Dear Friends,


You’re looking good, NYC!

Welcome! Some of you, I just met on Wednesday at the Accordion Band Festival – I hope you enjoyed.  Others I’ve known for years. I’m thankful for all of you.

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


I’m about to put up my “gone fishing” sign. For me, that doesn’t mean my culture-consumption/producing/event-sharing ends altogether. While I won’t be writing here, I’ll continue on social media. Be sure to follow Ariana’s List on:





See ya there!




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.






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 audience 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:

5/28 Anbessa Orchestra at Barbes, Brooklyn. Mulatu Astatke and Mahmoud Ahmed are two of my favorite musicians (i.e., I love Ethio-jazz as a genre) and noone I know of has been doing it in NY accept a variation by The Budos Band. Blown away by the musical chops and loved the energy. Barbes was a perfect, sweaty venue for this music. The steamy ambience seemed to work with this style of music. And because of this gig, I’ll be bringing them to Penn Plaza later this month (see below.)

💁 5/31 Golem at Penn Plaza, NYC. Amazing energy. Super intelligent concept, blending Yiddish folktales with high-energy rock/punk. I studied Yiddish when I was little and the tales of Sholem Aleichem through music made me nostalgic. This klezmer-punk outfit mixed old and new aesthetics perfectly and smartly. I kind of wished my deceased grandparents were there so we could enjoy it together.

6/6 The Golden Cockerel, American Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center, NYC. I inherited these tickets and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was VERY pleasantly surprised. The sets were incredible and I found myself very engaged with the storyline. I had mainly been to the NYC Ballet in the past, which aside from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, usually is a program of a few disparate dances. Story-as-ballet was new for me.

6/7 Waitress at Brooks Atkinson Theatre, NYC. I’m not super into Broadway but found myself really into this musical whose star, Jessie Mueller, has an ethereal voice. Impressed with the Sara Bareilles score too. I was also in the front row and felt very involved in the story.

6/8 Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings at Celebrate Brooklyn, Brooklyn. This woman NEVER puts on a bad show. A force of nature and incredible show-woman. In addition, Celebrate Brooklyn’s venue in Prospect Park is one of my favorites because the audience has the choice of getting seats to listen closely, or to put out a blanket and hang with friends. I’ve never seen a bad show there. It’s where I tell my friends to meet me when we want a good place to hang.

6/11 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Racetrack, LI. It was my first horse race. It may be my last but it was a cool experience, catching a glimpse of horse-racing culture (e.g. womens hats, mens wardrobe, how betting works, etc.) I also understand now how gambling could become a habit.

#tbt: Hats of the #belmontstakes. 👒👒 👜👜 #horseracing #fashion #nysee #nyc

A photo posted by Ariana Hellerman (@arianaslist) on


6/12 Scandia Symphony at Billings Lawn, Fort Tryon Park, NYC. This ensemble has chosen one of the most beautiful spots in NYC for their performances, right below the Park’s Heather Gardens. The combo of good music and gorgeous scenery made for a nice afternoon.

6/16 Andy Statman at Joe’s Pub, NYC. This clarinetist/mandolin player is high-energy, successfully blending bluegrass and klezmer styles of music. It was amazing to see an artist that has mastered two different instruments. I had also heard of Andy so many times so it was a pleasure to finally see him live.

6/19 A trip to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens. I had never been. And it was magical. Friends, we have wildlife, in NYC.

6/20 Ephrat Asherie and Ehud Asherie‘s Riff This Riff That at the River to River Festival, 180 Maiden Lane, NYC. This sibling collaboration between dancer/choreographer and jazz pianist/composer was beautiful, fusing jazz and hip-hop culture through both music and dance. In an office building lobby, we had to follow the dancers as they moved from one place to another.  It was also a creative use of space. Definitely in the “interesting experience” department.

6/23 Silent Disco with DJ Rimarkable, Qool DJ Marv, and Bill Coleman at Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center, NYC. This was pure joy. I had a lot of fun dancing, singing my brains out, and switching channels between the three great DJs of the night.

6/27 Indigo Girls, SummerStage, NYC. I was brought back to summer camp and college with these ladies’ sound – performing together for 35 years.

💁 6/28 Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang at Penn Plaza, NYC. Nothing compares to Janka and his Bubu music in NYC. We don’t have anything like it. Check this guy out.


💁 6/29 Accordion Picnic at Bryant Park, NYC. Usually, the public strolls around the park to discover six different musical traditions on the accordion. This time we had 24 artists who rotated within the six stations, so the audience didn’t have to move, they could enjoy a picnic, and experience even more variety of accordion music. A perfect opening night. Proud!

A small sampling of the music tonight! In total, we had 24 accordionists! #bryantpark #accordions @bryantparknyc

A video posted by Ariana Hellerman (@arianaslist) on

7/4 Fireworks, Rockway, Queens. It’s become a tradition to walk to the Jamaica Bay side of Rockaway and watch the East River fireworks in the far distance. A silent beauty. I look forward to doing this every year with my mom.


