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Grammy-Winning 'Boardwalk Empire' Band Finds New Home in Midtown

By Alan Neuhauser | August 9, 2013 2:50pm
 Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks will play every Monday and Tuesday night at Iguana on West 54th Street in Midtown, starting Sept. 9, 2013.
Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
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MIDTOWN — Strike up the band!

Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the Grammy Award-winning jazz ensemble that has recorded many of the period songs used in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," has landed a new home in Midtown.

The 11-piece band was left scrambling to find a new gig after discovering its weekly venue was set to close this month. The group, which has also appeared in "Boardwalk Empire," will play at Iguana restaurant twice a week, performing hits from the 1920s and '30s every Monday and Tuesday from 8 to 11 p.m. Opening night is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9.

"I'm all excited," Giordano said. "We're really looking forward to being here and playing — it was looking pretty grim there for a little."

Girordano and the Nighthawks previously played at Sofia's restaurant at the Hotel Edison for five years, but found themselves in need of a new gig after the hotel said it would close the 37-year-old restaurant this month. Giordano and his girlfriend, Carol, spent the next three weeks traversing the city, trying to find a venue for the band.

"We were club-hopping, not for fun, but for work to try to find a new venue," Giordano said with a laugh. "It's a real challenge to find a place in Manhattan proper that is able to accommodate an 11-piece band, has a dance floor, is open to having music of the 1920s and '30s played, and also has a restaurant and a bar. It's like making a fire: you have to have the three elements — spark, oxygen and fuel — and if one's missing, you can't do it."

Ultimately, the venue came to Giordano. Iguana owner Gerald Shallo, reading about the Nighthawks' search for a new home, sought out Giordano and invited him and his group to play in the restaurant's second-floor dance hall, which already hosts salsa and club nights over the weekend.

"I think their music will really fit with Iguana, and it's going to be fabulous in that dance room," said Shallo's father, James, who helps run the restaurant and watched the Nighthawks play at Sofia's last week. "I really was impressed in the way they were playing and the group of people they had there."

The band has a wide range of famous fans, Giordano said, from Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett to Diana Krall, Tony Roberts and Catherine Russell. It's also performed at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center and recorded an album for jazz enthusiast Woody Allen. Its work on the "Boardwalk Empire" won it a Grammy for best soundtrack last year.

Entry to the Iguana shows will cost $15, and there's a food or drink minimum of $20.

Iguana is located at 240 W. 54th St. Reservations to the Nighthawks' shows are recommended.