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Nothing gets us so riled up for eating between meals than running across ultra-focused comfort food restaurants that only serve one item. Our disappointment comes as no surprise then, when Totally Baked, Manhattan's only baked potato restaurant, closed its doors after just a few months last year. But we think we know where they went wrong ó they overlooked the successful formula of potatoes + sour cream + jazz = success.
This time-honored formula works perfectly at the simply-named The Baked Potato, a spud-hawker cum jazz club in Los Angeles' Studio City. The restaurant features live music seven nights a week and serves up a full 20 varieties of baked potato, from teriyaki chicken to hot dog and sauerkraut. Less adventurous potatoheads can get a basic melted cheese version, but it will still come with a side of hot jazz.
It's even date-friendly! With the inclusion of two salads on the menu, The Baked Potato caters to all diets, but we suspect no one has ever made the mistake of ordering these.
· The Baked Potato [Official Site]
· The Five Best Comfort Food Restaurants in New York [Jaunted]
· All Mac-and-Cheese, All the Time [Jaunted]
[Photo: Stefano A]
NYC BBQ / Restaurants / Food Travel / BBQ / Jazz / → All Tags
Of all the trendy NYC BBQ spots, Blue Smoke probably meets the most skepticism from 'cue purists. There's the uppity Gramercy location, the swank jazz club downstairs, the specialty cocktails (the Blue Smoke martini is Stoli vodka spiked with blue cheese-stuffed olives), and the tendency to offer very un-BBQ items like foie gras and deviled eggs. To be sure, this is not a down-home BBQ joint in Manhattan; this is Manhattan-style BBQ.
But mostly what drives purists crazy about Blue Smoke is that they refuse to settle on just one or even two regional BBQ styles. Their signature ribs come in saucy Kansas City style, smoky salt-and-pepper Texan, and sweet baby back a la Memphis. On top of that they have the audacity to offer Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis toasted ravioli and even traditional Southern fried chicken.
The kicker for the nay-sayers is that Blue Smoke somehow does it all well, hitting the right notes on each region's style (if we had to pick, the peppery Texas ribs take the cake). Plus you can even order BBQ downstairs at the Jazz Standard, where New York avant garde legends like Rashid Ali and Dave Douglas play regularly.
Nope, we're not in Kansas City anymore, but as far as Manhattan BBQ goes, Blue Smoke is the real deal.
[Photo: Blue Smoke]
Break the bounds of Broadway with our coverage of the Brooklyn arts scene.
Too often, the delight of unwinding after a long week with a few sets of jazz is tempered by in-house drink minimums ranging from "it stings a bit" to "highway robbery!" There are no alcoholic drinks for sale at The Jazz in northern Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Whether you're leisurely enough to kick it at the Monday night jam ($5 cover) or prefer three back-to-back Saturday sets ($10), enjoy gourmet teas and samosas without fretting about the tab. Hey, it's about the music, right?
We love the German capital Berlin so much that we donít really need a reason to go there. But here are two anyway.
First up, from October 31 through November 3, Art Forum Berlin 2008 will be the place to see whatís new in the contemporary art scene. Itís the lucky thirteenth time the Art Forum will be held, and if youíre wondering just what kind of work youíll see, know that organizers say itíll be art "with freshness, actuality and a certain cool roughness." Sounds like they're describing the crowd.
In the following week, the JazzFest Berlin starts on November 5 and will finish up late in the evening of November 9. Jazz musicians from the world over will set up in a bunch of Berlin venues, including the jazz clubs A-Trane and Quasimodo.
If you love jazz but prefer sandy tropical beaches to smoky underground clubs, pack your bags for Anguilla's Tranquility Jazz Festival, celebrating its sixth year and taking place November 6-9 on the island.
Venues like the Cuisinart Hotel, Temenos Golf Club and Johnnos will host performances by jazz greats such as Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Arturo Sandoval and Christian Scott by day and by night.
Individual performance tickets range between free and $50, but check here for festival-specific travel packages that include airfare on American Airlines, performance tickets and a range of hotel options.
· Tranquility Jazz Festival [Official Site]
· Datebook: Anguilla [NYT]
· A NOLA National Park? It's All About Your State of Mind [Jaunted]
[Photo of the 2007 event: Tranquility Jazz Festival]
Music Travel / Live Music / Labor Day / Jazz / Culture Travel / → All Tags
This Labor Day, jazz lovers won't be gassing up the family SUV or "staycationing" on their couches with a sack of Cheetos and "Kind of Blue" on repeat. They'll be at the Joy of Jazz Festival, a relatively new South African concert series taking place in Johannesburg August 28-30.
The location of the festival makes it a promising spot to host artists from both East and West, from Japanese pianist Keiko Matsui to Spanish-Afro-Cuban outfit Seda Jazz. If you've never heard Xhosa-language songs, the August 30 concert by local talent Camagwini is a must--and a relative steal at R250 (about $32).
If you can arrive and shake off the jet lag by the 28, you can even sit in on a performance workshop hosted by one of the featured musicians!
· Joy of Jazz [Official Site]
· Vanity Fair's Boutique South Africa [HC]
· Google Earth Travel: South Africa Tourism Goes Virtual [Jaunted]
[Photo of George Duke and Stanley Clarke at last year's festival: begapixel]
You can't get your picture taken with a geyser or do a rubbing of moose tracks at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. But this corner of the French Quarter, a part of Louis Armstrong Park, celebrates the legacy of jazz in the US through exhibits and concerts, some even led by specially trained, musically gifted park rangers.
The park was established in 1994 to honor the melting pot of French, Creole and African cultures that combined in the city's dance halls; its visitor center is a former Masonic temple.
The Treme Brass Band, named for a neighborhood known historically for its population of free blacks, holds jazz workshops for kids every Saturday. Other events in the park include trombone soloists and a standing Wednesday ragtime series.
· New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park [Official Site]
· New Orleans Park Has Ear For Jazz [NPR]
· Music Travel: Jazz Fest Time in Montreal [Jaunted]
· New Orleans Travel coverage [Jaunted]
From June 26 through July 6, the 29th Annual Montreal Jazz Festival will take over the city and dish out more than 650 concerts, with shows from noon to midnight every day. This year's festival is dedicated to the memory of jazz giant Oscar Peterson who passed away in late 2007.
The stellar jazz on tap this year includes Leonard Cohen (on his first tour in 15 years!), Woody Allen playing clarinet with his New Orleans Jazz Band, Aretha Franklin, Joseph Arthur, JazzLab and awesome saxophonist Joe Lavano. And of course there'll be tons of others rounding out the fest line-up.
Another great perk? Save your money and attend one of the festival's 450 free outdoor performances--to be announced on the website June 2. For festival-affiliated hotel and package deals (some with tickets thrown in) check here. Or see what place HotelChatter is hitting up.Ayez l'amusement!
Cold, rainy fall days make for the best culture travel. So over the next few weeks we're mapping the upcoming shows to see.
Take your jazz with a side of fog this year at the 25th Anniversary San Francisco Jazz Festival, which runs October 17 through November 30. Yes, even the Bay Area can have the blues, but with artists like Cuban swingster Issac Delgado and sitar master Ravi Shankar, there's way more to it than just the 12-bar.
Pick up your tickets now for sure-to-sell-out acts like Dr. John's night of zydeco and the genre-crossing Kronos Quartet. Since the festival runs for weeks, it's happening at venues all over the city. Places like the Herbst Theatre and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre are worth seeing in their own right--all the better if top-notch jazz is part of the program.
[Photo of last year's festival: Scott Chernis]