Frank Sinatra

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September 10, 2014 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Memorable Wine Quotes from the Famous Drinkers Who Loved it Best

Since the earliest civilization’s roamed the earth, a hardy glug of wine has been a dependable precursor to some history’s most brilliant (and brilliantly dumb) utterances. Successful lines of immortalized grape-speak have come from the most prolific drinkers of the stuff—from Thomas Jefferson to Henny Youngman, wine has inspired an array of ideas on the subject (and it even pushed Noah to “uncover” himself when… read on.

[This article first appeared on on August 23, 2014]

March 30, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Sherry Podcast & Update on Sinatra Simulacra

Because I’m knee deep in memorizing Sinatra tunes and his every subtle nuance I failed miserably at uploading the podcast from our Sherry event. Really, a very thorough and engaging dialogue with Kerin Auth of Tinto Fino, Mayur Subbarao of EVOE, El Cobre, Cienfuegos, etc., and Christine Wells of the French Culinary Institute.







So, 17 days into preparing for Sinatra Simulacra, I’ve not blogged once, as promised. So it goes. Better late than never, someone always says. Okay.

I’m growing concerned that my wildly attentive audience is confused about this particular event, and so I hope to set the record straight right now. This is not going to be some cheap, ho-hum imitation or impersonation of Frank Sinatra. I’ve got one of the bright starts of the composing and arranging business, Mr. Daniel Barnidge, working out new renditions to the following songs, which will be performed by yours truly with a magnificent group of seven very talented musicians:

  1. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  2. Day In, Day Out
  3. I’ve Got a Crush On You
  4. Fly Me to the Moon
  5. You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You
  6. Luck Be a Lady
  7. That Lucky Old Sun
  8. One For My Baby
  9. That’s Life
  10. Angel Eyes

It’s no easy task, working to emulate, working to revive the energy and perfect performance of such a well-known artist. Frank Sinatra became a phenomenon that generations will have a hard time comprehending in the future because at the pace were going the future is going to be devoid of his kind of entertainer. A controversial figure, a contradicting figure, with enough rumors about his life, habits, run-ins, to fill billions of pages of books and still have room for more. The question I posit to myself is: How did one man achieve such a legacy? And my answer: Well, simply put, and as I believe Sinatra might suggest, there is no other explanation than to say that his celebrity occurred at such a unique time and place – historically and contextually – and he had a rare gift, which received the right attention at the right times and the right places.

There’s no question that The Voice, as he is often referred to, was brilliant in it’s own right: What Sinatra did, that not even Crosby was doing, was talking to his audience; speaking to them through the songs he sang. When you watch some of the marvelous videos that have surfaced on YouTube, if attention is paid to Frank’s expression and focus, not only is he very naturally acting out the scenarios in the songs he sings, but he embodies the character of the person singing – embodies the subject of what they are singing – and does it so well that it’s almost as if he isn’t singing at all, but simply speaking the lyrics. (And Sinatra grew up listening to Crosby who was the king of crooning at the time. Early in his career, Sinatra worked to emulate Crosby before Frank’s own status as a crooner and own voice began to evolve into the mature voice so well known from recordings like “New York, New York,” “My Way,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” etc).

This skill (speak-singing I’ll call it) was what separated him from every other performer, and still does to this day. He focused the sounds, vowels and consonants, right into the front of his face, through his nose, vibrating in his cheeks and jawbones, never singing in falsetto voice (save for a few recordings in his early, early days with Harry James) but maintaining his mid-range and singing songs as if his speaking voice was merely stretching the vowels and consonants, elongating them melodically and rhythmically. Reinforced with impeccable breath control, able to sing through many bars of music before taking a breath, and paying careful attention when to breath, his singing developed into a style so satisfying to listen to that all he had to do was stand up on stage and…sing. He didn’t need to do anything else. His show was his Voice.

And this is my challenge. As Jonny Cigar, I’m used to flailing about the stage, throwing myself down into the gutter, into the depths of my own despair and climbing out with one hell of an army of bells and whistles. I’ve got to channel all that now into subtle hand-gestures and let my body find the natural rhythm of the music, let it respond naturally to it as well. I’ve got to focus my gaze and I’ve got to speak-sing with an orchestra backing me up – I have to be tuned into the orchestra and so comfortable with everything happening that I can also be open to the spontaneity of a show with a crowd fueled by cocktails and ready to be impressed. I’m not going to try to “become” Sinatra, because for Christ’s sake that’s ridiculous, and Christ would agree. I’m going to put into practice the very elements that made him the artist he was, and in theory I ought to come out on top, if I can pull it off.

So, a rigorous voice-training has commenced. 30 minutes of vocalizing everyday followed by a couple hours of singing the songs and getting into the subtext of the lyrics. I’ve got to know what I’m saying in order to sing and convey the emotion. It’s no different than memorizing a monologue and performing it: an audience can tell if you’ve done your homework or not.

This seems like a good place to conclude for today… I hope that this attention to detail indicates that Sinatra Simulacra is going to be more than just another night out on the town, more than just another show. Without getting too hokey, the evening is intended to transport the audience back in time to an era devoid of instantaneous gratification and where entertainers relied on their talents to impress an audience. The style of performance that saw Sinatra’s hey-day is gone, replaced by the world’s 6.7 billion-person 15-minutes-of-fame-ridden atmosphere. For one night, I’m bringing it back and you’re gonna love it, like nobody’s loved it, come rain or come shine…

Like I’ve been saying, if you’d never seen Sinatra live, this’ll be your last chance. Grab a spot:

March 23, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Sinatra Simulacra, Sherry, SXSWi

Three wildly exciting announcements, and please don’t contain yourself, please do jump for all it’s worth:

1. Sinatra Simulacra – April 14th, ONE NIGHT ONLY. NYC.

Photo by the adorable Katie Sokoler.

