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True Blue brings tasty jazz and harmonious food to downtown Rehoboth

October 20, 2017

One of the value-added features of Rehoboth's two (simultaneous) jazz festivals is that some restaurants align themselves with one or the other of the events, and others just "go rogue" and use the event as a reason to feature live entertainment. It doesn't really matter who does what, because the end result is a weekend full of live music at your favorite eateries. Not a bad thing.

From a musical point of view, I prefer the "straight ahead" or "mainstream" jazz focus of the True Blue JazzFest. Founders Peggy Raley of Nassau Valley Vineyards (a jazz singer in her own right, buy the way) and entertainer Eddie Sherman focus their efforts on bringing live music to downtown Rehoboth Beach; using downtown restaurants and venues as a platform for their featured artists.

Locals and visitors who love Indian cuisine and traditional jazz - both of which bring a history of nuanced flavors to your ears and your taste buds - loved last week's events at the new Indigo Indian restaurant in downtown Rehoboth. The Kumar family was proud to present the tasty musical offerings of Jan Knutson and Griff Kazmierczak. Jazz guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jan switched off to a variety of stringed instruments, accompanied by Griff's celebrated trumpet riffs. Like that wasn't impressive enough, Griff is also a seasoned violinist! Combine that with Indigo's relaxed, yet elegant décor and Raghu Kumar's huge selection of traditional and not-so-traditional dishes, and you have a delicious feast for all the senses!

Another one of my favorite local entertainers is Bruce Anthony. I never miss jazz fest at Hari Cameron's a(MUSE.) restaurant, and this year guitarist/vocalist Bruce teamed up with talented bassist Sam Nobles. These guys sound like an entire band, using subtle electronic percussion to add even more dimension to their sound. Matching the menu to the music was no problem for Hari and his talented sous chef Andrew Guffey. As Bruce and Sam skillfully meandered through the all-time jazz favorites (throwing in a few humorous twists for those who were listening closely), we nibbled on grilled Delaware Berkshire pork decorated with apple, sunflower seeds and Jerusalem artichokes, and Griggstown Farm chicken surrounded by a root veggie puree and a lentil vinaigrette. One of the highlights was an a(MUSE.) exclusive: the Kings Creamery goat cheese toast nestled alongside a fresh black plum and a dollop of black plum jam. Brown butter crumbs added a smooth, savory note. Cameron summed it up nicely: "Who doesn't like toast and jam!"

The Hammond B-3 organ is celebrated as the "most recorded instrument brand ever." It has crossed every possible musical line from churches to jazz combos, stage bands, and rock bands from mainstream to classic to alternative to heavy metal. First built in 1935, this long-lived console has not been manufactured for years, and the ones in use today (and there are many) are lovingly maintained to preserve that one-of-a-kind sound. Music lovers will instantly recognize organists such as Jimmy Smith, Joey DeFrancesco, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Greg Allman, Barbara Dennerlein, Jimmy McGriff, Booker T and the MGs ... the list is virtually endless. Leave it to Peggy Raley and Eddie Sherman to bring "Mr. Hammond B-3" himself to the Rehoboth Avenue Firehouse last Saturday afternoon, along with alto saxophonist Vince Lardear and master of the drums Jackie Browne. The three-hour-plus concert was unforgettable, and was punctuated by a variety of brews and spirits from Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats. Yet another upside of that Saturday afternoon was that every penny collected at the door went to benefit our very own downtown volunteer fire station.

Jazz music and good food. When I moved to Rehoboth over 15 years ago, I feared that I was leaving at least some of that behind in the big city. I was wrong. No matter which of the two festivals you follow - and no matter where you hear the music - it's just one more reason why we love it here at the beach.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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