Ya'll have probably heard by now that Friday - not this Friday, but the next - is the eXile's 10th birthday bash. How could you not? It's the freakin' talk of the town and you can expect to see me there, in all my Katz-y glitter and gore. If my mood's right, I just might tuck away my contempt for all you eXholes and MC the whole damn thing. You would be so lucky! And since my next review will probably be spent gloating about my perfect performance, I thought I'd try something a bit different this time. Something a bit more sophisticated...
This week, I'm going to take you on a journey to a new jazz and blues club that just opened up in Chistye Prudy, in the shadow of the Lukoil building. The place is called CAFE ROYAL, but it's not the kind of royal that refers to blue bloods. This royal is a transliteration of the Russian word for "grand piano." A fitting if misleading title for a jazz and blues joint, don't you think?
Anyway, I didn't feel like seeing any of my friends so I asked Jared, the eXile's entertainment guru and a blues fan, to come along with me. We showed up around 10 p.m., and since I only travel VIP, the hostess led us to our table. Before we could be seated, the hostess had to shoo away two chicks that were roosting in our reserved seats. Boy, did those girls feel like unloved trash when they realized they had to vacate a seat for a fine girl like myself. I would have felt sorry for them if I wasn't busy enjoying twisting the knife. You shoulda' seen it, they literally bowed their heads as they passed us to take a seat in the back of the club. I even tried to pretend to snuggle up against my "date," but he wouldn't have any of it. He pushed me away, paranoid that one of his girlfriends' friends would see him. Softies are so not fun.
Anyway, I settled down with a nice glass of chilled French white (followed by a second, then a third, then a fourth - all on the house) and Jared shocked me by getting a Long Island Iced Tea, which, I gotta say, was well mixed and strong. Onstage, a blues band with a rotating contingent played some searing Beatles covers, including "Come Together." They also played some bumpin' blues jams, which isn't really my bag - I'm not really into harmonicas, slide guitars and old Russian dudes with cowboy hats and boots - but still good. But Jared was having a blast, especially when two of the harp players squared off and battled. A Battle Royale!
I didn't know this, but Jared turned out to be a harmonica enthusiast. He even tried telling me about various harmonica techniques. He explained the proper way to hold it. First you take your right hand... and, uh, I sort of lost my attention until he started talking about the tongue action.
Royal is a red-walled basement club with low ceilings, a small stage and small bar. It's got two wings that look like they could accommodate private parties. Oh yeah, and there's a restaurant with a weirdly expansive menu for a blues/jazz club. It's got everything from snails to stolichy salat.
The club's got a pretty impressive line-up of house bands, with live jazz and blues going on for most of the week. As for the crowd, we were there on a Saturday and it was packed with a lively hundred or so foot tappers, leg stompers and hand clappers. In a nice surprise, they weren't the usual grey fishing vest-wearing sovok intelligentsia types, either. I'd even go back there sometime with Jared if he promised to loosen up. Not!
Address: Ashcheulov per., 9
Hours: 12:00PM to 6:00AM
Telephone: 207-0969, 207-9178