Johari Noelle Releases Stunning Debut Single ‘Show Me’ – Is She the Next Great R&B Singer?


She could probably get a record deal just on the incontestable coolness of her name – which sounds like some sort of African-superhero-Christmas-goddess. But Johari Noelle actually first came to national attention in 2016 on the Kelly Rowland show Chasing Destiny. Since then, she has taken on a few small acting roles – as in the hit series’ Empire and Proven Innocent – while readying the launch of her music career in earnest.

This May 31 at long last sees the release of her debut EP, the sagely titled Things You Can’t Say Out Loud. And the first single, “Show Me,” has us predicting monumental things for the soulful, Chicago born songstress. Conveying a remarkable maturity – complex instrumentation, alluring arrangements, along with her sultry, intoxicating vocal performance – it leaves one with a thrilling sense of her possibilities.



“’Show Me’ is a sensual song that encourages working through the kinks in a relationship,” she explains, “In a world where people people just drop things quick when they get hard or lose understanding, it’s important to dig deep and understand your partner and yourself. This song is about the desire to learn your partner’s love language, and an exploration of that feeling.”

Indeed, even her wisdom is well beyond her years.

N.B. –  Johari will celebrate the release of the EP with a special performance at Chicago’s Promontory on June 5. Advance tickets can be purchased here.



Music City Chic: Eight Particularly Excellent Things About the New Dream Nashville Hotel


There are those who express concern regarding the recent spate of relentless over-development in Nashville city center – but as we always ultimately have to admit, there’s simply no stopping…”progress.”

Of course, you can still seriously get your honky tonk on – or head to East Nashville for full hipster immersion, catching the latest indie darlings at Basement East. And the hard-partying city still loves its cowboy boots and 10 gallon hats, to be sure.

But on our last visit saw us checking in to one of the positive developments to come out of all that…development. Located just moments from so many of Music City’s main cultural attractions is the shiny new Dream Nashville Hotel – which brings a bit of NYC/LA chic to 4th Avenue N, while also revitalizing the storied Printer’s Alley – once the center of all manner of naughty behavior. Drawing from the neighborhood’s rich history and exuberant energy, the Dream has quickly become a magnet for the creative set, with six dining and nightlife venues, from the casual cool of Natura, to the sexy decadence of Dirty Little Secret.

Here’s what loved most.


Location, Location

Right along historic, sometimes infamous Printer’s Alley. The stretch the hotel occupies has been a nightlife district since the 1940s, and has even done time as the city’s Red Light District. It’s tidied up a bit now, obviously. But, hey, you never know.

The Rooms

Thoughtfully styled by Meyer Davis Studio, the 168 art deco referencing, loft inspired rooms are awash in deep jewel tones. Bold color schemes and playfully modern furnishings  play nice with the historic details of the landmarked heritage buildings in which the Dream is located. Deluxe King rooms have generous windows framing the Nashville skyline.


Easy 8

An ideal spot for a casual grab and go lunch or, even better in a town like Nashville, a late night, hangover pre-empting munchie run. They serve mouthwatering, overstuffed sandwiches, juicy burgers, and decadent options such as the Kobe beef hotdogs, that are as big on flavor as they are on calories. And did we mention their foot long french fries? Obviously the perfect way to soak up all that bourbon.

Stateside Kitchen

Something a little different for Nashville. Signature brasserie-style restaurant Stateside Kitchen serves up sophisticated modern American cuisine under a beautiful, airy glass atrium. Helmed by chef and Hillstone Restaurant Group alum Michael Kopfman, you’ll find yourself torn between the bucatini jumbo prawn pasta and the 22 ounce cowboy ribeye with, naturally, jumbo asparagus.



Your Chariot

Why call Uber when you have a complimentary 2019 Lincoln Navigator at your disposal? Guests can tool around Nashville in style and substance – and, like the steaks, it’s also really, really big.

Parlour Bar

Vibing with the legacy of the area, the intimate and sophisticated Parlour Bar skips the over-concepted-cocktail trend for a chance to update the classics. Whiskey and bourbon aficionados will appreciate the Suntory Sidecar, and the very southern Smoked Peach Old Fashioned. But there’s also the CBD laced Gin & Chronic, made, believe it or not, with strawberry rhubarb.




