4th Of July, Asbury Park (June 25 – July 4)



Dear Friends,

If I ever compile an album of accordion music, the image above will most certainly be the album cover.

Wednesday, June 29th marks the launch of my favorite accordion series in the city, Accordions Around the World! For the next nine weeks (through August 31), experience accordion traditions from around the world with 100+ accordionists (as well as bandoneon/bayan/concertina/harmonium-players) performing different musical genres in various locations around Bryant Park. The series offers audiences the chance to experience the often overlooked or little-known instrument. Here’s some more background on the series.

This Wednesday, 6/29, the first week of the series, we have an Accordion Picnic with 24 accordionists participating. There will be six stations around the Park. Each performance area will have eight mini-concerts. Blankets will be spread out around the Lawn and we encourage you to bring a picnic or you can purchase one from the food vendors in the park. Wine and beer will be available for purchase as well. (This is a big and exciting change!) Eat and enjoy a sampling of different cultures vis-à-vis the accordion. Fingers crossed that it will be a beautiful night! Let us know that you’re coming and spread the word to your friends!

Then, every Wednesday from July 6 through August 24, six accordionists play in different pockets of Bryant Park. Come for a stroll; leave with a taste of music from around the world.

Finally, on Wednesday, August 31st, the last day of the series, we’ll have our second Accordion Band Festival! Six bands play music of different cultures (all with an accordion, of course!), from 5 – 10pm. Sample punk/rock/folk/indie blends of American roots, Russian, Mexican, Klezmer, Dominican, Pakistani-inspired music, with solo accordion interludes during the transitions. I’ll share more info about these bands in coming weeks. It’ll be a good time. I hope you’ll come through. Check out some of what I wrote last year about my connection to the accordion a few years back.

Please, please, please come visit and enjoy the accordion (trust me – it is possible!)  I’ll be the one, running laps around the park, with camera in hand. You can find me at Bryant Park every Wednesday from 6– 8pm, as I co-produce this. 💁 Come say hello. It’s one of my biggest joys, meeting people who subscribe to the list!

By the way, the title of this week’s list seemed appropriate: July 4th is on its way and this Bruce Springsteen song features an accordion!



Here’s a key to the recommendations:

      • 💁: an Ariana’s List-produced event (because, obviously, I’m biased and, you should know that. See more below);
      • 👍: my recommendation of the day;
      • 😀: where I’ll most likely be. Let’s hang.




Aight, here’s what I got for the week:


Saturday, June 25


Festival: Flower Festival/ Festival de las Flores. Aside from the billing of “internationally and locally known artists, Colombian silleteros and floral Silletas, Carnaval de Barranquilla, street theater, DJs playing Latin and American hits,” I don’t know much about this event. I do know that NYC has the largest Colombian community outside of Colombia (with Queens as the main hub) and I’m thinking this will be amazing. Flushing Meadows Corona Park by Unisphere, Queens, Until 6pm >>

Art: The Ramones. The Queens Museum gets taken over by hordes of punks for a full day of Ramones events. Think punk flea market, screenings of Ramones-related films (followed by a Q&A with Ramones tour manager Monte Melnick); and a performance by all-female Ramones tribute band, Rockaway B*tch. Queens Museum, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens, Until 6pm >>

Music: Rite of Summer. As part of the now-annual, Rite of Summer Music Festival that celebrates contemporary classical music, former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler performs with percussionist/marimba-player Ian David Rosenbaum. Governors Island, 1 & 3pm >>

Film: The Evolution Of SteelPan. The premiere of this documentary on the SteelPan drum with a Q&A session with filmmaker Charysse Tia Harper following. ARTs East New York, 534 Livonia Ave., Brooklyn, 2-4:30pm >>

Music: Butler, Bernstein & the Hot 9 / The Hot Sardines / Bria Skonberg and the New York Hot Jazz Festival All-Stars. In association with the New York Hot Jazz Festival. Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 is a collaboration between the great New Orleans pianist/singer and the retro-futurist trumpeter. I’ve heard this project before and it is GOOD! And I always love the charm of The Hot Sardines. Central Park Rumsey Playfield (enter around 72nd St), NYC, 2pm-7pm >>

Multidisciplinary: Harlem Arts Festival. There’s music, comedy, dance, theater, spoken word, and art in Harlem in the fifth year of this annual festival. Day 1 of 2 of free events. Marcus Garvey Park and the neighborhood (120-124th Sts. btw. Madison and Morris Park West), 3-8:30pm. >>


