednesday. The others will be vocalist Ethel Ennis (Friday), pianist Gap Mangione (Saturday), guitarists Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis (May 23), vibist Red Norvo (May 26), clarinetist Kenny Davern (May 27), guitarist Tal Farlow (May 28) with Davern, pianist Art Hodes with Davern (May 29) and tenor saxophonist Al Cohn (May 30). Guitarist Charlie Byrd and his trio will be on hand for each of the evenings. For more information, call (301) 261-2206.