Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The River Room, Jazzaret, and Upcoming Events!

Hello everyone, and happy Thursday (or happy whatever-day-you're-reading-this-on)! When I left off last week, I was preparing for my gig at The River Room and I'm pleased to report that it went very well! Honestly, with such a fantastic band behind me (Fortune Esposito on guitar, Tedd Firth on keyboard, Doug Largent on bass and Bobby Sher on drums), how could it not?! What was fun about this gig for me is that, because we were doing a few sets spanning the course of 3 hours, the normal constraints of putting on a "cabaret" were lifted and I was able to sing what I felt like singing and have fun with the band! Normally, for a 1-hour cabaret show, a lot of thought goes into the structure of that one hour - there should be an arc to the show, yada yada yada...but for a "jazz gig," there are no such limitations - I must say, it was very liberating! We went from the ridiculous to the sublime, throwing in "These Boots Are Made For Walking" in the middle of such gorgeous standards as "Time After Time" and "That's All." Fun, fun, fun...and we get to do it all over again on May 7th - so mark your calendars now!
And speaking of The River Room, I was there again last night - this time, as an audience member! Julian Yeo was the singer du jour yesterday, and as always, put on a most enjoyable show! Backed (as usual) by a fabu band, Julian wound his way through some of my favorite songs ("Anything Goes," "That Old Black Magic," and "Makin' Whoopee," to name a few), putting his own unique "retro-jazz" spin on each of them. He also allowed me to sing a few numbers (yay!) and also called Kristen Sergeant up to the mic to lend her lovely soprano to a few tunes. With the music, the amazing view of the river, and a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc, I had myself a most enjoyable evening! I was also pleased to find out, upon arriving home, that the Yankees had won their second straight game against the White Sox (and Mussina pitched well, finally!).
Last Saturday, I headed over to the Reprise Room on 54th St. for an evening of "Jazzaret," which is the open mic that used to be held at the Triad, but has been on hiatus for a while. Hosted by Melody Breyer-Grell and Scott Barbarino, and backed by the Barry Levitt trio, the night featured a vast array of singers. I had a friend in town, visiting from L.A., so I brought him along. He'd never been to "cabaret" before, and he also hasn't heard me sing since high school, so we killed two birds with one stone - he got to hear me, and he also got a sampling of the many styles of performers who do cabaret. Besides me, other singers featured that evening were Shaynee Rainbolt, Richard Malavet, Laurie Krauz, Mary Foster Conklin, and Sharon McNight. A very fun evening, and a crash-course in cabaret singers for my friend!
On my schedule for the coming week:

Tonight (Thursday, 4/24)
On The Rocks with Danny Leary
9:30 p.m. at The Duplex
This weekly comedy variety show has been getting rave reviews all over the place and I'm very excited to finally get a chance to see it!

Tomorrow (Friday, 4/25)
Julie Wilson at 7:30 p.m. and Sharon McNight at 10 p.m.
The Metropolitan Room
Two of cabaret's most preeminent divas go back to back at my favorite club - what more could one ask for!

Monday, 4/28
Cast Party at Birdland
10 p.m. - 1 a.m.
My favorite weekly soiree - who knows, maybe Tony Bennett will show up again?!

Wednesday, 4/30
Shaynee Rainbolt at The River Room
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Come out and support this new venture (and then come back and see ME there on May 7th!). Only a $10 cover, whether you're there for one set or three. Enjoy music, food, drink, and the most amazing view of the Hudson River and the G.W. bridge in the city!

That's about all for now, folks - more to come soon!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

River Room tonight, Karen Mason, and more!

Happy Wednesday, all!

I'm celebrating "hump day" with a performance at The River Room, which is a gorgeous room overlooking the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. The entire north wall is windows, which allows an absolutely incredible view! I'll be joined by Fortune Esposito on guitar, Tedd Firth on piano, Bobby Sher on drums, and Doug Largent on bass. We'll be doing three sets: 7:00, 8:15, and 9:15, and the best part is it's only a $10 cover and NO minimum! The cover is not a per-set fee, so you can stay for as little or as long as you'd like. There is a full menu available, as well as wine and cocktails. Directions are available on the website - it's only about 20 minutes from midtown, and well worth the trip. If you can make it, I'd love to see you there! We'll also be back on May 7th doing the same kind of gig, so save the date!

Now, on to some shows I've seen...

Last Monday (April 7th), I had the pleasure of attending the Bistro Awards at Gotham Comedy Club. Among the winners were some favorite performers of mine, who turned in some truly outstanding performances! Arnaldo! won an award for characterization, Gabrielle Stravelli, a new friend who I met at Metrojam, won the Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award, Tony DeSare won for Major Engagement, and the fabulous Marilyn Maye won the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. Afterwards, I of course continued the celebration by heading over to Cast Party for my weekly singing and schmoozing!

