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    “I love coming to Zanzabar because they always feed us really, really good food,” Kam Franklin will say later during her band’s performance at Zanzabar. She’s the frontwoman of the Houston-based eight-member soul group the Suffers. “Every time I go to Louisville…I meet people who remind me of people I know, and it feels like home to me.”

    Before the show on this mid-November night, though, she’s at the dining table in Zanzabar’s new green room, fixing her golden afro. The old green room was in the warehouse across the street that housed the pinball machines that couldn’t fit into Z-Bar’s arcade space. The Suffers used this before, back in 2016 before they ever played Forecastle or Waterfront Wednesday. They got hooked on the pinball and video games there. But Zanzabar has since expanded its venue and will open the laundromat-bar Bar of Soap in the old green room, meaning the new green room now occupies the house next door. One pinball machine stands in front of the main entrance. House rule No. 8, posted on the refrigerator, warns that the game should be left off until a little love can get it back up and running. Rule No. 7: “Don’t shoot off guns or fireworks in here.”

    The space is a throwback to college years, like getting ready for a night out in a shotgun house near campus. The small home has worn wooden floors and mossy green-gray walls with white trim. “It’s comfortable, it’s warm,” Franklin says. “It exists.” An eclectic mix of art — framed comic book covers, sketches of Japanese baseball players, abstract photography — hangs on the walls. An orange-and-brown, diamond-patterned couch with deep seats accents the front room. Band members pose on the couch while Franklin takes their photos. Percussionist Jose “Chapy” Luna drums on a practice pad by the front door. In the armchair in the corner, Michael Razo quietly warms up his trombone. “Is this anyone’s eggroll?” someone asks several times before taking a bite.

    The band steps outside together into surprise snow flurries — the first of the year. They move around their tour van and enter the venue through the back door, which leads right to the stage steps.

    This originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Homey Green Room." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Photo by Mickie Winters, mickiewinters.com

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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