Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Whew! Leslie Orofino, Lina Koutrakos, CD Release and More!

Hello All!
Sorry for the gap between postings, but as most of you know, it's been a pretty hectic time for me - getting geared up for the big CD Release has taken up a ton of time and energy - but boy, was it worth it!! I'll write more about it later, but first let me pick up where I left off last time!
On Friday, October 5th, I headed over to the Metropolitan Room for Joe Bachana's MetroJam. What a fantastic night! Hosted by the charming Mr. Bachana, the house musicians for the night were John DiPinto on piano, Tommy Kirchmer on bass, and Bobby Sher on drums. The house was loaded with amazing talents including Gretchen Reinhagen, Cynthia Crane, Ray Jessel, Richard Malavet, Rob Langeder, Susan Winter, and Jenny Lynn Stewart, all of whom graced the stage with their wonderful talents! My dad also joined me on guitar for two songs (we were giving a sneak preview of my show!) and did his own rockin' "Moondance!" It was such a wonderful evening, I couldn't believe how quickly it flew by! The "Metrojammers" are taking the holiday season off, but will be back in January to kick off the new year. I'll keep you posted!
On Monday, October 8th, I had the thrill of being part of the audience for Lina Koutrakos' show at the Metropolitan Room. This was a rock n' roll show that was being filmed for DVD, so it was very exciting. And if you've never heard Lina...all I can say is - this woman KNOWS how to rock! She's got soul oozing out of her fingertips and the energy created by her powerful voice and her amazing band is truly something that needs to be experienced! I'm kind of a "Lina groupie" - this is my third or fourth time seeing her, and I'd go back again in a heartbeat. This woman knows how to put on a show!!! Of course, since it was a Monday, I headed right over to Cast Party after Lina's show, where my dad joined me again and we schmoozed, sang, and schmoozed some more! (Really, what else is there in life?)
Tuesday evening found me at the 10th Avenue Lounge to support my friend Mark Aaron James. Mark is a singer/songwriter/guitar player who does original material as well as some really cool covers of pop/rock songs. I've always enjoyed listening to him at Cast Party and the odd night out at Marie's Crisis, so I was really happy to finally get a chance to check out one of his solo gigs - and I was definitely not disappointed! Mellow and low-key, the 10th Avenue Lounge is a great place to sit back, sip a beer, and listen to some great music. Mark's original tunes are great, and I truly believe he's the only person I know who can get away with singing "Thriller" as part of a set! He's out of town tonight, but should be back next week - definitely swing by if you're in town and you've got the time. At no cover and no minimum, it's one of the most affordable nights in the city! Starts at 9:30 p.m.
For the rest of the week, I basically took it easy - I knew I had a big night coming up with the CD Release, and believe it or not, I came down with a sinus infection! Not great timing, but it actually forced me to stay home and get some much-needed rest before my big night last night...and SPEAKING of the big night...we had a BLAST! My show, 13 Men...and Me! opened at the Metropolitan Room last night to coincide with the release by my brand-spankin'-new debut CD of the same name. We had a great audience, and I had the most wonderful ensemble backing me up - Fortune Esposito (musical director), on guitar and backup vocals; Kelly Park (producer of the CD) on piano; Michael Blanco on bass, Brian DeWitt on drums, Brian Broelmann on tenor sax, and Kelly Esposito-Broelmann and Rob Langeder on backup vocals. I had a terrific time - after the months and months of sitting in the studio and listening to those songs over and over and over again, it felt amazing to get them on their feet and perform them!
A BIG thank you to all who attended - it was a very special night for me and your presence meant the world.
After the show, we headed over to Cast Party (of course!) and continued the celebration by performing the 1st track of the CD, an old Paul Anka tune called "Eso Beso." What a fun, fun night!

