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"Suiting Up": The Dress for Success Fundraiser - 40/40 Club (New York) - Tuesday, July 25, 2006

7 August 2006

While JAY-Z’s 40/40 Club is not my usual haunt, I decided to go there after being invited to the “Suiting Up” fundraiser, for the good cause (and the free booze). The purpose of the event was cross-genre music networking, including brief performances, with proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization, Dress for Success. For those not familiar with the group, Dress for Success, in the words of their online mission statement, strives to “advance low-income women’s economic and social development and to encourage self-sufficiency through career development and employment retention.” From offering free clothing and makeup to workshops on how to balance a checkbook, Dress for Success, in QUEEN LATIFAH’s words, is all about ladies first.

My friend who works for the organization got me on the list, so I was able to easily pass by the burly bodyguards that flanked each entrance. Although it was a Tuesday night and not even 10:00 PM when I arrived, I still got the requisite celebrity-spotting done within five minutes of entering the club. I had hoped for someone exciting, but I got NICK LACHEY instead. It was pretty cute though that he was the perfect gentleman when one of the performers, anti-folk artist KATHY ZIMMER, gave him her CD, and that he took a yellow cab home when he left.

The first musical act was self-described “cosmopolitan folk” artist Zimmer, whose EP, Dreamin’, I wrote-up in BT Issue #58. She mixes “spunky old country music with an urbanized-classical twist,” to borrow from my review. While she only performed three songs, I gotta give her props for being the only artist to play an instrument and not use backing tracks. Fortunately, her reception was quite good, considering the genres of the acts that followed. Next up was a pretty R&B singer going for the whole MARY J. BLIGE-thing, then the rapper BUMP J. BUCKS, then a soul singer, and, finally, the reggaeton group TWINZ SQUAD. It was quite a mix, and seeing Zimmer’s fans crunking to the heavy beats was worth the price of admission alone.

Although I am a rap fan and like a teeny bit of R&B and reggaeton if the mood strikes me, I still felt out of place at the event. (I don’t think platform boots and a MISFITS t-shirt fit in with the dress code.) When I saw the artists earnestly handing out CDs and trying to talk up their projects afterwards, however, I remembered that all musicians are just as desperate to make it no matter their genre. They’ll play any benefit and approach anyone who looks interested if they think it’ll give them a leg up in the NYC music scene; when it comes down to brass tacks, there’s really not that much difference between rock and reggaeton. In the end, despite the evening’s oddities, I did have a good time, and found it refreshing to step out of my usual scenery—but only for a few hours. By that point, I needed to get out of 40/40 and so I frantically threw myself into the first bar nearby that had MOTORHEAD on the jukebox.