Attorney Ken Harris raised the standard for club owners in Charlotte, NC., when he opened the doors to ROC’s on May 19, 2017.
Though the club scene in the Metro Area is vast, there wasn’t an exact social establishment that catered to Jazz lovers until now.
Harris, along with business partners Tyler Ford and Jason Vicks, had a concept in mind.
“I think you need to decide what you are... Are you a dance club? Are you a place where people are just socializing? What are you trying to sell? Is it liquor or food? What are you doing? Because when we set this up as a jazz club, we knew that the architecture of the facility was appropriate. It’s a very high-end facility.
Once you get people in and you see how they interact, then you know you’ve made the right decision. That’s how you interact. The idea needs to be consistent with what you are. Don’t waiver because it’s fool’s gold.’’
ROC’s sits astute and breathtaking at the Avid Xchange Music Factory, behind the Filmore, and right next to Club One.
Success for the bar seems to be inevitable, and with such a primitive location amidst club goers as well as concert lovers, the possibilities for the hot-spot is endless.
The stately atmosphere popped during opening weekend with culture and charming people.
Candlelight’s flickered blazingly on each table, while guest laughed and chatted amongst one another.
Music from the band echoed with an absorbing gesture. Its influence lingered like a calming lullaby.
Photo Credit: Fred Shotz Elite Photo
Judging by ambiance as well as the club’s jollity surroundings, turnout for commencement weekend was just the beginning of a summer filled with alluring and mature vibes.
Finally! A place where patrons no longer feel like the older man or woman in the club. Would you like to know why? Fine, here's the real--ROC's undercurrent is totally aloof to those brooding age differences. Let's face it... who's really paying arttention to all that while at a lavish Jazz Bar?
Harris is optimistic in his joint endeavor.
"I’ve been doing entertainment work for a long time. Going back to when I first came to Charlotte, I’ve been doing work for producers and singers… I think my first singing client was Adina Howard. I represented Adina and did some work for her, and then I had Young Lord, who was one of Puffy’s (P Diddy) hitmen. He co-produced Hypnotized by Biggie, so I did his legal work for many years, including his relationship with Puffy and Bad Boy Entertainment; and that kind of got me into it, but at the same time I was also representing athletes.
I’ve been in the entertainment industry for many years, representing a lot of folks. I’ve worked with Magic Johnson for over 17 years. I also had a business, joint management with Baby Face (Kenneth Edmonds), and I spent a lot of time in LA. I also represented Mathew Knowles for many years. Mathew Knowles is a great friend of mine. As a matter of fact, we are talking about doing a book tour together.”
Harris’s strength in the entertainment industry is well served, which is one of the reasons for opening the lavish hostelry. His other objective is to give people in the community a relaxed setting, where they can go and wind down, whether on lunch breaks or during the jolt of each weekend. The commonalities for opening ROC’s is mutual.
Harris has almost 30 years of experience as a Law Attorney, receiving his Juris Doctorate from University of Chapel Hill in 1988. At that time, he joined the law firm of Wishart Norris, Henninger & Pittman located in Charlotte, NC. In 1990, Harris joined the Law Firm of Hoover & Williams, P.A.
Using his professional placement as a launching pad, Harris co-founded the law firm of Harris & Drummond in 1992, and he co-founded Todd, Parham, Harris & Dixon, PLLC in 1995.
After working with many reputable professionals through the years, the experienced attorney founded Ken Harris & Associates, where he is frontrunner of the firm.
Harris said that even though he’s labored for many years, he’s still willing to learn new things so that his ventures can become more successful.
“The question is, ‘Are you willing to never stop learning?’ Some people volunteer to get into a situation where they believe they’ve maxed out. They know the game and all that they need to know, and that’s a very dangerous posture to be in. I look at everyday as an opportunity to learn something new. I’m always trying to find a new endeavor. With each new opportunity, you must find a new set of knowledge.
I’m always looking for something new, and you can’t have an ego about that—no one knows it all.”
Harris is ingeniously informative, even though he says he isn’t a “know it all.” He stretches and shapes himself for the next big thing, and is forever sanguine about those risks.
“The Jazz bar is probably the strangest thing that I ever did. I’m involved with a restaurant in Sacramento called El-Rey.
Me, and one of my clients, Kenny Thomas, started the restaurant with some other partners out there. It’s been wildly successful because its right across from the Golden 1 Arena.