On my agenda:

Wednesday, 10/17:
Jazzaret at the Triad
9:00 p.m. at the Triad,158 W. 72nd Street
Jazzaret is a fun, relaxed weekly open mike soiree hosted by Dana Lorge and featuring the Barry Levitt Trio. Featured singers this week are Linda Kosut, Esther Beckman, and ME!!!
$5 cover + 1 drink minimum

Sunday, 10/21
Cynthia Crane: The Time Has Come
4:00 p.m. at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd Street
One of cabaret's most treasured talents. Her show last year, "If I Knew Now..." was just great, and I'm looking forward to seeing her brand new show at my favorite room in the city!
$20 cover + 2 drink minimum

Gretchen Reinhagen: Back To Basics
8:15 p.m. at Don't Tell Mama
A fantastically talented singer and storyteller. Her last show, "Redefined" was a treat, and I'm eagerly anticipating catching this new show!
$15 cover + 2 drink minimum

Monday, October 22nd
ME!!!!: Thirteen Men...and Me!
7:00 p.m. at the Metropolitan Room
Join me on a "live tour" of my brand new CD! Featuring songs from Duke Ellington to Bacharach and David, to songs made famous by the likes of Ann Margret, Paul Anka, and Tony Bennett - there's a little something for everyone!
$20 cover + 2 drink minimum

Miles Phillips: Quiet Stars
9:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Room
One of my favorite entertainers in the city - Miles always puts on scrupulously crafted, well-sung shows - can't wait to catch this one!

Okay, kids, that's about it for now...but check back soon for more updates!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nancy Anderson, Marilyn Maye, and more!

Hey all!

Well, I've had an extremely busy two weeks - besides tying up all of the loose ends on my CD, I've been rehearsing my show, appearing as a guest vocalist in other people's shows, and trying to see as many shows as possible! Whew!

So, here's what I've been doing...