👍 Music: The Allen Toussaint Band with guest vocalists Irma Thomas, Cyril Neville, and Deacon John. A tribute to late music icon Allen Toussaint, “one of the master craftsmen of 20th-century American pop” (New York Times). Irma Thomas is “The Soul Queen of New Orleans” and I try to catch her every time I’m down there. Damrosch Park (Amsterdam Ave. and W. 62 St), NYC, 6:30pm >>

👍 Dance: The Set Up: Kapila Venu. See 6/24. South Street Seaport Museum, Melville Gallery, 12 Fulton St., NYC, 8-9:30pm >>

😀👍 Dance: Philadanco. Since 1970, choreographer/founder Joan Myers Brown has been engaged in shattering barriers for African Americans in contemporary dance with this dance company. Apparently, the program is custom-made for this night. Celebrate Brooklyn, Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, 8pm >>


Sunday, June 26


Tour: Freshkills Park. Seven hundred acres and eight miles of trails in the otherwise closed site will be open, providing opportunities to explore and learn about the landfill-to-park project. Free bikes, kayak tours, and guided walks. Freshkills Park, Staten Island, 11am-4pm >>

Festival: Taste of Jewish Culture. Food, comedy, trivia, and klezmer musicians Howard Leshaw Music and the Klezmer Swing Orchestra. Most importantly, take advantage of the Yiddish lessons. (Fact: I went to Yiddish school growing up.) 6th Ave. btw. 48th/49 Sts., NYC, 11am-6pm  >>

👍 Parade: NYC Pride. Last year, we had so much to celebrate. This year, we have a lot to think about and commemorate. Most importantly, we need to show our solidarity. This is one of my favorite NYC parades.  Begins on 36th St., goes down Fifth Avenue, turns on Eighth St., and ends at Christopher/Greenwich. NYC, 11am-6pm >>

Music: Music in the Garden. Musicians of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra present their version of an “Open Studio,” performing great classical and jazz music on the back porch of a historic home, the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum. Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, 4881 Broadway at W 204th St, NYC, 1pm-6pm >>

👍 Music: Scandia Brass. See 6/19. Your last opportunity to catch these guys this summer! Fort Tryon Park, Riverside Drive, NYC, 2pm >>

Multidisciplinary: Harlem Arts Festival. See 6/25. Day 2 of 2 of free events. Marcus Garvey Park and the neighborhood (120-124th Sts. btw. Madison and Morris Park West), 3-8:30pm. >>

Music: Wo Famatou. Guinean dance and percussion. Harlem Meer has wonderful, intimate concerts, that are frequented by members of the neighborhood.  Harlem Meer, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, 110th St. btw Fifth/Lenox Aves., NYC, 2-4pm >>

Music: Dahlia Dumont and The Blue Dahlia. Dahlia is the sweetest and plays a vibrant mix of many things from French chanson to reggae to klezmer, influenced by the group’s backgrounds in NYC, France, Senegal, Japan, Argentina and Mexico. As part of the France Rocks Summerfest, the Bureau Export, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy gives NYC cutting edge French electro, jazz, world, contemporary, pop and rock artists. Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, 4pm >>

😀👍 Music: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble with Phil Cohran. I remember hearing these seven (blood) brothers play in Union Square 10+ years ago. I loved them then and love them now. Their father, Phil Cohran (Earth, Wind, & Fire, Chaka Khan, Sun Ra) joins them for this special show, produced by the Blue Note. Ingersoll Community Center, 177 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn, 5pm >>


Monday, June 27


😀👍💁 Music: Bill Sims Jr. & Exit 17 with Jeremy Baum, Lee Falco, & Craig Dreyer. I’m looking forward to this serious dose of blues. Born into and raised by a sharecropping family in rural Georgia, vocalist and multi- instrumentalist Bill Sims Jr. is an internationally respected master of the blues. One Penn Plaza, btw 33rd/34th Sts and 7th/8th Aves., NYC, 6-7:30pm. >>

😀👍 Music: Indigo Girls / Lucy Wainwright Roche. This is my dream concert of 15 years ago. In fact, that’s when the Indigo Girls came to play Wellesley College in what remains, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Very much looking forward to this!!! Fact: the Indigo Girls have spent thirty-five years performing together! I would line up very early – this will be popular. Central Park Rumsey Playfield (enter around 72nd St), NYC, 7pm-10pm >>

