Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Monday, August 27, 2007


Hey all! Sorry it's been so long since the last post - life's been a whirlwind! I actually don't really have time to catch up on everything, but just wanted to post a little something to let you all know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I HAVE, however, become an aunt! Yep, Charles Robert Broelmann was born on Friday, August 24th at 9:54 p.m. 8 pounds, 8 ounces, 20.5 inches, and the most adorable little face!
Quickly, let me catch you up on everything I've got going on - I'll go into more detail in later posts, but I'm going to be singing a lot in the coming months, and I want to let you know dates!
On Tuesday, September 17th, I'll be doing a few songs at Julian Yeo's gig up at the Underground Lounge, then on September 28th and 29th, I'll be appearing at the Duplex as a special guest in another friend's show - his name is Arnaldo, and he is one of the sweetest drag queens you'll ever meet! On October 3rd, I'll be singing with the Gene Krupa Orchestra at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe, and then on October 15th, I'm having my big CD release show at the Metropolitan Room! I'll have two more performances at the Metropolitan Room to celebrate the release of the CD on Monday, October 22nd and Sunday, October 28th. Looking ahead to December, I'll be having my second annual All-Star Birthday Bash on Saturday, December 1st at the Metropolitan Room! Whew! Lots coming up! And a new nephew! Does life get any better?
I have a number of shows to report on, but I HAVE to get some sleep - tomorrow's the photo shoot for my CD cover and I need my beauty rest. Check back for an update soon!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Happy Wednesday!

Ah, another week begins! I'm still trying to catch up here from a few weeks of heavy show-going, so will try to pick up where I left off. Let's see...on Wednesday, July 25th, I went to Jazzaret at the Triad for the first time. This is the newest open mike in town and is the brainchild of Scott Barbarino. Hosted by Dana Lorge, this laid-back open mike welcomes newcomers as well as veterans and features one or two singers each week, each of whom does a set of five songs. On the 25th, Ricky Ritzel was at the piano, and the featured singers were Molly Mahoney and Julian Yeo. While Molly did more music-theatre style songs, Julian stuck to standards. Both were engaging an entertaining, and the crowd had a great time. At around 10:00, Ricky was joined by a bass player and a drummer, which added a lot to the performances that followed.

The following night, it was off to the Underground Lounge to see the aforementioned Julian Yeo. More a traditional jazz gig than cabaret, I must say that it was one of the best nights out I've had in a while. Backed by a great quartet (piano, bass, drums, and violin), Julian was easygoing and relaxed, and was able to sing the songs he loves to sing without being restricted by "putting on a show." The small room was packed, and the audience had a great time, calling out requests, and bopping along to the tunes. He's going to be back at the Underground on August 16th and August 30th, and I'm hoping to be there for both nights. It's one of the best deals in town - no cover, just 3 hours of fab music! Check it out if you can!

On Friday, July 27th, I headed down to the Blue Note to catch my favorite diva, Ann Hampton Callaway. This was the 7th time I'd seen her live, and she just gets better and better! Not only is her instrument just unbelievable, but she just sparkles onstage. There's always a twinkle in the eye, and she just dares you to take your eyes off of her. She swings like nobody's business (take her opener, "Swingin' Away the Blues," for instance) and can break your heart on a ballad (the one that springs immediately to mind is "Here's That Rainy Day." On the night I saw her she did the Chick Corea/Al Jarreau "Spain," which I haven't heard since my senior year in high school, when I performed it in the All-County jazz chorus! It's an amazing song, incredibly difficult to to sing, and she delivered it flawlessy! I must say, though, my absolute favorite song of the evening was "Blue Moon." Oh, man! Sometimes, when I hear a song delivered amazingly well, it makes me never even want to THINK about singing it myself - and this was just such an instance. Wow - that's all I can say. I wish I could have caught the show again before the end of the run, but I'll just have to be content to catch Ann the next time she's back in town!

On Sunday, 7/29, I headed back to the Metropolitan Room to catch Lennie Watts in his Barry Manilow show one more time. As I've said before, it's just a fun, fun show! The house was packed, and the audience (myself included) just had the best time bopping to Barry's hits. Ah yes, there's something to be said "the old songs!"

