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.
As an Italian, I like seven fishes during the holiday. Not stretched through the season — I like them all at one shot. Christmas Eve. Some of the fishes (smelts, shrimp) are small so don’t get to thinking Italians are a particularly gluttonous lot (we are). Anyway, this year the seven fishes dinner, has become a de rigueur test for Philly’s best chefs to stretch their briny muscles. East Passyunk’s Le Virtu cooks up awesome Adriatic fish dishes on Dec. 24. Davio’s on S. 17th is doing all seven with lobster bisque and short ribs in the mix. Amis on S. 13th is doing its four courses on the 23rd. Old City’s Panorama on Front Street is doing its seven fish menu through Dec. 30 with a Mediterranean wine pairing if you ask nicely. Still, Route 6 and chef Anthony DiRienzo? I’ve wanted to mention him and it for awhile. DiRenzo is cooking eight-courses on Christmas Eve with a house-made egg nog ice cream sandwich finish. But, the last of Stephen Starr’s spots (for a while anyway) has more than seven fishes. Opening as it did right after Starr’s more publicized Il Pittore, Route 6 is a coolly appointed bleached white-and-woodsy wide nook (reminded me of a ’60s rancher) with handsome dark accents. As a go-to spot R6 is a gateway to the further development of North Broad. And its menus are crammed with magnetic raw bar bites and hot plates like johnny cakes apps, chicken fried lobster tails with Tabasco aioli, and a sweet selection of wood oven roasted seafood items like monkfish tails, diver scallops with Meyer lemon broth and Black Bass with escarole. Do it.
Know how you’re shopping for pricey gifts and you hit Daffy’s on 17th Street because it’s got the most of the same stuff for scads less? Well, the Daffy’s Corp got a new CEO in Feb. 2011 (Caryn Lerner) and the 17th Street property in Philly supposedly got sold after that. So why are employees worried? A few off-the-record employees are worried that the work force might get trimmed considerably or worse that Daffy’s will go away entirely. Where will I get my endless array of funky designer socks?
Since I first Icepack-ed it in October, I’ve been waiting for the closed-through-summer Portofino at 12th to blossom into the ’40s style Walnut Street Supper Club. Restaurateur Ralph Berarducci and Nolan’s Music Hall alumnus James McManaman held auditions so to make WSSC into something between Palumbo’s, Victor’s Café and Riverfront Dinner Theater with its sleek and tony retro décor (table lamps, lots of onyx) and a singing theatrical wait staff in smart suits serving up steakhouse favorites and Portofino’s traditional pastas. Well, the time has come and the SupClub is set to open Dec 28 with more than a few Temple U. vocal students and folks from area theater companies overseen by musical director Jeremiah Downes. Look for the ribbon cutting to feature peeps from the Midtown Village Association to boot.
It’s uptown party time. Or at least a high wattage light bulb bash. The Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation (UEDC) is booting up the marquee atop the famous Uptown Theater at 2240 North Broad on 5 p.m. Dec 22. They’re going to keep it lit through New Year’s Day while they get ready for its next ceremony in March 2012 — the completion of the theater’s education and technology tower. It’ll also be the Uptown’s 83rd anniversary. They got to pay for those bulbs though: Tax-deductible donations of $25, $50 or $100 will help with donors names to placed on the wall outside the theater. Pledges? philadelphiauptowntheatre.org. http://philadelphiauptowntheatre.org/
WHOWHATWHERE: On the day that the Bill Conlin sports-writer scandal broke, I was in Rittenhouse Square (Barnes & Noble to be precise) talking to local CBS sports casting legend Al Meltzer and Philly scribe Robert S. Lyons (Eagles Encyclopedia) about Big Al: Fifty Years of Adventures in Sports Broadcasting. We never dished the dirt or talked trash. My wife Glamorosi and I just rhapsodized about seeing the white haired lion of Philly sports behind the anchor desk when we were tots and how great it was to see them both in the here and now. Fork’s Ellen Yen and its exec chef Terence Feury made the merry bright when they donated holiday deals to The Gift of Life Family House their Home Cook Heroes division and Howard N. Nathan, the CEO of the Gift of Life Donor Program for Philadelphia-area transplant patients and their loved ones. http://www.giftoflifefamilyhouse.org/volunteer/homecookheroes/ Soul singers made their presence known in Philly this week, at WDAS in particular: Anthony Hamilton and Carl Thomas both visited on-air jock-ess Mimi Brown at WDAS’s iHeart Performance Theater in Bala Cynwyd. While we Christians go in for Santas and mangers, our Jewish friends like Icepack photographer Scott Weiner hold dear Hanukah and Menorahs. Weiner stopped by the Lubavitch Of Castor Ave. the other day to take part in its Menorah Car Parade on the first night of Hanukah.
