Yep, we’re open on Thanksgiving night and you’re welcomed. After the turkey, the fixings and the football, we here for an epic jam session. Bring your talent, bring your family, bring your instrument, bring your clapping hands, and join the fun. Hosted by club owner Tamara Fuller. And entry is only $5.00 per person– our holiday gift to you!
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That’s right–they’re so stupendously tight that we’re bringing them back for one…more…night! This is your last chance this weekend to catch Curtis Lundy, Cyrus Chestnut and Victor Jones again, even if you’ve already had your first delicious taste.
The cost? That’s completely up to you. Your donation is required and greatly appreciated. Proceeds go to the Howard University Alumni Association.
Just call us at 855.5.VELVET and tell us your name, your show time, and how many seats you are reserving. BE SURE to call us with your information so that we can reserve your seats!
Join us THIS Sunday for lotsa love and great music!
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Fan favorites Roman Street are returning to the Velvet Note in August!
Roman Street is an acclaimed instrumental band, consisting of brothers Noah and Josh Thompson, sometimes accompanied by drums and bass. Their music is usually described as jazz fusion, although it ranges from classical to Latin and Nuevo Flamenco.
They play venues around the world, having opened for acts such as Ziggy Marley, Maroon 5 and George Benson. You can check out their last appearance here at the Velvet Note in 2020 in the video below:
When we opened The Velvet Note in 2012, I often asked myself the question, “Whose job is it to promote our shows?” I sincerely hoped the answer would be, “Not yours, Tamara.” After all, hadn’t I come up with the concept, invested my own money, built the club from scratch, designed the decor and interiors, and taken the risk of location and size? Didn’t I spend countless hours doing accounting, finance, taxes, contracts, and website management? Didn’t I book the artists, choose the menu, create the recipes, buy the food and booze, obtain the endless licenses necessary to operate, recruit, hire and manage the staff, and open and close the doors each night? Please oh please oh please, let the job of show promotion be anyone’s responsibility other than mine!
Unfortunately, this was not the answer. There was no answer. Artists and venue owners throughout the industry seemed divided or unsettled on the issue. Poignant contemplation on the subject matter had been published in national articles, with no commonly-held conclusion reached. After years of frustration and anger, I finally decided that whose job it was was completely irrelevant, and that if I wanted the privilege of sitting down with a $10 glass of wine (or a $3.99 slice of pizza) and watching 100-plus years of accomplished musical experience perform in front of my eyes, it might not be my job, but I had better make sure that the promotional job got done.
And then, I had to face an inconvenient truth: I didn’t know how to do it.
Yep. I had to admit to myself that the reason I kept asking whose job it was was that I didn’t know how to effectively promote a show. If I had, I would have been doing it instead of trying to find someone else to do it. And when I say “effectively promote”, I also mean “cost-effectively”. Anyone can spend $1000 and throw up a Hail Mary that will probably pay off. But having a budget of..say…$20, crossing my fingers and hoping customers would come simply wasn’t enough. Ms. Know-It-All-or-Figure-it-Out had forgotten to take a digital marketing class, or even learn the basics of Facebook advertising. Was paying for a $7500 billboard more effective than calling 6 friends with large email lists? I didn’t understand Twitter or Instagram, and I couldn’t conceive of the logic behind SnapChat. And most of all, I doubted that any of it would work, even if I figured it out. As a representative of my target market, I do not sit in front of social media all day, waiting for someone to tell me where to go for entertainment. Why should I expect anyone else to do so?
Fortunately for our club, The Velvet Note has featured many, many artists who are very good at promoting themselves and who fill all of the seats when they perform. Artists such as singer Karla Harris, saxophonist Dwan Bosman, singer/actress Toni Byrd, guitarist George Price, saxophonist Kenyon Carter (list goes on and on) were essential–from day one–in helping us to grow a club that can make money and have great talent on stage too. At some point, I stopped getting so frustrated with the artists and started paying attention to what they were doing. I watched them, asked questions, picked their brains, counted their seats, followed their pages, and years later, they–and a slew of other artists–have taught me a great deal about what any artist must do to successfully fill seats. For each and every show, we know that we must pick up where they leave off and carry the ball over the goal line. It has taken a while, but I think we’ve finally figured some of it out. Artists and venues whose shows consistently sell out share a definitive set of qualities, behaviors and actions in common. It’s not easy, but it is achievable and repeatable. Whether you are a venue, a musician, a promoter, or a fan-bassador, show promotion might not be your job, but it is certainly in the rational self-interest of anyone who wants to enjoy a world in which live music flourishes.
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Woo. I received the following text message this weekend:
[Names changed to protect the adorable] “Hi Tamara…I asked Mary on a date, and the only place she wanted to go was The Velvet Note. Coming to the 9:30 show. Please make me look good (I know you will). See you soon! “
Now John and Mary have been married for over 20 years, so asking her on a date and being genuinely anxious about the outcome is…well…unusual. And beautiful. You see, John (fierce, hot shot lawyer by day) is wooing his wife, as if she’s not a sure thing. He’s not taking her for granted. And Mary is flirty and giggly and feels like she is in love, which she is. And it’s all happening in everyday life. Go ahead and try it. Ask her if you can bring her lunch today…right in the middle of her speech preparation. Tell her you’d enjoy doing that for her. You can start wooing right now. Who? You.