On Monday, it was Cast Party as usual, then on Tuesday, I took my dad to see Michael Buble at Radio City Music Hall. Now, if Ann Hampton Callaway is my favorite diva, Michael Buble is my favorite divo. I've been a fan for a long time, and I'm pretty sure last Tuesday was my 7th time seeing him as well! I actually saw him at his first NYC performance at the Blue Note, back in 2003, and it's been really fun to watch his career skyrocket. What's so exciting is that he's singing great music, and he's actually got a fantastic voice! It's so refreshing to see someone singing the Great American Songbook and have the goods to back it up. I don't want to get all "high horsey," as my sis would say, but it can get rather frustrating to see crappy pop music and untalented, overproduced "singers" getting all kinds of airplay and selling millions of albums. So, I'm thrilled that a young guy with a great voice is making songs by Kern and the Gershwins and Rodgers & Hart, etc. "cool" again. Hooray! That being said, he did not disappoint last week. Backed by an AWESOME band, he put on a super high-energy show, filled with great songs including "Me and Mrs. Jones," "For Once In My Life," "Call Me Irresponsible," "Always On My Mind," "Feeling Good," and "That's Life." For "That's Life," he was joined by a gospel choir, who brought the house down with their backing vocals. Overall, just a wonderful show - can't wait to see him again the next time he's in town!

On Wednesday, 8/1, it was back to the Triad for Jazzaret at the Triad. Again, a really fun night - and this week, it was the fabulous Barry Levitt at the piano. I was actually one of the featured vocalists, so I got to do a set of 5 songs with Barry and the band, which was really cool. Two of my favorite singer friends, Shaynee Rainbolt and Rob Langeder, also sang and we all had a great time. I really wanted to go back tonight, but as I hadn't updated this blog in ages, I opted to come home and do some writing! I am hoping to make it back next week, though!

On Friday, 8/3, I did a doubleheader at the Metropolitan Room - Southern Comfort at 7:30, followed by Kim Nalley's tribute to Billie Holiday at 10:00. Southern Comfort was just terrific. Originally performed by Scott Coulter, Tim DiPasqua, and Tom Andersen, a last minute change had to be made due to the illness of one of the cast members. Tom Andersen had taken ill and was unable to do the show, so with 3 days notice, the fabulous Lisa Asher stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job filling in. In fact, if I hadn't known better, I would have had NO idea that she wasn't supposed to be part of the show in the first place! In an evening of country music, the tight harmonies are SO important, and she blended in like she'd been in the show for years, as opposed to days. Scott and Tim also turned in stellar performances, contributing to an all-around wonderful show. I was actually shocked when it was over - the music was just so good, the hour had absolutely FLOWN by!
After the show, I grabbed a quick bite for dinner, then headed back to see West Coaster Kim Nalley in "The Heart of Lady Day: Kim Nalley Sings Billie Holiday." Kim has a lovely voice, and while she does not really go into a strict imitation of Billie Holiday, there is something in her vibrato and timbre that is reminiscent of Holiday's, which was made it very interesting to listen to. She covered a number of Holiday's biggest hits, and for me, the standout number of the evening was "What A Little Moonlight Can Do." She just had so much fun with this number - and consequently, so did the audience! Also, something fun - Kim's drummer, Kent Bryson, had played for me on the studio sessions we did out in California in April. I was staring at him during her second number, wondering why he looked so familiar, and then all of a sudden it hit me - we'd spent 8 hours working together a few months back! Remember his name - you'll be seeing it on my cd in a few months!

On Saturday, 8/4, I headed to New Hope, PA for a performance at Bob Egan's Cosmopolitan Club. Sue Matsuki had put together an all-star lineup to perform the "New York Invasion," and since they're all friends of mine, I headed out to New Hope with them. The cast included Sue herself, Laurie Krauz, Joan Crowe, Rob Langeder, Miles Phillips, Edd Clark, and Sidney Myer. Everyone did 2 songs each, plus there were several duets. Fantastic musical direction was provided by Tedd Firth, with Paul Stephan accompanying on a few numbers. I was honored to be asked to sing a number - and had a great time doing "Come Rain or Come Shine." The club is gorgeous - and really not a bad drive from the city. Definitely worth a trip out to lovely New Hope, should you be up for it! Miles Phillips will be back there with his new show in the fall, so I'm hoping to make the trip back to see him.

Monday, 8/6, it was Cast Party again - and my dad came with me, which was a lot of fun! Many other regulars were there, including Hilary Kole, who is just one of my favorite singers. She delivered a gorgeous "Blue Moon" - very different from Ann Hampton Callaway's version, but just as stunning. My dad did one of my favorite Beatles songs, "Oh! Darling," and there were lots of other terrific performances - as alway, a fun time was had by all.

That's about all for now - check back for an update soon!