So, you missed Fat Tuesday in New Orleans this year and you’re really bummed. The dreary days of Lent began last week but you still don’t want to give up that Mardi Gras festive spirit. Well, you still can celebrate in Philadelphia at South Kitchen and Jazz Bar every Wednesday night, when this top restaurant turns Broad Street into Bourbon Street. Singer V. Shayne Frederick hosts French Quarter night with his Jamboree Jam, which features different musicians but keeps the Big Easy feeling pure.
“The bands vary because I want each evening to have a mélange feel," Frederick says. "I rotate groups, but the underpinning is always the New Orleans kind of spirit. South pitched the idea to me and asked what I could pull together.”
Born in North Carolina, Frederick came to Philly when he was 18 years old but started getting his musical chops together hanging out at Ortlieb’s JazzHaus. “I'd go to sit in with Sid Simmons, Roger Prieto, and all of those cats. I'd bring my little charts in. My first paid gig was at a piano bar in 2008 that no longer exists, at 20th and Arch… I was a regular there as a guest and they'd always have me sing a million songs. When the pianist found out I could play piano, he said, 'You need your own night, take Friday night.' I'd invite my friends to come and sit in…It was fun while it lasted."
Nourishing the jazz roots
South Kitchen and Jazz Bar also collaborates with the jazz community, looking to bring in more people to enjoy the music. South partners with the Kimmel Center to educate kids from the community on jazz and the restaurant is featuring a Tuesday program in April called Groove You, for people who say they like jazz but really don't know too much about it.
Manager Harry Hayman is proud of what South has contributed. “We bring in national recording artists into Philly on a stop on their way to New York or Baltimore and DC. On the local level we do a jam every Tuesday and we rotate that around for local musicians… We support local musicians whenever possible.”
The lineup for March includes Kendrah Butler-Water Trio with singer Rhenda Fearrington on March 13, singer Lisa Chavous and the Philadelphia Blues Messengers on March 20, and Tony “TNT” Jones Trio with pianist Jim Holton, drummer Justin Faulkner, and singer Khadijah Renee on March 27.
V. Shayne Frederick hosts The French Quarter every Wednesday at 7pm at South Kitchen and Jazz Bar, 600 N. Broad Street. Reservations are recommended, and can be made online or by calling (215) 600-0220.