Pop-up Blues Club “Pompie’s Places Pops Up at Pangea in July & August

Photo: Winston Leonard
Article: NiteLife Exchange ~

A new version of the critically acclaimed pop-up blues show “Pompie’s Place” takes up residence at downtown’s alternative supper-club Pangea, 178 Second Avenue, toward the tail end of July.

Featuring the singers Tanya Holt and Lezlie Harrison, the immersive “Pompie’s Place” transports us to a mythic blues room on the edge town one hot summer night. Produced and hosted by Arthur “Pompie” Pomposello, with music direction by the gifted Ehud Asherie on piano, “Pompie’s Place” plays a limited three-show engagement; performances are on Saturday July 30, and consecutive Wednesdays — August 3 and 10. All shows are at 7:30pm.

When it premiered last spring — and encored in the summer — “Pompie’s Place” was showered with praise: Nancy Cohen-Koan, writing in The Huffington Post, said, “I just wanted the evening to go on and on!”

Stephen Holden in The New York Times judged the ensemble, “Some of the New York City’s finer jazz and blues musicians… An ensemble of top-flight musicians!”  Will Friedwald wrote in The Wall Street Journal that show’s resident divas (Harrison and Hilary Gardner) were two of “the better blues and jazz singers out there.” Eric Alterman of The Nation.com rated it “awesome, boy was the music fun!”

This time, instead of a combo of four, Asherie has devised new, lightning-in-a-bottle arrangements for deux; his collaborators are the legendary sidemen Ken Peplowski on reeds (July 30 and August 3) and Jon-Erik Kelso on trumpet (on August 10).  “We’re playing everything — the melodies, the rhythm, percussion — everything.  We’ll definitely be sweating!” says Asherie, who’s been called “a master of swing and stride” by The New Yorker.

Presiding over by the festivities is club’s mercurial host, Pompie, who charts a course through a thicket of blues — from the down and dirty Delta, to the honky tonk of Kansas City, with forays into the midnight magic of Broadway.  Pompie’s tempestuous resident divas are portrayed by Harrison (who is both a singer and WBGO personality), and cast newcomer Holt, whom Stephen Holden has called “a sultry pop-soul singer (…) a subtle, confident singer whose smoky, medium-light voice has a playful kittenish edge.”

Incidentally, Pomposello was for many years the host and booker of the famous Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel.

“Pompie’s Place” slips into Pangea’s jewel-box showroom for three nights only — Saturday July 30, and Wednesdays August 3 and 10.  All shows at 7:30pm.  The music charge is $30 with a $20 food and drink minimum.  To purchase tickets online visit www.pangeanyc.com , or for info call 212/995-0900. Pangea is located at 178 Second Avenue (between 11th & 12th Streets) For more information visit www.pompiesplace.com.