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Rhythm Lounge aims to be relaxing place for a drink and jazz

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New London — In opening Rhythm Lounge with his son Brian, Robert Johnson wanted a place where people could sit and relax — a place that wasn't "overbearing," and a place that catered to a more mature crowd.

Since opening last year, Robert has heard from customers that "it's a great feeling to have something different in New London, where you can just come and relax and not be shouting over everyone."

The 49-seat lounge is in the former location of Right Path Organic Café at 140 State St.

The father-and-son team have always thought of opening a lounge with jazz and soul, said Brian Johnson, 22. Robert said Rhythm Lounge hasn't held any music events yet but is working on getting in some jazz singers.

For now, customers can listen to jazz albums while sipping wine, beer, cider or smoothies, every day but Monday from 4 p.m. to close. Happy hour every Friday from 4-7 p.m. features $4 beer and $5 wine.

The venue hosts karaoke night every Tuesday and the occasional game night, with spades and chess, plus they've been screening football on Sundays.

The décor extends beyond jazz and soul: Covers of albums by Elvis, Ray Charles, Kool & the Gang, The Brothers Johnson, Percy Faith, Eddy Howard and Harry Belafonte line the walls.

In the future, the Johnsons plan to have comedy acts and solo performances, and they'll probably both perform as well.

Robert has been a DJ in the area for more than 25 years, performing at bars, weddings and parties. He also plays bass guitar.

Brian grew up watching both his parents sing, and he owns THR Productions next door, a vocal recording studio that primarily works with R&B — Brian describes he and his father as "R&B guys at heart" — and hip-hop artists.

Recording under the name Brian Jai, he is releasing his debut album "You Deserve It," one he has been working on for two years, on Jan. 20, and hopes to go on tour.

You also might know Robert and Brian from their "This Christmas" cover and video, with the streets of downtown New London serving as the backdrop.


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