Tony Starlight's Supperclub and Lounge
Visit the Tony Starlight website www.tonystarlight.com and enjoy reading wonderfully accurate descriptions of what you will experience during a visit to this delightful establishment. Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia- those of us who often wish they had been born a few decades earlier (or at least wish that there were the option of time travel) feel inspired to visit Tony's world after surfing his site. This guy clearly likes to have fun, embraces the word “entertainment”, and wants others to have a great time appreciating music of the past, from the 1930's to the 1970's, and beyond.
The club is nestled at 3728 NE Sandy Boulevard . There is free on-street parking after 7pm (ignore the 1 hour parking signs); also at the Banfield Motel, or behind the Realty Trust building at 39 th and Sandy . The club features a daily happy hour from 5-7, and a cover charge for music of $5.00 - $10.00, depending on the night of the week. Closed Sundays.
The jazz at Tony's tends to feature groups who are audience-focused and proud to be viewed as both musicians and entertainers. This includes The Midnight Serenaders, Midnight Siren featuring the bluesy and bawdy vocals of Karen Maria Capo, Pete Peterson's Porkpie Hat, The Bureau of Standards Big Band, and The Stolen Sweets. Check the website for other bands, and for events such as Monday Night Bingo, The Tony Starlight Show, and special parties. Each event is described in detail, making it easy to decide when to plan your visit.
For my visit, I select “The Tony Starlight Show” as I want to learn more about the man behind the concept of this club.
As I arrive, two couples in their 70's, dressed to the nines, are exiting the club, all smiles and probably feeling 30 again. They clearly enjoyed Tony's 1st show of the evening, but bedtime looms for them (and for most of Portland ) as it is now 10pm . It is my turn to go into the club and find out why they are smiling.
Entering Tony Starlight's Supperclub is like walking through a magic door into the perfectly preserved past. The venue is steeped in nostalgia from a wall generously covered in an impressive collection of entertainment memorabilia: framed photos of the rat pack and other American entertainers along with a smattering of sheet music covers. From the mirrored art deco inspired bar, to the Victrola, to the vintage ceiling fans and light fixtures, to the rounded stage with actual stage lighting, the club appears to be exactly as it has been since about 1955, as if lovingly maintained by someone who has a deep appreciation of bygone eras. In reality, the entire look and feel was created by Tony Starlight from scratch.
Tony's show is entertaining. His jazz trio clearly knows Tony's material as they romp through several parody songs written by Tony such as an updated version of “I've Got You Under My Skin” which focuses on his inability to comprehend the tattoos and body piercings of today's youth. There is plenty of clever banter between songs, and Tony is a fearless entertainer, refreshingly silly and campy. He lets the band play a couple of numbers while he undergoes a costume change, re-emerging with his guitar, wearing an amazing crimson shirt with velvet and beads from his 70's outrageous-wear collection. He croons a few 70's tunes with the guitar, taking the listener to the decade of disco and soft rock.
The service at Tony's is good. My waiter is attentive, the gin in my gin & tonic is poured generously, and the grilled chicken sandwich with fries is delectable. The menu is varied, and reasonably priced.
The evening passes too quickly, so I promise myself that I will return for another blast to the past, perhaps for some lively jazz, Bingo, to hear Tony's favorite singer, Barbara Ayars, or for Tony's ‘70's show!