ruby-baker-web.jpgA South Florida restaurant has created a winning combination for the “grown and sexy” crowd.

In addition to its delectable, critically acclaimed cuisine, The Mahogany Grille on Fridays is now featuring one of South Florida’s favorite performers: Ruby Baker.

Baker and her band of the same name began performing at the Miami Gardens restaurant on Friday, May 14 to a standing-room-only crowd. Her show on Friday, May 21, was met by another packed house at the popular establishment owned by baseball great Andre Dawson and his brother, Vincent Brown.

The performance area allows diners to enjoy their meals as they listen to the songstress do her thing. 

Because my husband and I weren’t terribly hungry, we shared a few appetizers to accompany our drinks. The lemon pepper wings ($9) come with a blue cheese dip, a perfect flavor merger. The conch fritters ($11) were good, but could use a few more chunks of conch. I had a bowl of the shrimp, crab and corn chowder ($10), which was full of flavor — although the temperature could have been hotter.

Baker’s repertoire heated up the night. Jazz lovers were treated to her impeccable, hair-raising renditions of “God Bless the Child” and “You Give Me Fever.”

She reached back for old-school jams like Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing,” and kept it current with the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get it Started.”

When the announcer asked everyone over the age of 40 to stand, more than half the audience rose, verifying that this was definitely an audience of grown folks.

“Grown and sexy” crowd notwithstanding, a few of what Baker jokingly called the “new school crew,” bravely partied with their parents’ cohorts.

Baker is so versatile that she made the youngsters feel right at home with songs like “Greenlight” by John Legend and Andre 3000, and “Golddigger,” by Jamie Foxx and Kanye West.

And in a beautiful fusion of “old school” meets “new school, the “grown and sexy” audience members graciously shared the small dance area with the
“20-something” partiers.

Baker was backed by four of the six members of her amazing band.  The Tampa native shares lead singing duty with bass player Bill Scott, whose range allows smooth covers of Maxwell hits as well as classics by the late Luther Vandross.

The ridiculously talented Dr. J. (Johnny James) brings his sexy saxophone skills to The Ruby Baker band. In addition to playing his horn, Dr. J. contributes background vocals and raps, convincingly.

Drummer Jon David Henderson is also an accomplished singer. Rounding out the quartet is Finish keyboardist Eero Turuner, who makes magic with his nimble fingers.  This band is good; so good that each member could easily headline his own show. 

Baker’s personality is a part of what endears audiences to her. She brought up birthday celebrants Cece and Shirley to dance individually as the band jammed — just for them. And she put

Kenneth Phillips Jr. in a very deserving spotlight. The recent graduate of Liberty University was having a great time celebrating with his proud father and other family members.

“I don’t play the diva role, I’m just a hard-working artist,” Baker shared.

Photo by Khary Bruyning. Ruby Baker