Film/Talk: Famous Nathan. What’s more Brooklyn than eating a Nathan’s Famous hotdog on the Coney Island boardwalk? But did you know Nathan’s is the story of an immigrant who arrived in NYC from Poland in 1912 with nothing to his name and with no English language skills? Join Lloyd Handwerker, grandson of Nathan himself, as he screens his documentary and discusses his new book about his grandfather’s legacy. Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, 6:30pm >>

Music/Film: Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue / 20 Feet From Stardom. Felix Hernandez created and hosts Rhythm Revue, New York’s first and longest-running (30 years!) radio show dedicated to classic R&B and soul music. He is all around town this summer. He precedes the Academy Award-winning documentary, untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. I’ve seen 20 Feet From Stardom and it’s very good. Saratoga Square Park, Halsey St. bet. Howard Ave. and Saratoga Ave, Brooklyn, 7-10pm >>


Tuesday, June 28


😀👍💁 Music: Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang. Singer Janka Nabay made it big in Sierra Leone, but then escaped war, and found himself earning a living working in fried chicken joints and food trucks. Now Nabay has hit his stride in the US with his six-piece band, the Bubu Gang, modernizing the traditional sounds of “bubu”  into hypnotic dance music, electrifying crowds at shows in dance clubs, rooftops, and block parties. Nabay is a firm believer in the power of music to enact social change, singing in Sierra Leone’s common language, Krio, as well as his native tribal language of Temne, and in English, and Arabic. He considers his work a letter to Sierra Leoneans, as a call for them to remember the roots of their culture. Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang released their first album together in 2012 on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop Label. One Penn Plaza, btw 33rd/34th Sts and 7th/8th Aves., NYC, 6-7:30pm >>

Music/Film: Lisa Simone/What Happened Miss Simone. Lisa Simone is Nina Simone’s daughter. I had no idea that she originated roles in Aida and Lion King on Broadway. She sings before the film, a passionate and insightful documentary on the life of Nina Simone. “A genius, classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, Black power icon and legendary recording artist who lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy.” Summerstage, Herbert Von King Park, 670 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, 7pm-10pm >>

👍 Music: Naumburg Orchestral Concerts: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. As I’ve shared, the Naumburg series produces some of the best classical music in an NYC summer. And they’ve been doing it for 111 years! Their venue is a beautiful old bandshell and I even once saw a hawk land on it. Pretty freakin’ cool.  Everything seems perfect every time I’ve been. Orpheus won’t disappoint. Naumburg Bandshell, near Central Park Rumsey Playfield (enter around 72nd Street), NYC, 7pm >>

👍 Music/Dancing: Septeto Santiaguero (U.S. debut). As diplomatic tensions thaw, the dance floor heats up with the U.S. debut of one of Cuba’s most essential bands. Winner of the 2015 Latin Grammy for Best Traditional Tropical Album, Septeto Santiaguero honed its sound at Santiago de Cuba’s famous nightclub Casa de la Trova. Great people-watching at Midsummer Night Swing. While you have to pay to enter the formal dance floor (and you should if you can afford it!), there’s usually dancing that usually happens on the outskirts of the Lincoln Center Plaza. Midsummer Night Swing, Damrosch Park, Manhattan, 6:30pm >>

😀👍 Music: Washington Square Music Festival: NY Jazzharmonic. This 17 piece ensemble performs the world premiere of Fred Hellerman’s “Fourth of July,” composed in 1987. Fred is co-founder in 1948, with Pete Seeger, of The Weavers, a group that launched America’s folk music revival. Do you know the song Goodnight Irene? That’s them. Fred is the only surviving member of The Weavers. The piece was originally scored for symphony orchestra, but is being re-orchestrated by Ron Wasserman for a jazz orchestra instrumentation. Fred is also my cousin. We have some music royalty in the Hellerman family! Really looking forward to this. Washington Square Park, Waverly Place, btw. Thompson St/Fifth Ave., NYC, 8pm >>