Those who have fully committed to the fussed-over cocktail scene will love Snitch. Located right on Printer’s Alley, they’ve enlisted top local drinks alchemists to create a menu of distinctly Instagrammable imbibables. And when the DJs aren’t spinning familiar rock and hip-hop, expect impromptu live performances on their vintage stand-up piano.

Dirty Little Secret

And finally, we’ll let you in on the Dirty Little Secret…which is hidden behind the wall of an intimate All Saints boutique, also tucked away down Printer’s Alley. This dark and seductive hideaway hosts live music, intriguing entertainment, and some of the world’s top international DJs. Virtually anything goes.



The Raconteurs Announce Long-Awaited New Album, 2019 North American Tour


Whatever else you might think of Jack White, there is virtually no denying his commitment to keeping the dying light of rock & roll shining as brightly as it possibly can. Indeed, the Nashville-by-way-of-Detroit Renaissance Man has kept up between two and three bands for more than a decade now, as well as a solo career.

To be sure, the White Stripes were still very much an ongoing concern when in 2005 he formed The Raconteurs with Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. But with Mr. White also busy with The Dead Weather as of 2009, there hasn’t been another Raconteurs studio record since all the way back in 2008 – a situation that will be decisively remedied with the release, via Third Man, of Help Us Stranger on June 21.

In the meantime, after two months of shows in Australia, Japan and Europe, the band will launch an impressively extensive North American tour June 12 at Detroit’s Masonic Temple. 34 dates will then take them through Vancouver, LA, Atlanta, D.C., New York, Boston…ending up in St. Louis on October 18 – at which time we believe Jack White Halloween costumes will be flying off the shelves.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, April 12, 10am, via the Third Man Store. We suggest not procrastinating.



Perry Farrell’s New Album is a Trip to ‘Kind Heaven’


If the musical landscape is lacking anything in particular, it is a corresponding number of genuine provocateurs, to match the level of the urgency of our harrowing global socio-political reality.

Which is why it is always a particular thrill to know that Perry Farrell is returning to the music-go-round. Indeed, the Jane’s Addiction frontman has just announced that his new solo album, Kind Heaven, will be released this June 7 – and it is likely to raise the roof. With special guests including members of Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, The Cars…and an a co-production assist by legendary Bowie producer Tony Visconti,  it will be an appropriate musical extravaganza, to be sure.

It also marks the debut of Farrell’s “support” band, The Kind Heaven Orchestra. They will be occupying stages from New York to Boston to Chicago, as part of a City Winery sponsored tour, which kicks off at that venue in NYC on June 7. From there, The Box Presents will take them to Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and London.

An advance single from the album is fittingly titled “Pirate Punk Politician,” a scathing indictment of the rise of national and international regimes with autocratic tendencies. Naturally.


Marina’s Poignant New Single + Video ‘To Be Human’ Wishes We Could All Just Get Along


We fell hard for Marina of Marina & The Diamonds all the way back in 2010, during a particularly riveting performance at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms. Three albums later, she has been truncated to simply Marina, and is preparing to release a fourth long player, the dual-conceptual and unambiguously titled Love + Fear (out April 26 via Atlantic).

The second single from the “Love” collection is the earnestly poignant “To Be Human,” an incisive meditation on what it means to be these flesh and blood beings that we are. Her lyrics very much convey a personal conflict: “All the things that I’ve done and I’ve seen / Still I don’t know, don’t know what it means.” But when she attempts to steer the conversation towards hopefulness – “And anywhere you go, you’ll see / People are just like you and me” – we must admit that we struggle these days to share in her optimism.



The accompanying video depicts a globalized world united by love and ideology, with specific references to Black Lives Matter, gun control, and Soviet protestors.

“Thematically, ‘To Be Human’ sums up the head space that I’ve come from in the past three years,” she elucidates. “I talk about unity, name checking a lot of places around the world to create this picture of humanity, because in our current political climate we are constantly being made to see different people as ‘other’, and I hate that.”

To see Marina herself, hope the Pond to catch one of her April-May UK shows – or just wait patiently for her fall 2019 North American tour to commence September 10 in Toronto.