On Sunday, 9/23, I had a fantastic night. First, I headed to Birdland to catch the lovely Nancy Anderson in her show Ten Cents A Dance. Seeing Nancy Anderson perform this show is like taking a trip back in time to the 1930s. Her look, her voice, her fantastic 10-piece band...what an absolute delight! The show kicked off with a bouncy "The Trouble With Me Is You" and went on to include a number of my favorite tunes, including "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "It Never Entered My Mind," and "My Romance." She also gave us a sneak preview of a few songs from a new musical called Yank. Written by David and Joseph Zellnick, it's a WWII-era musical, and from what I heard of the music, they've done a terrific job of capturing the sound of that era. Yank will be playing at the Gallery Players in Park Slope (yay for Park Slope!) October 20th through November 4th. Also featured in the musical is one of my favorite song-and-dance men, Jeffry Denman as well as an old friend of mine from upstate, Chris Carfizzi! I really can't wait to see this show!
But back to Sunday, 9/23...after Nancy's show, I headed over to the Metropolitan Room to catch the incomparable Marilyn Maye. Wow. I also saw Marilyn the last time she was in the city (which was springtime this year), so I should have been better prepared for how amazing she is, but somehow she managed to completely blow me away again. Perhaps best known for appearing on the Tonight Show a mind-blowing 76 times (she was Johnny Carson's favorite singer!), Marilyn Maye is a consummate pro! She's got a killer voice and has an amazing ability to just radiate energy and joy with her music. At several points during the show, I don't believe there was a stationary body in the room - every single person was bopping or swaying or tapping or clapping...just awesome! I'm looking forward to catching Ms. Maye when she's back in November with her tribute to Johnny Carson. I can say without a doubt that this will be a show that's not to be missed!
On Tuesday evening, I had the honor of being a guest vocalist with the Julian Yeo Band at the Underground Lounge. Accompanied by piano, bass, drums, guitar, and xylophone (!) Julian delivered three easy and smooth jazz sets, and I was thrilled to be able to perform one song in each set. Even more fun was spontaneously performing a couple of duets with Julian. That was my second time going to one of his gigs at the Underground Lounge and I really had a wonderful time on both trips. Low-key and relaxed, but with an extremely high level of talent - not a bad combo at all! I'm told that this, however, was the band's farewell performance at the Underground. The good news is that they'll be doing a regular Saturday brunch at the newly re-opened Dillon's on West 54th!
I was a guest vocalist again later in the week, only this time it was at the opposite end of Manhattan at the Duplex! My good friend Arnaldo was in town from Seattle, performing his show Just An Old Fashioned Girl and I was delighted to be his "special guest star" on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Arnaldo is a beautiful "drag chanteuse" and puts on a charming, supper-club style show. I LOVED watching the show three nights in a row - Arnaldo was terrific. Funny, engaging, witty, and elegant, he delivered a standard-filled show in a soft, sweet voice and was joined by the talented (and tuxedo-wearing!) Bob Bruneau on piano. An absolute joy - I truly hope Arnaldo graces New York with his presence again soon!
On Sunday, 9/30 I had another "doubleheader" day, as I had the opportunity to take in two more great shows at the Metropolitan Room! At 4:00, I saw the lovely and talented Leslie Orofino in her new show, "Manhattan Madness," and delighted in experiencing her warm sound, engaging personality, impeccable song selection, and most of all, her wonderful storytelling. She really made each and every song a personal experience and breathed new life into songs we've all heard time and time again. She's got one show left at the Metropolitan Room on Sunday, October 7th at 7 p.m. and then she'll be taking the show to Bob Egan's gorgeous Cosmopolitan Club on Sunday, November 4th at 7:30 p.m.!
At 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, 9/30, I returned to the Metropolitan Room for Suzanne Carrico's show, The Art of the Cahn, which featured the lyrics of Sammy Cahn. With direction by cabaret diva Mary Cleere Haran, the show moved along seamlessly. Suzanne's powerful vocals were backed by super-talents Don Rebic on piano and Steve Doyle on bass, who did a terrific job of supporting her. With so many wonderful songs to choose from, it's hard to pick a favorite, but the tender simplicity of "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" really stood out to me.
Another great day at the Metropolitan Room!
Last night, of course was Cast Party night at Birdland, and what a great night it was! Plenty of talented regulars such as Hilary Kole, Mark Aaron James, and Ben Rauch turned in excellent performances, and there were other treats as well, most notably the fantastic Ray Jessel and Robert Kole (yep, Hilary's dad - who was Tony in West Side Story on Broadway!).
Coming up this week:

Wednesday, 10/3
Jazzaret at the Triad
9:00 p.m. at the Triad, 158 W. 72nd St.
A great weekly open mic night headed by Barry Levitt at the piano and hosted by comedy mistress Dana Lorge. This week's featured performers are Sue Matsuki and Ray Jessel. At a $5 cover and 1-drink minimum, this is a hard deal to beat! I'll be there with bells on, singing a tune or two and passing out postcards for my upcoming shows!

Friday, 10/5
10:15 p.m. at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St.
A fantastic open mic opportunity, hosted by the dapper and talented Joe Bachana. With John DiPinto on piano, Tommy Kirchmer on bass, and Bobby Sher on drums. Featured singers this week include Joan Crowe, Rob Langeder, Ray Jessel, Sue Matsuki, yours truly, AND my fabulous dad, Fortune Esposito! It's gonna be a great night, so head on over!

Just a reminder - 13 Men...and Me! (my debut CD) is coming out in 13 days!! Woohoo! And we're celebrating with a bang at the Metropolitan Room. The release party is taking place on Monday, October 15th at 9:30 p.m. I've got an amazing band backing me up and we'll be doing all of the songs from the album. Everyone in attendance on October 15th will receive a FREE CD, so make sure to get your reservations in! If you can't make the 15th, we've also got performances on Monday, October 22nd at 7 p.m. and Sunday, October 28th at 7 p.m. See you there!

That's all for now, folks! Check back for updates soon!