This is pretty magical.

photoBack in the day (as in, 50 years ago), three talented men anchored the hoppin’ downtown jazz scene, whose epicenter happened to be clubs that stood where the Crystal Hotel is today: Charlie Gabriel, Mel Brown and Carl Smith.

Each man eventually left Portland to make his way in the music world. All three went on to great success in the New Orleans and Motown scenes; all three left an enduring mark on Stumptown’s musical history.

And now, each man is returning to their old stomping grounds -what is now the Crystal Hotel & Ballroom.

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This is the second installment in a series of blogs about our new Zeus Café at the Crystal Hotel, opening on May 3 in downtown Portland. Here, we take a look at what’s on the menus.

photoJust four more days ‘til Zeus Café is officially open to the public. As of this coming Tuesday, May 3, you can stroll in any time after 7 a.m. for a quick bite to eat or a leisurely multi-course meal. You can choose a booth by the window or sit at our open showcase kitchen to watch our kitchen staff at work. No need for reservations – just roll on by whenever you’re hungry or thirsty.

So, what will we be serving, you ask? Executive Chef Barry Rumsay and Chef de Cuisine Paul Arnold have put together a set of menus slightly different than what you expect from our pubs. For example, there’s nary a tater tot on the menu. Nor will you find a Captain Neon burger. But not to worry – we’ve got you covered.

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ZeusWe’re just days away from flinging open the Crystal Hotel doors and letting the party out into the streets of Portland! Because a party it is, as evidenced by the sneak-peek preview bashes happening this week. Zeus Café has been bubbling over with happy guests sampling food, wine, cocktails and ales while a team of efficient servers tend to their every need.  

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Old TonesAs Deftones fans most likely -and sadly-already know, the band’s longtime bassist Chi Cheng suffered serious brain damage as the result of a 2008 car accident.

Cheng has never recovered; he remains in a semi-conscious state.

As of May, 2010, Cheng began to show signs of significant improvement. He can track people with his eyes and slightly move his hands. But, obviously, he has a long way to go.

This is where the Deftone’s second show at the Crystal Ballroom, slated for Saturday, April 16, comes in…

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PaleFaceAnti-folk, neo-folk modern folk…whatever you call it, Paleface’s upbeat, addictive songs sure ain’t your grandpappy’s music (although, it certainly owes plenty to Grampa Guthrie). Let’s face it, any group that garners the praise of the Avett Brothers and Beck – who cites Paleface as an early influence – has more going for him than just a ratty old acoustic guitar and a harmonica. What sets Paleface apart is his ability to stretch folk to its ultimate boundaries, with a beautiful voice that suddenly dips into a punkish snarl and a drummer who doesn’t seem to know that this band is supposed to be folk, dang it (in a good way)!

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photoDuring the 1960s, Charlie Gabriel made a name for himself at the helm of the house band at the Desert Room, a nightclub on the very site of what is now the Crystal Hotel.

Now, forty years later, Gabriel is returning to his old stomping grounds, as a member of New Orleans’ famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who take the stage at the Crystal Ballroom on Thursday, April 7.

Gabriel will return again for the grand three-day celebration of the opening of the Crystal Hotel. The jazzman will join the Mel Brown Band on May 3-5 in Al’s Den, another historic venue located in the Hotel.

Gabriel’s return isn’t just a reunion; it’s the bookend of a long and fascinating tale, a snapshot of history. Here’s the story, courtesy of McMenamins historian Tim Hills:

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photoThe stars of our current McMenamins Small Batch Tour, Christabel & the Jons may play an old-timey style, but the group is not anachronism. Rather, the quartet manages to coax jazzy genres from the past out of the mothballs and into the future. The result is simply gorgeous: A mélange of countrified folky jazz swing and, lately, a sultry bossa nova groove, above which floats the voice of Christa DeCicco. DeCicco’s voice is tailor-made for jazz; her lyrics -sharp and clever-and melodies are more catchy than any pop song. Despite the bands penchant for thrift-store finds and acoustic instruments, it all feels very much grounded in the now, thanks to smart musical twists and turns, seemingly effortless blending of genres, and a sparkling energy.



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photoOne of the great things about our new Crystal Hotel is how the entire space blurs the lines between art and music. As you probably know, all of our properties feature intriguing, mind-bending art; in the hands of our artists, wall panels, doors, even pipes transform from the mundane to the visually fascinating. Throw rock ‘n’ roll in the mix, and you’ve got an opportunity to do something really special. For instance, every room (all 51 of ’em) here is named after a song that actually has been played on the Crystal Ballroom stage. 

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