Adesso Fine Restaurant is celebrating its grand opening with a concert by John “Scooch” Cugno, who’s been nominated by the Washington Blues Society for its 2011 Best Traditional Blues Artist award.
Along with a mix of cuisines ranging from Italian and Mediterranean to French and Northwest, the new Legion Way restaurant will serve up live music Friday and Saturday nights.
“The space has very high ceilings, and it’s all concrete and brick,” said Renata Hanson of Olympia, who is opening the restaurant with chef Rudy Viggiano. “The acoustics are very good.”
Guitarist-singer-songwriter Cugno of Olympia will be featured at Adesso twice a month. He’s been playing regular gigs in Seattle and has begun performing in Portland, too.
He had a regular Olympia gig, too, at the now-closed Governor’s Grill just around the corner from the new restaurant. That’s where Hanson heard him, when she and a group of friends went there for New Year’s Eve.
“I love to dance,” she said, “and I was right in front of them dancing the whole time. They were only going to do a couple of sets, and I was just egging them on.
“He and I made a deal. He said, ‘If you keep dancing, we’ll keep playing.’”
Adesso won’t have a dance floor (although Hanson said she can make room for one for private events). “It will be ambiance music,” she said. “It’s definitely toe-tapping music, though.”
Cugno and a small ensemble – including bassist Gary Elsey, singer-guitarist “The Blues Sheriff,” “Harmonica Brad” and sax and clarinet player Mike Shea – will perform a mixture of traditional music and originals.
“I write a lot of my own stuff, and that makes me different from a lot of other blues guys,” he said. “I stay true to the form, and my songs are just stories about things that have happened in my life.”
Cugno’s traditional blues are pretty wide-ranging. “I do a lot of classic blues and classic swing and also obscure stuff that people have never heard.”
He began his long career as a drummer, working with Stella Parton and Tommy Overstreet and playing at the Grand Ole Opry back in the ’80s.
“I’d always been a singing drummer,” said the Boston-born Cugno, who moved to Olympia in 2005. “I made the switch out front to guitar about 15 years ago. I still play some drums but not as much.”