Ariana’s List is like a NYC public beach: open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

 

Hey friends, I’m about to put up my “gone fishing” sign. But before I close up shop, a few things.

 

DONATIONS

 

Ariana’s List is free (and ad-free) and takes hundreds of hours a month to research and write and $$$ to sustain. It’s a lot.

I’m not good at asking for things. But I’m going to bite the bullet and do it now.

If you have found joy and value in having access to free summer cultural events or have gone to a free concert you found via this list, please consider a donation. Kool & the Gang tickets could cost $100+. I gave you access to it for free. Donations can be anything, from $1 to $100,000 (anyone wanna be my Medici?)

Or if you’re not in a situation to contribute, I accept anything from a drawing, a good idea, a cup of tea, a nice meal, etc. I have always done this for the sake of being social and as a creative outlet, so I’m always game for creative bartering and the opportunity to get to know more people and hear their (your) stories. I am in the market for knowing new, good people.

My goal with this list and in my career has always been that everyone should have access to the arts. No expectations whatsoever. But if you can, please donate.

Thank you.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean my culture-consumption has ended. While I won’t be writing here, I’ll continue on social media. Be sure to follow Ariana’s List on:

Facebook

 Twitter

Instagram

 

Scroll over the links above to connect. See ya there!

 

TRENDS OF THE SUMMER

 

Since I’m regularly researching what’s happening in NYC over the summer, I begin to see trends. Here are some of the artists who have come up in the NYC free summer concert world a few times this summer. They’re all great. Check out their art!

 

NYC-based Artists/Bands

The Blue Dahlia (French gypsy jazz, reggae, + ska)

Brooklyn Raga Massive (classical Indian music interpretations of modern music)

Innov Gnawa (traditional Moroccan Gnawa)

Marcus Gilmore (jazz drummer)

Roman Diaz (Afro-Cuban jazz conguero)

Underground System (female-led electronic Afrobeat)

 

Outside NY

Septeto Santiaguero (salsa/son from Santiago de Cuba)

Tank & the Bangas (New Orleans indie/funk-inspired R&B)

Tribu Baharu (Afro-champeta from Colombia)

 

Legends

Joe Bataan

 

 

FAVORITES OF THE SUMMER

 

I’ve said it before, but for me, it isn’t only about the art – it’s about the experience. A good experience might not necessarily be solely because of the artist (though they are often the draw) – it could be dependent on something unrelated to the music such as the comfort level of the venue, what happened at work earlier in the day, your involvement in the production (which has become the case for me), etc.  I’ve had some favorite experiences this summer and would love to share them with you. These artists and venues deserve support.

I’ve included footage of the event when I have it. And for full disclosure, you’ll see this icon ->💁<- for the events I produced. Here goes:

 

6/4: Filipino Day Parade, Flatiron, NYC

I went to see my oldest friend’s mom (Hi Jenn and Lory!) perform a dance number. At 70+ years old, she killed it! I also liked getting a tasting of different forms of culture from the Philippines.

 

6/15 Paito, Lincoln Center Atrium, NYC

I first saw Paito in a smoky den when I lived in Bogota, Colombia. His gaita skills were what made me fall in love with the instrument. It was amazing to see him on the big stage of Lincoln Center, five years later.

 

6/17: Fish Parade, South Bronx

I had known about this community arts event for many years, inspired by Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. It was fun to finally experience it and to also support The Point, an institution that helps make the Bronx so vibrant.

Yesterday I went to the 14th edition of @thepointcdc’s Fish Parade. A mile-long procession through the streets of Hunts Point, caravans of marchers and colorful “floats” created by visual and performance artists from the South Bronx incorporate issues of environmental awareness and community advocacy. The fest launched in 2004 as a welcoming party for the Fulton Fish Market when it relocated to Hunts Point from Manhattan. I had known about this parade/fest for years and was happy to finally see it in action. Sadly, when the parade ended, the skies opened and drenched the festivities in Barretto Point Park. But I was happy to experience the parade, that park (it is a GEM!), and support the arts and my colleagues in the Bx. And in general, I love me some Boogiedown. #nysee #fishparade #thepoint #thepointcdc #barettopointpark #bronx #thebronx #dabronx #huntspoint #boogiedown #boogiedownbronx

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6/29: Orkesta Mendoza + Lila Downs, Prospect Park, Celebrate Brooklyn

I met Sergio Mendoza a number of years ago and we have become friends. I also know a bunch of the members of Lila’s band. It’s always fun to say “I know him/her!” from the audience and take pride in that. Also, both of these bands are killer and a good experience is always guaranteed.

