Jazz Festival Reborn!

Jazz Festival Resurrection

Jazz Festival
Ramsey Lewis

Great Jazz Festival News! This article by Jack Fichter in the Cape May County Herald announces a new jazz festival in Cape to be held next November. For everyone who misses the old Jazz Festival, this is a welcome announcement. I’ve re-blogged the whole article below.

CAPE MAY — A new jazz festival is coming to the city in November but it won’t be from the former Cape May Jazz Festival.
The Exit 0 International Jazz Festival will be held Nov. 9 through 11, Veteran’s Day Weekend, at Cape May’s Convention Hall.

Ramsey Lewis will be headlining the festival with his Electric Band. Lewis is a three-time Grammy Award winner and holds seven gold records.

According to his website, “Lewis has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for over 50 years, with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality that has allowed him to cross over to the pop and R&B charts. The Ramsey Lewis Trio, with bassist Eldee Young and percussionist Redd Holt, became a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene, releasing their debut album, ‘Ramsey Lewis & His Gentlemen of Jazz,’ back in 1956.

Lewis earned his first gold record, as well as a Grammy award for Best Jazz Performance, for their swinging version of Dobie Gray’s hit ‘The In Crowd.’ He returned to the pop charts in 1966 with versions of ‘Hang On Sloopy’ and ‘Wade In The Water.’

Other confirmed artists at press time include Christian McBride and Inside Straight, Henry Cole’s Afrobeat Collective, Ben Williams & Sound Effect and DJ Soul Sister. The complete lineup will be announced by July 5 by the promoter, Spy Boy Productions.

Jazz Festival at Convention Hall

Main stage headliner concerts will be held at Convention Hall on Friday and Saturday nights, along with a Saturday afternoon concert.
Participating club venues include: the Boiler Room at Congress Hall, Carney’s, Carney’s Other Room, Cabana’s, Martini Beach, and Cape May Stage at the Robert Shackleton Theater.
Ticket packages are being sold by the City of Cape May’s Convention Hall. To order tickets, go to: www.capemayconventionhall.org

The promoter, Spy Boy Productions, has no affiliation with Friends of Cape May Jazz or Cape May Jazz Festival.

At a Thur., June 21 press conference, promoter Michael Kline said he has produced concerts in New Orleans beginning in 1997. Kline said he had worked for WWOZ Radio, “New Orleans’ Jazz & Heritage Station,” which is licensed to the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans.

“I worked there for almost eight years and we produced shows in conjunction with the radio station,” said Kline.

Exit 0 International Jazz Festival spokesperson Victoria Clayton said Kline represents jazz artists nationally and internationally. He is a resident of West Cape May arriving here after Hurricane Katrina.

Kline said one of his challenges to stage the festival was finding open dates available on Convention Hall’s schedule.
A Saturday afternoon main stage concert will be held in Convention Hall, he said.

“There will pretty much be three headline concerts Friday night, Saturday night, Saturday afternoon,” said Kline.

He said he was working on a “special surprise” for Sunday afternoon.

For all of our guests who used to visit Leith Hall for Jazz festival – we miss you! Let’s hope that this Jazz Festival will be great.


Food, Wine and Victoriana – How Can You Resist? Call now for Reservations


food, wine and victoriana
Chef Poon demonstrating

Food, wine and Victoriana

This year’s Food and Wine Celebration is over. The Harvest Dinner, the Clambake, Chef Poon’s demonstrations are gone. And it’s on to the next festival!  At the end of September, Cape May celebrates Octoberfest. (O.K., we’re a little dyslexic.) There’ll be a street fair on Jackson Street, the best wurst, and music, crafts and entertainment on September 29th.Food, wine and Victoriana

Victorian Weekend

October 5th through 9thwill be Victorian Weekend; with a tour of private homes not usually open to the public, several chocolate events (the Chocolate Championship Contest, the Beer and Chocolate tasting, and the Fudge Fantasy Workshop). There’s a winery cellar  tour and tasting, a Champagne brunchwalk, theater, and several festive dinners.

