Until he won a $52 million lottery jackpot about eight years ago, Miguel Pilgram’s biggest windfall might have been the one he received on a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean during Operation Desert Storm.
The war got real once the ship took on enemy fire, says Pilgram, then a Navy communications specialist.
“It gave it a very different perspective, sitting in the middle of the ocean and waiting to get blown up when you are on a ship that specializes in transporting … let’s call it ammunition. Back then that was classified information,” Pilgram says, with a laugh.
It was then that a friend, a Marine, offered a distraction.
“He said, ‘Man, you’re always listening to music. Here’s some stuff that you need to listen to.’ And it was Coltrane, it was Duke Ellington and Nina Simone. And I fell in love with it. I said, ‘Wow. This is true joy.’ I’ve loved it ever since,” Pilgram says.
On Saturday, April 14, the 48-year-old Coral Springs father of a Navy sailor and a Rollins College student will open the NYSW Jazz Lounge in an evolving downtown Fort Lauderdale neighborhood a few doors west of the Publix on Andrews Avenue.
The space is next door to the offices of his Pilgram Group real-estate firm and part of a building that includes his New York Subs and Wings restaurant (also a food truck). It’s been about 30 months since Pilgram moved his office to the street, which recently added the buzzed-about Tarpon River Brewing and the no-less-hip Grind Coffee Project.
The NYSW Jazz Lounge and Pilgram’s office are hard to miss, covered in colorful murals of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tito Puente, Duke Ellington, Sara Vaughan and Miles Davis. They were done by local muralist DJ the Artiste.
The 1,500-square-foot, indoor-outdoor space will host live music every night except Monday, with evenings devoted to classic jazz (Coltrane and Sinatra, Pilgram says), Latin jazz, spoken word and undiscovered artists. There will be a menu of premium cocktails and light tapas fare. There will be no cover on opening night.
The lounge is less than a mile from the former Andrews Avenue location of Brownie’s, famous for hosting performances by Fitzgerald, Armstrong, Ellington, Count Basie and other jazz luminaries during segregation. Brownie’s was torn down to make way for the popular Tap 42 lounge.
Pilgram says the loss of a building with that kind of history is part of what is driving his projects, especially his attempts to revitalize Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk Boulevard.
First up is a sister lounge called NYSW Memphis Blues Spot on the second floor of the space that housed Sistrunk’s once-bustling Night Owl Lounge on the southeast corner of Northwest 15th Avenue. The bottom floor will be a New York Subs and Wings restaurant.
Next door Pilgram is building a 6,000-square-foot building that will have NYSW Memphis Blues on the third floor. The two lounges will be connected by a bridge.
Pilgram is fourth-generation Navy, and moved frequently, but settled in Memphis during high school. When he returned from his Navy service, he was dismayed at how the city’s “wonderful history and culture was just… dissolved.” He said hundreds of residents where he grew up were displaced by gentrification.
Pilgram wants to prevent that from happening in Sistrunk, and has a business model he believes will work.
A winning $52-million lottery ticket doesn’t answer every question, Pilgram says, laughing, “But it gives you a good start.”
The NYSW Jazz Lounge, at 107 SW Sixth St, Fort Lauderdale, opens 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Visit Facebook.com/NYSWJazzLounge.
The great Jenifer Lewis, currently one of the best reasons to watch the hit ABC comedy “Blackish,” will be in Boynton Beach, Lauderhill and Overtown in the next few days to discuss her critically lauded memoir, “The Mother of Black Hollywood.” Beginning with her role as Tina Turner's mom in the 1993 film “What's Love Got to Do With It?” (though she’s just two years older than its star, Angela Bassett), the actress and singer has played maternal figures to such stars as Will Smith, Tupac Shakur, Whitney Houston and, on “Blackish,” Anthony Anderson. The book offers plenty of wise-cracking celebrity gossip, but also a candid and inspiring accounting of her battle with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder and sex addiction. On Thursday (April 12), Lewis will be at the Intracoastal Park Clubhouse in Boynton Beach (2240 N. Federal Highway) beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets begin at $30. Her Friday night gathering, moderated by Hot 105 radio host Jill Tracey, is 5-9 p.m. at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center (3800 NW 11th Place). Tickets cost $35-$70. On Sunday, Lewis will be at the Overtown Performing Arts Center (1074 NW Third Ave., Miami) 2-4 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Visit SouthFloridaDreamBookTour.com.
French Morning, the digital news site for French speakers in the United States (see FrenchMorning.com, but let me save you the trouble – it’s like they have a different word for everything), on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. will host South Florida’s top bakers and pastry makers at the inaugural Croissant Battle Miami at the National Hotel on Miami Beach. Tickets cost $20 (plus fees), which gets you assorted breads and pastries, charcuterie, jams and a cheese buffet, a complimentary glass of wine and water. Visit Facebook.com/NationalHotel.
ALL FOR ONESIE
Roxy’s Pub in downtown West Palm Beach on Saturday will host the inaugural Onesie Crawl, with all proceeds going to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 if you register at Roxy’s beginning at 5 p.m. Each ticket gets you five Tito’s Vodka or Code Rum drinks and a collector cup, a bracelet for entry to all venues, which will have drink specials to crawlers, and a raffle ticket. The crawl begins at 7 p.m. Visit Citrine.Electrostub.com.
TACOS? CHECK. BEERS? CHECK.
No confusion about what to expect on Saturday afternoon during the FTL Taco Battle & Craft Beer Fest in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Esplanade Park, beginning at 1 p.m. You’ll find 15 restaurants duking it out, live music, a kid zone, and 21-and-older zone, a taco-eating contest and, yes, piñatas. Admission is free, with sampling tickets running from $10 to $72. Visit FTLTacoBattleCraftBeerFest.com.
