I’m determined not to let the cold weather get me down. On a brisk Saturday night, I braved the elements to warm my soul with live music. In the East Village, I found the perfect cure to my cold weather blues, the 1st Annual Nublu Jazz Festival. It was simple; all I needed was a healthy dose of live experimental Jazz to cure my blues.
The cozy and intimate atmosphere of the Nublu Bar and Lounge was a perfect setting. Unlike most venues where the performer is on a stage, here there isn’t a stage and no spot is a bad spot to totally get lost in the music. The audience, in their seats of choice, either at the bar or on comfy couches, surrounds the night’s entertainment. The groovy jazz fusion of The Inbetweens warmed up those just entering the venue. The name of the band describes them perfectly. They are in between Jazz and in between electronic, in between that mood of feeling happy and sad. They were a perfect blend of what you need on a cold night. Songstress Sissy Clemons was like sugar in my hot tea, with a sweet angelic voice entwined with a retro jazz groove that reminded me of an old record by The Crusaders. She had no problem keeping the crowd warm with her original tunes, but she quickly turned up the thermostat with a hot cover of Fiona Apple’s Criminal. To say I was glad I didn’t stay home would be an understatement.
You can still catch some great live music, the Nublu Jazz Festival ends Sunday, November 22nd. Ilhan Ersahin, Nublu owner and festival creator, spoke to JSD about this exciting festival.
JohnSimonDaily: Give us a little background on Nublu.
Ilhan Ersahin: I started Nublu seven years ago as a very spontaneous kind of get together place for my friends, more of a café. That was my initial idea. Then in the first and second year a lot of bands, like my friends and I started playing with different bands, bands were formed there, and then it became more of a scene. That’s the chemistry that keeps going with Nublu. It’s not only like a bar that different bands come in and play their shows and leave, it’s more like we nurture the bands that performed and for bands to find their sound. With Nublu Bar there is also Nublu Records which is a strong link to the bar. So it’s producing bands, it is producing music; it is a lot of everything, and a place to showcase it.
JSD: How did you come up with the name Nublu?
IE: I just wanted the name to be as close to the music that we do. Instead of trying to explain to people that it is a little bit electronic, it’s a little bit of Rock, it’s a little bit clubby, jazzy, I just wanted a name that kind of has all those elements together. Nublu just came to my mind.
JSD: How long has the Nublu Jazz Festival been in development?
IE: It’s a new idea. In June we usually have our anniversary party and it becomes like a festival. So it seemed like a new thing to do for the club to bring in new bands and faces. So I just decided to do the Nublu Jazz Festival a month and half ago. I called up a bunch of friends and contacted some musicians that I liked and I created it.
JSD: What makes this festival different from festivals like the JVC and Capital Jazz Festivals?
IE: I’m not trying to compete with anybody. I think everybody is doing a great job just trying to keep live music going. I just want to do a really honest blend of musicians and showcase the music of now in a jazzy way.
JSD: Who are some must see artists performing during the festival?
IE: It’s really hard for me to say. I book musicians I really enjoy. We have three shows a day for two and half weeks. Every band is really exciting and every band has something to say. Everyday is just going to be amazing music.
JSD: You are a musician as well. How would you describe your style?
IE: I try to make it personal. I see music as an art. So I try to express, some how, the sounds and feelings that I’m feeling, instead of it being labeled in a certain direction. I’m trying to just do music that feels good. Since I am traveling and playing in different places around the world, I get influenced by a lot of places depending on the project. Music is also about collaborations, so depending on who you play with you develop a sound. It’s about being in the moment with your music and your thoughts. Expressing something that is honest.
JSD: What is next for you and Nublu?
IE: We have a lot of exciting releases coming up this year. Our record label has two divisions, one is Remixes and 12” which is more for the club world and the DJs, and the other is CDs and Online Sales which focus more on bands. So we have a few 12” and Remixes coming out. Of course touring, we are actually talking to both Istanbul and Paris, they are both interested in doing a Nublu Music Festival. So we are just keeping everything going.
*Interview conducted by Dana Bingham