Wednesday, June 29


😀👍💁 Music: Accordions Around the World. It’s the launch of my favorite accordion series in the city! See more of what I wrote above. For this first week, we have an Accordion Picnic with 24 accordionists participating. There will be six stations around the Park. Each station will have eight performances from 6-8pm. Blankets will be spread out around the Lawn and we encourage you to bring a picnic or you can purchase one from the food vendors in the park. Wine and beer will be available for purchase as well. Fingers crossed that it’s a beautiful night! Check out the full musical line-up and genres of music in the provided link. Bryant Park (btw. 40 – 42nd Sts. and 5th/6th Aves.), NYC, 6pm-8pm >>

Music/Dancing: Fleur Seule. From five-star hotels to secret gin joints, Fleur Seule has been infusing 21st-century New York nightlife with the style and spirit of the 1940s, channelling the romance of European jazz and the moxie of the all-American USO style. Midsummer Night Swing, Damrosch Park, Amsterdam Ave. and W. 62 St, NYC, 6:30pm >>

👍 Music: Theo Croker, Maurice Mobetta Brown, Marcus Machado, Kendra Foster and DJ Natasha Diggs. A night of jazz, neo-soul, and brass-based hip-hop. Theo Croker is a trumpeter, vocalist, composer, and bandleader whose powerful and eclectic take on modern jazz pays respect to the tradition of the music while moving the genre forward. Maurice “Mobetta” Brown is on the brink of contemporary jazz, blues-rock and cutting edge hip hop. I wrote about Kendra Foster last week. She caught my eye when she was the back-up singer for D’Angelo when he was on Saturday Night Live last year. Summerstage, Herbert Von King Park, 670 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, 7pm-9pm >>


Thursday, June 30


Music/Art: Higher Ground. Higher Ground premieres seven interdisciplinary stage-based collaborations by Washington Heights/Inwood artists. Enjoy a night of dance, music, theatre, fashion, spoken word and beatboxing! Bring your blanket or fold-up chair and come celebrate uptown artists. Free and family friendly. Anne Loftus Playground, Fort Tryon Park, Broadway, Dyckman St and Riverside Dr, NYC, 6pm >>

Music: Emel Mathlouthi. Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi has become known for her song “Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free),” which was adopted by the Arab Spring revolutionaries and soon became an anthem for change throughout the regions. Rooted in Arabic and North African musical traditions, her music moves between rock, trip-hop, and electronica. David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, 61 W 62nd St, NYC, 7:30pm >>

👍 Music/Fireworks: Central Astoria LDC 2016 Independence Celebration. While I am nowhere near a patriot, I do enjoy some Sousa around July 4th. Tonight the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition presents its annual Independence Celebration featuring a special performance from the Queens Symphony Orchestra. Also, this fireworks show is a good one, right on the river. Astoria Park Lawn, Shore Boulevard btw. Hell Gate Bridge/the Pool, Queens, 7:30 – 9pm >>


Friday, July 1


Film/Music: Africa United. African United tells the extraordinary story of three Rwandan children and their bid to achieve their lifelong dream to take part in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Football World Cup in Johannesburg. Featuring a special performance by Dayramir Gonzales & Habana enTRANCE. Produced in collaboration with the African Film Festival and Asho Productions. Joyce Kilmer Park, Grand Concourse btw. E. 161st/164th Sts, Bronx, 6-9pm >>

Dance: Bryant Park Presents Modern Dance. “Making dance part of a broader public conversation and providing an ideal picnic backdrop to boot” – The New York Times. Three up-and-coming dance companies perform on the Bryant Park stage: Willy Laury and Co Dance Company, BARE Dance Company, and Sean Curran Company. Bryant Park, 41st St./6th Ave, NYC, 6pm-8pm >>

👍 Festival: International African Arts Festival. I love this festival. It’s enormous – you could spend the day there. Actually, you could spend multiple days there –  it goes on all weekend. There are vendors selling African goods, foods, and there’s usually a strong music line-up, though I don’t see anything about it yet. Check the schedule for the complete line-up. And make a donation if you can. Brooklyn Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave and Navy St, Brooklyn >>


Saturday, July 2


👍 Festival: International African Arts Festival. See 7/1 Listing. Brooklyn Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave and Navy St, Brooklyn >>

👍 Music: People’s Champs. Enamored and obsessed with roots dance music from all over the world, People’s Champs mix jazz, hip-hop, rock and soul from the USA, Latin America and Africa to create new hybrids. Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Riis Park, Rockaway Park, Queens, 2pm and 3:30pm set times >>

