What’s Old is New Again


THERE’S SOMETHING about Sinatra and a good martini that sets the world right. So how could I pass up a feature on a couple of “local cats” like the Martini Brothers?

The “brothers,” aka Grand Lake residents Bob Dalpe and “Mr. Rick” Fishman, have been promoting what they call the martini culture for years. But are the old standards back in vogue again? Not so’s you’d notice, says Mr. Rick. “I don’t see it as a hip new thing, but it seems to have really become the mainstream for the cocktail culture over the past 12 years.”

Still, finding a place for their band to play locally hasn’t been easy. “We’ve been really involved in the whole swing thing in the Bay Area, playing at places like the Top of The Mark and the Compass Rose, but there’s no place to play in Oakland,” Mr. Rick laments.

But the Martini Brothers have landed a groovy gig at one of the swankiest spots in San Francisco — Le Colonial. “It’s an upscale French Vietnamese Restaurant with long rattan bars and a lot of sophistication,” says Mr. Rick, who has his six-piece combo playing there from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday nights.

I caught their act the other night and believe me — it’s as smooth as a hot toddy in winter. The band really draws a crowd, too, since so many people are dying to go out where they can dance and drink and get dressed up. For this, San Francisco seems like the perfect spot.

E-mail bag

Speaking of music, thanks to hills photographer Reenie Raschke for sharing this: “I am always amazed at the jewels I find on my block. I met my guitar teacher, Caren Armstrong, when I put a note on her door saying, “‘It seems like a lot of people are walking into your house with guitars…. Is it possible you teach?'”

What Reenie discovered was that Caren not only teaches, she’s an amazing singer and songwriter — with three CD’s and a long list of credits. “My daughter and I went to the Mountain Winery in Saratoga to watch her open for the Beach Boys,” Reenie wrote. “She plays regularly at Strings in Berkeley, and has a lovely gig coming up at the Freight and Salvage in Oakland on Oct. 10. She so personifies the groovy women in our town.”

By the way, Reenie is a “groovy woman” in her own right. You can check out her work (and make an appointment for your holiday photo) at the Studio Montclair in the Village.

Flower power

Imagine Oakland abloom in yellow daffodils.

Keep Oakland Beautiful is giving away 25,000 free daffodil bulbs this month to groups or individuals who promise to plant them in public places. No fair putting them in your back yard garden — these buttercup beauties should be placed in parks and median strips, for all to share.

To order bulbs or for more information, call 510-434-5126.

Coming soon

Nero Tovar (owner of the wonderful Senior Nero’s on Grand Avenue) tells me there’s a new Cuban restaurant going into his building on Thornhill Drive.

The owners of Jackson’s Canvas — who are still serving lunch and dinner — will be getting out of the restaurant business in about four weeks, but will do catering in the future.

A Montclair couple is opening La Taza de Café sometime in late October or early November. I’ll have more in my column next week, but if you’ve been longing for live entertainment in Monclair, you’ll want to stay tuned. Co-owners Daniel Brajkovich and Minette Montoya say they’ll be bringing in Latin music and even a flamenco dancer or two.

The candyman

Remember the hills dad who broke the world record for eating M&M’s with a pair of chopsticks? Jim Hager may be taking his act to Japan soon.

Apparently, the Nippon Television Network is courting Hager for a show entitled “World Records” and may be flying Hager to Tokyo. Aside from good television, Jim’s act would make a good slogan over there. M&M’s …they melt in your mouth, not in your chopsticks.

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