7/7 Astoria Tango Orchestra with Daniel Binelli at Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center, NYC. It was the first time I tangoed since returning to NY from Argentina. It left me on a serious high.

7/8 Chiva Birthday Party in Queens. It was my friend Karen’s birthday and she rented a chiva, a Colombian party bus. It was big and without the typical rows of bus seats, it could fit a lot of people. A hammock swung from one side, a DJ played from another, and we were fed aguardiente (Colombian alcoholic beverage) from a canteen. It was a Colombian cultural experience and SO MUCH FUN.

7/12 The Roots at Arts Brookfield, NYC. I hadn’t seen The Roots live since I was a mega-fan in college (and saw them multiple times.) I had become used to their talking (singing?) head status on the Late Show. I had totally forgotten how amazing this band is live. Also the backdrop of the Hudson River, Jersey City, and Ellis Island were breathtaking.


7/15 In/ter\sect at Bryant Park, NYC. The talent and sound quality were quite high for this hybrid classical/jazz series. I saw Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense and Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, both who I had wanted to see perform for awhile. It was a perfect evening – the weather cooperated and Bryant Park is always idyllic.

7/15 Aterciopelados at BB KINGS, NYC. After spending time in Colombia, I knew I had to eventually see this band live. (They are SO famous there and known for their good energy.) This night was the night. It felt like the entire Colombian community had come out to see them too. The concert did not disappoint with rainbow hats and bubbles.


7/20 Patti Smith at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC. Smith’s words, even when she’s not singing are poetry. It was amazing to be in her presence. At one point, people came up to the front and those seated yelled “Sit Down!” Patti’s response to them was “STAND UP!” I was in presence of greatness.


7/21 Hallelujah Train at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC. Not often do you see a pastor with his Louisiana-based congregation, and Grammy-winning son on a NYC stage.

💁 7/26 Pangari and The Socialites at Penn Plaza, NYC. Old school ska and rocksteady. Another genre that isn’t so covered in the NYC scene. So happy to have this band fill that void! And Maria Eisen on baritone sax KILLED it. 

💁 8/8
Matthew Hartnett Southern Comfort at Live at Penn Plaza, NYC. Super good, Louisiana energy from this brass band of heavy-hitters (Matthew plays with Lauryn Hill). Favorite lyrics: “Mercy me, she’s lookin’ good like some collard greens (with a side of sweet potato) … Mercy me, she’s lookin’ good like some collard greens (with a whole lot of macaroni)..” Perfect outdoor, warm weather music.


8/11 Arooj Aftab & Alsarah & the Nubatones. A nice pairing of Sufi-inspired Pakistani-inspired music and music influenced by Nubian modern migration patterns, both by two young women.


💁 8/31 Accordion Band Festival at Bryant Park. Highlight of my career. Thanks to Bryant Park for being an amazing partner, especially Ethan and Dan (hi guys!) Check out my most recent images and videos on Instagram (or search for #accordionbandfest) and look at this beautiful album, Aleksandr, an audience member made.


And what were your favorite shows of the summer? Please share them here!




As promised, I get you through Labor Day with free cultural events. But I would love to share some other Fall happenings that you should know about.

The #liveatpennplaza series I produce at 33rd St. off of 7th Ave. near Penn Station continues through the end of September. We have a new beautiful stage, amazing, sound, and you’re in a public space with other music-adoring fans. We’re also right next to a big restaurant that serves drinks. Come have your happy hour with us.  We’re there:

Evening concerts every Monday and Tuesday, 6 – 7:30pm

Lunchtime concerts every Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 – 1:30

Here’s the line-up through September:

Tuesday, September 6, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Ben Holmes & Patrick Farrell (trumpet & accordion duo)

Tuesday, September 6, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Mandingo Ambassadors (West African music)

Thursday, September 8, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Zydeco Revelators (music from Louisiana)

Monday, September 12, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Chris Bergson Band (blues)

Tuesday, September 13, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Eva Salina & Peter Stan (Balkan duo)

Tuesday, September 13, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Sharabi featuring Frank London & Deep Singh (Klezmer/Bhangra Mix)

Thursday, September 15, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Gowanus Percolators (old time music on fiddle, bass, and accordion)

Monday, September 19, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Underground Horns (brass band)

Tuesday, September 20, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Morning Star (Irish trio)

Tuesday, September 20, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Anbessa Orchestra (Ethio-Funk)

Thursday, September 22, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Bunkhouse Boys (Cajun music)

Monday, September 26, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Kendra Morris (soul)

Tuesday, September 27, 12:30 – 1:30pm: Terra Sangue Mare (Italian trio)

Tuesday, September 27, 6:00 – 7:30pm: Slavic Soul Party (Balkan)

Thursday, September 29, 12:30 – 1:30pm: The Bailsmen (Gypsy Jazz)

You can see a listing of all #liveatpennplaza events here.





