Wednesday, October 6, 2010
In June I attended a film premiere and fundraiser for the non-profit organization, IDEA Performing Arts Center, which benefits at risk kids in Camden by channeling their energy into multi-media production, filmmaking, visual arts , music and dance.
I really feel this is a worthwhile endeavor and would love to see the organization make strides; because what we still don't see enough of is minorities in the mainstream mix of filmmaking and film production. To that end, I am once again highlighting an event I attended for IDEA, last Friday.
George Graves is the Business General Manager for the organization and it's his job to come up with fund raising ideas for IDEA. After all, it's no secret how hard it is for non-profits to rely on grants alone anymore. His latest enterprise is a Jazz Cabaret called Spotlight Cafe at the Susquehanna Bank Center, just 5 minutes over the Ben Franklin Bridge. This smaller annex space adjacent to the concert venue, is wonderfully multi-functional. When I was there for the film premiere, it appeared to be a screening house; I was surprised to learn the seating had been on removable risers; now in its place were round tables with muted color cloths and flickering candlelight. To further create an ambiance for Spotlight cafe, the black box look of the space was transformed by stage curtains, creating a cozy enclosed feel.
The $25 per person cover includes a 4 course, home cooked meal, catered by Gwenetta Fairfax of One Moment In Time events catering. The opening night menu consisted of : Salad:Mixed Greens w/raspberry vinaigrette, Appetizer: Spicy Jambalaya, Entree choice of: Blackened Tilapia w/vegetable relish, and rice pilaf, Grilled Chicken w/Grilled Vegetable Marinara & veggie medley or Three Cheese Lasagna (As always, I went with the most caloric, Lasagna) Desserts: Carrot Cake, Cheesecake or Chocolate Cake.
No bar - better yet, it's BYOB! Just inform your waiter you have a bottle and he'll set you up with an ice bucket for your table.
The jazz portion of the Jazz Cafe featured a very new group Jirah (although the band name is still in flux). Lead on Keyboard, Larry Scotton, Bill Nelson on Guitar, Kendal Hamilton on Bass, T "Diddle" Waters on Drums. Contemporary smooth jazz sound, super professional, good chemistry within the group, you'd never know they were put together by George Graves, just 3 months ago. While discussing with Graves his plans for Jirah, other groups he's put together, his audition process and his aim to act as not just producer for the musicians, but also business mentor; I couldn't help but think of infamous Backstreet Boys, NSync producer Lou Pearlman. Sorry, totally unfair and untrue comparison; but it just popped into my head, and that's the fun of blogging vs reporting, you're allowed to pop sometimes!
During a set break, Sammy Davis, Jr impersonator, Geno Monroe, from a show Reflections of The Rat Pack , took the stage for a bit of comedy.
As the evening progressed someone asked the band if they would play something to dance to - they promptly broke out with Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It", then it became open mic night, as someone went up on stage to perform E.U.'s "Doin Da Butt". Which turned the small crowd into a friendly house party. To listen to a sample of Jirah click HERE (recording from my digital voice recorder, uploaded to audio host supload.com).
I also told a guy named DJ Static, that I'd give him a shout out by putting a link to his Break.com download, but I couldn't find it on the site, so sorry dude, send it to me and I'll publish.
Unfortunately, Spotlight Cafe will not be held every week. The hope is to present it at least twice a month. For questions feel free to contact George Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IDEA/Booker film series continues on October 16th