We’re very sad to hear the news that Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus has closed after 23 years of being one of the coolest jazz spots in Philadelphia.
We played there with Renaldo Domino on a rainy Wednesday night in November 2009, in the midst of the Eccentric Soul Revue tour, and it was BANANAS. We were a little skeptical when the show was originally pitched to us, due to the size and layout of the place, and the slight disconnect of staging a soul revue in an intimate jazz supper club, but we took the leap of faith, figuring it had the chance to be a unique and special night.
It was a struggle just to fit all 9 of us on the stage, especially since there was already a baby grand piano up there. The horns were on the floor off to one side, and we borrowed some smaller amps, but we had the pleasure of using the house drum kit and piano. When the group of women eating dinner during our soundcheck gave us a standing ovation for a quick run-through of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, we knew things might go our way.
After enjoying some great food from their soul kitchen and getting changed in the apartment upstairs (which looked like it was in the middle of being demolished), we belted out two hot sets, with Renaldo and JC trying not to knock each other over on the little stage. Chris Neal took full advantage of the baby grand on “To Love Someone That Don’t Love You” (dig the mystery woman in the audience singing spot-on harmonies!)
In the end, 100 people came out on a dark & stormy night, which was great for our first time playing in town, and we sold a ton of records, and now we’re rolling back in to town to play the North Star next weekend. A step up, sure, but we’re really going to miss Ortlieb’s. Salud!