Nublu Celebrates 10 Years in Clubland

Ten years in clubland is 15 in dog years and around 105 in human years. It is a magnificent achievement, and the folks at Nublu – which include one of my favorite people on this planet, Daisy Payero – are celebrating in spades, in hearts, in diamonds, and their club, which is back where it belongs. That was a run-on sentence because Nublu was forced to run on over to Hayne Southern’s Lucky Cheng’s basement space for six months while licensing issues were resolved. After nine years, somebody discovered that there was a nearby church, and that’s a no-no because we all know that churches and alcohol don’t mix. Anyway, they are back in their original abode but, alas, with only a beer, wine, and sake license. But according to everyone I speak to, they haven’t lost a beat. That beat is grounded in the unique and eclectic music they offer and, as Daisy has told me, "it’s all about the music.”

Owner Ilhan Ersahin has decided the celebration should be a month-long shebang:

"Nublu has become a cultural haven for musicians from around the world known to blend different styles from electronic, jazz, dub, to indie, Brazilian, and global beats. From small clubhouse to music powerhouse, Nublu has undoubtedly stayed humble to its roots, and there is no better way to put it than in Ilhan’s own words: "We are just playing music."

Nublu’s 10th anniversary features an incredible lineup from June 1-30, including Sun Ra Arkestra, Brazilian Girls, Wax Poetic, Jojo Mayer’s Nerve, Taylor McFerrin, and Jetlag feat. Andy Rourke from The Smiths. World0renowned DJs will also join the festivities, featuring Moby, In Flagranti, DJ Logic, Tim Sweeney, and many more."

I asked Ilhan all about it.

Nublu is back to its roots and celebrating 10 years, albeit with some slight changes including a wine/beer/sake-only bar and some menu offerings. Is it truly all about the music and can you remain profitable without a full bar?
Yes, I hope we keep the same vibe going. Great music is still always here and it’s getting better and better everyday! Many of the resident bands who have played here for years continue to rise and draw more fans, so yes, I guess you CAN say it is all about the music or rather all about art. Alcohol-wise, our bartenders have concocted a nice drink menu with sake so there is still a “cocktail” vibe at the bar, and we do have good wine and food to offer now as well.

How do you feel Nublu has impacted the New York music scene over the past 10 years?
I think Nublu has grown into something unique. It has developed into a space where the criteria is about good musicianship and personal expression, meaning that we never have cover bands or jazz acts that play standards etc. It’s all about making your own music on a high level. Over the past 10 years lots of great bands have been born here and many bands and DJs have played here and developed. Nublu has never been about being yet another place where you just do a "gig.” It’s more about developing a sound and developing a band or an idea or compositions.

I do think Nublu has had a very important role in NYC, but the interesting side of Nublu is that it has become global. You will find people from Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, etc. that know and follow Nublu now. That following has developed a bit because of Nublu records, a bit because of the club, from our jazz festivals that we now host in some of those cities yearly, and from traveling the world playing with various Nublu bands.

You have started taking Nublu global with a club in Istanbul and jazz festivals in Sao Paulo and Paris. Tell us what the response to Nublu and its sound has been overseas. Is this the next phase for Nublu?
It has been very good and always a growing movement which is the most inspiring thing. This past February we sold 5,200 tickets for a 5-day Nublu Jazzfest in Sao Paulo where we booked some US acts and some Brazilian acts. Pretty amazing for a second-year festival in Brazil, so the interest is there for sure. More and more radio stations around the globe are also adding our tracks.

Can you share your favorite Nublu moments from the past 10 years?
There are too many! I never know where to start, and my philosophy is always that the latest is the best…. so this past Friday night was an amazing night. The vibe was so great, people looked really happy, and the bands and DJ sounded fantastic. Of course we have had our star moments, like when Gilberto Gil came in and jammed, or when Kevin Spacey or Keanu Reeves most recently came in. Flea have stopped by and hung out at the bar, and soccer star Ronaldino shows up to our Wednesday night Brazil parties.  But in general we have many, many amazing nights at Nublu and I think the main reason is that Nublu is a "destination" type of place. We don’t get too many passersby who happen to stop by; we get an audience who plan on coming to Nublu for the night to have a good time and enjoy good music.

You had to relocate Nublu to a temporary space back in fall 2011… Did the six months in a strange place result in losing an audience or have you gained new faces?
Nublu has always been upside down and turned around. I think being on Avenue C and basically being in Manhattan and having live music and DJs every single night, and basically not advertising anywhere, has always made nights very random. There are always new faces mixed with old faces around here so that hasn’t changed a bit.

On the things to list for all you party people, I can’t recommend a soiree more strongly than New York Night Train’s bash at Home Sweet Home  tonight called “Shakin’ All Over Under Sideways Down.” Jonathan Toubin spins 45s and bringing you tracks you can’t hear anyplace else. It is the rarest of rare music. We’re not talking B-sides; we’re talking e,d,g- sides. A cool, cool crowd gets down and dirty and totally sexy in this basement that I absolutely love.