Food, wine and Victoriana
Melissa offering wine at the Food and Wine Celebration

As soon as Victorian Weekend is over, Halloween begins in Cape May – but I’ll get back to you with the ghost goings-on in my next post. Call us for reservations for this exciting time of year.Octoberfest, beer


Is this the best time of year in Cape May? Yes!

Food and Wine Celebration, Victorian Weekend and Ghosts – all in one month!

the best time of year in Cape MayThe  best time of year in Cape May is undoubtedly the next month, from mid September to mid October. The ocean is warm, the kids have gone back to school, the restaurants and shops are all open, and the festivals have started. The Food and Wine Celebration runs from Sept. 15 to 23, and will include progressive dinners, a clambake, food talks and demonstrations by Chef Joseph Poon, and events too numerous to list. (www.capemaymac.org will have all of the details) At the same time, the Washington Street Mall merchants will hold the annual Fall sidewalk sale for your early Christmas shopping.

Sept. 29 weekend will be Octoberfest in Cape May (why isn’t it the best time of year in Cape MaySeptemberfest?) Bratwurst and beer and the Odessa Klezmer German American Band will make Jackson Street a hoot.

October 5 through 9 will be this year’s Victorian Weekend which will include a Champagne Brunchwalk, a beer-tasting dinner, an underwear fashion show, a murder mystery dinner, winery tours, plays, and several chocolate events.

Call us at Leith Hall or click book now to make your reservations.


Beach Yoga in Cape May

Yoga on the beachyoga on the beach in Cape May NJ

For me, the beach is calming even without yoga, but if you’re the least bit sensitive to atmosphere and surroundings, yoga on the beach is about as calm and centered as you can get. Cape May’s local yoga maven (or is that guru?) is Karen Bosna. She leads sessions on the beach both in the morning and the evening, both on the ocean and the bay. There are morning sessions held on the sand each weekend right behind our new Convention Hall, only a couple of blocks from Leith Hall. There are both morning and evening classes near the Cape May lighthouse; and sessions at the park along the canal in North Cape May. You can chill in all sorts of waterside settings. Balance Pilates also hosts Yoga classes both on the lawn at the Inn of Cape May across the street from Leith Hall and on the beach at Jackson Street several times a week.

yoga on the beach  in Cape May NJYou could also combine yoga on the beach with our De-Stress Holiday package at Leith Hall. This special offer includes two one-hour massages, a gift certificate towards dinner at Aleathea’s, a bottle of sparkling wine and Elan’s home-made chocolate truffles. With all of this meditation, calming and luxury combined, when you get home people will mistake you for the Dalai Lama.


Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival

Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival

 Cape May’s Craft Beer and Crab Festival hit town last Saturday. The day was gray and Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festvalintermittently rainy – not ideal beach weather. So lots of people showed up on the lawn at the Physick Estate. There was a long (but fast-moving) line for crabs and crab cakes under the striped tent, and lots of covered seating nearby. There was a small crafts fair – I particularly liked the Guatemalan pottery – pony rides, and a teensy-weensy circus appropriately called the Tiny Circus.


The next big food festival will be in September. The Cape May Food and Wine Celebration will include special dinners, winery tours, Scotch whiskey tastings, and talks by famous chefs. Call us for reservations now Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Fesitvalso you can get in on the fun. Celebration tickets are available from the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC).Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival

Cape May Craft Beer and Crab Festival
The Lemonade Ladies


Why you should sail the Meerwald out of Cape May

sail the Meerwald out of Cape MaySuzie and I went on an evening cruise on the oyster schooner A.J.Meerwald the evening before last. We left Leith Hall in the capable hands of Violet, our assistant innkeeper, and headed for the harbor.  I’d never been on board before (truthfully, I’ve only been on any boat a couple of times before) and found the experience magical. Aside from all of the nautical talk; the ropes are lines, the horizontal wooden members are booms, and sails are the jib, the fore and the mainsail, starting at the front (that is, the fore) – the whole atmosphere on board is charming. The folks who run the Bayshore Discovery Project which is a not-for-profit that sail the Meerwald out of Cape Mayruns the boat, and the crew that actually sails the boat, are devoted to their cause because of the beauty, the authenticity and the historical value of this sailing ship. Their devotion is so obvious and so infectious that you want them to succeed and continue forever.

