My man pots and pans Jerry Blavat is celebrating the first anniversary of hosting his weekly Wednesday Sugar House dance jamboree and, last night, got Chubby Checker, the Trampps and writer Rich Podolsky (The Man with the Golden Ear, about the man behind Rock Concert, producer Don Kirshner) to join in the fun. Congrats on year one.
Surprisingly a small group of folk didn’t get the connection between seeing Shola Olunloyo at the first-night test run of Hop Sing Laundromat, the vials of unknown content before him, and the fact that he’s renowned for molecular gastronomical culinary marvels (amongst other things) and not drug running. I would’ve thought it was more of a hassle that there was a cell phone on his table (a no-no at HSL) and not vials. Whaddayooogonnado?
Saxophonist Bobby Zankel’s large scale Warriors of the Wonderful Sound is gearing up to premiere a new piece written exclusively for his band by legendary pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams, who will conduct the ensemble during its April 28 premier at Montgomery County Community College.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: One night of Hop Sing Laundromat, too much Axl chatter, lots of Hooters, Rex 1516 gets ready and say so long to Georges Perrier
The one-night-only pre-opening of Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown happened Wednesday night. I must say, from the exact placement of its etchings and candelabras to the open coziness of its aisles (wide enough to drive Lee’s invention of a silver table-side portable cocktail maker through) to its exclusive pricey well-stocked bar shelves (“not done yet, “I spent $30,000 so far and shelves still look empty,” he laughs) I’d say HSL was ready to roar even though Lee still wants to fill those shelves to 1,000 bottle capacity. After having not slept for over 24 hours, Lee created the night’s hearty cocktails — fresh squeezed juices, simple ingredients (no more than four elements for each cocktail) with specialty spirits such as Anejo Patron Tequila, Nolet’s Gin, El Dorado 15 years (rum), Greenbrier Gin, Johnny Drum Private Stock Bourbon, Ultimat Vodka and Booker Bourbon. My wife, Glamorosi, accurately identified one of the secret ingredients of Lee's screwdriver, the orange's pith. Each was a handsome drink. “I want all future guests to understand that we don’t use cheap liquors,” said Lee, early this morning, after just arriving to his home at 8 a.m. “The cocktails were created by me so if you didn’t like something then its my fault and nobody else’s.” Everything was great, Lee. Now let the rest of the world in on the treat. And hey, what was in those tiny vials that Shola Olunoyo and his table mate had with them? I don't think that was one of the night's special cocktails.
Icepack in print went to press too early to fix it, but the show advertised on Little Bar’s calendar for Feb. 25 isn’t happening. Nor are any shows on the Little Bar calendar. As reported here, a chunk of Little Bar’s hirees (PVP bookers included) left after Saturday night. By Monday night, owner Michael D’Addesi informed the remaining staff that he had sold the bar operations (but not the building which has been long owned by his family) to an incoming restaurant concern (no names as yet) who have no interest in doing live music. Ta da. Anyone who fondly remembers that the 8th and Fitzwater corner used to house the D’Addesi’s Italian food palace Vesuvio will welcome a nosh.
Toy Soldier Ron Gallo and booking agent Marley McNamara tell me to watch out for Feb. 28’s Queens of Soul show at World Café Live. They’re saluting Nina, Aretha, Etta and Janis with locals such as Thom McCarthy, Ali Wadsworth (ask her about the day The Voice came calling) and Kate Faust doing the down-n-dirty work. Gallo will bite off a chunk of the evening as well as telling attendees that his band’s new EP, Tell the Teller, is nearly ready for release.
Before the end of 2011, I joked with Chinatown saloon owner Lee that he should open Hop Sing Laundromat on March 15, the Ides of March. Had a real Cesarean ring to it, don’t you think? Anyway, it’s starting to sound like March might work for the perfectionist Lee. He told Eater Philly as much. Or not.
Moore College of Art & Design has a new president in Cecelia Fitzgibbon, succeeding Dr. Happy Craven Fernandez, who held that post since 1999. Fitzgibbon is the director of Drexel’s graduate arts administration program and spent 16 years as a professor, director and head of Drexel’s arts administration and arts & entertainment enterprise programs. So entertain us and congrats.
Parting is sweet sorrow, no doubt. So we’re particularly sorrowful now that the Pennsylvania Ballet’s principal dancer Riolama Lorenzo has retired. The Cuban-born, one-time New York City Ballet dancer has been with the PaBa for 10 years, taking on famed roles such as Giselle with grace. Last weekend she did her final performances at the Merriam, took her emotional final bows on Sunday and danced through her choice of Matthew Neenan’s Keep as her last performance. The entirety of the night’s program Pushing Boundaries: Forsythe & Neenan was stirring but Lorenzo’s last blast was something all-together different — joyful and sad all in one moment. Sigh. (For more, see Janet Anderson’s review here.)