 

7/3: A-Wa + Bixiga 70, International de Jazz de Montreal, Montreal

Heading to the Montreal Jazz Festival was wonderful in and of itself, wandering an area, and having access to more music than I could shake a stick at. I was charmed by Montreal and its Sunday morning drum circles had some really good ice cream. In terms of the music, I had never seen the hip Yemeni-Israeli sisters who make up A-Wa before and I was charmed. I love them! It was also fun to see Brazilian Bixiga 70 (they remind me of a Brazilian Antibalas) perform in front of thousands. I’ve never seen them not be good live.

 

7/7 Museum of the City of New York, NYC

This has always been one of my favorite NYC museums. But damn, they’re killing it right now. I learned so much about New York City history from their permanent, ground floor exhibition. Todd Webb’s beautiful black and white photos from the 1940s-60s gave me insight into my city from well before I was born. Rhythm & Power was my jam! Check out this amazing exhibit that provides a visual history of salsa in NYC. I learned a lot about the art movement during the AIDS epidemic too.

 

7/8 Mariachi Flor de Toloache + Toto La Momposina, SummerStage, Central Park, NYC

I burst with pride seeing all-female mariachi outfit Flor de Toloache. They were in my One Penn Plaza series in the past. It was amazing to see them on the SummerStage stage. And Toto la Momposina is one of my all-time favorite artists from Colombia. It was an honor to see her perform again live, especially in NYC where the Colombian community was out celebrating hard!

 

7/13: Tank and the Bangas, BAM Metrotech, Brooklyn

The energy of this band is electric + BAM Metrotech may be one of my favorite summer concert venues. Not too crowded, chill crowd, always good music.

 

7/19 Ravi Coltrane’s Univeral Consciousness: Melodic Meditations of Alica Coltrane, Jazz Gallery, NYC

With Brandee Younger’s harp, David Virelles’ wurlitzer(!), and Roman Diaz’s conga (plus Rahsaan Carter on bass, Eric Macpherson on drums, Marcus Gilmore on drums, and Roman Filiu on trumpet), the audience was entirely transported to another dimension (I had never heard these instruments together) and place (this was Ravi’s mother’s never played before compositions.) I felt like I was witnessing history. The sounds were sublime. Plus the Jazz Gallery is my favorite place for jazz. Support them.

 

💁 7/21: Accordion Festival, Bryant Park, NYC

My baby. It went off without a hitch, it fell during Colombian Independence Day and our final act was genius Gregorio Uribe, and we had thousands of people there. Career highlight.

 

7/29 Double Dutch Summer Classic then Heidi Latsky’s ON DISPLAY, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC

I learned so much from the panel discussions I attended, related to the Double Dutch weekend-long event. It also made me nostalgic for the NYC past – pretty much double-dutch and open fire hydrants are symbols of my childhood on the LES. It was also beautiful to see a black art form that had been forgotten on the grounds of the high arts mecca of Lincoln Center and to see how excited people were to be together again and their art recognized. There were tears from me and others.

After, I roamed the Lincoln Center grounds and loved choreographer Heidi Latsky’s piece, where people with and without disabilities posed around a reflection pond in interesting fashion. The public was invited to stare while also questioning ideas of beauty.

When I think of LES summers in the 80s, I remember open fire hydrants and double-dutch. Yesterday, I spent the day learning about the art form through film and personal accounts. The National Double Dutch Championships used to take place in the main plaza of Lincoln Center in the 70s and 80s. For one reason or another, that stopped. It took finding images from the past for producers to realize this history. As a result, the championships returned this weekend, as well two days of talks, film, and music. It was a moving weekend, seeing the art form in action, hearing from the pioneering women who made it what it is (and are still friends), and reminiscing about a New York that doesn’t exist anymore. If you have the opportunity to watch Pick Up Your Feet, Skip Blumberg’s documentary on Double-Dutch, do it. (Photo here provided by Peter Aaron of OTTO and Richard Brown.) #doubledutch #lincolncenter #lcoutofdoors #the80s #the70s #les #lowereastside #nyc #nysee

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8/2 Indecent, Lort Theater, NYC

My accordionist friend, Uri (hi Uri!) got me tickets to see this beautiful Broadway show based on the backstory of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, the first play in America to feature a kiss onstage between two women. I’m sad it’s not still up – I would highly recommend it.