For us landlubbers, the way the sailboat moves is very different from a motorboat. Instead of bouncing and hitting the water, the boat leans into the curves and sways with the waves. Even Suzie, who had not taken her Bonine and gets seasick looking at a bathtub, felt fine. The captain gave a presentation on the history of the boat sail the Meerwald out of Cape Mayand the oyster industry in South Jersey, and the crew was busy explaining details like how they caulk the deck (with oakum and pitch) and how they waterproof the lines (with pine tar)

The Meerwald will be sailing out of Cape May harbor (Utch’s Marina) through August and I recommend that you seek it out and make a special trip if necessary. It’s delightful.


Craft Beer and Crab Festival

Craft Beer and Crab Festivalcraft beer and craft festival

A new festival in Cape May –  The Craft Beer and Crab Festival will be this coming August 11 on the grounds of the Physick Estate. The café patio will be transformed into a food court with crabs (of course), pulled pork barbecue, corn on the cob, and lots of other cape may craft beer and craft festivalfood. There will be several local breweries represented and music on the outdoor stage, pony rides for the kids, a little Victorian “midway” with games of skill and chance. There will also be a crafts show on the front lawn of the Physick Estate. With all of the games, music, food, beer and crafts show on the grounds, the Physick Estate shouldCAPE MAY CRAFT BEER AND CRAB FESTVAL be the fun place to be on Saturday August 11th. Make your Leith Hall bed and breakfast reservations now! The water is warmer than ever, the beach is beckoning, and the festivals are festing. Our guests are breakfasting on the porch and Elan is baking for tea


Cape May Wineries – The Napa of New Jersey !

Cape May – The Napa of New Jersey?Cape May the Napa of New Jersey

A recent Leith Hall bed and breakfast guest was visiting the many wineries that have opened recently near Cape May. He is a wine expert and was telling us that New Jersey wine is not famous for a reason, but that Cape May county is the exception, that all of the good wine in the state comes from Cape May, that we’re the Napa Valley of New Jersey.

Though I’m originally a New Yorker, I’m not one to scoff at New Jersey’s accomplishments, and good table wine is certainly one of them. A very local favorite is Hawk Haven Vineyards, which gives you the choice of Chardonnay aged in French Oak or Chardonnay aged in stainless steel. I’ve never liked the oaky-ness of California Chardonnay. It always tastes a little too much like turpentine to me Chardonnay aged in stainless however, is refreshing and delicious.

sherry in the palor at Leith Hall bed and breakfast
Sherry in the parlor at Leith Hall

Hawk Haven also produces a small amount of Tempranillo. This is the grape used in Spain to make Rioja, so it’s delicious and fruity and low in acid. A great wine that ages well, and is complex, but without that mouth puckering tannic acid that many big red wines have.

Turdo Winery is one of my favorites. It is so friendly, the wines are so delicious, and you can imagine yourself in Sicily. When Suzie and I spent a month in Sicily a few years ago, we often stopped for a glass of Moscato di Sicilia or Moscato di Pantellerria before dinner.  With a great dinner, we could have a great wine like Barolo (which is one of the best red wines in the world) which is made of Niebbolo grapes. Both of these are available at Turdo Vineyards – only a couple of miles from Leith Hall.