It’s no secret that Il Portico on Walnut Street does the old world Tuscan dining thing — subtly spiced baby lamb chops, pillowy pastas, a radically tender veal Osso Bucco — to perfection. They’ve got towering crystal chandeliers and an elegant environment of deep mahoganies — very sexy. But on Valentine’s Day, executive chef/owner Al Delbello kicked off a musical program in Il Portico’s upstairs space, Club Adesso, with disco-phonic DJ Jimmy DePre (he learned under Jerry Blavat). Along with DePre, there will be live Latin and small jazz ensembles throughout the weeks to come. Fans of Rittenhouse Row know Adesso from its heated hip-hop weekend soirees. Be about it.
The Immaculata University crowd who stormed The Mighty Macs screening at the Kimmel Center a few months back (I sat with a row of nuns) should be gearing up for the release of its DVD on Feb 21. To that end, Immaculata is holding a bash that night at the Independence Seaport Museum on Penn’s Landing with local director/screenwriter Tim Chambers, along with players from the Mighty Macs National Women’s College Basketball Championship teams. Brûlée Catering double teams on the food.
Brian Nagele of Philly2Night has finally found a name for the restaurant part of his newly leased (from Bart Blatstein) North Shore Swim Club (the old Arrow): the Havana Room starring one-time Il Pittore/Parc chef Sean Elstone.
Bckseet Productions’ Greg DeCandia has occupied theatrical space at Society Hill Playhouse and saloons in the South Street area in the past. With PHLash: A Mob Story he’s working with another new company, Ars Gratia Artis, and a new spot at Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School (5501 Cedar Ave., boyslatin.org) where he’s been teaching drama for a year. This first show (Feb. 9-11) is a documentary-style theatrical work directed by DeCandia where the students interviewed Captain William Fisher (sergeant of civil affairs of the Philly PD), chief assistant DA Angel Flores, reverend Carl Fichett (VP of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP) and they approached Mayor Nutter who approved the use of video of him talking about Philly youth violence. DeCandia and AGA are looking to move PHLash to a larger professional stage after this run.
Colin Farrell enthusiasts and all around paps, hold your horses. The handsome actor, due in to Philadelphia to lens the NYC-mob drama Dead Man Down is supposedly still doing post work on the just-wrapped Seven Psychopaths co-starring Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish and Tom Waits. Keep your panties on.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Space 1026 breaches the Darkness, Sean Agnew touches the water, the Angel isn’t so blue and who wants Charlie Gracie Day?
I scream you scream we all scream for a high concept Chinese German beer haus menu. Ta da. Bierstube opened last night at 206 Market.
In reaction to the passing of Soul Train’s Don Cornelius, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the composers of that show’s #1 hit theme song (“TSOP”), released a joint statement. “Don Cornelius and his creation of ‘Soul Train’ and its legacy had a great impact on American culture. Don’s vision allowed for African-American artists to be exposed to people all over the world through the power of television. We were glad to help Don Cornelius fulfill his dream and legacy by creating the theme song for his hit show. The ‘Soul Train’ and TSOP brands will forever be inseparable. We thank Don Cornelius for his tremendous contributions to the entertainment world. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Don’s family and everyone he touched.”
Back in 2009, Icepack printed a rumor that Stephen Starr was gearing up to re-open L’Ange Bleu or, rather, Blue Angel, my favorite of Starr’s restaurants and his first excursion onto Chestnut Street. In 2012, it looks like his Angel will finally sprout wings according to Collin Flatt at the Philly division of Eater.com. His partner in crime at Talula’s Garden, chef Aimee Olexy (the original GM of Blue Angel) will be in charge of the new Blue Angel which is promised to look just like the old Blue Angel. Just make it taste the same and all will be well with the world.
Jerry Blavat, the Geator, the first original Boss (the one with the hot sauce): it was a delight to see him spinning at the Philadelphia Art Museum’s Art After 5 event last Friday celebrating photographer Zoe Strauss with co-DJ mate King Britt. This weekend though Blavat shows off his finest hand when he commences the 10 year of rock ’n’ roll ’n’ soul master classes at the Kimmel Center. Crooner Ben E. King, New Jersey’s Shirley Alston Reeves of the Shirelles, original Latino pop superstar Chris Montez, and Philadelphia’s own girl group doyenne Darlene Love and disco brethren The Trammps join with Blavat for the Jan. 28 bash.
If anybody can make the Bard seem like a dirtball writer for Sin City it’s Philly PR guy Peter Breslow. Along with sending out splashy emails tagged “Rape, Murder and Decapitation coming to Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre Company” Breslow filmed bits of Aaron Cromie’s upcoming (April) take on Titus Andronicus and played up the bloody parts. Breslow also reminds viewers that the production “is rated R. Minors under the age of 17 will not be admitted without a parent or guardian.” Get your tix at phillyshakespeare.org.
