The Jazz Festival Is Coming!
We are excited about Dianne Reeves headlining at the Exit 0 International Jazz Festival on November 8, the Friday that kicks off a weekend of world-class music in Cape May. Reeves is a Grammy -winning jazz vocalist and a veteran performer of Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center who has sung on tours with the likes of Harry Belafonte and on the soundtrack of George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck movie, so as for anticipation levels being high… no surprise there. But for some locals, it’s the return of an old favorite, the Pacific Orchestra, that will be one of the festival’s main event.
Patricia Jackson of Patricia Jackson Jewelers emailed us to say what a great amount of buzz is going on in town about the band’s appearance, so we called lead singer/guitarist David “Kahn” Johnson to get the skinny on his group. Turns out, when they got their start in Key West in the mid-70s, Patricia Jackson was one of several Cape May locals finding some off-season respite in Florida, and discovering the Caribbean dance music of Pacific Orchestra. So when Pete Vernon, then-manager of Kahn’s Ugly Mug (now The Ugly Mug), recruited them to play his bar in 1977, the boys already had a local following. Gigs at Gloria’s (now Cabanas) soon followed. “We played there one whole summer, six or seven times a week,” David said.
By this time, Pacific Orchestra was touring up and down the east coast, but Cape May always stood out as a favorite stopping point. “Cape May is like Key West; these towns have personalities,” David said. “Cape May has a little more culture than your average Jersey shore town. And it’s really great that both Key West and Cape May have gay communities; this brings something broader to a town, an openness and a tolerance and a vibrancy. These things really allowed us to be successful. We weren’t playing top 40 songs; we were doing something a little left of center, and the people not only allowed us to do it, but appreciated it.”
Until the late 80s, the Pacific Orchestra members “did nothing but play.” Now, each is either still a full-time musician, or keeping up with music while pursuing various activities (David just finished his second book, a novel called Green Island) all across the country. David lives in Chicago; drummer Richie Ciavlino went back to his roots in Key West; drummer George “Conga” Terzis is based in Boston; flute and sax player John Gladstone is in DC; and lead guitar player Joe Grassi, originally from Cape May where he was well-known for his skateboarding and surfing prowess, is now in Philadelphia.
“This is not just a musical reunion,” David said. “These people through the years have become a family. And we are unbelievably excited to return to Cape May. It’s a special place for us.”
The Pacific Orchestra will play at The Exit Zero magazine stage (that’s us!) at Cabanas on Friday, November 8 at 9:30pm and 11pm. See you there.
We were given another reminder of how fleeting life can be when Nick Nezaj died in a car crash last Friday at the age of 42. Nick owned the Ocean Club Hotel, the Hotel Alcott, the West Cape Motel, and he is remembered by those who knew him — and those who simply admired him from afar — as a brilliant businessman.
“It was amazing how he could juggle so many balls at one time,” said Ocean Club manager Neil Berger. “He was always on top of all of them, and he could make things happen so quickly. When I was hired, it was April of 2011, and I came in for a tour of the space [formerly the Atlas Hotel], which was under construction; he’d stripped it to the concrete. The floors were dirt. I said, ‘You’re kidding me; you’re planning on opening this season?’” But Nick made it happen; the hotel opened three months later.
Friend Bill Bezaire, co-owner of realtor Coldwell Banker, told us, “It’s a great loss to the city. He was young, energetic and forward-thinking, and he cared about Cape May. He was successful, but quietly so. He was never boastful or bragging.”
Catherine Walton of Weddings by the Sea says Nick did much work to build the wedding business in Cape May from the ground up. “We met 16 years ago,” she said. “I walked into the Hotel Alcott, which was under construction — he took that place from literally a flop house to what it is today — and I asked who was in charge. They directed me toward Nick. We clicked right away — he talked fast; he talked New York, and I understood. I think that’s one of the reasons we got along so well. And when it came to weddings, Nick was so dedicated to making couples and their families feel so welcome. He was an amazing man.”
But even more than his business smarts, Nick will be remembered for the love he had for his family, including his wife Aferdita and 10-year-old daughter Victoria. Everyone we spoke with told us that Nick, no matter how devoted to work, lived for his family. “He was the most amazing person in the world, and I have not a single bit of hesitation in saying that,” said Nick’s cousin, partner at the Ocean Club, and the restaurant’s executive chef Lou Rexhepi. “He was the funniest, most caring person I’ve ever met.”
Award-Winning Hotels In The House
Cape May is home to two of the 10 best hotels in all of Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, according to none other than Condé Nast Traveler. We’re talking about the Virginia Hotel (ranked number two in the readers’ poll, published in the November issue) and Congress Hall (number seven). Both are properties of Cape Resorts, the group that also operates the Rusty Nail and Beach Shack, and The Chelsea in Atlantic City. “We are thrilled by this honor,” said Cape Resorts co-managing partner Curtis Bashaw. “It is a credit to [Vice President of Operations] Patrick Logue and the entire Cape Resorts team and to our beautiful town.” Congratulations to the staff.
