IT WAS 1988 when we first moved to Montclair. Young newlyweds, my husband and I found nightlife just down the hill at a place called The Equinox. The club’s closure marked the beginning of a long drought for those of us thirsty for live local music.
Finally, the drought appears to be over.
There was a warm, welcoming glow coming from the historic Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club last week. Folks filtered in for an evening of comedy, commentary and music. Many of us had never seen this remarkable building, which had quietly been part of the landscape here since the 1920s. The fire crackled and threw light on the persimmon-colored walls. The mahogany bar gleamed as the men and women of Montclair shared wine and warm conversation.
The evening was organized by Andrea Gordon, a local Realtor with a background in theater and a dream of starting an Art Salon in Montclair. “This community has everything going for it,” she said, “but rarely do we see live performance happening here.” With her own money, Gordon hopes to change that. And the Woman’s Club couldn’t be a better venue.
The grand old lady is already home to the 17-piece Montclair Women’s Big Band, and features a wonderful stage with a brand new sound system and great acoustics. The ballroom is a classy as ever, with its four double doors that open into the wooded courtyard. It’s a beautifully restored building that is perfectly situated across from the local library.
Gordon’s next live event is on May 16, with bi-monthly shows after that. Let’s support her dream to bring live entertainment to Montclair. Let’s make this a gathering place for everyone who celebrates music as the soul of a community — and the way to bring us closer together. For more information on upcoming shows, her Web site is www.andreagordon.com.
SPEAKING OF MUSIC: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention La Taza de Cafe here. Owner Daniel Brajkovich is creating a wonderful Latin music club where the old Thornhill Cafe used to be. Two of the featured musicians are from Havana and they (Evelio Roque and Coto Pincheira) set the mood for the sumptuous tapas that are served right up until closing at 11 p.m. It was Daniel’s dream for this to be a gathering place, too, and it’s become even more — as neighbors bring instruments to play with the band. It reminds me of Europe, where music is life and rarely a meal goes by without song.
EASTER CELEBRATION: The hunt was on, last week, as dozens of neighbors searched for eggs on the little storybook street called Fernwood Drive. Montclair writer Dennis Cavagnaro likens this street to a fairytale village of hobbit-like houses with diamond-shaped windows and medieval charm. He says the children were neatly dressed and well-behaved as they searched merrily for the brightly-colored eggs in the beautifully manicured garden. Sounds like something out of the society pages of the Montclarion — decades ago.
E-MAIL BAG: It’s good to know that this little column can make a difference. Pat Schwinn says that after last week’s piece on the mercury thermometer exchange at Montclair Presbyterian Church, she heard from a reader who had thrown her old broken thermometer in the trash. Schwinn gave her an emergency containment kit and the mercury is on its way to hazardous waste — instead of contaminating the landfill. Applause, applause!
MORE E-MAIL BAG: Regarding the piece on longtime radio personality Gene Nelson, David Ferrell Jackson writes: “Oddly enough, I am working this morning on a pair of 1965 air-checks of Gene from wonderful old KYA. The sound isn’t that good, but we should have them up on the Bay Area Radio Museum Web site (www.bayarearadio.org) by the middle of next week.