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Valentine’s Day—the day when we ensure the sustainability of chocolate manufacturers. The day when men trade their lunch hour to stand in line and have a custom-designed bouquet crafted at the Whole Foods floral counter (seriously, this should be a tourist attraction). The day when we make a point of saying “I love you” with a slight uptilt on the word “love” and a slight extension of the word “you”, indicating that what we reallywant to hear is those words comin’ back at ‘cha.
Okay, so I’m no relationship expert. I haven’t even found my person yet. And—as you can clearly discern–I have a healthy amount of skepticism around any holiday that amplifies something that we claim to value as part of the fabric of everyday life. Nevertheless, underneath my jaded exterior beats the heart of Love’s Head Cheerleader, wildly shaking my pom poms and rooting for any and all of you who choose to dive into the deep end of lifelong, committed affection. As a trained, keen observer of the human condition, the owner of Alpharetta’s Best Date Night, and the neighbor to The World’s Largest Brazilian Wax Salon, I am declaring myself to be properly credentialed to share my observations on what we do for love, especially as we head into the sweetest of holidays.
So here we go—
(#5–Sunday) Be willing to make yourself vulnerable. In some ways, it’s a jungle out there. I know. Real, grown up life is full of negotiations and trade deals, cases and chases, each of which is an illustration of who we choose to be in the world. We all have a character—an Avatar, of sorts—that gets us through the game, advances our agenda and protects us from harm. Of course, your Valentine likes and admires your avatar, but your Valentine is not in love with your Avatar. S(he) is in love with you. Yes, YOU, silly. The gooey, tender, imperfect you. The you who is willing to exchange your Tom Cruise action movie for a romantic comedy on Netflix (or vice versa). The you who speaks the truth about your feelings, even when it involves fear and uncertainty. The you who can laugh and not take yourself so seriously. The you who is willing to sing in public, off-key. The you who is willing to ask for help and say thank you. Let the vulnerable you come out to play this week. Start early. Start today. You will be surprised by what can happen when you insert something as simple as an unexpected and heartfelt “thank you” into the mix.
Coming Monday: Woo who?
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Imagine attending a fabulous party where you’re engaged in good-humored conversation with one of the guests – a complete stranger before that moment. The laughs are hearty about Atlanta life back-in-the-day. And then, this new down-to-earth friend excuses herself for a moment. But, before she returns, the host introduces the guest performer and suddenly, you realize the person that you exchanged laughs and memories with is actress and singer Chandra Currelley.
Chandra’s adaptability in settings from small gatherings to international theater audiences has made her a multifaceted and widely admired entertainer. She takes The Velvet Note stage, Oct. 18-19, with Tyrone Jackson on piano, Joel Powell on bass, and Brian Andrews on drums.
“I have a pretty versatile show,” Chandra says. “I do this music that I call “urspijaz.” It’s urban, spiritual jazz. It’s urban in a sense of the feel and grooves that I sing on; food for the spirit, and jazz improvisation, which is part of who I am. All of those things are blended in what I do.”
Chandra was lead singer for R&B’s former S.O.S. Band and has performed in numerous musical theater productions by Tyler Perry, Debbie Allen and Kenny Leon. On film, she’s appeared in at least eight Perry films, as well as his series “For Better or Worse,” which ran on the OWN Network from 2011-2016.
The longtime Atlantan was born in Jacksonville, Fla. “This feels like home,” she says. “We moved here when I was 11. My mother had visited…and she liked it. I’m so glad she did.”
Chandra has often credited LaTonya Richardson and Samuel Jackson for guiding her in the right direction professionally long before the married couple became Hollywood heavyweights. Richardson was Chandra’s drama teacher at Booker T. Washington High School.
One day when the teenager was to act out a scene, Richardson became annoyed at her student’s joking around.
“It was a monologue from ‘Ain’t I a Woman,’” Chandra says. “I was clowning but I liked her a lot. She was my buddy and it was just part of me being a ham.
“I got up there playing and she said, ‘Get off the stage. When you get ready to do it, just let me know.’
“I went back there [and did the scene again]. Something happened. I was just channeled and I forgot where I was. I just remember her being quiet and she started to laugh. She said, ‘Um hmm, I thought you had something.’”
It was Samuel Jackson that advised Chandra to spread her wings beyond one form of entertainment, considering she had a powerful singing voice. “He said, ‘Sing. Get some voice lessons and you will work more because people love musicals,’” Chandra recalls. “And that’s what I did. He paid for my theater workshop. And she [LaTonya] paid for my male friend’s workshop.”
Samuel Jackson’s advice proved to be true after the S.O.S. Band’s record label A&M records was sold to PolyGram in 1989. As subsequent mergers took place music groups disbanded including S.O.S.
Chandra turned to musical theater. It was while performing in the Duke Ellington music showcase “Sophisticated Ladies” at 14th Street Playhouse that the singer was sought out by Tyler Perry.
“He said, ‘I would like you to read my play,’” she says. “It was a different kind of theater. I was seeing characters that I recognized but never [before] saw on stage. [Tyler] said, ‘I want to uplift people.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”
Chandra is reluctant to choose a favorite music experience, as they are all different. Among the most treasured, she admits, was about eight years ago when she performed composer Ray Leslee’s “MAYA Songs: The Poems of Maya Angelou” with The Riverside Chamber Players of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
The songs compositions were based on the late poet’s poems on the theme of time.
“It was classical. It was beautiful,” Chandra says as she turns to reflect on her entire career. “And I realized, I’ve been singing a long time.”
Come and see Chandra up close at The Velvet Note, this weekend, Oct. 18-19. Get your tickets at http://thevelvetnote.com/chandra-currelley or by calling 855.5.VELVET.
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