Before it becomes a South Street brat-n-brew mini-mall (following an expansion into its neighboring furniture store), Brauhaus Schmitz and its chef Jeremy Nolen are going for big game (okay, little game). On Feb. 2, Nolen will mix it up with Top Chef Jennifer Carroll, Jeff Michaud (Osteria) and Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette) for a meal of duck, venison, wild boar, hare and wood pigeon. Wood pigeon? Aww don’t hurt the wood pigeon. (I’m thinking of that Colbert Report joke on cat stew from the other night, the same show with Philly’s Terry Gross celebrating 25 years of Fresh Air.)
The only other woman more out in front of the Philly news loop than Zoe Strauss is Sandra Bernhard, who started her weeklong run of I Love Being Me, Don’t You? at Painted Bride with a poke at the arts center’s sound people (“they’re probably high,” she joked) and merrily mean end runs on Tim Tebow, Bristol Palin and Philly’s own Camille Paglia. After that, Sandra and her all-boy band hung out at a cocktail reception at Hotel Palomar where I snapped her with Britanny Lynn (see photo), the Philly drag queen that Bernhard performed with several years back at Pure. While Bernhard has been spied supping at the Palomar’s Square 1682 restaubar, her band ate at Jim’s Steak courtesy Philly ChitChat’s HughE Dillon.
Off-Rittenhouse saloon Rogues Gallery and David Carroll are gearing up for their 2012 Friday DJ series with a new name (Rogue Sessions), a new crew (Schoolly D, Robert Drake, Bobby Startup) and a new start date — Fri., Jan. 13 with Diplo’s Holletronix cohort Low Budget. Diplo, on the other hand, has taken to publishing. 128 Beats Per Minute is out in April through Universe/Rizzoli and his writing travelogue (he writes a column for Vanity Fair online already) features photography by former assistant to Annie Leibowitz Shane McCauley, with a foreword by award winning fashion designer, Alexander Wang.
There’s nothing like the Walnut Street Supper Club at 1227 Walnut. The newly refurbished spot that long held Portofino has spruced itself up with onyx everywhere, high back booths, table lamps and balcony seating for that darkly romantic ’40s dinner club vibe (thanks to new GM James McManaman who founded the Midtown Village Merchants Association and owns the Absolute Abstract art shop around the corner). There’s a pianist and musical director (Jeremiah Downes) who leads a singing waiter crew (Temple and UArts alums) through floor shows filled with the standards of jazz and Broadway. They’ve mixed up the Italian fare with an old school steakhouse vibe (when was the last time you had a baked potato with a hearty New York Strip Steak?). They pour a mean martini. Then there’s Ralph Berarducci the suave Italian gent who has owned the spot for 40-plus years, a gentleman who has stories about the glory days of Philly nightlife and stop-ins from guys like Sinatra, Rickles, and Liza. Oooh, ask Ralph how he coaxed the normally reclusive Liz Taylor, then in town with Richard Burton to stage Private Lives, from her hotel into the swanky confines of his restaurant. You can’t hear this any where else in town.
When Verve drops the swinging ’60s-ish soundtrack Pan Am: Music From and Inspired By the Original Series, look for Philly’s own S-Curve/Universal recording artist Nikki Jean to take on the Lennon/McCartney classic “Do You Want To Know a Secret.”
Do fries go with that shaky shadow dance? You’ll find out soon enough as Gary Reuben’s fabulously grimy Underground Arts theater space in the Wolf Building at 12th and Callowhill gets its long-discussed food and booze component. Underground Eats and its one-time session drumming chef Tom Stalling have a conditional liquor license, are waiting for approvals on the kitchen (ask about the “voodoo shrimp”) from the Health Dept, and are looking at not only serving locally grown craft beers but hopefully naming one of their own — a heady brew that should go nicely with upcoming shows like Theatre Confetti’s Jan. 12 event and Jan. 21.’s Illuminoir by Move and Groove Productions. See Also: Meal Ticket.
It’s been a minute since Philly old-timey crooner Stephen Bluhm played his hometown. He moved up to Hudson, NY last year to help run Club Helsinki and got a gig at Etsy.com. “Etsy opened an office right next to Club Helsinki and my home, which really saved my ass ’cause Helsinki doesn’t pay,” laughs the customer supporter/FAQ writer. This weekend then is a happy homecoming for Bluhm, excited as he is to perform at his friend Evan Levine’s birthday bash at his new home, International Waters’ show house at (48th & Hazel). Dead Milkman Joe Jack Talcum, Joshua Garrett-Davis and Moldy Peaches’ Toby Goodshank join in.
Just because Iron Chef Jose Garces is busy trying to open those three restaurants (Amada, Distrito, Village Whiskey at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City by spring doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his little ole wiener spot in Philly. Gabby Gayborhoood neighbors tell of progress at S. 13th Street’s Abe Frohman’s Wursthaus, Garces’ brew-n-brats boite named for the mythical sausage king of Chicago from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and housed in the spot that once held Letto Deli. Rumor has it that Garces longtime design collaborator Jun Aizaki is on the job, working out a Frankford Hall-like seating arrangement of benches and expanding the physical space outwards toward the pavement and not to its left where the Gold Club resides.
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