It’s been a minute since I last wrote. So…
A big welcome to the many new subscribers who learned about this list during the finale of Accordions Around the World in Bryant Park! So happy you were there and glad to meet you. There you are:
And hello! to my old friends who have supported me these many years. When I started my list many moons ago, it started as a quick email, a way to congregate my friends in the summer, my favorite season. Over the years, it has grown in many ways: the number of people subscribed, my regularity in writing, the number of listings on any given day, the time of year when it is written, and going beyond listings and sharing my ideas of how to make arts more accessible and inviting to people. During this time, my career has grown. This list has opened many doors. I am so incredibly thankful. But it has meant a lot less time for my pet projects. Well, because…mama’s gotta eat! In the Akan language from Ghana, there’s a word and symbol, “sankofa.” It means “reach back and get it.” I’ve taken it to mean, you have to look to the past in order to inform the future. It’s a saying that I think about often in relation to all of my actions. In fact, it’s on my keychain (the gold symbol alongside my NYPL card and Citibike pass):
With this list, I’m at a point where I need to go back to where I started and that will benefit the quality of this list going forward. What does this mean? As you probably know, I love NYC and the summer. I also like analogies. So think of it this way:
Ariana’s List will be like a NYC public beach: best in the summer, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Yes, I will write in the summer only. This will allow me to concentrate on the producing arm of my work. I will be able to work on giving you and the public free, high-quality events. Stay tuned for more on that in coming months. But not to worry! I will still continue to write/photograph/tweet via social media regularly. I’ll share my thoughts on art on these and will retweet great, free NYC cultural events as well.
So…FOLLOW Ariana’s List on:
For the interim, I won’t leave you high and dry. Here are some solid upcoming events:
- The series I produce at One Penn Plaza ends today! From 6-7:30pm, we partner with HONK NYC! and offer some of the best street band music you’ll find in NYC. We have Environmental Encroachment, a Chicago performance art group that “creates playgrounds for the body and mind through dance, music and art.” You can find both of these in the public space between 33rd/34th Sts. and 7th/8th Aves.
- This weekend, we welcome Open House New York. One of my favorite weekends of the year, we the NYC public, get access to NYC architectural gems that we may not otherwise get to see. I’m eager to check out the old TWA Terminal at JFK airport designed by Eero Saarinen, before they make into a hotel.
And here are some of my favorite year-round venues with free programming. Be sure to check out these sites regularly to find all the good things happening in this good city.
Bronx Museum (art/music/film/dance usually the first Friday of every month)
Bronx Music Heritage Center (music/dance usually the third Saturday of every month)
Brooklyn Museum (art/music/dance/tours/film/talks usually the first Saturday of every month)
BAM Cafe (music usually every Friday and Saturday night)
Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch (mainly music and talks)
BRIC (free music/dance/film on Tuesday nights and in-studio interviews and concerts with musicians)
Lincoln Center Atrium (music performances usually every Thursday night)
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (tours/talks)
Arts Brookfield (music/art)
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (open studios – art and dance)
The Queens Museum (art/music/film/dance/talks)
One last free ticket offer for the season because this is just too darn appropriate. As you probably know by now, accordions have become one of my “things.” I’m always open to broadening my accordion horizons and this event seems like it will do just that.
Charan-Po-Rantan is “Tokyo’s best—and possibly only—accordion-toting vaudeville gypsy-pop sisters” (Time Out Japan). This candy-coated Japanese cabaret/sister act puts on quite the show, pairing high-spirited original and cover tunes—infused with klezmer, circus, gypsy music and chanson—with flamboyant anime picturebook costumes made by their mother, all while thumbing noses at overpackaged J-Pop images of feminine perfection. Koharu (accordion) and Momo (vocals, stuffed safety pig) put on quite the show. See for yourself. The night includes a Charan-Po-Rantan-inspired Halloween fête—costumes encouraged. The pre-show party begins at 7pm in Japan Society’s beautiful, decked-out lobby, with music by all-woman jazz combo The Red Birds, and free draft beer courtesy of Sapporo.
Best of the Summer
In December, there are often end-of-year “best of” lists, usually around music albums. Since my season is summer, I wanted to share my “best of” list with some of my favorite live art moments, from between Memorial and Labor Days. I’m admittedly biased in some of these recommendations: I produce the One Penn Plaza and Accordions Around the World series, and am a member of the Afro-Brazilian samba-reggae group, Batala NYC. I point that out. So here we go:
John is a friend and it’s always a pleasure hearing him play. His project, Double Wide is a favorite of mine, bringing the levity of New Orleans to straight ahead jazz. In fact, the NPR recording at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival makes me incredibly happy. The music was grand. It was also my first time at Bar Lunatico which is cozy and has an incredible music schedule (mainly jazz.) I’ll be back.
