SELDOM BLUES’ PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL BALL
“Yes We Can!” and yes we did, on a cold Tuesday evening in January; that is, celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama in the warmth and comfort of the Renaissance Center’s Seldom Blues Supper Club. Originally slated aboard the Detroit Princess Riverboat, a persistent low pressure weather system over the Great Lakes moved the high pressure event indoors, and though Frank Taylor and Company stepped up to the plate as hosts at the last minute, the gala was wonderfully well attended and came off without a hitch.
One of the evening’s highlights was a personal reminiscence by Taylor himself, who owns Seldom Blues along with flute impresario Alexander Zonjic and Lions great Robert Porcher. He’s been a long time Obama supporter, going back to the days when the new president was running for the Senate and Taylor held a fund raiser at Seldom Blues. “There were about forty people that showed up to that one. Last year, we held a fundraiser for his presidential run and we had to turn away four hundred people at the door.”
That’s the same sort of forward momentum that the restaurant itself has enjoyed since opening in 2003 with an eye on becoming Detroit’s premier jazz restaurant and supper club. Consistently positive reviews and a state-of-the-art musical stage on which Zonjic and a host of world-class performers regularly play as seen the restaurant gain international notice. Proof of Seldom Blues’ excellence was in the buffet spread, which included succulent prime rib, chicken Florentine, teriyaki grilled salmon, chipotle-apricot glazed pork chops and vegetarian lasagna.
The Presidential Inaugural Ball was sponsored by HISstory Made under the direction of Denise Cosby and Smooth Jazz V98.7 radio personality Kelly Holmes emceed the event, bringing his homespun warmth to the stage in advance of the music, which included the Stubbs Girls, the Prolifics and DJ Rod Stinson.
HISstory Made, incidentally, is a nonprofit group formed by Obama campaign workers who’ve decided to stick together to promote his initiatives.
Additionally, the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences High School Marching Band was on hand to serenade arriving guests. Throughout the evening, the day’s Washington events were televised to the cheers of the participants. Among the most noted of the guests was Ms. Bessie Porter, sharp as a tack and in a celebratory mood despite the fact that she was born in 1905 and just celebrated her 104 birthday. Along with the Visionalist crew, all the major local networks were on hand for a quick interview with this remarkable soul, whose grandparents came to the United States aboard a slave vessel. The simple fact that in her lifetime she knew both the personal stories of former slaves and was able to witness the swearing-in of an African American to the world’s most powerful position is a testimony to the theme of hope and excitement that characterized the entire evening.