First things first: Some recent actions at Canary Promotions (they do lots of arts PR including that for the Live Arts/Fringe, the Wilma and the Rosenbach) leave us bluer-than-blue-sadder-than-sad. Emaleigh Doley just left the Canary nest so to become the marketing and communications manager at the Philly-based TicketLeap. She’ll also spend some time in her home zone and get in involved in neighborhood improvement projects in Germantown with lots planned for Spring ’12 (rocklandstreet.com). Jumping into the Canary fray though — sob — is Carolyn Huckabay, CP’s arts editor/copy chief for the last five years. Yes. She’ll be missed missed missed though surely C-Huck will be pitching me stories about Irish people and Dracula at the Rosenbach in no time in accordance with her new gig as public relations associate. But according to Huckabay’s new Canary bio, it says she “plays the French horn” and “assists in her boyfriend’s home-brewing ventures by taste-testing.” This means she likes to booze it up and get all brassy. The things you find out about co-workers when they’re leaving. Sweet sorrow.
If you are as tired as I of having to trek to Valley Forge for a good old vanity vinyl fair, say no more. Jonathan Yates, owner of the Beautiful World Syndicate (on East Passyunk) has done Philly Record Riots in the past. Yet never in league with a partner as auspicious as the founder of Brooklyn’s Record Riot movement, Stephen Gritzan (of Iris Records in Jersey City, NJ). Volia — Dec. 11’s Philly Record Riot at Starlight Ballroom on N. Ninth (across from the Punk Rock Flea Market) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Philly has had good one-off record shows before,” says Gritzan in an email. “But the goal of the Philly Record Riot is to have it become well-known on the ledger of the serious national and international record buyer. Why should New York corner the market on vinyl shows?” Why indeed. Gentlemen. Ladies. Bring your turntables. And leave those miserable iPods behind.
Do not play the number 1725 any time soon. 1725 Chestnut St. seems an unlucky, cursed spot when you consider that the address’ Famous Dave’s BBQ spot just shut down after one year. That’s about as long as Goodburger lasted at the same spot. Sad.
What do local reality television stars do when the cameras shut down and the microphones go quiet? They host charity things. The Apprentice’s Erin Elmore and her fellow attorney Leeza Garber host a drink special/rich benefit for the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Thu., Dec. 8, Table 31 at the Comcast Center. Project Runway victor Jay McCarroll will judge at the Young Professionals/Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Ugly Sweater Party Dec. 17 at the City Tap House (39th and Walnut). Seriously, wear an ugly sweater. You have them. (Info: Jessica McGarvey 215-662-0105 or JMcGarvey@publichouseusa.com).
La Société Expéditionnaire, the willingly experimental label known for its acceptance of Pennsylvania locals such as Lewis & Clarke (Light Time EP, Blasts of Holy Birth) just signed Philly’s Arc in Round, the Krautrock-ing shoegazer act once known as Relay. Hey.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Asher, Diplo, The Geator, the Witch and some Gods and Queens who could use your help
Care to celebrate the maximum sentence given to Conrad Murray for killing Michael Jackson? Buy the straight-outta-Philly Mad Decent label Moombahton Remixes EP complete with a new “Thriller” remix courtesy DJ Sabo as well a few fresh mixes on Jay-Z & Kanye West, Dev and Adele. The boss of Mad Decent, Wes “Diplo” Pentz isn’t just letting his crew have all the fun. Dip and Dutch producer Oliver Twizt dropped a new digital EP GO with plenty of remixes from the likes of Swarms and PeaceTreaty. Here.
Did you know that National Mechanics has been around for five years? Did you send co-owner/manager Paul Brown a card? I stopped in at its anniversary celebration — so packed I couldn’t hardly make my way to fake fire place. Kisses.