Here’s a key to the recommendations:

💁: an Ariana’s List-produced event (because, obviously, I’m biased and, you should know that.);

👍: a recommendation of the day;

😀: where I’ll most likely be. Let’s hang.




Anyway…here’s what I got for the final weekend of the summer:


Saturday, September 3


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! Bargemusic, Fulton Ferry Landing near the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, 4pm >>

Theater: Measure for Measure. The Drilling Company returns to Bryant Park for the last time this season for this Shakespeare production. This repeats again over the weekend. Bryant Park, 41st St. off 6th Ave., NYC, 7 – 9pm >>

Music/Film: Summer HD Festival: The Merry Widow. The Metropolitan Opera presents 11 free outdoor screenings on Lincoln Center Plaza for the third year in a row. Night 9: ARenée Fleming stars in Lehár’s sumptuous operetta, in a production by Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman. Nathan Gunn and Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara, in her Met debut, complete the principal cast. Lincoln Center Plaza, Columbus Ave. btw. 62nd-65th Sts., NYC, 8pm >>

👍 Theater: Public Works presents Twelth Night. I went to the Public Works production, made up of amateur and professional actors from around the five boroughs, and was blown away. A high-quality production that provides opportunity around the city. Check out the different ways you can secure your free tickets at the website. Delacorte Theater, Central Park, 8pm >>


Sunday, September 4


Festival: Guyanese Folk Festival. I just learned about this festival. Who knew? For the past 15 years, the Guyana Cultural Association of New York has hosted a series of programs that highlight Guyana’s rich multi-ethnic heritage and advocate for its presentation and preservation. This event celebrates the strong connection of the Guyanese diaspora with their homeland. They will showcase the Indian and African origins in Guyanese culture with a program of storytelling, music, and dance. Rhythm Tolee will teach and showcase bhangra, a form of music and dance that originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. Guyanese cultural leaders Claire Goring and Rose October Edun will discuss the significance of Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence. Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie will share Guyanese folktales and poetry, followed by a demonstration of the colorful pre-wedding Kwe Kwe ritual with Rose October Edun. Indo-Caribbean dancer Romanee Kalicharran will teach and perform Indian and Guyanese dance traditions in Kathak dance, the foundation of the Indo-Caribbean dance tradition. This looks amazing and celebrates and supports a strong NYC immigrant community. PS 249: The Caton School, 18 Marlborough Rd. (btw. Caton/Church Aves.), Brooklyn, 12-5pm >>

Theater: Measure for Measure. See 9/3. Bryant Park, 41st St. off 6th Ave., NYC, 3 – 5pm >>

Music/Film: Summer HD Festival: Turandot. The Metropolitan Opera presents 11 free outdoor screenings on Lincoln Center Plaza for the third year in a row. Night 10: Puccini’s final opera is seen in Franco Zeffirelli’s spectacular production, a classic of the Met reper­toire. Lincoln Center Plaza, Columbus Ave. btw. 62nd-65th Sts., NYC, 8pm >>

👍 Theater: Public Works presents Twelth Night. See 9/3. Check out the different ways you can secure your free tickets at the website. Delacorte Theater, Central Park, 8pm >>

Parade: J’Ouvert. As part of Carnival (the Caribbean Day Parade which you’ll see listed below), there is a late night parade where colored powder is thrown and all is ridiculously festive. It looks like a lot of fun and has always been on my “NYC To Do” list. There isn’t information listed just yet so check the link again soon. Technically, this happens on 9/5 but I’m listing it here. The parade begins on a stretch of Flatbush Ave. on the northern corner of Prospect Park and heads south, turning left on Empire Blvd., then right on Nostrand Ave. before stopping at Maple Avenue, Brooklyn 4 – 10am >>


Monday, September 5


Parade: Caribbean Day Parade. Show your Caribbean pride! This event is always so colorful and spirited though the crowds are great and it can get rowdy. The parade begins at Schenectady Ave. along Eastern Parkway and ends at Grand Army Plaza. Brooklyn, 11am – 6pm >>

Music/Film: Summer HD Festival: Les Pêcheurs de Perles. The Metropolitan Opera presents 11 free outdoor screenings on Lincoln Center Plaza for the third year in a row. Night 11: Not seen at the Met in a century, Bizet’s opera returned to the stage last winter, with Diana Damrau in the leading role, and Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien singing the famous duet “Au fond du temple saint.” Gianandrea Noseda conducts. Lincoln Center Plaza, Columbus Ave. btw. 62nd-65th Sts., NYC, 8pm >>

👍 Theater: Public Works presents Twelth Night. See 9/3. Check out the different ways you can secure your free tickets at the website. Delacorte Theater, Central Park, 8pm >>




And that’s that! Thank you for being such loyal and patient readers. Also a special thank you to my summer intern, Bernie Tyson. He kept me on track and helped enormously. Kudos to you, Bernie!

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. As Erykah says, see you next lifetime, for the next iteration of Ariana’s List in 2017.

All good things,