Monday, October 2, 2017

Jazz Fans Give a Standing O to Carlton Room Performers

They packed 'em in at the Oldenburg House again this past weekend. Both Friday and Saturday evening's show were stellar, as was the Carlton Room cuisine. The performers were top drawer and gave it their all.

For those unfamiliar, the Carlton Room bills itself as "a performance space with a nighclub atmosphere in a historic house in a timeless setting. If you were there this weekend, you would undoubtedly assent to this description. (For more on the Oldenburg House story see this article in The Reader.) Here's how the evening went for those of us who attended Friday's performance.


Billy Peterson, making love with his music.
It was early evening when we arrived and you could see that people were gathering out by the pool for a little pre-event cocktail. The musicians joined us and a mood of expectation permeated the gathering crowd. As dusk settled in we meandered back to the house to find our seats

Glenn Swanson welcomed us, introducing the band: Danny Leahy on keyboards, Billy Peterson bass and Glenn himself on his new drum kit. Guitar man Michael Scroggins was delayed by traffic coming North from the Twin Cities for the annual spectacle of the regionsAutumnal splendor. (He did make it for the second set.) Glenn, Billy & Dan opened the first set with an instrumental piece, traditional jazz with rotation that features each of the instrumentalists, setting a tone of mutual appreciation for their various talents, creating anticipation in the audience as we get a foretaste of their virtuosity. “Boy, did we pick up some hot tickets,” someone said.

Pippi lives fully in the moment.
Then Pippi Ardenia sashayed through the tables to the stage to join the threesome there, opening with “I think you made your move too soon, I got more than money on my mind.” Sultry and playful, Pippi is enormously comfortable and has quickly captured the room, though she can tell that the band has already won them. After this tune she instructs Billy to grab the electric bass by declaring, “I want to put a groove on.” Peterson squares up and Pippi breaks into “That’s the time I feel like making love to you.” The night would be hot.

Her set was full of style. “My Prelude” she says, is just a simple melody, nothing fancy. This was followed by a tender flowing duet with Danny, “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You.”

I've sometimes heard Glenn refer to Pippi as the Pipster, and she knows how to make things snappy, swiftly jumping into a jammin’ version of “My Favorite Things.”

When Pippi sings like that one can't help but make comparisons to that great lady Ella Fitzgerald whose energy and voice defined classic jazz, in which a popular song is transformed and an audience is transfixed.

Michael's vibe: smooth and cool.
The band broke to give servers a chance to clear tables (there were appetizers awaiting us when we first arrived) and deliver the main course. I stepped outside and listened to a discussion about jazz clubs in the Cities. Many of the old clubs have eliminated the bands in favor of DJs. "We still have Crooners, Jazz Central and a couple others," one of the veterans said.

When I returned to my table I found we’d been served tenderloin so tasty and tender you could cut it with a fork and potatoes so creamy and flavorful you temporarily imagined heaven. Guitarist Michael Scroggins was now on hand for the second set, which opened with Pippi singing “Sugar” followed by a wonderfully evocative version of “Walk On By.” You could feel the tears. Another classic followed, “I Only Have Eyes For You.” There were smiles all around now and then some real cookin’ kicked in.

“Here come ol’ flat-top he come groovin’ up slowly…" Pippi's rendition of John Lennon's Abbey Road opener was tantalizing, but when Lennon's lyrics were complete the band played on and she commented on how creepy some of those lyrics were, adding that she had a couple more verses to close it out, on point, fine tuning the theme which was ultimately love. Come together, right now, yeah.

Glenn "Swanny" Swanson: a passion for expression.
Pippi and Billy then did a heartfelt, innovative Blue Moon which evolved into a rowdy "Takin’ it to the Streets." Other songs of note that she covered included Stevie Wonder's "Foggy London Town," Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" and the classic "Look of Love."

If you can find a way yo find your way to the Carlton Room, I promise, it will be an evening you won't soon forget. The next show is slated for Saturday, October 21.

Learn more here... along with a link to how to find your ticket to a great evening of fine dining and a great show.

Thank you, Pippi, Billy, Glenn and friends, for a great evening. If you want to add a shout-out to your sponsors in the comments, that would be great, too.

PHOTOS courtesy Andrew Perfetti 

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