The Stonzek Theatre at the Lake Worth Playhouse in downtown Lake Worth will offer April 20-21 screenings of “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory,” a documentary that follows the lives of piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, the last of the great sidemen for blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Screenings will be at 4 and 8 p.m., with each second screening concluding with a discussion with director Scott Rosenbaum. Visit LakeWorthPlayhouse.org.
Bangin' Banjo Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach at noon Saturday hosts its Iron Banjo Homebrew Competition, with all-you-can-drink homebrews for $15 (BanginBanjoBrewing.com) … Wynwood Brewing Co. will begin sharing its Some'Mora Cookie Porter (yes, coconut and chocolate) on draft and in cans at noon Saturday (WynwoodBrewing.com) … The dog-friendly 26 Degree Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach will host Gentle Giants Great Dane Rescue noon-4 p.m. Sunday, when a $5 donation gets you $1 off your beer (Facebook.com/26Brewing).
The Delray Affair, the three-day, 12-block art festival that returns to downtown Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue for its 56th year Friday-Sunday, is also home to the creativity of local musicians. This time around they include Chris Monteleone of Sosos (6-9 p.m. Friday at Atlantic Avenue and Second Street, and with Sosos 3-6 p.m. Saturday on the Swinton Stage); the Taylor Road Band (6-9 p.m. Friday at Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Street and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday on the Swinton Stage); Steven Vincent (6-9 p.m. Saturday at Atlantic Avenue and Second Street), Shauna Sweeney (6-9 p.m. Saturday at Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Street), Bradley Brown and Friends (11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday on the Swinton Stage) and Jason Colannino (3-5 p.m. on the Swinton Stage). Admission is free. Visit DelrayAffair.com.
TAKE THE KIDS
Family Day on Aragon in Coral Gables gets a jump on Earth Day with activities this weekend at the Coral Gables Museum, Books and Books and Coral Gables Art Cinema, which will host 11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday screenings “Landfill Harmonic.” The documentary follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay, made up of kids living in a slum built on a landfill whose musicianship on instruments made from trash took them to performances around the world, including dream date with the metal band Megadeth. Tickets cost $5, which includes free popcorn and a drink. Visit GablesCinema.com, CoralGablesMuseum.org, BooksAndBooks.com.
Through Friday, your entry fee for the ninth annual Covenant House Florida 5K on A1A, returning to Fort Lauderdale beach on April 21, is $25 (includes guaranteed T-shirt and bag of event swag). On Saturday it goes to $30, then $35 on race-day. The event is one of the young-professional group’s signature events to raise funds to help homeless youth. Visit CovenantHouseFL.org.
How can you not love the Stranahan House, the riverside museum’s stately humility rendering the towering menagerie of glass-and-steel next door, the 45-story Icon Las Olas, even more ridiculous than it hoped to be? The Stranahan House’s annual Pineapple Jam fundraiser, 6 p.m. Friday at Frank Stranahan’s historic home, has been reinvented this year, with the formal sit-down dinner replaced by a more energetic, mingle-friendly evening of food stations, premium open bar and classic trop-rock from Jimmy Stowe and the Stowaways. Tickets cost $150 at StranahanHouse.org.
PINEAPPLE JAM II
One of my favorite local outfits, French Horn Collective, will play the monthly Pineapples & Pizza series on Thursday (April 19) in the classy Matador Bar at the Miami Beach EDITION. This month’s special is the Three-Cheese Lobster and Corn Pizza paired with an Absolut Elyx Pineapple cocktail for $35. Visit TheFrenchHornCollective.com, MatadorRoom.com.
Bar Nancy, the nautically naughty Calle Ocho nightspot that was attractively dive-y from the moment it opened, will celebrate its first anniversary this weekend with help from Juke and DJ Joshy Josh Friday night and RadioStereo and DJ Jenni Foxx on Saturday. Each night, your first drink is on the house. Bar Nancy is at 2007 SW Eighth St. Visit Nancy305.com.
The Afro-Cuban rhythms of Oriente kick off the weekend during the free Friday Night Soundwaves series 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Hub on Fort Lauderdale beach (FridayNightSoundwaves.com) … The Livesays bring their underappreciated, hooky rock sound to Nectar at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino 8 p.m. Friday (TheLivesaysMusic.com) … Jim Wurster and the Rusty Blades offer some of the South Florida rock icon’s moody poetry at Luna Star Café in North Miami (JimWurster.com) … Lively up yourself with the reggae jams of Artikal Sound System, on a bill with Animo Cruz, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Dubliner in Boca Raton (ArtikalSoundSystem.com) … Mark Telesca brings the blues to Saltwater Brewing in Delray Beach 4-7 p.m. Saturday and Death or Glory in Delray Beach 7 p.m. Sunday (MarkTelesca.com) … Bryan Smith of Girlfriend Material plays Mathews Brewing Co. in Lake Worth 2 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/GirlfriendMaterialMusic) … U2 tribute band U2 by UV shares all your cherished anthems at Sunday on the Waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach 4-7 p.m. Sunday (U2ByUV.com) … Blues-rocker Joel DaSilva torches Voltaire in downtown West Palm Beach 8 p.m. Sunday (Facebook.com/JoelDaSilvaMusic) … Singer-songwriter and pianist Summer Gill brings soulful pop to the Blind Monk in West Palm Beach 8-11 p.m. Tuesday (SummerGill.com) … Riverdown uncrates classic rock covers to Clematis by Night 6-9 p.m. Thursday (April 19) in downtown West Palm Beach (Riverdown.com) …