Johnny Favourite Making Magic at La Noche Circus Piano Bar
By Camie Sands
“Where’s Johnny?” That’s a question heard on Mesones as the La Noche Piano Bar was there for years in the entrance to Hotel Casa Linda. But as it happens with Centro leases in San Miguel, Johnny Favourite, the Juno-award winning singer, lost his lease with short notice. This summer he made a smart move to lower Zacateros street, where he is once again the maestro of music and magic at his La Noche Circus Piano Bar. The new location for the piano bar is a lively subterranean scene in circus stripes, red velvet and cozy sitting areas, hence the addition of “Circus” to the name. It’s a larger space where couples dance in the aisles as Johnny continues to mesmerize the crowd, always intuiting the next perfect song for setting the mood. He claims a repertoire of 4,000 songs
“I began falling in love with music at age three in my grandparents’ house where the big black record player spun out Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Cole Porter, and Nat King Cole,” says Johnny. All those tunes would one day become part of Johnny’s classic song list. His musical tastes and selections grew beyond to include Leonard Cohen (with whom he recorded at Le Studio in Montreal), to classics from the Beatles, Elton John, and Billy Joel to Marvin Gaye, Dire Straights, and beyond.
“I spent twenty-five years as a professional musician building my repertoire.” Many of those years flew past while he was with as the number one swing band from Canada. Then came recording contracts and a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy. Of course there was the touring era, while he and his group played six nights a week and memorized from ten to twenty songs a week. In between Johnny played every nook and cranny of North America, from Texan roadhouses dolled up in hay bales to the Darby in New York and the Roxy in Boston. Collaborations and encouragements rolled in even as he and Michael Buble became confidants.
San Miguel finally materialized for Johnny because, as he explains it, “I wanted a beer after my last concert tour contract ended. I stood in the Miami Airport on December 4, 2012, deciding: whether I should I use the one way ticket to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and get home to spend Christmas with Mom or I take the one way flight to Mexico City and hop a bus to San Miguel?
The fact that internationally recognized musicians play with Johnny at La Noche Circus Piano Bar each week and musicians from across the globe continue to search out Johnny’s to join in, is the answer. “I arrived in San Miguel at dawn and walked the town and within hours knew my next song would be, ‘I Left My Heart…in San Miguel, a revision of an old favorite.”
Johnny quickly established himself with his world-class singer/entertainer background and within months had opened the La Noche Piano Bar. This summer you can stop in to the new La Noche Circus Piano Bar from 9pm on Wednesdays for classic rock music, Thursdays for a rockin’ blues and rhythm trio, Fridays for Johnny “Strictly Sinatra” (but sometimes he breaks the rules) Saturdays for the rock n’ roll dance party, and Sundays for the “Old School Piano Bar,” all with Johnny Favourite, a singer and entertainer to bring magic to everyone’s love of music. 50 pesos cover charge. 73 Zacateros, downstairs. 415 149 0678 www.cantordelanoche.com