‘BlackBook Presents’ Gallery Preview: Bob Tabor’s New Photo Book ‘Splash’ Captures the Power + Mystery of the Ocean


“I was made with a heart of stone
To be broken
With one hard blow
I’ve seen the ocean
Break on the shore
Come together with no harm done…”

“Ocean Size”, Jane’s Addiction, lyrics by Perry Farrell


We find mystery in the dark of the forests, in the twinkling of the stars…but perhaps nothing so intrigues and mystifies us at once as the world’s plentiful oceans, in all their enigmatic vastness.

Photographer Bob Tabor (who was recently part of the inaugural show at the BlackBook Presents Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn) is also uniquely aware of their power to hold us visually rapt. In fact, he has devoted an entire new book to the subject, fittingly titled Splash (released through ACC Art Books). In it, he uses skillful cropping to create images that convey both the awesome power, and the ineffable beauty of the ocean. Waves seem to be dancing playfully on one page, and threatening ominously on yet another.



His camera captures that which our eyes could certainly never, considering the speed and relentlessness with which the ocean goes about its daily rhythms, in communion with the so many other equally powerful elements of nature.

We sat Tabor down to discuss his love/hate relationship with the sea, and how it made this stunning new book possible. His solo exhibition based on the book will open at the BlackBook Presents Gallery on April 17, on which date he will also be present for a special signing.

What made you decide to move on from a Madison Avenue career to do photography?

Entering the Madison Avenue workforce in the 1960’s as an Art Director for an ad agency, I became part of a creative mecca. I experienced total freedom to create “smart”advertising. Unfortunately, over the years I witnessed the walls crumble. Holding-company CFOs and accountants destroyed the “Mad Men” and homogenized the creative process.

What and who were some of your initial inspirations?

Being fortunate to have worked as a creative person in an ad agency, I was able to work with the best storytellers – masters in photography, film and design. A day didn’t go by without me learning how to see things in a graphic, inevitable approach – how to tell a story in a fresh engaging way.

Did a particular artistic philosophy develop fairly quickly?

Yes. My philosophy is “less is more.” ‘Simplicity”; “Clean”; “Direct”; “Engaging” communications.

How did you decide on the theme of the new book Splash?

I believe my photographs capture the raw power of the sea. The most energetic section of the surf is when it breaks and the “splash” reaches for the sky.


Some of the photographs have a very intimate quality, yet others feel epic. What is your relationship with the ocean?

I always had a fascination with it. As a child my family spent our summers in a bungalow colony near the ocean, in Far Rockaway, Queens. The sound, smell and beauty of the sea has and will always be part of my life.

Water is essential to life, but also has the power to kill. Do you find the ocean more comforting, or intimidating?

During one hot summer day at the age of three, my dad picked me up in his arms and joyfully ran into the cool ocean surf. His good intentions were quickly taken away when a powerful wave knocked me out of his arms and pulled me under to uncertain drowning. The next thing I remember is having CPR being performed on me trying to bring me back to life. So, I have a love/hate relationship with the sea. I came close to giving up my life to it, but it’s calming, soothing mood-changing movement and smell brings me to the shoreline year after year.

What story are you trying to tell with Splash

Everyone has a moment, a day, a stretch of time, when they long to escape; to leave the multiple pressures of life behind and bask in a little peace and tranquility. My memories and dreams mix together in a multitude of emotions. The ocean allows me to dream a new story when I look out beyond the horizon.

What do you hope people will take away from it?

I want the viewer to get in touch with their inner feelings, to create their own story looking out from the shoreline. A moment in time. No phones, no computers, no outside pressure. Just a place to call your own.



Downtown Los Angeles Renaissance: Our Favorite Stops at the ROW DTLA



It’s without question that Downtown Los Angeles has been undergoing a rapid transformation in recent years, after about a dozen notable starts and stops. The LA Times wrote just last year that the construction boom was the biggest the area had seen since the 1920’s.

Like New York’s Meatpacking District or San Francisco’s SOMA, DTLA has gone from a cluster of industrial warehouses and artist studios to, essentially, a scenester’s paradise. All this change, and the shops, bars and restaurants fueling its new hype, have ultimately brought us to the latest fashionable megaplex: ROW DTLA.