I’ve been here, at the Music Factory for 10-years, now. When I saw the space [for ROC’S] available, I said, ‘Charlotte is missing a Jazz bar. It needs some good, solid, consistent, adult-oriented entertainment; where you can leave your office and come over, have a nice cocktail and network.’
Charlotte has had many Jazz venues that weren’t successful. Sometimes they aren’t consistent with the genre. They start off as Jazz music and then they move into R&B or Urban. I said, ‘What if we started with a Jazz club and stick with that?
I started talking to people about it and the reaction was extremely positive.”
King of multitasking, Harris can manage the out-of-state restaurant, law firm and Jazz bar by simply delegating to trustworthy individuals who share the same vision as his practices. He accredits his business structure to Pro ball player, Magic Johnson.
"That’s a trick when you own a law firm... I want every case to go right, and I must have my hands on it. I’ve learned that I can have my hands on a file without being in control of it every minute. We have a great staff at my law firm, and I think that’s the reason we’ve been so successful with our cases over the years, because we’re all driven. It’s not just me, but my staff is driven. Then you have the attorneys who handle business just like I do."
Speaking of Harris and his ability to organize, he talked about his latest novel, Dark Trades.
“You know, I always wanted to be a writer. About 3 years ago, I wrote a treatment and I sent it to Michael Swanson, to Universal Studios, and he loved it. It kinda validated my thoughts that maybe I could do it.
We all want to believe that we can do something. Being a writer is a tough ambition and I didn’t know if I could be a writer. Once I sent the treatment off to him, his wife Christine Swanson, who is a very well- known director—she took it and adapted it into a screenplay. I decided to write the story… My idea, ‘What if slavery never ended and the South won the Civil War?’ I just started writing. Every night I would write and get it transcribed, then I would do the next piece.
It took me a long time. It took me 2 years to write the book.
My writing came alive. I started thinking about the characters during the day, and the plot during the day.
There was an eagerness for me to see how the story ended. When I got to the end of the book, I was almost disappointed because it was such a great journey."
Harrison is the protagonist of the story.
"I wanted to inject an isolated desperation into Harrison. He was a slave in Baltimore [like all the others] and they must live by themselves. He must deal with all this oppression and racism by himself, and the sad thing about it is that every day he gets to see things that he wants, things that he would aspire to interact with-- It’s a terrible circumstance to be in, to see your goals and there is no way imaginable that you can get them. That anxiety is what I wanted conveyed during the early parts of the book.
You can be oppressed, you can be downed, you can be humiliated and taken advantage of, but you can still maintain your dignity and composure, to where you might have an opportunity to change your circumstance-- And that’s what this book is all about.”
After writing the book and changing the tides of history, by invoking a modernized story-line for an age-old struggle that blacks had to face; it was only fair to ask Harris, ‘What do you fear for our humanitarians? What do you fear for Black culture?
“What I fear is a lack of understanding. I’m concerned for our community. If you are asking me personally, ‘What do I fear?’ My fear is that the community will not have an awakening such as understanding the dynamics that are swarming around us. I fear for that. We’ve lost our curiosity relating to knowledge, academics, and politics. We focus on other things, and unfortunately, that knowledge is the key to us enhancing our situations.
We are not curious about what’s happening politically. We aren’t curious from an academic standpoint, and we aren’t curious about how to elevate ourselves.
If you don’t have that within you, unfortunately, that’s how you’ll see your community deteriorate.”
Harris’s passionate discourse exposed his true disposition.
Recently the attorney took on a case that’s received national headline.
Summer Bond, a student at Hickory Ridge High School was suspended for a bizarre dress code violation.
The suspension came with absolute consequences which threatens Bonds graduation as well any scholarships that she might’ve received for college.
Harris believes that the treatment is unethical especially since Bonds is a consummate student. He wants to prevent further damage to her character as it affects her future gravely.
The Attorney, Author, and Restaurant owner, glorifies impartiality throughout all his businesses including the latest Jazz spot.
Just goes to show how much a person can accomplish when they put forth more effort into doing and serving in the community instead of cultivating a good talk game by adding aesthetics to a conversation just because it sounds right.
For more information, or if you’re in the Charlotte area and you’d like to visit ROC’s:
FB/Roc's Jazz Bar /Instagram @rocsjazzbar/Twitter:@rocsjazzbar
Want the book? Dark Trades