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Venue Spotlight/Tabu

Picture it…March 14th, 2010. 

A new establishment called Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar (formerly the one-and-only Sal’s Place) opened its doors for the very first time in Philly’s Gayborhood section and officially became the “baby brother” of already established siblings Bump, The Bike Stop, Uncle’s, 12th Air Command, The Westbury, Venture Inn (rest in peace, Ms. Reenie), Tavern on Camac, and of course, Woody’s. 

Fast forward seven years, 3, 475 sports games 7, 543 drag queens’ wigs later, and it’s pretty safe to say to anyone that doubted a sports bar lasting in the Gayborhood that Tabu has already joined the ranks along with Tavern on Camac (because where would any queen be in life without Showtune Sundays?) and Woody’s as being not just a Gayborhood staple, but a true Philly staple. And while owners change hands and businesses change names or sadly close their doors forever, Tabu doesn’t look it will be slowing down on the runway anytime soon. 

One of those reasons why is because from the very second it opened its doors into the rainbow, Tabu became quickly known for its philanthropic vibes. Much of this being in part to former manager Freddy Shelley, who took his one-of-a-kind good heart and fighting spirit to link up with many fabulous local organizations including Mazzoni Center, William Way Center, Planned Parenthood and The Attic Youth Center (anyone remember The Purple Party from that first year? Of course you do), all of whom still hold fabulous fundraisers that help in continuing these organizations to shine their light bright in the Gayborhood for anyone who needs it. Thank you, Mr. Shelley. 

Of course, one of the fiercest reasons as to why Tabu still continues to hold its own is because all of the tremendous talent that has sashayed all over that coveted second story stage since day one. From Burlesque, to a Ms. Amber Hikes hosted Back 2 Basics party, to Sing Your Life Karaoke, to the beats served out from a Stro Kyle production to Mr. Josh Schonewolf who’ll continue to present until the end of time, there’s no genre from any walk of Philly entertainment life that hasn’t been welcomed into Tabu’s doors and into our rainbow lovin’ hearts.

And since we’re spilling about all of this talent, we must show our love to the ridiculously fierce, The Goddess Isis, whose Sinful Sundays drag extravaganza has not only lasted as long as Tabu itself, but has also become a true launching pad for Philly’s thriving local drag scene, in which anyone reading this right now knows that’s absolutely positively not an alternative fact. 

Also adding to the flames (literally) is your current events queen, Philly Drag Mafia countess, Ms.Brittany Lynn, who continues to shatter records for most events served in one week (she averages about 36) and in case you’re wondering why, it’s because she’s Brittany Lynn, bitch and Tabu certainly knows this and then some, (By the way her official roast is on March 10th in which anyone reading this also knows she’ll do anything for a Klondike bar and a shameless plug). 

But what it all comes down to is Tabu staying true to one word–and you may cue the  Mary J—and that word is family. Of course, since no family is complete without its Godfather, we must all give it up right now to owner Jeffery Sotland, whose unique vision and keen eye for the right people seven years ago made all of this possible today and has turned Tabu into a place where indeed everybody knows your name. 

I got the chance to have a quick chat with Mr. Sotland about the past, present and future of Tabu, in which he revealed that there might just might be some big changes ahead. Although he wouldn’t tip the tea cabinet over just yet, there’s no need to clutch those pearls because by now we all know that whatever he’s got cookin’ up, it’s simply going to werk. 

 

Spill some Tabu tea with Mr. Sotland below and if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t checked in at Tabu yet, after you take a seat…get up and go. 

Kicking off our spill, this March will mark seven years since Tabu opened its doors. Looking back, what are a few of your proudest moments that have taken place during that time? Three things….One…We were told there was no need for a sports bar in the Gayborhood and we proved everyone wrong…starting a trend that now sees many other bars wanting to imitate us. Two….We have provided a space for both the sports fan downstairs and the artists in the lounge. Who would have thought that the biggest sports bar would also be the biggest drag space? Three…..The proudest moments above all else are seeing the best staff, without a doubt, in the entire neighborhood embrace not only their craft of serving customers but also of embracing the philosophy and purpose of Tabu. 

Let’s absolutely talk about drag for a moment as Tabu was and will continue to be a huge turning point for the scene. So, of course with that we must spill about Ms. Isis. With the exception of Sinful Sundays, because everyone and their drag mother has been to that show, what has been one moment she provided that you personally will never forget? She has consistently avoided the spotlight, refusing to enter competitions and trying to bring along all performers regardless of who they are. She has done a great job and I am constantly amazed at how many drag queens tell me they first performed at Sinful Sunday. 

I know I can speak for a lot of people when I say that there’s just so many memories with that show, But looking ahead to the future of it all, where do you see Tabu going maybe five, ten years from now? Several years ago NBC news wrote an article about the death of gay bars. While I hope Tabu is here to stay, the death of he gay bar is somewhat inevitable as we find spaces that historically been unaccepting. That being said, Tabu has a game plan I cannot discuss at the moment but it definitely includes more than just the same old thing. We turn away so many people from the dining room and need a performance space larger than we have, the future will definitely address issues.

Keeping the future in mind with one last sip, what would you personally say to invite a new out-and-proud member of the LGBTQ community or any member of the Philly community who hasn’t experienced Tabu yet? Stop in…make a friend….enjoy the atmosphere of the most unpretentious, welcoming and diverse group. We have a great crowd of lgbtq and ally patrons from all walks of life.

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Must Listen Monday/Philly Edition

Besides housing all that historic stuff (hey, Betsy Ross House), another element that Philly certainly has no shortage of is the tremendous amount music talent that comes straight from the city of brotherly love…

Andrew and I collaborated to come up with a fiery list of 10 local music artists who are all wrapped up in different musical genres ranging from pop, trip hop, indie and rock, but they all have one thing in common-they’ve been doing their incredible local music thing all for you.

