Sydney jazzing up area music scene

“Sydney is back,” announced last week’s Coastal Point headline for an article about the return of Sydney Arzt to promoting blues and jazz in the area after a four-year hiatus. This time, however, the venue is not the beloved restaurant that bore her name. Instead, Arzt is focusing her passion of finding great talent in collaboration with the owners of other well-established resort businesses.

Sydney’s Music Revival started at the Lewes location of Bethany Blues on Route 1, just past the movies at Midway. This restaurant serves the same barbecue fare that has become a Bethany Beach favorite, but is much larger and was built with live music – and especially blues and jazz – in mind.

It was Arzt’s son Rick, the lead singer of the popular band Love Seed Mama Jump, who mentioned to Kevin Roberts, one of the owners of Bethany Blues, that his mom might be ready to get back in the music side of the business again. It didn’t take Roberts long to set up a meeting.

“When I met with Kevin, I knew he was someone special,” said Arzt. “I had talked to others about the possibility of working together, but when I talked to Kevin, I knew he was the one.”

Arzt said she recognized that she needed a real crowd-pleaser and master musician to set the stage for the artists who would follow and an audience that would return for more. She called Clarence Spady – a Sydney’s favorite and nationally renowned guitarist – and booked him for a Saturday in January.

“It was an amazing night,” said Dick Heidenberger, a partner of Roberts’ at Bethany Blues, as well as at the Starboard in Dewey Beach and the ever-popular Mangos in Bethany Beach. “The place was packed with Sydney’s former customers, who were grateful to be back together, listening and dancing to great music. Sydney has such an important connection with the community and knows so many people in the music industry. It is a wonderful relationship.”

Arzt now books her brand of blues and jazz at Bethany Blues on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. July 16 will mark the appearance of Johnny Rawls. Arzt describes him as “a Mississippi soul and blues man, one of the best.”

Grady Champion will appear on July 30. Champion is a vocalist and harmonica player and, with his band, is the 2010 International Blues Challenge winner. The annual IBC competition is organized to recognize the best unsigned blues talent. It is a huge deal to win this competition and is indicative of the kind of talent Arzt is able to tap.

In addition at Bethany Blues, customers have a choice in blues during the week. If you like your blues funky with intricate, instrumental improvisation try Lower Case Blues on Tuesday evenings. On Wednesdays, Bruce and the Bentones sing classic blues with style and feeling. Both shows start at 9 p.m.

The Cove is the newest restaurant in Dewey’s Ruddertowne complex. It includes a large dining area and long bar that overlooks waterfront and Rehoboth Bay sunsets. And Arzt now provides the entertainment at The Cove for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. She noted that the venue is a little more mature-adult oriented than the clientele more typically associated with Dewey Beach revelry.

On Tuesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Arzt will present a Supper Club atmosphere for a beach-elegant dining experience. Providing easy listening music is the aptly named Gold Standard duo of Larry Buck on keyboard and Dave Gadding on drums. Their smooth sound is pleasant to just sit back and enjoy but also is sufficiently non-intrusive to permit conversation without strain.

Twice a month on Wednesdays throughout the summer, Arzt will bring a concert series with a notable performer to The Cove. For a $10 ticket, you just can’t beat the caliber of the following line-up:

• June 30 – Corey Harris, a world renowned, roots musician with a culturally diverse sound that blends blues and reggae;

• July 7 – VESSA, acclaimed silky-toned jazz vocalist;

• July 28 – the Joe Krown Trio, a piano player extraordinaire and New Orleans Big Easy Award winner;

• Aug. 11 – Gaye Adegbalola, formerly of Saffire, “the uppity blues women,” now performing solo internationally, redefines the great divas of the ’20s and ’30s.

As was noted in last week’s article, parking throughout Dewey is free on Mondays through Wednesdays, making the trip even more worthwhile.

Music and dance go hand in hand. While it is impossible to stay still whenever any of Arzt’s musicians are playing, they are not generally thought of as dance bands. For music composed primarily for dancing Artz takes music lovers upstairs from The Cove, to the multi-purpose Baycenter.

This Sunday, June 27, the doors will open at 6:45 p.m. to kick off the first Dance Lounge event of the summer, with the Smooth Dance Band. Comprising 18 of Delaware’s finest musicians, the Smooth Dance Band is a dynamic big-band era ensemble.

“No matter if you want to cut a rug with a jump tune, foxtrot, mambo or waltz, the Smooth Dance Band will have the music to fit your dancing needs,” said Arzt. The Baycenter is providing the entertainment and hors d’oeuvres for the June 27 event at no charge. Future dance events will require a general admission fee.

If your dancing taste leans to a Latin flavor, you should mark your calendar for the Dance Lounge Event on July 11. It will feature the Patrick Alban and Noche Latina.

Yes, Sydney Arzt is back and in form.

“I’m excited again,” she said. So are many others.

Visit the Web sites for Ruddertowne and Bethany Blues for more information on these concerns and any potential schedule changes.