On Wednesday night, I headed over to the aforementioned River Room to hear Joe Bachana with his band. Joe is the host of Metrojam, the monthly open mic held at the Metropolitan Room, so I usually only get to hear him do one or two songs a night - what fun to hear him doing his own show! He was accompanied by a terrific band - Pat Firth on piano, Bobby Sher on drums, and Tod Hedrick on bass.

Friday evening found me at the Metropolitan Room to see one of my all time faves, Karen Mason. Having just entered the Broadway company of "Hairspray" a few days before, she rushed in the door at 11:04 p.m. (after that evening's performance of "Hairspray") and proceeded to put on a well-sung, high-energy show! She included some of my favorite songs: "Taking A Chance On Love," "How Long Has This Been Going On?" "Just In Time," and "All That Jazz," to name a few. Accompanying her on piano was her longtime musical director, Christopher Denny. As usual, Karen was engaging and highly entertaining, singing all of her material with passion and joy.

I spent the rest of the weekend upstate, visiting my adorable nephew - see the pic!
On Monday evening, I made my usual jaunt to Cast Party, which was full of some of my favorite regulars (Christine Lavin and Ben Rauch, among others), as well as lots of Broadway people (Lisa Howard, Barret Foa, Billy Porter, and more!). And, for a special treat, Marilyn Maye came by to close the evening!
Last night I was at Broadway Baby Bistro for the MAC Song and Special Material Showcase, which allowed people to hear all 10 of this year's MAC-nominated songs live. Hosted by Sharon McNight, the showcase was well-performed all around and an enjoyable way to spend the evening.
That pretty much brings us up to date - hope to see you at the River Room tonight!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

The River Room, Rita Moreno, and Last Chance for 13 Men...and Me!

Greetings, all!

Well, when I left off last, I was headed to the River Room of Harlem to catch Julian Yeo and his band...and I'm pleased to report that I had a fantastic time! The room is absolutely gorgeous - the building actually sits above the Hudson River, and the north wall of the room is all glass, so there is an incredible view of the river and the George Washington Bridge. Additionally, the food is terrific, and the band that night was swingin'! Julian always does a great selection of music, and brings a fun, easy-going sensibility to his songs. AND he surrounds himself with some of the best musicians in the city - on this evening it was Jesse Gelber on piano, Doug Largent on bass, Nick Russo on guitar, Rob Garcia on drums, and Alan Grubner on violin.
And speaking of the River Room, I'll be back there on Wednesday, April 9th to catch Joe Bachana from 7-10 -can't wait! With a $10 cover, no minimum, great music, fantastic food, and an unbelievable view, this Wednesday night vocalist series is a hard act to beat!

Last weekend, I had a couple of shows, so a big thank you to everyone who came out to support me. On Saturday night, I was at Monticello Gaming and Raceway with my show 13 Men...and Me!, and on Sunday, I was back at the Metropolitan Room with my newest show, Takin' A Chance On Love. And THIS Sunday, April 6th, I'll be at the Metropolitan Room again with a special encore performance of 13 Men...and Me! in honor of my MAC Award nomination. I want to make sure as many MAC voters as possible have a chance to see the show before voting, so we're bringing the show back for one night only! Seriously, though, MAC voters or not, I would be thrilled to see the Metropolitan Room overflowing with people on Sunday night, so get those reservations in (212-206-0440)! The show is at 9:30 p.m., and seating will begin at around 9 p.m. Hope you can make it!

Before I sign off, I must write about my Tuesday night - I had the honor of seeing Rita Moreno's show at Feinstein's, and what a treat that was! Having the distinction of winning all four major awards (Oscar, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy), she is a living legend and I was very happy to be able to catch her show. At 76 years old, she is still going strong - she looks gorgeous, and is an extremely engaging performer. One of my favorite numbers was Kander and Ebbs, "Class," during which Ms. Moreno engaged in some obnoxiously UN-classy antics, such as rudely sllllluuuuurrrrrrping her tea, and sucking on a ridiculously large piece of candy, clicking it against her teeth, and ultimately chomping it with a loud CRRRUNCH! She is one of the best storytellers I've seen, seamlessly transitioning her musical numbers with funny, entertaining, personal stories that drew the audience in and put them at ease. Altogether, a great night at one of the classiest rooms in town! And, as a bonus, on my way out, I saw George Steinbrenner walking into the Regency (complete with entourage) after the Yankees had won their home opener! Go Yanks! (I was at the stadium last night to see them win their 2nd game of the year - woohoo!)

That's about it for now - hope to see you at the Metropolitan Room on Sunday!