Once known as the LA Terminal Market – where hundreds of fruit and vegetable vendors came to sell their goods back in the 1930’s – the sprawling property (30 acres of contained city blocks) is now a glistening reflection of the nearby revitalization. Outside of being a hub for the nation’s produce, ROW DTLA now has all the stuff we normally trek across town for: locally roasted coffee, interactive art exhibits, of-the-moment boutiques, and abstract furniture that’s yet somehow still comfortable.

We have Mark Rios and his team at Rios Clementi Hale Studios (and New York-based developer Jeffrey Goldberger) to thank for the architectural reboot. While we typically fret at the idea of big money swooping in to transform anything, they were careful to breathe new life into the ROW’s iconic framework, without stripping it of historical charm. It’s not just another outdoor shopping space (a la The Grove or Century City Mall), but rather a collection of independently owned businesses and culinary names we love.

Here we highlight BlackBook‘s particular fave reasons to get down to ROW DTLA as often as possible. Oh, and for the pragmatist in you – now you can also find a parking space/


The Manufactory

Debuting just last month, this is the newest concept from the James Beard Award-winning team of San Francisco’s beloved Tartine and Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco. Find whatever you’re craving under one roof: a market, a cafe, all-day restaurant Tartine Bianco, the Tartine Bakery…and, for those special occasion moments, private dining room Alameda Supper Club.



The Things We Do

Vanessa Lee’s “beauty concept bar” features a mix of Western (botox, fillers) and Eastern (cosmetic acupuncture, facial cupping) beauty practices. A photo of her mom and aunts on the beach in the Philippines in the ‘70s inspired the space’s design: lots of burnt gold, peach, and cream colors paired with wavy textural elements and hints of shimmer. Plus, the facials will leave you glowing for days.



Hawkins New York

Decorate the home of your dreams with Hawkins NY’s soft linens and artisanal-style ceramics and dishware – all available in of-the-moment color palettes. Lovely.




Curated by owner Whitney Bickers, who moved her shop from Silver Lake to ROW DTLA to be amongst like-minded retailers (and to escape skyrocketing SL rents), Myrtle has no shortage of the looks Angelenos love. Browse drape-y dresses, accessories, footwear, jewelry, bags, apothecary and fragrance – all made by independent female designers.



Paramount Coffee Project

Find Aussie import Paramount Coffee Project’s second L.A. location here. Expanding on the offerings of their original Fairfax Avenue cafe, the space is the place for strong coffee in the morning and afternoons, and a delicious selection of wines (obviously some from Australia) come evening. (As well as English pea tartines and and sausage hand pies).



Still Life Ceramics

Not really the knitting types, we’ve long been meaning to take up the fine art of pottery. Here’s the place to do it – or at least to purchase some from people who are already good at it. Shop an assortment of beautifully handmade things or sign up for a night on the wheel.




Why pick furniture for function when you can have a piece that’s functional and incites conversation. A+R houses some of the most innovative furniture designers, those with lots of umlauts in their names. From awe-inspiring lighting fixtures to futuristic sofas you can still sink into for a night of, well, sitting on the sofa – this is the place to make your home just that much more aesthetically imaginative. 


Aesthetic Overthrow: London Art Rockers black midi Tear Down Everything You Knew


Unexpected. Anxious. Soothing. Austere. Poppy. Psychotic.

These are the first of many unrelated adjectives that flood your brain when you listen to London’s black midi. The quartet, all of whom are under 21, have little to say about where they’ve come from or what their point may be. They carry their audiences through swells of melodic passages, jazzy drumming and delightfully strange vocals that inevitably crash into a world of utter lunacy and terrifying dissonance. Noisy though they may be, they are precise to the point of fastidiousness, and creepy, with a daunting amount of self-control. Their myriad, opposing forces melt together in mind-blowing ways, coming off as a lyrically less intricate, heavy metal Talking Heads.

Comparisons really do black midi no justice, that said. And who really cares what most bands have to say? They are on a plane of their own bizarre, panicked creation, and it’s been a terribly long time since something this refreshingly insane has hit the scene. And as black midi shatters the stifling, if not vapid glass ceiling of their indie music peers, they breath new life into not only today’s atmosphere, but have laid new ground for the future by simply torching all expectations to the ground.