Show some music love to this talented buffet of local music artists below and prepare to be dazzled. 

Mic Stew 

This artist is the epitome of Philly culture. Bold, brash, honest, and brave. His album, PEACEWORLD, was released back in 2013, but he’s still kicking it on his new EP Higher Purpose. 

Viv & The Revival 

Taking the entire East Coast by storm, Viv and the Revival have been a long time coming. Fronted by Viv Peyrat, the band has already been featured on Good Morning America, their single “I Want It” was in more than one TV commercial (including half-time at last year’s Super Bowel) Listen to their newest single “Hurricane,” which coincidentally is perfect for the season. 

Lou 

Tess Emma has been on the circuit for some time now. Having played sold out shows across the area, she’s been featured in numerous local publications–all without even having a studio recording or single. It’s her voice that draws the listeners in, but it’s while she’s performing with her band Lou that keeps them. Together, it’s a beautiful match. The sparks have ignited, let this light you up.

John Faye

If you are in on the Philly music scene and you don’t know who John Faye is…well then you’re not really in the right scene. This guy has been a pioneer for a lot of singer/songwriters out there, as well as generally helping in making noise throughout this city, all while cultivating a growing culture of comradery. Last year we had some time to talk about upcoming projects and he told me he was going solo. That was a huge surprise given his many successful projects, not to mention his huge success with his band IKE. A few months later, here he is with his newest single “Church and State“.

 

Mo Lowda & The Humble

The band has been teasing us all with numerous videos in the studio for their much anticipated new album. Hailing from Temple University (an equally upcoming and thriving music community), and putting on one of the most energetic heavy shows in town, these guys have it all. Give a listen to what electrified us all from the start, funded successfully on Kickstarter…

Marian Hill

Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol are the two gifted music artists who make up this fun group and have proved themselves armed and ready with some of the most dangerous beats that you’ve ever heard. After debuting in 2013 with their first E.P. Play, they soon created all that buzz that led them to cook up their dazzling Sway set, which is nothing short of freaky and funky local music bliss. 

Listen to their seductive “Got It” below and then go get the album right here.

Jo Stones 

Besides being a soul crushing singer and songwriter, Mr. Stones is also a tremendous keyboard and piano player, as proven on his flawless record, Under the Influence. The up-and-coming local music artist showcases all those skills and more on the sultry set, especially on the slices of music truth that are in tracks, “The Method,” “Will it Be?” and the aptly titled, “Rocky Stones.” 

But if you’re looking to truly get lifted to another local music place today, revel in his tingling rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that he served us with at last week’s Songbird singing competition…you’ll be glad you did. For more on Mr. Stones, check your local music life right here

Jazmine Sullivan

If you’re not well versed in the magnetic presence of Ms. Jazmine Sullivan, you’re really really missing out. Hailing from Philly’s Strawberry Mansion section, the windows busting diva has got plenty of attitude and voice for days. Her latest album, Reality Show, has got all the diva fire you could need in your life, and her earlier tracks, including “Need U Bad” and “Bust Your Windows,” will remain as timeless as the old school Philly sound they’re cooked up with. 

J. Carson

The latest local music artist to spill some music tea with Philly Mixtape, this singer songwriter decided to take his talent to the West Coast, where’s he’s been making good use of his time out there performing at many local events and succeeding to make all werk, which is proven he on his just released to headphones new set, Invest in Me

Hall & Oates 

Seriously, these legendary Philly rockers just keep going and going. After playing a sold out show at The Fillmore (while putting the newly opened Philly hot spot on the music map) this past weekend, the dazzling duo continues to show their music stride after simply rocking it for the eager crowd.

For those who may not know who these fine music gentleman are (let’s hope it’s a small few), put yourself in music school right this second and get to know every one of their classic singles right here.

 

 

 

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Must Listen Monday

Your first official Must Listen Monday of the fall has arrived….

Put those headphones and let the latest offerings from Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, Dave Aude, The Knocks, Sia and many more hit that coveted music “G” spot as we get ready to head into October. Go. 

 

Janet/Missy/”BURNITUP!”

Janet’s new Unbreakable banger really needs no explanation…just listen. 

The Knocks/Matthew Koma/”I Wish(My Taylor Swift)”

The latest sun-kissed offering from The Knocks will have you looking for your very own Taylor Swift…

Sia/”Alive” 

Originally written for Ms. Adele, Sia’s lead This is Acting track sounds custom-made for her. 

The Chainsmokers/”Until You Were Gone”

The “Selfie” hit makers have returned for another fall dance floor romp. 

Disclosure/Lorde/”Magnets” 

A smooth stand out from Disclosure‘s hot-off-the-music-press sophomore set, Caracal

Rudimental/Ed Sheeran/”Lay It All On Me”

What Monday music bliss truly sounds like…

Sam Smith/”The Writing’s On The Wall”

Get that James Bond tux dry cleaned because Mr. Smith’s Spectre track has officially arrived.

Paris Hilton/”High Off My Love”/Tracy Young Mixshow 

After one romp in the headphones with Ms. Young’s killer remix you’ll forget that you’re actually listening to a Paris Hilton song. 

Lucas Nord/Tove Lo/’Run On Love”/Dave Aude Retelling 

Mr. Nord and Ms. Lo’s year old hit is finally getting the remix treatment it deserves..and it was totally worth the wait. 

Jauz/”Deeper Love” 

A deep dance floor ditty on a Monday is always a good idea, especially when it has to do with Ms. Aretha.