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Chef Spokesmodel Jenn Carroll/Silver Linings Everywhere/Goodbye Smokin' Joe/More
Curious about high concert ticket prices? Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped is for you. It’s at Drexel U’s Mitchell Auditorium in the Bossone Research Center (3140 Market St.) Nov. 17, 7 p.m. They’ll hold a scholarly panel discussion on the evolution of pricey concert ticketing with Tom Moon (ex-Philadelphia Inquirer music columnist who never had to pay for a ticket in his life hahaha), R5’s Sean Agnew, Josh Baron, co-author of the hot new book Ticket Masters and an editor at Relix, David Cooper, founder of Pearl Jam tour ticketing, and Jim McCafferty, ticketing director of The Mann. No guest list. Sike. It’s free.
Sarah Van Aken of Van Aken sustainable material custom design just started designing and manufacturing uniforms for the newly opened likes of Il Pittore (long white apron with draw strings, red stitching and signature initials) and Sbraga (long green aprons with satin twill ties and drawn tree branches) amongst other local restaurants. Why shouldn’t Van Aken have someone to rep her brand? Now she does. Top Chef’s Jennifer Carroll — late of 10 Arts — is the new (and first) Van Aken Signature Brand Ambassador. Carroll will talk up Van Aken’s specialty uniform program while Sarah custom designs a Jennifer Carroll by Van Aken custom chef coat and apron. Surely a Jen Carroll doll is next.
Speaking of some of the above, we know every one is too thrilled that the long discussed new Stephen Starr fish spot Route 6 on North Broad is opening Nov. 18 (just changed from its original Nov. 17 date). But what about that old old Starr restaurant with partner/chef Chris Painter — Il Pittore of Sansom Street — that opened, what, 10 days ago? If you haven’t been, the delectably austere classic white linen spot still has a rustic feel (love the open natural light of the front window on the second floor as well as the skylight) There’s a towering wine list of course of which I believe I tried seven or so. Slurp. And Painter’s cuisine — elegant and epic. Above all else, I dug the handmade duck angelloti pasta, the herb-crusted chicken with chicken sausage wrapped in cabbage (just enough mustard and fennel), the slow roasting suckling piggy and the potted foie gras served with herbed pizelles and Lambrusco and Prosecco jellies. Num num num num.
After my feature on the Barajagala Tribal Bellydance troupe they’ve received all manner of requests for gigs and pairings. Like this week’s teaming with the West Philadelphia Orchestra for Nov. 10’s dance party at Tritone. “Elliot Levin came to our Halloween bash and jammed with us,” says Irene Reinke, BTB spokes-goddess, so now they’re returning the favor. You might as well stick around Tritone for a day (you won’t have many more chances) and catch the record release party for the psych-bluesy St. James & the Apostles whose Live-at-Tritone release gets its proper debut Nov 12. Plus, the first 25 paid customers (doormen, watch that guest list!) get a free CD of Jamie Mahon/Mike Kiker’s blustery new work.
You know like I know that Cook on Rittenhouse is Audrey Clare Taichman’s kitchen-nook-classroom-like environs for chefs to strut their experimental food stuffs. (Foobooz jotted down a list of its December gigs with Peter Woolsey from Bistrot La Minette, Monica Glass from 10 Arts dessert cart Nick Macri (Southwark) and Brian Kane (Zahav) doing a one-night-only drink-and-charcuterie soiree.) On Wednesday night though, Cook’s Jackie Baik and Lily Cope hosted the scholarly nosh spot’s first ever cocktail party with the boys of the ’booz (Arthur Etchell) and Philly mag (Jason Sheehan) to commemorate what Sheehan called the magazine’s “first ever bar issue.” While George Costa from Pub & Kitchen and Southwark made magic potions (he promised to answer my question — “who makes Philly’s best sazerac?” — at Southwark soon), Rick Fitzgerald (pictured) creator of the Philly Flyer, Philadelphia’s official cocktail, basked in the glory while serving a mean concoction. Costa had an interesting thing to say about the cocktail revolution and the “mixologist” phrase. He loathes it. “At home you’re a mixologist,” said Costa, referring to the phrase as pretentious and laced with Mr. Boston homespun badness. “Mixologist is a bullshit term. At work, you’re a bartender.” Costa is definitely a bartender.
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