Monday, August 31, 2009

Ricki Derek gets a Big Band

For those of you unfamiliar with Ricki Derek, I’ll give you a brief background on the Dallas crooner. Ricki has been performing in the DFW metroplex for close to a decade now, appearing in nightclubs, hotels and other events throughout the city. About five years ago, I stumbled across him on lower Greenville Avenue during one of his locally famous solo performances at The Cavern and he quickly became one of my favorite performers that Dallas has to offer. So, when I found out about the monthly “Big Band Tuesday” show he is presenting at his own club, The Scat Lounge in Fort Worth, I jumped at the opportunity to go and see him last month.

Located in Sundance Square, The Scat Lounge itself has its own Chicago-esque personality. The lounge is perfectly presented from the beginning with a back alleyway entrance to which an elevator takes you down into a dark room scattered with small and intimate candlelit tables.

As I was seated at my table I could really get a clear view of the stage as the musicians were tuning for the nights performance. It was quite a sight as the 16 piece band was fully loaded with trumpets, trombones, and saxophones in addition to his usual trio of upright bass, keys, and drums. The music started at 9pm as the Big Band warmed up the crowd with a few classic ensembles, and right from the beginning it was obvious that this was going to be a good night. The camaraderie between the musicians was extremely apparent and the good energy was easily spread throughout the crowd.

Ricki took the stage at about half past 9 and, as per usual, immediately lit us up with his cheeky banter. He had just flown in earlier that day from a trip to Amsterdam, so you can only imagine the jokes that were being told throughout the night. However, if the man was jetlagged it was hard to tell. It didn’t take him long to start belting out our old Rat Pack favorites garnished with high kicks and a plethora of other dance moves.

By the time the second set was kicking off, things were really in full gear. Ricki and his Big Band were performing tracks off of his latest release including their own brass takes on Modern English’s “I Melt with You” and completed the night with Danger Man theme song “Secret Agent Man”.

I can honestly say as a huge fan, I’ve seen Ricki on stage more times than I can count and this was an absolute treat if not my favorite performance to date. He was completely in his element being backed by some of the more talented musicians in the area. I highly recommend taking the trip to Fort Worth and enjoying a wonderfully talented and just all around good time at The Scat Lounge.

Next “Big Band Tuesday”: September 15th
Next Mercy Performance: October 17th

Liz Williams

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mercy Romance with Lauren Whitener

The Mercy team has very exciting news to share with our patrons! Due to poplar demand, we are now providing live entertainment every Saturday and Sunday. Sundays will now be known as “Mercy Romance with Lauren Whitener”.

Miss Whitener is a soulful and dynamic blues/jazz singer and songwriter with southern rock undertones from Atlanta, Georgia. She began her love affair with music and the stage as a young child performing solos at the First Baptist Church and the Greater Atlanta Christian School. Her parents' love and appreciation of legends like Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James served as early influences. As she matured, Lauren added the likes of Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele to her repertoire.

Armed with pure talent, strong ambition and a supportive family, Lauren moved to Dallas in the fall of 2006 to fully pursue a career as a blues/jazz singer and share her talent. “The tiny girl with a powerhouse voice” (fan comment) initially performed with The Julie Bonk Trio and later teamed up with an incredible group of musicians from the Dallas area. They include Erick Morgan (toured with Ray Charles for 17 years), drums; Tommy Nash, guitar; and Shelly Carroll (recorded/performed with Maureen McGovern, Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, and Joe Williams), saxophone.

Lauren’s currently working on her sophomore album which will showcase her unique sound, strong mezzo-soprano vocals and mastery of the written word. It will reveal her personal journey and self-reflection, allowing the audience to get a front row seat into the artist’s soul. 2009 is quickly proving to be another exciting year for Lauren, full of new opportunities and experiences!

Please join us every Sunday from 6-9 P.M. and enjoy a relaxing evening of romance.

No cover charge, Open to the Public

Vincent Havard

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finding Art in a Wine Label

In an attempt to “spice up” the summer doldrums and the triple digit temperatures, Mercy is partnering with my good friend Steve Harvill, who owns a company called Creative Ventures, to host a wine label contest . This should prove to be a fun event which we are going to run throughout the month of August.

Here is how it is going to work: take a photo of your favorite wine label. Not your favorite wine but of a LABEL that you think shows the most creativity or that you think is very cool. Send that digital photo of the label to Mercy at or to Steve Harvill at or you may send it to both of us if you like.

Throughout the month of August, Steve, myself and the management team at Mercy will sit down and select the label that we believe shows the most creativity. The person who submitted the label that we chose will be invited to have dinner (with a guest) at Mercy with Steve, Vincent and myself. We will secure and serve the wine that the label comes from to enjoy at that dinner.

This should prove to be a fun project for everyone to take part in as they look at wines while they are shopping or just selections you might have in your wine storage. There are some really creative wine labels out there and many wine enthusiasts believe that wine labels represent an art form unto themselves.

Start looking for yourself and see what you think. Spend a bit of time and take a few pictures of labels you think are special and submit one that you like the best.

I am really pleased to announce that this week we were notified that for the 5th consecutive year, Mercy Wine Bar has been awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. We are very proud of this award and having received it for Five consecutive years says to us that some of the best in our industry believes we are doing the right things.

Thanks for your continued support and lets have some fun with finding some creative and cool wine labels.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Benefits of Teamwork

Teamwork : is a joint action by two or more people, in which each person contributes with different skills and express his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group in order to achieve common goals.

Teamwork is a corporate buzz word. Corporations go to great lengths to build a cohesive team. They shuffle employees off to rigorous boot camps, where problem solving techniques are instilled within the team members through a combination of sweat, anguish, and physical testing.

Mercy has less than 25 employees. When we want to test out a teambuilding exercise, we do it the easy way. We send both the General Manager (Vincent) and the Kitchen Manager, (Juan) on vacation at the same time ! Vincent is off to Las Vegas on a mini-honeymoon and Juan for a much needed visitation with his family.

When guests compliment me on the quality of their "Mercy experience", I nod my head in deep appreciation of the compliment. But I am quick to point out to them. "We have a great staff at Mercy !" Our employees know their job, they have a passion for what they do, they enjoy each other's company and when a member of the staff "is in the weeds", they quickly step up to help. It makes my life as a manager so much easier ! So, thanks to all of the servers : Jody, Juan, Michael, M.J., and Nathan.

Lead from example. Here is another buzz phrase. Floor Manager Liz and Bar Manager Craig step up to lend a hand whenever Vincent is "on assignment" or similarly detained. Teamwork in action, as management, steps up to support the staff and Mercy continues to roll forward with no bumps in the road.

Similarly in the Kitchen: Ismael, Welington, Martin, and Esdras add additional hours to their already grueling schedules and report for work earlier to assist in preparation duties, vendor ordering, cheese slicing, vegetable chopping and the like.

Our Host staff of Amber, Nancy and Regan tend to greeting and seating of our guests which allows me the freedom to roam from location to location.

My demeanor, at times, hides how I feel however now is a good time to public acknowledge each and everyone one of Mercy's employees. Thank you, thank you, and thank you !

Mercy has a great staff and I appreciate the job that you all do.

Mike Castagne
(acting General) Manager