Also on the check-it-out front is Bantam, 17 Stanton, which has opened its backyard in time to catch the outdoor craze, which has revelers on roofs, by pools, and on curbs. I DJd there last night with Kelle Calco and these great guys Sonic Relief. It was splendid.

Tribute to the Late 230 Fifth Owner and Nightlife King Steven Greenberg

Man about town Steven Greenberg has passed and I’m going to put my two cents in. I’d put in three but I have a feeling, if he could, he’d scold me for overpaying. Over many years, Steven was a friend, mentor, and a go-to-guy when I needed a big brain and an honest answer. He was always more than pleased to help. A couple of years ago when I was putting together some nightlife community thing, he advised me about the people I was dealing with and why it would fall short of my expectations. He was unrelenting, unforgiving, and spot-on. I was in too deep to go back, but his wisdom had me prepared for the inevitable.

We were meeting in the office at 230 Fifth. Various managers and other thrill-seekers came in to pay homage, get approval, or just bask in his light. He stopped every now and then to answer a phone call on the company line. He told potential patrons about the place, how to get there, how much things cost, what to expect. I can’t think of another owner who would have done that. He loved this world created by him…himself, away from the pack, out of sight and mind of most of the club community. He made more loot than anyone but demanded I wouldn’t tell. It was a Thursday around 11pm and he asked someone to show me what they had grossed so far. The numbers were unreal. We walked around and I saw gigantic bars with yuppies five deep banging down drinks under the light of the Empire State Building. He catered to a crowd that wasn’t chic or fabulous or newsworthy. They dressed from work or similar to it. I imagined they would go home and take off the white shirt and put on the colorful shirt and be ready to go. He fired a DJ while I was taking a tour. The offense? He put on a hip-hop record. He wanted none of that. It was a room with a view, the best view, but only one viewpoint: his.
 
He had been that rich guy behind the scenes for eons. Secretive and charismatic, sometimes appearing in the tabloids for doing something flamboyant like nixing a Gossip Girl shoot which was to have Chuck Bass and the Empire Hotel claim his 230 view as his own. He fired the Apprentice before they could use his space. He was involved in some SEC scandal. He rode in his very own limo with his very own driver and the it-girl of the day enjoying the night he loved so much. I knew many of these girls, many people do. I more than once hinted at the nature of the relationship and was always told something like, "he never laid a hand on me, it’s not like that." I met him at a sushi bar in Midtown. He was with an educated Asian woman who did something fabulous and he took over my evening. My date became his new friend. He wanted to know all about her. He asked and asked and she told and told. He knew all about her field and told her he knew someone and he could help connect her. He ordered for us and introduced us to the owners and built up our importance as if we were the king and queen of Siam. I never saw a bill. He was going to meet me about something important and I’d see him at some opening tomorrow and he sped into the night. His energy was boundless. His mind curious and insatiable.
 
Everybody knew him or at least recognized him. At Madison Square Garden, one night I sat in some good seats at a bad Knicks game. He was in his great seats. His white frock made him easy to spot, even in the crowd. He rose and started to walk up the aisle and the Garden camera showed him on the big screen and everyone cheered. He was Ben Franklin to some. The Quaker Oats guy to others. That quirky rich guy to the envious. Someone asked me yesterday, "who’s going to get all his money?’ I replied, "surely not you."
 
When I ran things, he was behind the scenes only popping up at meetings a couple of times. I once asked my direct bosses at the Palladium, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, who he was and got "he owned the parking lot next door" or once "he was the landlord." Other places like the Roxy or Gramercy Park Hotel or the rooftop of the Ganesvoort had him doing something as well. Owning, leasing, controlling, making money off…sometimes it was more clear than others. It never mattered to me.
 
He was a friend. When he called me, whatever time it was, no matter what I was doing, I dropped everything. Time with him was precious to me and no, there will be no more. Susan Anton an old club buddy, now a natural healer, alerted me to his passing. Kelly Cole, an old friend on the West Coast, heard it but couldn’t confirm. Anthony Haden-Guest called me for confirmation. I called 230 Fifth and identified myself as an old friend and writer for this magazine. I got a "we can’t speak to that at this time" response. I pressed on as I am, after all, sort of press…I asked the nice lady, "I guess if it weren’t true, you would be saying something like… that’s absurd!" There was silence on the phone and so I continued my full court press. "Is this silence like the silence in All the President’s Men where you are saying "yes" because you aren’t saying anything and not hanging up?" She repeated the party line "there will be no comment at this time." I called Anthony and told him what had happened. We agreed it must be true. I gave him the number and he gave it a try with his impressive name and accent. He told me he must have gotten the same lady as I did and got the same answer except she had added for "legal reasons" to her "no comment" mantra. Anthony wondered about that. I told him that it’s a three-day weekend and maybe they’re worried they don’t have a valid liquor license if he’s officially gone.
 