Their new single, “Crow’s Perch” (out via Rough Trade) takes its name in reference to the video game Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The accompanying video, directed by 17-year-old Vilhjálmur Yngvi Hjálmarsson (aka susan_creamcheese), reflects the frenetic energy of the song to the point where it can nearly be seen in plain sight with your eyes closed. Hyper, neon flashes punctuate montages of mundane, quotidian life teapots and bathroom tiles, amounting to another chapter of insanity that only black midi can create, as we anxiously await whatever they manage to cook up next.

They were arguably the most anticipated band at this year’s SXSW Festival, and that’s for good reason. Their burn is masterfully slow, and they put on one hell of a show. Already having sold out their first-ever, upcoming NYC dates, they are also making an appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer – but not before they kick off their European tour next month. Miss them at your own cultural peril.



One Year On, Tribeca’s Frenchette is Still Reinventing the Modern French Bistro

Images by Melanie Dunea


Frenchette, the innovative French bistro from Keith McNally alums Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, just turned one, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate. For 16 years, the pair were the dream team behind McNally’s predominantly French empire (Balthazar, Pastis, Minetta Tavern, Schiller’s), and their inaugural venture has more than a few insiders wondering why they didn’t break out sooner. (Though we do understand the loyalty factor.)

Located in the low-key culinary mecca of Tribeca, Frenchette has all the ingredients of an exceptional restaurant – a sometimes daring but approachable menu, clever but unpretentious cocktails, and a very lively scene. But what really sets it apart is the way in which it has reimagined the quintessential French bistro, by infusing it with the intrinsic luxury and sophistication we’ve come to expect from NYC’s most exclusive restaurants.



McNally, of course (much like Danny Meyer), was a master of balancing trendiness and amicability – and we love that Nasr and Hanson have carried over the delivery of exceptional hospitality – often lacking at fashionable hotspots – to Frenchette. Even a year in, it remains one of the toughest reservations in Gotham; yet we noticed the convivial hosts extending patience to even those spontaneous arrivals who are praying that the walk-in gods are smiling upon them. In this way, Frenchette redefines the bistro as a luxe, yet accessible space.

It’s so compelling, in part, because it’s more than a restaurant – it’s an experience. The atmosphere is somewhat surreal, expertly juxtaposing the expected with the unexpected. Foregoing a large, open format, the space is divided into two distinct sections separated by a wall with curved archways – and the buzzy bar area is styled in an Art Deco fashion.  While waiting for our table, we ordered up a couple of the signature cocktails: the Rayuela and Eponine Collins – but one might easily be tempted by the list of more than a hundred natural wines.



We were then led through the doorway into the more formal dining room, bathed in a soft, incandescent light. This incredibly intimate space featured only 100 tables, that are so close together you might find yourself picking up a bit of tasty gossip from your temporary neighbors. The understated décor features simple flower silhouettes on the walls, a distinctly feminine touch contrasting the otherwise masculine dark wood and leather motif. For a romantic night out, we highly recommend lingering in one of the cozy red booths, just soaking up the dreamy surrounds.

And then, of course, there’s the food. Although Frenchette is unmistakably French, the menu is anything by trad.  One of favorite appetizers, the brouillade, is escargot bathed in garlic butter and served in scrambled eggs that are whipped until they reach the consistency of polenta. We also love the smaller “amuses,” that give you plenty of opportunities to sample some of the more imaginative dishes, to wit,  couteaux casino, the jamon blanc, and the Spanish tortilla with trout roe. For the main, we’d recommend the duck frites, which is done so well that we wonder how we’ll ever go back to eating steak frites again. Those with a reason to splurge, should definitely splash out the the $136 Masonic Farm côte de boeuf.



Another excellent option is the homard a la broche, or rotisserie lobster, quite possibly the most tender we’ve ever had, immersed in an exceptionally decadent curry butter sauce. And if you’re wondering about that side dish on every single table, it’s the gnocci parisienne, ham and cheese gnocci wrapped in pastry dough rather than potato, resulting in pillowy, otherworldly goodness.

And otherworldly, yet down to earth in all the right ways, might be the perfect way to describe the place. So, happy first birthday Frenchette – we’ll make sure to have an extra slice of your decadent coulant au chocolate to celebrate.