 

8/3 Basement Bhangra SOBs, Tribeca, NYC

The end of an era! I have high school memories of using fake IDs to get into this legendary party. I went there a bunch throughout the years and as I wrote a few weeks ago, it may be the only club scene I ever enjoyed. There was no doubt in my head that I’d be there to see it off.

 

 

8/9 Epichorus, Eldridge St. Synagogue, Lower East Side, NYC

This venue wins. Perhaps in life. Make sure to visit the Museum at Eldridge Street if you ever have the chance. It is so absolutely, stunning. Acoustic shows are perfect in this space.

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8/1o Femina, Joes Pub, NYC

These Patagonian ladies are in top form. I’ve seen them a few times in the past but they are really killing it now. Keep an eye out for their new album, produced by Quantic.

 

8/14 Capturing the Lower East Side’s Storefronts Photo Opening, Theater for a New City, East Village, NYC

I got teary going through this exhibit of East Village storefronts with interviews with their owners. Two of them closed just within the last month. This exhibit is a time capsule. Open until 9/18.

 

8/15, 8/17 Battery Dance Festival, Battery Park, NYC

I have known about this festival for many years now but I went for the first time a few weeks ago. And WOW. The quality of the performances are extremely high and the backdrop of New York Harbor may win for best backdrop of all time (although the Eldridge Street Synagogue may come close.) Though sometimes, the backdrop overtook the dancers. I enjoyed the all-Indian program so much, I came back to see Mophato Dance Theater from Botswana.

 

8/20 Mulatu Astatke, Summerstage, Central Park, NYC

It was my first time seeing Mulatu Astatke live and was on my shortlist of “not to be missed” summer concerts. The Ethio-jazz founder/genius Astatke had the crowd enraptured. It was an end-of-summer/early fall night, with a slight chill in the air. The vibe was also very chill; summer has worn us out! But this created a very attentive audience who swayed back and forth in unison to the music of the night. His backing band was also stellar, with NYC-based jazz musicians, Marcus Gilmore on drums, Jason Lindner on keys, Roman Diaz on congas, +.

#aboutlastnight: perhaps the best concert of the season: Mulatu Astatke. I’m a huge fan of Ethio-jazz but hearing it direct from the maestro himself – WOW. It was a super chill vibe at @summerstage and the audience swayed in relative silence to the music. You could tell, everyone was feeling it. It was a beautiful night and I feel lucky to have seen this man (and a killer band of NYC-based jazz cats including Roman Diaz, Jason Lindner, and Marcus Gilmore) in action. Next month, the Ethiopian music education continues in NY with Mahmoud Ahmed and Hailu Mergia at @townhallnyc. Who’s in? 🇪🇹🎶🙌#ethiojazz #vibraphone #congadrums #congas #fatherofethiojazz #ethiopianmusic #golden1970s #jazz #livemusic #summerstage #centralpark #nyc #nysee

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💁 8/24 & 8/25: Jazz in the Garden, part of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival with Art Baron at 6BC Botanical Garden, East Village and Bill Saxton at Harlem Rose Garden, Harlem

Esteemed trombonist Art Baron and his quintet gave East 6th Street a treat of music. Then Bill Saxton did the same for his neighborhood up in Harlem. This small series focused on community, taking place in community-built and driven spaces while embracing artists from the neighborhoods where Charlie Parker lived (the East Village and Harlem.) It was a pleasure coordinating with so many important institutions: the artists from the neighborhoods, the community members who keep the community gardens running, SummerStage who shares music in public space, and the Jazz Foundation of America for doing amazing work generally. This project meant a lot to me because it was emphasizing community.