The news was confirmed on Facebook with old soldiers Bill Jarema, Robert Roth, and Eytan Sugarman leading the charge. Steven was dead. My great friend Christie, living now in an exotic land, reminded me that Steven had introduced us on the steps of the Palladium’s Michael Todd room back in the day. We are life-long friends and we remembered Steven’s part in that. Others called in short stories that they made long. All agreed he was a character. We are all a great deal poorer for his passing. We have lost a zillion stories which, even if retold, will have little meaning without him. His illness was a secret to many. His death was sudden for us and way too soon. It screams at me about my own mortality. I have lost someone who rarely said no to me and when he did, the advice and lesson learned made that no a yes. His eyes lit up a room. Nightlife was a toy, a board game to him that never bored him and that he almost always won. I apologize for this article being a bit everywhere and maybe a little confusing but maybe that describes Steven Greenberg perfectly.

Industry Insiders: Clarice Lam, Chef and Owner of The Baking Bean

Clarice Lam swapped Prada sportswear for kitchen whites when the former model-turned-baker launched The Baking Bean, an online pastry business. Everything from rosemary butter croissants and raspberry to mango peach pie is made to order and delivered to your door. Here, our September 2012 Industry Insider and sweets-expert shares what inspired her to dive into the pastry business, the challenges she’s overcome, and how sweet it is to do what you love.  

How did you first launch The Baking Bean?
I had always been doing special orders and custom desserts for friends, and through word-of-mouth on the side. At their behest, I put a name to it, and thus The Baking Bean was born.

What makes your business unique from other online pastry companies?
We don’t have a set menu. You can really order anything your heart desires AND it will be delivered to you! We also offer a monthly dessert club, which for $100/mo you can get four desserts a month, with one delivery per week!

What’s your favorite treat on the menu, and how would you describe your signature style?
I love the peanut butter and jelly smores. It’s peanut butter shortbread cookie with raspberry jam and marshmallow, all enrobed in Belgian milk chocolate and topped with peanuts and fleur de sel. So addictive! And my style is definitely elegant, whimsical, and a little bit of street.

You’ve worked as a model for years, traveled and lived in various parts of the world, and studied fashion. How has that lifestyle informed your current work as a baker?
Thanks to my travels for 10+ years, I was able to study the food from different cultures while simultaneously being influenced by the beauty of those cities. All of those flavors have made their way into my work now.

What do you love and not love about the pastry industry?
I work in pastry because it’s my passion and because I love it. What nobody loves about the industry, whether it be pastry or savory, is the pay. We work really hard for not that much, but we do it because we love what we do.

You’ve encountered and overcome great trauma as well. What would you say was the foremost thing you learned from that experience years ago, and how has that lesson affected your work?
Being in an accident that left me nearly paralyzed or dead has taught me to never give up and to always fight and work harder. It has made me even more driven than I already was. When I first started in this industry and still had problems walking, I never used it as an excuse to do a mediocre job or to catch a break, and I never will. I will always use any hardships that come my way to make me a stronger and better person.

What’s your ultimate goal with your business?
Let’sput it this way… if someone were to be shown an ink blot of something resembling a cake, I would want their response to be The Baking Bean.

For a list of all of Clarice’s favorite spots for sweets, click here

Avenue A Soundcheck’s “Mondays Rock:” An A-List Music Industry Event

Every Monday night, at the intimate The Double Seven club by the Hudson River, three new music talents are being heard. Here, signed and unsigned recording artists are performing private concerts to crowds filled with music industry, fashion, and the arts insiders – people passionate about music. And if you’ve ever wanted to witness an unsigned artist finally get discovered by all the right people, then say hello to your new Monday night plans: Avenue A Soundcheck’s “Mondays Rock" series.

“Soundcheck is the peoples’ champ, the underdog," says Nima Yamini, the production company’s founder. “We’re sticking up for the little guy.”
 
Yamini, with a team of music managers, artists, and record labels (Universal Music, Interscope, Ultra), and the support of The Double Seven’s owner Jeffrey Jah, crafted the weekly “Monday’s Rock” concept, in which talent is carefully curated, and three new indie-rock-alternative artists are showcased to a crowd of music industry executives, artists, and all-around music-lovers. Tonight’s show will feature the erotic, lingerie-clad troupe Roma! (recently featured in Billboard), while last week’s crowd witnessed a performance by electro-rock-pop artist Zander Bleck, who has toured with Lady Gaga.
 
And so far, the series is a hit, with past performances consistently packed. 
 
“This show isn’t targeted toward models, celebrities, Wall St. guys – that stuff is the least important thing to me,” Yamini says. “The most important thing is that the musicians feel like they have a home."