Vicki Kristina Barcelona to Perform in the Parlour at Fox & Crow
Band Returns for a Swinging Night of Tom Waits & Original Tunes
By Sally Deering
Girl groups are a rare breed of women doing their own thing in the male-dominated music world; they create their own unique sound and groove just as cool as the boys.
Vicki Kristina Barcelona fits those stilettos perfectly – a girl group with its own style, doing music their way. The three singer/songwriter/musicians – Amanda Homi (percussion), Rachelle Garniez (accordion/guitar) and Terry Radigan (guitar) – sing original tunes they wrote and a Tom Waits’ repertoire. They perform throughout the Metropolitan area and are returning to the back parlour at Fox & Crow on Thursday, June 22 at 8 o’clock for another show. Continue reading GIRL GROUP GROOVES→
On Palisade Avenue in the Jersey City Heights, a colorful neighborhood pub “Fox & Crow” serves all-American burgers, cocktails shaken & stirred and a root beer float that could land Junior in the principal’s office. On weekends, the backroom “Parlour” with its own bar, and family-style tables becomes a small club with a dazzling array of singer-songwriters, bands, and spoken-wordsmiths.
More hippie than dippy, Fox & Crow (named for the owners, Arthur and Sarah Johnson’s daughter Rebecca who loved the nursery rhyme) Fox & Crow opened in February 2015, and has since become a cool neighborhood go-to place for tasty American dishes, knee-bending cocktails like the Sly Fox and the Shy Fox and lively entertainment. On a recent Saturday night, Vicky Cristina Barcelona – a three piece all-girl group that performs Tom Waits’ songs knocked the socks off the audience.
“Our family loves to eat and drink, and have a good time,” Rebecca says. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that was warm and welcoming, serving wholesome food at decent portions without pretensions. We also wanted to replicate the pub atmosphere you find in Europe, where the entire family is welcome, from babies to dogs. We wish we could also welcome dogs, waiting for New Jersey to change its ways!”
Fox & Crow’s pub menu is tasty and minimal with several appetizers and a dozen or so sandwiches (and a salad) to choose from. Starter/Munchies include Hand Cut Pub Fries, and Wings served Chili, BBQ, Buffalo, and Jabanero & Honey-style, and Art’s Nachos with a choice of cheese, jalapeno peppers, pico de gallo, sour cream or black beans. ($6-$8)
Burgers take center stage and come in lots of variations including Old Blue (blue cheese), California Club, and Black Bean. For seafood lovers there’s the Krabby Patty with Asian slaw; the Spicy Crow, fried chicken with chipotle mayo and avocado; and the Cheese Me Please Me grilled cheese with Gouda, Gruyere-Cheddar on sourdough bread. The Mariner, sesame-crusted pan-seared tuna with ginger soy sauce is also a popular dish. ($11-$15). There’s a beet salad, too. ($12)
For those looking for something sweet with a little kick, the (alcoholic) Root Beer Float is made with “Not Your Father’s Root Beer”, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream ($10).
“The menu has grown with us,” Rebecca says. “We have had input from talented chefs, friends, and family. Brunch is the collaborative product of my mother, and local resident and New York chef Ben Kurst and expertly prepared by our in-house chef Marcos Mendoza. Brunch is special as Sunday breakfast has always held a special place in my family’s week. When home for holidays, we all gather at the kitchen table and dad will make his signature eggs, bacon and home-fries. The dish ‘Artie’s Breakfast’ on the brunch menu is a nod to him.”
Weekend Brunch also features Locals Only pork roll, egg, cheese, and home-fries; Fox & Crow Burger with fried egg, bacon, cheddar; Smoked Salmon Hash; Savory or Sweet Ricotta Toast, Avocado Toast; and, French Toast ($8-$14). Modcup Coffee is the house coffee ($2); and Mimosa, Bellini or Bloody Mary cocktails keep things fizzy. ($4-$6)
The kitchen stays open late; Sunday through Wednesday till 11:30 pm; and Thursday through Saturday till Midnight. The bar has a huge choice of beers and cocktails. The Parlour presents live entertainment, and a monthly Spoken Word series hosted by James Ruggia and RNA. Curator Margo Parks of Jersey City scouts the talent and books the performers.
It’s been two years since Fox & Crow first opened and in those two years, it’s grown a lot, Rebecca says. When her family decided to become restaurateurs, the whole thing came together without much maneuvering.
“We did not spend months scouting a space, the F&C albeit a tremendous amount of work, was quite a serendipitous venture,” Rebecca says. “My father acquired the property and had the option to lease the bar or take the business on himself. I have experience in branding and interiors, my partner Rowen works in hospitality, and my mother and father possess an innately hospitable spirit having come from large families and raising their own. The majority of people we knew from the neighborhood we had met in Modcup coffee, the market, or venues downtown. We felt at home surrounded by bohemian and ingenious spirits. We decided to take a chance, combine our efforts and create the Fox & Crow.”
Acappella groups – four or five guys singing harmonies with no back-up band – bridged the gap between 1950s Doo-Wop and 1960s rock and roll, but until now, little has been written about that time in music history when teenagers harmonized on street corners, inside subways and underneath train trestles searching for the echo that gave them their sound.
Abraham Santiago grew up in Jersey City and remembers the days he sang tenor in The Concepts, a street corner acappella group of fellow students from Ferris High School in Jersey City. Santiago, who now resides in Chicago, took his memories of those days and collaborated on a book and documentary about the acappella era with Steve Dunham, an acappella enthusiast and music producer in Las Vegas with a mammoth acappella record collection and a passion for singing street harmonies.
“Acappella Street Corner Vocal Groups: A Brief History and Discography of 1960s Singing Groups,” (Mellow Sound Press, Chicago,167 pgs;) chronicles every street corner acappella group ever recorded from that time like Joanne and the Heartaches, the Royal Counts and the Persuasions; and the record companies that produced their songs, like Snowflake, Relic and Catamount. The documentary, “Street Corner Harmony: The Missing Link in Rock and Roll History,” narrated by record producer Wayne Stierle delves deeper into the singers’ lives and the genre of acappella music. Both the book and the documentary are touchstones to a bygone era, the time between the 1950s and 1960s, when musical tastes shifted to British rockers like The Beatles and short-haired teens singing acappella became as old-hat as the Hi-Fi record players that spun their songs. Continue reading Searching for the Echo-Book and Film Shine Light on 1960s Street Corner Acappella Groups→
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