Hat City Kitchen Contest Winners Bring Al Gold’s Blues Jam to SOPAC

January 15, 2017, South Orange, NJ

By Patricia Rogers | Posted Monday, January 9, 2017

I have worked at Hat City Kitchen for a long time.  I have seen a lot of open music jams, musicians.  The longest, and most loyal, crowd has been the musicians that come to play for Al Gold’s Blues Jam Sundays.  It is every other week, and the place is always buzzing. Old friends, collaborators, and musicians coming together to rejoice in songs that they all know and love.

Hat City Kitchen has been a venue for live music and a home for musicians for as long it is been open.  Despite questionable changes, that thankfully has never changed.  Weekly, there’s the acoustic, electric, jazz, R&B, and blues jams.  All free and open to the public.  Mike Griot, blues musician, says, “One of the great joys of my life has been to share music as a performer around the globe with countless thousands of fellow musicians, fans and music lovers of all types.”  This led to him having a great idea.

Over the last couple months, for Al Gold’s Blues Jams there have been secret judges attending the jams, watching talented performer after talented performer in a contest.  Contest winners assemble a line up of musicians for a Blues in the Loft show at SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center).

On January 15, 2017 Al Gold and Mike Griot host “Blues in the Loft: Hat City Kitchen Contest Winners.”  This idea brings exposure to the musicians, Hat City Kitchen, Blues in the Loft, and connects our network here in the Valley Arts District in Orange, to the performing arts and music scene in South Orange.

“I am very excited and proud to watch the growth of the HAT CITY KITCHEN BLUES JAM, and its curator (and friend) Al Gold.  For the last seven years, the Sunday blues jam has provided a venue to hundreds of regional musicians (and select pros) to express themselves through this great American art form.

It is with great anticipation that I announce yet another opportunity for many talented artists to express themselves to an even wider audience.  It is also an added bonus to be able to offer a select performer a future paid performance opportunity as a result of their hard work and dedication to their craft.” 

- Mike Griot

Winners include Mimi Nowak, Vin Mott, Tara Layne, Adam Gustavson & Sheri, Carol Fredricks, Harry & Karl – most of whom I know personally or have seen play for many years.  I do not envy the judges who had to choose who played the show.

Vin Mott has played with his band Vin Mott’s Rhythm and Blues Band at Hat City Kitchen many times.  He is cool, talented and young.  I can expect him to bring a youthful flavor to the bunch.  Look out for more on him on the blog.  

Mimi Nowak of The Mimi Nowak Project is a popular favorite when she attends Al Gold’s jam.  Her band, she says, “is a combined effort with all of my band members to be creative and explore unique arrangements of commonly known songs, to bring a fresh artistic quality to our performances,” says Mimi.  She has been involved in bands since the age of 23.  She is a singer.  “All the material in my repertoire pertains to Love: good, bad, angry, remorseful, happy, sad, stalking, two-timing, hurt, revengeful, lust... I could go on and on…” says Nowak.

During the show there will be a number of celebrity judges to determine the winner for the night – more familiar faces like Pat Morrissy, former Executive Director of HANDS, Inc.; Dennis Gruenling, a DJ, musician, and considered one of the greatest harmonica players; one of the more versatile drummers, Lee Finkelstein, with a music career spanning 25 years; Billy Hector, well-known blues musician who also frequents the Hat City Kitchen stage; bandleader and drummer, New Yorker Michael Hill; and my favorite, Soundguy Ed, the one that makes everyone sound good at Hat City Kitchen.  

Tickets are on sale now for the show.  There will be a full bar available and a special pre-Mardi Gras menu presented by Hat City Kitchen starting at 5:30pm. 

About the Writer

Patricia Rogers, #ValleyGirlNJ, lives in New Jersey's Valley Arts District.  The native New Yorker works as a writer, blogger and community activist. Starting Masconsumption Media in 2012, she has been passionate about capturing the stories of the vibrant up and coming Valley Arts District neighborhood through her blog, zine, events and more.  She blogs for Jersey Indie, Luna Stage, and Hat City Kitchen and offers many creative media services.  Visit her blog www.masconsumption.com and keep up with your favorite Valley Girl on social media at @valleygirl_nj (Twitter / Instagram).