If Ortlieb's Jazzhaus did a little dusting, opened their doors and called it a day, no one would be complaining. Even as Northern Liberties became the place to pile in a cab to, there was always something lonely about that stretch of North Third Street after the legendary venue closed up shop.
But when it re-opened this week as Ortlieb's Lounge, it not only introduced a playful new Tex Mex menu -- Frito Chili Pie, anyone? -- but an ambitious new music lineup as well. Although longtime Ortlieb's owner and booker Pete Souders is still in the picture, new owners Four Corners Management will be drafting some booking support from R5 Productions -- they're both in on the nearby Union Transfer -- and mixing things up with rock, soul, blues and even an open mic comedy night.
"We're really starting to move toward live entertainment, so we thought it was perfect -- it's a neighborhood staple that we could put our stamp on," says Reid Benditt, marketing director at Four Corners.
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Local blues master ShakeyLyman is, for one, looking forward to the new, more inclusive direction. A former Ortlieb's regular, he's now on the bill every Thursday as one half of house band Slo 'n Shakey.
"I used to go there all the time to see Larry McKenna -- he's one of Philly's finest saxophone players," Shakey tells us. "It almost feels like I've graduated, like I'm moving up into the big leagues. A lot of the people I studied played Ortlieb's -- and now that I can, it's nothing but excitement for me."