Sinatra Simulacra is the combined efforts of Jonny Cigar, Daniel Barnidge, Brian Quinn, several others and the theater at Dixon Place. With an orchestra backing Cigar (moi) up singing Sinatra, a full cocktail hour with drinks by Mayur Subbarao and Jane Danger, we’re turning Dixon Place into a veritable “Casino” while we turn back the drinks of time… for tickets and more detailed information click here. My goal starting March 14th was to blog about my experience everyday. I’ll pick up that goal starting tomorrow, thank you very much.

2. Sherry. The Noble Rot is going to drink its way through Sherry and Sherry cocktails, and frankly folks do not know what they are missing. Holy Sherry Bananas. Listen: right before we announced our event, Eric Asimov went merry for Sherry and wrote this article. We have a few spots left (because people are afraid of Sherry, you sherricats) and so you might go here and see what you don’t want to miss.

3. SXSWi

Alex Blagg of IFC, Jonny Cigar of WWF. Everything was blurry that night. Everything. Thanks Tumblr.

SXSWi posed a troubling week… troubling for my body and all the blasted libation Austin, TX demanded I pour into it. Folks, this is what happens when things get out of control. One of the highlights was surprising the Social Dali Lhama, Rick Bakas at his event Winedown. He was pouring some wild wines and we enjoyed the brief but wine-fueled conversation. Furthermore, I’d like to thank Danielle Gould and Benjamin Walmer for asking us to collaborate. We ran a hell of a show and the folks who attended our event, dubbed Idea(COMM) had a heck of time. You can read all about it, Danielle, Ben, me, Brian, me, Brian, me, Ben, Danielle, Danielle, Ben, Brian, me, me, me, me and me, here.

Here is a short list of what Brian and I recall we did/attended/struggled through:

Saturday 3/12:
Iron Cactus – Electric Artists Happy Hour

Sunday 3/13:
Parkside (IdeaCOMM)
Cru Wine bar
#GetSauced Pool Party & BBQ Presented by Conduit (at the Ashton)
The Driskill (Electric Artists)
Fast Society Party House
Twin Liquors
Mohawk (The Barbarian Group & StumbleUpon present: ‘T.O.S. Violation!’)
SXSW Vimeo and Nikon party at the Seaholm Power Plant with Diplo and the Eclectic Method!

Brian Quinn joins the cast of the StarTrek2011

Monday 3/14:
Whole Foods Market (Flagship Store)
Squarespace Food Truck (Daniel Delaney)
GroupMe Grill
Winedown (#SXSW wine down with Rick Bakas)
Pepsi MAX Lot (Gary V Q&A)
The Highball (Tumblr Party)
The Driskill (Electric Artists)
GroupMe / Hashable / Spin party at the Cedar Street Courtyard
Frank’s (Late Night Electric Artists Dogs)

Texas really, really loves itself.

Tuesday 3/15:
Walton’s Fancy and Staple
The #Macallan Lounge
IFC Mustache Party
Foursquare Court (Pepsi MAX Lot)
Iron Works BBQ
Haddington’s (Electric Artists)

Proof: "Personal Wine - The Red Room" - that's where we met Rick Bakas for Winedown!

March 10, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

James Beard Foundation Greens, SXSWi, Sinatra Simulacra

Jonny Cigar and BK Winery Winemaker Connor McCormack. Photo courtesy of James Beard (himself!).

“Someone said drink the water, but I will drink the wine.” – Lyric by Paul Ryan.

Let’s talk in threes for this wonderfully brief but loaded flog blog schmost post.

1. James Beard Foundation Greens (as in the James Beard Foundation, but green). The Noble Rot played host at the Brooklyn Winery to the James Beard Greenlings. A delightful bunch, schooled in the art of wine blending. Connor McCormack, BK Winery winemaker, joined us, lending a bit of “legitimate” knowledge to whole affair. We were given a tour of the winery and I interrupted a lot to make jokes while Connor did his best to refrain from stuffing me in one of the tanks and suffocating me with a blanket of CO2. Thanks for refraining Connor! My wife thanks you. Thanks you for nothing. She’s furious. The insurance money would have been worth more than I’ll ever bring home. What a great damn time we had. Log into the other Google (Facebook) and see for yourself here.

Jonny blesses the wine (Deacon Cigar). Photo courtesy of James Beard.

2. SXSWi. (South by Southwest interactive). Austin, Texas comes into its own every year as the world turns toward SXSW extravaganzas. So, we too will take our turn. Here’s how it happened: over coffee with Danielle Gould of Food+Tech Connect I had an epiphany. I wrote down the word “IDEA,” on a piece of paper and next to it “(COMM),” and together it looked like this: Idea(COMM). Let’s back up: Danielle asked us to participate in creating a very exciting event for the interactive SXSWi front. Her raison d’etre is to connect food communities with the technology that can help foster and grow those communities. So, we came up with a Farm-to-Table interactive concept, which materialized as Idea(COMM), which stands for “Instant Data Evolves a Community.” Not bad, eh? The idea: invite chefs to create menus and source all the ingredients locally, direct from farmers using apps, and brilliantly designed websites for just that purpose. Curious to know more? Go here.

Cigatra. Photo by Katie Sokoler.

3. Sinatra Simulacra. On Thursday, April 14, in this the year of 2011, an epic evening unravels: a cocktail hour with quaffs stirred up by some of the best mixologists in New York City, a twelve-piece orchestra, brand new arrangements of Sinatra favorites by Daniel Barnidge, who recently arranged music for… Sting, Jonny Cigar crooning, singing, swinging and reflecting on Frank Sinatra. An invite will go out soon, but only 75 seats are available for this one-night spectacular. The venue is Dixon Place.