5/28 Andrew Cyrille, Private Loft, Harlem
I met a friend, Paul through one of my favorite places to listen to jazz, The Jazz Gallery. Paul is affiliated with Arts for Art, the producers of the avant-jazz Vision Festival. He invited me to his home for a house party to introduce people to the organization. There, the great drummer Andrew Cyrille played…the apartment. He hit his drums, his seat, the windowsill. It was an opportunity to hear a jazz great in an an intimate space.
5/29 Rooftop Films – shorts, Industry City, Brooklyn
Admittedly, I’m not much of a film-goer. But watching movies on a rooftop, overlooking NY Harbor was appealing. I had heard of Rooftop Films but had never attended one of their events. And it did not disappoint. It was a nice night, I saw some thought-provoking shorts, and was introduced to Industry City, a converted entrepreneurial space (back in the day, it was a major factory/cargo center.)
I wrote about The Rad Trads earlier in the summer. It was amazing to see the progress of this amazing band over the course of a year. Disclosure: I produce this series.
This was a magical day (that I also wrote about earlier in the summer) that brought me to new parts of NYC (I had never been to Betsy Head Park before) over amazing music.
It was a hot day and the energy made it flaming! Make Music NY is an amazing project and it was amazing to make a small contribution to the day. This was a fun afternoon collaboration of Ariana’s List and HONK NYC! Street bands + arts for all people! Disclosure: I helped to produce this.
7/10 Batala NYC, the US Womens Soccer Team Ticket Tape Parade, City Hall, NYC
I have written about the joys of making music again. It’s especially exciting when you get to play high-profile gigs! The band was on TV for a good 10 minutes and it expanded its audience base significantly. Overall, the energy was electric.
In an effort to unite its fan base, globalFEST has had “hangouts” with local artists in interesting venues around town. The Newark Museum had an exhibition of the amazing Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj and it seemed appropriate to have one of my faves, the Moroccan InnoV Gnawa band perform. I had never been to the Newark Museum and was blown away by it. What a great museum! It was very digestable, in touch with its local community in the exhibitions it had on display, and the collections were great. I also LOVED the Ballantine Mansion. You have to go to understand. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Newark because my grandmother grew up there. I like exploring and imagining being in her shoes and what she would think of her city today. After the event, we went to the Ironbound, the historically Portuguese area of Newark and had delicious Portuguese food. It was a very cultural afternoon in a place that has gained an undeservedly bad reputation. GO GO GO.
I wrote about this event earlier in the summer. I had never heard a fusion of big band jazz with Afro-Brazilian percussion. Mind blown, new sounds absorbed.
While the music was good, it wasn’t necessarily the music that mattered; it was the experience. We sat in a forest, listening to music, under trees and stars.
8/28 Accordion Band Festival, Bryant Park, NY
Yuri Lemeshev interlude
Eduardo de Carvalho interlude
Melissa Elledge interlude
John Sherman interlude
The highlight of my professional career to date! It was a beautiful evening with some of the best accordion bands in the business, with good press to boot. We moved from deep Louisiana to Buenos Aires to the Emerald Isle to 1920s Paris to Valledupar, Colombia, and ended in a hybrid land of Balkans-meet-Harlem, with rock, gypsy jazz, zydeco, and Brazilian forro interludes. Many thanks to all the incredible bands that participated.
9/4 The Odyssey produced by The Public Theater, Delacorte Theate in Central Park, NYC
I love the participatory mission of Public Works, working with different community organizations of NYC to produce good theater. The Odyssey was a good choice: it’s a story that applies to us all. The production was engaging and an example of community engagement at its best: professional actors were interwoven with amateurs to create a high-quality performance, different NYC communities were invited to participate, and as a result, the community members’ OWN communities were invited into the theater, as well as the rest of the arts-inclined NYC public. Super interesting program.
Multiple Performances: Pilobolus
I had the pleasure of working with Pilobolus Dance this spring and summer and wrote about it here. It was amazing to see their dances so many times and discover new moves/expressions/ideas regularly.
Aight, that’s what I got. I usually associate this song with the summer but the name of the song seems appropriate for now. It’s the time of the season…for loving (myself and taking break.) It’s also the time to once-and-for all focus on my favorite season: summer.
I love emails. Tell me what your seeing/hearing/feeling in the off-season. It’s been a pleasure. Until next summer, see you on social media.
All good things,