Wednesday, August 17, 2005

queen esther at lenox lounge (with cake!)

queen esther at lenox lounge
Originally uploaded by queenesther.
finally, at long last! i've finally done a gig in harlem's beautiful historic lenox lounge, at 125th and lenox avenue. THE lenox lounge. the one i've always heard about and read about and dreamed about and seen in movies and such. like shaft (the original and the remake.) bessie smith's watering hole. billie holiday's hang out. i even sat in her favorite booth when i wasn't singing. i shudder to think about who was in and out of there during harlem's heyday. those are probably some of the only walls i'd want to hear, if they could actually say anything. what am i thinking? those walls wouldn't talk. they would sing.

it was our second cd release party. there's a third on saturday 8/20 at the slipper room. after the gig, there's going to be a burlesque show. totally appropriate to have a party there because that's where it all began. not very many people know this, but the band started out as a back-up outfit for the burlesque dancers, or what jc calls "the professional tassle girls." that's where the song "trouble in tassletown" came from. from those humble beginnings, it grew into what it is now -- a biggish behemoth of hard be-bop proportions, with a american standards finish.

there was no cover, by the way. it was an early show -- we started at 8pm and we were done by 10pm. the place was packed, the food was great. the band was in rare form. there were three photographers -- sylvia, who was shooting the soundcheck for "the new yorker" magazine; wanda lee, who's a really cool rock and roll photographer; and tanya braganti, who's with the daily news. actually, someone was interviewing jc for the daily news for this saturday's edition and tanya didn't even know it. now he can use her photos for the article. kismet!

they fed us buffet style after the soundcheck and i baked a pound cake, as per claire daly's suggestion at wfuv. (i can cook and bake my butt off, by the way. just so you know.) they had set it out so beautifully on a little table while we were having dinner, with little plates and a serving knife and everything. i thought, perfect. i brought dessert! it went over so well that i'm thinking i'll probably bake a cake for every gig we do, just to practice and keep my chops up and everything. (saturday's cake is a special request by warren: chocolate cake with chocolate icing. i'll get imported south american cacao chocolate from fairway, so it'll be especially dark.) one thing's for sure: musicians never say things like "i can't have any, i'm watching my weight" or "oh, i couldn't have another piece" or "don't bake anymore, i'm on a diet." if it's one thing i can't stand when it comes to dessert, it's leftovers.

later on, i went looking for my cake dish and plate. someone had washed and dried it and set it aside on the counter. how sweet, i thought. later on, i called my grandmother as i was leaving because the chef wanted to speak to her. he was from south carolina and he said he'd never tasted better pound cake in his life. (i couldn't give him the recipie, of course. it's a family secret.)

i called her earlier in the afternoon because i wanted to make sure that i was baking it at the right temperature. it feels so good to be able to call her and ask her some stupid question like that and have her answer it in the same calm voice that i've always heard from her my whole life. i can't imagine ever not hearing that voice.

she's given me a lot of secret recipies. the next one? red rice, prepared in the oven.


piu piu said...

that sounds like a wicked night. am wishing i could test the baking.

queenesther said...

we had so much fun! for saturday's gig, i'm going to make a chocolate cake. and there'll be burlesque dancers. very cool.

i promise that when you come to nyc, i will bake a pound cake just for you, because i'm cool like that, but also because you should know what a real one tastes like. or when i come to london to visit my friends (which might be soon) --