A positive buzz is coming out of the Mt. Airy section of the city as entertainers from every genre converge on the 7165 Lounge, 7165 Germantown Ave., to strut their stuff in front of a growing audience of supportive family, friends, colleagues and music lovers.
The free weekly event has been dubbed “Grand Slam Jam,” and takes place 8 p.m. to midnight each Wednesday.
Musicians, singers, dancers, comedians and even models are welcome to take the stage for the open talent showcase, which is rapidly gaining popularity.
“It’s networking, it’s promotion, it’s showcasing, and it’s also to let people know who’s out there, in case they might want to get a keyboard player or a singer, or whatever it is,” explained electric bassist Brett Jolly, who hosts the spontaneous variety show.
“They come in and they sign the sheet, whether they’re musicians or whether they’re singers, and then we call them up and they can do stuff. Naturally, we do the first set ourselves, to a great degree,” he added. “We do a couple of tunes, and then we’ll bring everybody up. I emcee the program, tell a few jokes. Let’s just put it this way. I have fun with the audience!”
The “jokey” musician/singer, who has been a reliable sideman for such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, Frankie Beverly, Chuck Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, the Whispers and the late Teddy Pendergrass, is joined on Wednesdays by the “Grand Slammers,” comprised of Keith Simmons (drums), Stan Brisbon (keyboards), Donnie Green (guitar) and Chris Odom (guitar).
The appropriately named Jolly, whose music and general outlook are filled with joy, began playing piano as a four year old and took up the bass guitar at “around 14.”
“I wanted to play basketball, and the more I played basketball, the better I got at music,” he quipped, cracking himself up in the process. A rare musician who is blessed with “perfect pitch,” Jolly realizes that the City of Brotherly Love is a bottlomless well of musical talent, and is hoping that 7165 Lounge will become Philadelphia’s “place to be” on Wednesday nights.
“Philadelphia has some of the greatest talent in the world – and that’s true,” Jolly said. “What it is, is that a lot of people who leave Philadelphia get famous after they leave Philadelphia. We want to show people the talent that’s here while it’s still here, and this is something that is kind of geared for that. This is something that I’m trying to figure out down the road, but Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who did a lot of their stuff for Philly International – people are asking me, because I deal with a lot of their functions and they’re good friends of mine – but they said that they want somebody to continue doing that and people are looking at me to see if I can fill that void.”
For information on the “Wednesday Night Grand Slam Jam,” call (215) 900-9022 or (215) 715-9501 or visit www.brettjolly.com.