Music: Joe Bataan. Called the “King of Latin Soul,” Bataan was influenced by Doo-Wop and the energy of Latin music that were the hallmarks of his Spanish Harlem neighborhood. The famed Fania Records found this intersection of sound and culture enticing and propelled Bataan to become a major force in the “Latin Boogaloo” music scene. Union Pool, 484 Union Ave., Brooklyn, 2pm >>


👍 Art/Music/Film: Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays. This is one of my favorite events. You can run around the museum, go on tours, listen to music or stories, make art, dance your booty off, be mesmerized by the fountains outside the museum, be mesmerized by the children who are mesmerized by the fountains, or in general, people-watch. A diverse crowd, and so interesting and fun. Check the link for all offerings. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, 5-11pm >>

😀👍 Party: Freedom Party® NYC 13 Year Anniversary. I have never been have heard a lot of great things about it. It’s the longest running, weekly party in NYC history. Summerstage, Central Park Rumsey Playfield (enter around 72nd St), NYC, 6-10pm >>

😀 Music/Dancing: The Black Rock Coalition Get-Down Revue. With a stellar lineup of musicians, the Black Rock Coalition travels back to the origins of rock ‘n’ roll for “a land of 1,000 dances where Ruth Brown reigns and Big Joe Turner dominates as the brawny-voiced Boss of the Blues, while Wilson Pickett, the Drifters, and Sam & Dave crank out the hits.” Damrosch Park, Amsterdam Ave. and W. 62 St, NYC, 6:30pm >>

👍 Music/Dance/DancingThe Glenn Crytzer Orchestra with special guest Lindy Hoppers from the Syncopated City Dance Company. This swing band is great. They’ll be celebrating Independence Day with original tunes plus swing-era classics, patriotic songs, and lesser known gems from artists like Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie. Syncopated City Dance Company is a dynamic New York City-based company, specializing in dance forms of the 1920s through the 1950s. This stage is also a really nice one! It’s a bit of a hike to get to, but once you’re there, you’ll smell saltwater and hear seagulls, crooning along to the music. Get ready to dance! Kingsborough College, 2001 Oriental Boulevard, Brooklyn, 8pm >>


Sunday, July 3


👍Festival: International African Arts Festival. See 7/1 Listing. Brooklyn Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave and Navy St, Brooklyn >>

👍 Music: King Sunny Adé / Orlando Julius and The Afro Soundz / Rich Medina. Beloved Nigerian musician, King Sunny Adé is undisputedly the most popular artist in Nigeria and highly acclaimed as a world artist – appealing to music lovers across Africa and around the world. He has been performing for more than 35 years. I’m not familiar with Orlando Julius but he sounds great too. Summerstage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park (enter around 72nd St), NYC, 2pm >>

Music: Harlem Meer Series: Heritage OP. Heritage O.P. (“organic percussion”) is an acoustic percussion and vocal ensemble that fuses the rich cultural traditions and diaspora rhythms of Africa – from South America to the Caribbean – with African American tradition and modern musical trends. They do this using mostly traditional instruments as they share a deep respect for the beauty of acoustical sound and natural resonance. Harlem Meer has wonderful, intimate concerts, that are frequented by members of the neighborhood. Harlem Meer, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, 110th St. btw Fifth/Lenox Aves., NYC, 2-4pm >>


Monday, July 4


👍 Festival: International African Arts Festival. See 7/1 Listing. Brooklyn Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave and Navy St, Brooklyn  >>

Music: Bronx Arts Ensemble. This music group’s good mission is “to nourish the arts in the Bronx by serving its diverse communities and developing audiences through arts education and musical performances of the highest professional standard.” Today BAE Jazz and Dixieland Band plays an Independence Day Salute to George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, W. C. Handy and more. Van Cortlandt Park, Rockwood Drive Circle (enter the park at Broadway & Mosholu Ave), Bronx, 2pm >>


👍 Music/Fireworks: Staten Island Philharmonic. I love the Alice Austen house and its sweeping views of New York Harbor. This is an ideal spot to watch a fireworks show, which will take place after the performance. Alice Austen House, 2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, 6pm-10pm >>

👍 Fireworks: Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular on the East River. Advice from me: find a friend of a friend who has a roof in Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg, Lower Manhattan, or the East Village and hang there. All public spaces will be crowded. (NYC/Brooklyn) >>



Aight friends, that’s what I got. Have a great 4th of July weekend!

All good things,


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