Turdo also makes Sangiovese, which is best known as Chianti, fruity and acidic to drink with major meaty dishes like steak or pot roast. They also make a Pinot Grigio which is light and refreshing. I have a classmate who always refers to Pinot Grigio as “eau de pee pee” because it’s usually a yellow wine that’s pretty acidic and not much else. Turdo’s version is good and flavorful.

Wine and Food festivalThere are several more vineyards very close to Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May. You can visit them by taking The Cape May Wine Trail offered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. A trolley will transport you from winery to vineyard so you don’t have to restrain yourself. In September, the Cape May Food and Wine Celebration offers a debauch of local restaurants and wineries for a taste of the high life.  If you visit us at Leith Hall, we’ll be happy to direct you to all of the local vineyards.


SoMa Gallery- Art in Cape May

Three Artist Open Shows in Cape MayArt Carravagio in Cape May

Saturday night SoMa Art Gallery in Cape May held an opening of three solo  shows. The shows will be up for a while and are well worth a visit. The first artist is Harriet Sosson, Her collages always consist of familiar figures from art history surreally set in every-day surroundings. Earlier works have included Greek Gods riding the New York City subway and Renaissance figures in front of graffiti-ed urban decay. The collages are always formally satisfying – well composed with coloring and lighting considered.  The humor is in the surprise of seeing familiar images in unlikely contexts.

This show has an added dimension for the old Caper May crowd. This exhibit features the Venus of Urbino being rescued by lifeguards, Mona Lisa at the beach, and others. Another part of Harriet’s show includes covers from an old giveaway magazine in town which featured a grid of photos of people on the beach. Now the people on the beach include Venus, and the Infanta of Spain by Velasquez, as well as friends and neighbors of thirty years ago. The nostalgic element of this show was a big hit with the locals during the opening night party.

Art Sean Taylor’s work is shown in an adjacent gallery. He makes both landscape and figurative paintings. The landscapes are often of the beach, with very modulated paint creating really beautiful complex colors. He does this in acrylic paint, which is very hard to do. (I’ve failed at it many times.) One large painting is of an empty beach with just sand, water and sky – yet it makes an interesting painting, nicely composed and pretty to look at.  Another work shows rows of beauty contest participants, all identically coiffed and colored; all looking in the same direction. It makes a nice pop-art image of the conformist ‘50s or ‘60s, and is also very well painted.

The third artist featured last night is John Borrero. His works are very painted, rubbed, Artdripped, scratched, smeared, and abraded. Many include paper that has been buried in the paint, and a few include key escutcheons attached to the painting. All this manipulation produced semi-abstract landscapes that are dark and evocative. Some of the images are accompanied by short poems by the artist that are also moody and evocative.  John Borrero also showed some sculpture composed of stiffened cloth and found objects. One was a woman made of brown cloth, a valve handle and a wooden spool that evoked a Jane Austen character very well. Another one was black clad and looked much more Wuthering Heights to me.

As always, the hors d’oevres were yummy, but even without the food, you’ll enjoy this show which remains in place ’till July 29th. Give us a call or go online to make a reservation at Leith Hall for this summer.



Birding Cape May for BeginnersBirding Cape May

You may already know that Cape May is one of the top birding sites in the world. But, what if you’re not a knowledgeable birder? Those other people will know everything about every detail and you will be stuck like an ignorant lummox. Wrong!

The Cape May Bird Observatory has lots of informal walks and talks where the new birding cape maybirder will feel welcome and comfortable. For example, Tuesday June 26 at 10 am, there will be a relaxed photo walk around Cape May Point with Scott Whittle. He is a professional photographer and an instructor for bird photography workshops.

On Wednesday, June 27, at 9:30 am,  Mike Crewe and a team of naturalists will lead a group around Cape May Point and the hawk birding cpe maywatching platform to see both breeding birds and the visitors just passing through.

June 28, the program is called A Bird Walk for All People at 9:30 am, and they’ll guarantee that you’ll see at least twenty species – and they’ll lend you the binoculars. Contact us for reservations for any of these dates.