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-opens tonight as Ortlieb’s Lounge, it won’t only have a revamped menu full of Tex-Mex treats (we’re coming for you, Frito chili pie), but a new sound, 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.
Local blues master Shakey Lyman is, for one, looking forward to the new direction. A former Ortlieb’s regular, he’s now on the bill every Thursday as one half of house band Slo ‘n Shakey (this week, incidentally, is his 50th birthday — stop by, say hello and bring cake).
“I used to go there all the time to see Larry McKenna — he’s one of Philly’s finest saxophone players,” Shakey told us this afternoon before heading out on a fishing trip (take note, internet: a chat with Shakey might be the quickest way to salvage your afternoon). “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.”