Last week, we told you about the newest endeavor of The Mermaid Guild, a group of women-run businesses in Cape May that collaborate on marketing and giving back to the community. From October 29 through November 3 the mermaids will host, at SOMA NewArt Gallery in the Carpenter’s Square Mall, an art show/silent auction depicting the mermaid and merman interpretations of 50 local artists. All proceeds will benefit The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, southern branch. Don’t miss the artists’ reception from 6-9pm on November 1… we printed November 3 last week. (We regret the error and hope King Neptune doesn’t smite us!). Check out some of the pieces that will be on display on the Mermaid’s Facebook page, then get thee to the art gallery.
On 11/1 from 9am-2pm and on 11/2 from 9am to 1pm, The Episcopal Church Women of Church of the Advent will hold this sale, featuring gently used men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and accessories, household items, linens, and books. Call 609-884-3065.
Sherlock Holmes Weekend
From 11/1-11/3, join Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Dr Watson, for a weekend of mystery and intrigue. Stalk the gaslit streets in search of clues and compete for the $250 grand prize. Call 609-884-5404.
On 11/2, enjoy the annual Candlelight Walk will take place at Historic Cold Spring Village from 6-8pm. Luminaries will guide you to several of the Village’s historic buildings where wine, beer and light fare will be served.
Lecture Series At Cape May County Museum
On 11/6, hear artist and local teacher Stan Sperlak talk on the little-known history of art in Cape May County. He will tell a little about his work — he travels the world painting and sharing his talent with others — and his vision for the future of art in this county. 504 N Route 9 in Cape May Court House. Refreshments. 609-465-3535.
East Lynne Theater Trivia Night
On 11/7, it’s a musical trivia contest at 7pm, but not before hor d’oeuvres at 5:30pm and delicious food from Aleathea’s at 6pm. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Call 609-884-5898.
Exit 0 International Jazz Festival
From 11/8-11/10, the jazz fest is back, bringing world-class musicians from all over the globe to nine Cape May venues. Check out exit0jazzfest.com.
On 11/9, for a $300 entry fee, see if you can bring in the big one. Fishing starts at 12:01am. First place prize is $2000. For more information, call Scott White at 609-780-0309.
Annual Holiday Bake Sale And Bazaar
On 11/9, from 9am to 1pm, enjoy yummy homemade foods (hot turkey platter, hotdogs, grilled cheese, soups, barbecue) and browse new and like-new items at St Barnabas Episcopal Church. Call 609-886-2625.
Veterans Day Ceremony
On 11/11, honor our veterans with this special commemorative ceremony, which starts at 11am at the Columbia Avenue monument. Call 609-884-9565.
On 11/14, Kiwanis Club of Cape May hosts this event (and provides snacks!) at 1041 Beach Avenue. 6:30-9pm. Call Sheila Williams at 609-884-7633.
Holiday Preview Weekend
From 11/22-11/24, at the Physick Estate, there is food, tours, wine, a tree-lighting ceremony and trolley rides for the kids. Call 609-884-5404.
26th Annual Community Messiah Sing-a-long
On 11/29, this event will be presented at at Cape Island Baptist Church at 7pm. Free. Refreshments will be served. The Sing-a-long chorus will do 11 choruses, accompanied by an orchestra. Call Ruth at 609-886-5862.
Holiday Crafts Fair
On 11/29 and 11/30, this is a must-visit, if you’ve got hard-to-shop-fors on your gift list. Shop for handmade gifts and seasonal decorations from 10am to 4pm at Convention Hall. Admission is $2. Call 609-884-5404.
On 12/6, turn up at 6:30pm and watch teh lights come on at Rotary Park, in the center of downtown Cape May. And look out for Santa. If you’ve been naughty this year, here’s your chance to plead your case. For more information, callt he city at 609-884-9565.
Crafts At Christmas Show
On 12/7, if you’re still looking for that perfect tree-topper, head to Convention Hall between 10am and 4pm for for handmade gifts and seasonal decorations and, most importantly, a big, fat dose of Christmas spirit. Call the city at 609-884-9565.
West Cape May Christmas Parade
On 12/7, bring some hot chocolate and a cozy jacket and prepare to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is one of the very best small-town parades in the northeast; there are 12 marching bands. The prade starts at 5pm and works its way up Broadway.
Playing Now At Cape May Stage
A Walk In The Woods: Two superpower arms negotiators— one a witty but cynical Russian veteran and the other an idealistic American newcomer — meet informally in the woods after long frustrating hours at the bargaining table. October 23-November 16. Thursdays through Saturdays, 7pm. Saturdays and Sundays, 3pm. Call 609-884-1341.
Playing Now At East Lynne Theater
Holmes and Carter Mysteries: ELTC’s popular vintage-radio style production, complete with live sound effects and commercials, with two great detectives! Sherlock Holmes Adventure of the Copper Beeches about a governess in peril, and Nick Carter and the Strange Dr. Devolo, in which Manhattan millionaires are missing. November 1 and 2 at 8pm.
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