The Manhattan Club Sessions Click this for the videos
On a slightly warmer rainy Thursday July evening while most of you might have walked aimlessly around shopping centres, sat yourself in front of the plasma or Facebooked yourself into oblivion, a group of musicians, music and food lovers slipped quietly into one of Brisbane’s newest bar, restaurant and live music venues The Manhattan Club.
‘Inspired by the bars and restaurants of New York’s trendy lower east side comes The Manhattan Club. A new landmark in Brisbane for lovers of great food, refreshing cocktails and amazing live entertainment. The brainchild of owner Darren Jardine a well known Brisbane musician the club has been designed to offer the experience of a great night out in Manhattan’.
I have been a musical collaborator and friend of Darren for a number of years, we spent many nights playing music together crammed into some of Brisbane and South East Queensland’s busiest bars, pubs and clubs developing a keen idea for the kinds of things that ‘work’ in a venue such as great staff, great food & drink, staging and production and playing lots of different music always with an ear and an eye on the punters. It was with this knowledge, experience and also a well planned research trip to New York that Darren and his team opened The Manhattan Club on Wickham St in the Valley.
Keen to check out his new venue I quickly became a part time member of the Friday and Saturday night ‘house band’ along with other long time Jardine collaborators David Griffiths, Adrian Wilson and Nathan Moore. We decided to focus on differentiating our repertoire and playing music that seemed to suit the venue but was still enjoyed by the variety of patrons. Music to celebrate the cuisine and cocktails of the Manhattan Club and to hopefully build up the live music venue and restaurant as one of Brisbane’s coolest nightspots. Some of our Friday and Saturday nights have already featured surprise guests including legendary ‘Goanna’ frontman Shane Howard and a whole bunch of Brisbane musos all in to check the place out and show their support. It was quickly becoming the place where both musos and fans of great cuisine hung out.
The Manhattan Club Sessions came about as Darren was considering how to run different nights of the week, choosing one night to celebrate the breadth of musicianship in and around Brisbane, but getting musicians who would be sensitive and unselfish to the needs of a burgeoning music venue, restaurant and bar.
Another Jardine friend and collaborator Brisbane drummer Steve Pope (Transport, Kate Miller-Heidke, Family of Strangers) sent me message about him putting together a group comprising of myself on bass, Dave McGuire – guitar and Sun Jay Jude on keys. I had recently been in hospital so was hoping I would be well enough to come along and play. Having never met Dave McGuire or Sun Jay Jude but knowing the calibre of their musicianship I was keen to jam and so it seems were they.
Generally in the professional muso’s life these types of free jams don’t actually happen that often in real venues where management respect your musicianship and the practice of your art. We chose a couple of tunes including Sting, Prince, Massive Attack and Bill Withers songs that might work and which I’ll add I had never played or sang before. Let’s just make it a little more challenging shall we.
Arriving at the Manhattan Club I was immediately taken with the vintage Slingerland drum kit provided by Greg of the Drum Cartel and as I met Dave and Jude and we proceeded to sound check I was glad I had brought along a little audio/video recorder to hopefully capture the musical events of the evening but wished I had brought another camera for another angle (or at the very least my own film crew!). Steve was off for a short walk to his teaching studio to grab a kick drum mic, obviously keen to have everything just right for whatever musical mayhem might occur. Jude and Darren were plugging in the Nord Electro and Korg Micro keyboards all the while I was being musically introduced to Dave McGuire sound checking his guitar with some noodling riffage.
Patrons began to trickle in as we sat enjoying the Grilled Barramundi, Broccolini, Salas of Fennel and Orange, Herb Mayonnaise or the Wagyu Rump Cap, Hand Cut Fries, Truffled Herb and Garlic Butter or the Roasted Breast of Chicken, Tomato Braised White Beans and Speck and I realised this was going to be lots of fun and one of the few nights of performance where we could simply play whatever we liked for as long as we wanted.
I also realised how truly cool this place was and how glad I was to be a part of it in some way, looking around and seeing the Lauren, Glenda and the bar staff inventing new cocktails, or the hustle of the kitchen as I lugged my bass gear through the service corridor, or my newest musical collaborators sound checking their instruments on the baby grand piano and drum kit filled stage, no wonder musos liked coming here.
Apart from the actually songs we played I have named our musical jams (purely for Youtube) after entrees, mains, sides, desserts and cocktails from The Manhattan Club’s great menu and you can watch and hear them from the YouTube link below. I wish now that we had of had that extra camera or film crew and that there were more ways to get some of you into The Manhattan Club to check it out, but hopefully you enjoy it.
As you watch us jam away take a look at the people walking past the window, the thought struck me as to how many windows we’ve all walked past on some busy street where we’ve missed something like this going on inside some cool place we’ve never heard of or never bothered to find out about.
My advice for now is see how you go, one camera angle and 4 dudes onstage can only be watched for so long but go open the kitchen liquor cabinet, mix up yourself a cocktail(or mocktail) and/or cook a nice meal, plug Youtube into your stereo speakers or headphones and kick back for a while on the couch or wherever you really ‘listen’ to music and enjoy our tunes and spontaneous jams just like you were there, but next time you gotta come along! I might even remember to tell some people about it!
If its not your musical cup of tea then don’t worry too much there is a whole array of different live music planned for The Manhattan Club and you can always come in on a Friday or Saturday and hear Darren and the house band play the hell out of some new, old and classic tunes, or the groove of DJ David Mr Sparkle Madden on another given night. Look out for news of more events at The Manhattan Club’s website.
Cheers and thanks for reading and listening! Big thanks to againto Darren, Glenda, Lauren at the Manhattan Club and to Steve, Dave and Jude for some awesome jams.
They are numbered on Youtube if you want to watch them in order of performance click this link
12th July 2012 The Manhattan Club Sessions Set List
1. Caramelised Onion Gnocchi, Smoked Eggplant Puree, Cavelo Nero, Parmesan
2. Consider Me Gone (Sting Cover)
3. The Manhattan Club Espresso Martini
4. Teardrop (Massive Attack Cover)
5. Buttered Steamed Greens
6. Braised Pork Belly, Saute Potatoes, Red Cabbage and Apple
7. Use Me (Bill Withers Cover)
8. The Cosmopolitan
9. Twice Cooked Chicken Wings, Buttermilk Mayonnaise, Hot Sauce
10. Walking On The Moon (The Police)
11. Sign O’ The Times (Prince)
12. Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee (Excerpt)