Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ‘n’ ends
THERE’S usually good live music in town on the weekends, but this past Friday Exit Zero had the good fortune to be bar-hopping in the midst of Cape May’s 34th Jazz Festival. We began the evening in Carney’s Other Room, where Japanese jazz singer Taeko was scheduled to perform three sets between 9pm and 1am (we have to hand it to jazz performers – they’ve got the stamina to match their technical chops). By the time we arrived (a few minutes late, it must be said) the room was already brimming – jazz fans packed the bar and listened intently from their tables. Taeko is a New York City-based singer who was born and raised in Kyoto. She mentioned that she was inspired by the traditional music of her homeland, and we were curious to see how she fused her upbringing with the traditionally American art form of jazz.
The result was night of captivating singing – Taeko shifted comfortably from a soulful chanteuse in a smoldering rendition of “Crazy He Calls Me” to an electric, scat-singing dynamo with her interpretation of Sly Stone’s “Stand!” (which truly had us ready to jump from our seats). The singer paused occasionally to introduce her bandmates and offer anecdotes to a very receptive audience (that receptivity only a bit enhanced with drinks provided by Barefoot Wines).
One of the best things about the jazz festival is that you rarely have to wait for another performance to start – you can just walk next door. After leaving from Taeko’s set very satisfied, we traveled a few steps down Beach Avenue and ended up in Cabanas, where the Jonny Hirsch Blues Band was delivering a whole different sound. Hirsch, a 28-year-old singer and saxophonist, fronted a band bursting with funky, bluesy exuberance. If Carney’s Other Room was more of a moody lounge, Cabanas was one big, raucous party. Given the talented performers and their close proximity, we felt sure we’d discovered a sweet spot in the jazz weekend schedule.
IT IS standard procedure: when entering into a passing conversation with an acquaintance you don’t know all that well, the conversation often goes the same way…
You: Hey, how is it going?
Them: Great, how are you?
You: I’m doing alright. What have you been up to?
Them: Not much. It is Cape May in November, what else can you say? How are you keeping busy?
You: Oh, just working. Not too much else – just trying to stay busy.
Them: Well, it was good to see you.
You: You too. Take care.
The conversations usually center on the same subject – that Cape May is dead this time of year. Still, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
We all had plans to get out to the jazz festival this past weekend. Performers had been scouted, schedules had been written, and we were prepared to see some world-class performers. But, by the time the weekend rolled around we were all so worn out that the schedule seemed daunting. By Saturday the choice was whether to set out for Aleathea’s to see Demetria Joyce Bailey or simply lounge on the couch with a bottle (or two) of Woodchuck Cider.
For some reason many of us have the mindset that because there is now room to park in Cape May there must be nothing happening. But when you think about it the summer is just one lovely balmy night after another, without TOO much in the way of entertainment (with some exceptions, naturally), whereas the months of September through December bring a variety of events which encompass entire weekends. And, for those of us who are still working full-time, dedicating an entire weekend to more activity can be overwhelming. All of the activity this autumn almost has the crew at Exit Zero looking forward to February.
THINGS must be happening at the convention hall. How do we know? The city called Swain’s the other day, asking if they sold yellow caution tape. Swain’s, of course, does because they pretty much sell everything. And sure enough, it emerged that the city has accepted a bid to demolish convention hall and the solarium at a cost of just under $110,000. The work is expected to begin on November 22. I know, you’ll believe it when you see it, right?