[Scroll through for all the images and videos 👉] What an amazing two days of Jazz in the Garden. As part of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, I partnered with @summerstage and the @jazzfoundationofamerica to deepen programming in community gardens in the East Village and Harlem, the two neighborhoods where Charlie Parker lived. We celebrated community-built/driven space while supporting artists from each neighborhood. The first few shots are Art Baron’s Quintet at the 6BC Community Garden in the East Village. Art is on trombone and has played with Ellington and Stevie Wonder. The next few are the Bill Saxton Trio at the Harlem Rose Garden. Bill is on sax and is known around Harlem for Bill’s Place, his salon/speakeasy, whose walls heard Billie Holiday perform. He also brought Greg Lewis on organ which was a serious TREAT. These concerts were intimate, cozy, and local in every sense of the word. Support local musicians and community space! #charlieparker #jazzfest #eastvillage #harlem #communitygarden #communityspace #communitygardens @nycparks #greenthumb #jazzfestival #livemusic #publicspace #nyc #nysee

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***

 

I also took some spectacular urban adventures in the past few weeks. I wrote about my Saturday in Wallabout/Brooklyn Navy Yard/Fort Greene/Clinton Hill and Sunday in Corona + Jackson Heights, Queens last week. Here are some photos from that trip:

 

Last week, I meandered through Bushwick. I haven’t got my pictures up yet but they’ll be up at some point soon.

I’ve also been chronicling my awesome/scary/exhilarating North Brother Island via Instagram and have war wounds to prove I was there (in the form of a swollen hand and ugly blister.) Here are a select few shots (but follow the link above for more):

 

And that brings me to this weekend, where there are memories yet to be made. What were your favorite shows and adventures of the summer? Please share them!

***

 

To recap: here’s what I got for the final weekend of the summer:

 

Saturday, September 2

 

Circus: Circus Amok presents their 22nd celebratory spectacle, using a blend of traditional circus skills, post-modern dance, and improvisational techniques, while addressing issues of social justice, Queens

Music: Bargemusic. Free classical music concerts against a backdrop of NYC. This is a great little series with a Q&A with the musicians at the end, Brooklyn

Music: In their “The British Are Coming” program, the Staten Island Philharmonic play selections from British Invasion rock groups as well as traditional music from the British Isles, Staten Island

Dancing: Beginners Capoeira class led by certified instructor Camaleao from Capoeira Nago Queens, Queens

Theater: As You Like It. The Public Theater’s program Public Works invites diverse communities from across New York of amateur performers to join in creating high-quality works of participatory theater. This year, Public Works presents Shakespeare’s As You Like It,  with two hundred community members and professional actors performing together. I have seen Public Works in the past and it is a true model in community engagement in the arts. It had me in tears; it’s really beautiful, NYC

Opera: The Met Opera is back with their end-of-summer HD series, sharing high-definition video of their operas out in Lincoln Center Plaza. Today: Eugene Onegin, NYC

 

Sunday, September 3

 

Parade/Music/Dance: Brazil Day! Experience a lot of celebratory energy on 46th St, NYC

Music: Boricua Legends, created by Pedro “Pocholo” Segundo plays salsa dura; dancing encouraged!, NYC

Theater: As You Like It. The Public Theater’s program Public Works invites diverse communities from across New York of amateur performers to join in creating high-quality works of participatory theater. This year, Public Works presents Shakespeare’s As You Like It,  with two hundred community members and professional actors performing together. I have seen Public Works in the past and it is a true model in community engagement in the arts. It had me in tears; it’s really beautiful, NYC

Opera: The Met Opera is back with their end-of-summer HD series, sharing high-definition video of their operas out in Lincoln Center Plaza. Today: Nabucco, NYC

 

Monday, September 4

 

💁 Parade: J’Ouvert Parade. Beginning at 6AM this year, start your day with the start of Carnival, Brooklyn

Parade: Caribbean Day Parade. Show your Caribbean pride! This event is always so colorful and spirited, Brooklyn

Theater: As You Like It. The Public Theater’s program Public Works invites diverse communities from across New York of amateur performers to join in creating high-quality works of participatory theater. This year, Public Works presents Shakespeare’s As You Like It,  with two hundred community members and professional actors performing together. I have seen Public Works in the past and it is a true model in community engagement in the arts. It had me in tears; it’s really beautiful. You have four days to catch this; this is the final day, NYC

Opera: The Met Opera is back with their end-of-summer HD series, sharing high-definition video of their operas out in Lincoln Center Plaza. Today: Verdi’s La Traviata, NYC

 

***

 

And that’s that! Thank you for being such loyal and patient readers.

Friends, enjoy your Labor Day and the rest of your year! I’m still around and you can always write. Be sure to check out lots of culture and tell me about it;  I LOVE me some emails.

Stay warm through the cold months, thinking about summer nights in the park over music. That’s usually my positive-thinking strategy; it makes me happy and excited for the future.

All good things,

Ariana