The Carlyle Club: an unexpected pleasure

Last night we played our first show at the Carlyle Club in Alexandria, Virginia. We felt like we had come home! The art-deco stage seemed custom-made to set off our sharp suits. The sound in the room was terrific. And the audience was the perfect mix of drinkers, dancers, and attentive listeners, with no group seeming to impose its mode on any of the others. Thanks to the Carlyle for a memorable night! We’re hoping to be back soon.

Sunlight in Vermont

Jazz seems to thrive in cities, and though we long ago abandoned the strictures of being just a “jazz band,” we still think of ourselves as urban creatures. Our Vermont tour this month challenged that. In the Green Mountain State, we found dirt roads, lakes, and fresh air—and of virtually no cellphone reception to remind us of big-city pressures. What a change! What a blessing! We played to tents and clubs full of Vermonters wearing overalls and Birkenstocks. We ate fantastic local cheese and drank Hill Farmstead beer. We slept under homemade quilts. And after we played the Village Green in Greensboro, we got recognized at Willey’s, the deli-hardware-gun-fishing-tackle-and-tractor-supply store. At the end of the tour, we six city slickers all agreed: we can’t wait to go back to Vermont.

Our fashion secrets: revealed!

A lot of people ask us about our suits: Where on Earth do we find them? There is no major mystery to this. We all have eBay alerts set up for “vintage men’s suit” in our sizes. And each of us has a good tailor—except for Tommy, who has his own sewing machine and an impressive set of sartorial chops. So for $50 on eBay plus a few nips and tucks, you can look like a million bucks. And if someone in the band orders a cool vintage suit that shows up in the completely wrong size, he brings it to rehearsal and someone else can usually wear it.

IMG_0822The only problem comes when a vintage suit is not quite as cool as eBay made it out to be. Take the specimen at right. It was sold to Charlie as a green sharkskin suit. When it arrived a couple of weeks ago, it was discovered to be off-white, with a sort of basketweave texture, and disturbingly rich in polyester content. It actually seemed to be made of the same material as Charlie’s Aunt Cena’s sofa. There is no tailor in the world that can make this right, Charlie thought—and the band concurred. None of the other guys would go near it.

But a loss for Chaise Lounge is a win for Purple Heart. They’ll pick it up next week. And we only hope the suit eventually finds its way to the musical act it was meant for.

Bottoms up!

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It’s our newest instrumental number. It’s the name of our upcoming CD. And now, thanks to resident Chaise Lounge mixologist Pete Ostle, “Gin Fizz Fandango” is also a cocktail! Band members dutifully taste-tested Pete’s concoction at our rehearsal Monday night and pronounced it both frothy and delicious.

We hope that bartenders at The Hamilton will be serving the drink at our show there this Friday, April 17. But if you just can’t wait, you can make one at home. Here’s Pete’s recipe:

1½ oz. gin
1 oz. St. Germaine
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. table cream
1 egg white or 1 heaping bar spoon of dried egg white powder
Peychaud’s cocktail bitters

Put all ingredients except Peychaud’s bitters into a cocktail shaker. Shake well with ice. Strain into a stemmed up-glass such as a martini glass. To decorate, garnish with a few shakes of Peychaud’s on top.