Next gig: April 22 at Mr. Henry’s. Spotlight on Nat ‘King’ Cole

I’m certainly not too proud to introduce a gimmick or two into my performances, if that’s what it takes to get more people there. That’s just what I’m planning to do on Saturday, April 22, 2023, from 8 to 11 p.m., when I’m next at Mr. Henry’s, 601 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, D.C.

As gimmicks go — maybe “theme” is a less loaded term — this isn’t a big one. I was somehow recently reminded of one of my favorite albums, “After Midnight,” which came out in 1957 and features Nat ‘King’ Cole with John Collins on guitar, Charlie Harris on bass, Lee Young on drums a host of others who dip in and out of indvidual tracks. 

As I wrote about the album 15 years on my long-abandoned blog: “In ‘After Midnight,’ Cole shows himself to be every bit the jazz musician. It’s full of his acrobatic, crisply executed piano solos that only a master could pull off. And his voice, at that time well known for is smooth crooning in a soup of richly swelling strings and horns, is nimble, full of energy and experimental. Though he rarely strays from the melody line, the improvisation comes with his never-predictable phrasing.”

I also made the point that it’s too bad Cole left a lot of this behind when he gained greater fame — altering his style to appeal, it seems, more to white audiences who maybe didn’t appreciate his jazz. Not that he didn’t do the more popular stuff well. He was luminous. But I like this stuff far more. (I made a similar comparison in this blog post to the arc of Sam Cooke’s career.)

I used to sing a number of the songs from “After Midnight.” So, hey, why not pull them up and sing them again, as part of a spotlight on this great musician? (Does that rise to the level of a gimmick?) I only hope I will do them justice and that his estate won’t mind my using the cover art for this post. My set will also include songs from a variety of other composers and performers in the jazz, pop and folk genres. 

At this writing, I have not yet made this decision clear to the three great musicians who will join me on April 22: Harry Appelman on piano, Francis Thompson on drums andSteve Arnold on bass. They will be up to the task.  

The show will require a cover of only $15, plus a food or drink minimum of $15. Click here get advance tickets. Please note that ticket sales stop the day of the show, but that doesn’t mean it’s sold out. (There’s been confusion about this in the past.) Best to call Mr. Henry’s that day at (202) 546-8412. 

Also, at 6 p.m., the dining room opens, and you’re welcome — indeed, encouraged — to go then. But just know that the music begins at 8 p.m. 

For a hint of what I usually offer, go to:

I hope you can make it.