Port Authority Strut (June 13 – 21)

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Dear Friends,

The way the world works, most of us don’t learn about music until it’s on the radio, or these days, on a Spotify playlist or a friend’s Facebook page. In working in music, I feel very lucky to be able to see a lot of bands when they’re first starting out. But the problem with (and joy of) programming series and festivals, is that I need to see A LOT. And that sometimes means that I don’t get to see bands I like or find promise in very regularly because I need to see…like, everything. But there’s something beautiful in not having seen a group for awhile and then seeing them again after a period of time and practice. It’s amazing: you can really see growth.

For the One Penn Plaza series, I booked a band I saw many moons ago, the New Orleans-inspired brass The Rad Trads. When I first saw them over a year ago, they were young, fun, with a great energy. This past Monday, they performed. And WHOA. I was blown away! These guys have gotten so tight and they continue to have the fun that only good friends can have together.

“Trad” is slightly misleading. They definitely do early jazz, but there’s so much more in there: blues, rock, and DAMN, those horns! They’ve also learned how to interact with the audience, both from the stage and IN the crowd. They inspired a b-boy to break to their New Orleans trad/brass sound.

When it seemed like their energy should be lowest, their brass section ran into the audience at the end of the set like maniacs. Here’s an example from one of their earlier videos:

 

And their seemingly impromptu choreography is amazing:

The raddist. #theradtrads at #onepennplaza

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I also loved how they incorporated their NYC residence into one of my favorite tunes, the brilliantly-named the Port Authority Strut.   I couldn’t look away and I feel like I had a really awkward grin on my face the whole time they played. What charm and skill! Yay Rad Trads. Experience them for yourselves!

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Because of this experience, I think I might be a music mama: watching significant growth made me swell with pride. It was such a nice feeling. I’d love to encourage people to experience this feeling themselves. So I have a longitudinal project for you, dear readers:

1. Choose a small venue. There are so many around town. Or come to One Penn on any Monday or Wednesday through October! Most of the bands I’ve booked are earlier in their career and up-and-coming.

2. Listen to a lot of live music and select one or two bands that you connect with. Make sure you hear them a few times in a short period. Become groupies! (And let the band know it! Even though “groupie” has weird connotations, bands often thrive off of their fans energy. Tell ’em you love ’em!)

3. Continue following them if you can’t get enough. Or if you’re ready to explore new things, do that. But don’t forget about the band you “discovered.”

4. In a few months time (or up to a year), go find that band again. Listen. What’s different? How have they progressed?

5. Report your explorations and findings to me. I’ll share here!

After this type of experience, we can all sound like our parents when they wax nostalgic and say “I remember when…” In this case, it will be “I remember when I saw [awesome band] in the summer of 2015, just when they were starting out…” It’s a nice feeling.

 

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New to the list?

 

In my world, nothing compares to the sultry wonderfulness of NYC summer evenings and the beautiful art we, the public, brought together over the sake of art, get to experience together. So…arts for all!

I keep a compulsive list of free, summer cultural events. Back in the day, I had banker buds, grad school chums, non-profit pals, and unemployed friends. “Free” made arts available to all of us. I continue to stick to “free” because of my strong conviction that high-quality arts should be accessible to everyone. Some weeks I’ll share cool events I’ve been to and what made them so cool. So…

  • If you’re a fan, spread the word! Don’t just forward this list. Tell your friends to sign up (in the right-hand corner of the webpage.)
  • I’ll post last minute events as well as quick reviews of things I attend on Twitter. Follow me here.
  • Stars (***) indicate where I’ll most likely be or my main recommendations.
  • I post this list and send it out via email. I usually post it here first. If you haven’t received an email from me and you’re looking for things to do, be sure to check the website!

 

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Aight…now the list. This is what I got for 6/13 – 6/21:

Saturday, June 13

 

Music/Experience: Jazz Age Lawn Party. While this is a ticketed event, it has become so popular, that you could wander the Island and feel like you’re in a different era because of the sheer mass of people in costume. On Sunday, 6/14 and 8/15-16 as well. (Governors Island) >>

Earlier today, I felt like I was in the 1920s for a second. #jazzagelawnparty #governorsisland

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Music: Big Apple Barbecue. In addition to eating to your heart’s content, there’s some good country and bluegrass music happening at this meat festival. I’m not familiar with any of the artists, but via Youtube, I’m impressed. (NYC) >>

Music: Mundo Clave. Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz standards will get your feet tapping to the rhythms of timba, cha-cha, salsa and son cubano. (Queens) >>

Film: Searching for Sugarman. I saw this film and was blown away by it, and more importantly, Rodriguez’s story. A worthwhile film. (NYC) >>

***Music: Lettuce / The Soul Rebels. If you like the funkiest funk and hip-hop/jazz/rock-inspired New Orleans jazz, this is the program for you. The Soul Rebels get me every time. They’re so good! (NYC) >>

Music: Every Saturday afternoon, Bargemusic, a great presenter of classical music (and also a cool location: an old floating barge on the East River with amazing views of the city) has free concerts, including a Q&A with the musicians. (Brooklyn) >>

***Music: Ghetto Brothers. The Bronx Music Heritage Center is honoring Benjy Melendez, frontman for The Ghetto Brothers, the legendary South Bronx street gang turned activist community organization/band. An old-fashioned block party. This should be a bigger deal. (Bronx) >>

 

Sunday, June 14

 

Tour:  Bronx’s Main Street: Walking the Grand Concourse. I’ve heard this is a great tour. Bronx native Sam Goodman, an urban planner in the Office of the Bronx Borough President, leads. Learn about the “Bronx’s Champs-Élysées” and its importance to the Bronx! (Bronx) >>

Music/Festival: Drums Along the Hudson. This Native American and Multicultural Festival celebrates 13 years in 2015.  It began as a traditional Pow Wow to celebrate Native American heritage and culture, and also to commemorate the Lenape people who first inhabited Inwood Hill Park, or Shorakapok (“edge of the water”). (NYC) >>

Music/Experience: Jazz Age Lawn Party. While this is a ticketed event, it has become so popular, that you could wander the Island and feel like you’re in a different era because of the sheer mass of people in costume. On Saturday, 6/13  and 8/15-16 as well. (Governors Island) >>

#jazzagelawnparty goers #governorsisland

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Music: Socalled. As part of KulturefestNYC this hip hop/klezmer artist plays a unique blend of acoustic and electronic music. >>

Music: Who knew? There’s a Scandinavian music festival in New York that has been taking place for the past ten years. Today, Scandia String Orchestra performs. (NYC) >>

Music: Panambi Vera Ballet Folklórico Paraguayo de Nueva York performs dances of Paraguay, including the galopera, in which dancers balance bottles on their head with grace and agility, and other dances, as well as the carreta guy and el pajaro campana. (Queens) >>

***Music: Martha Redbone Roots Project / Ebony Hillbillies. Cool bill. Martha Redbone’s music is based on her Native/African-American heritage, a “cornucopia of roots music.” The Ebony Hillbillies are one of the last black string bands in the U.S., keeping an important legacy alive with a rootsy, homegrown style, a precursor to jazz, blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, rock and roll and country. (Brooklyn) >>

***Music/Art: Pioneer Works 2nd Saturdays is the place to be. It’s an experience in and of itself to be in his beautiful old factory-turned-arts-space, seeing art and artists do their thing, exploring the massive building, chilling in the expansive backyard, with the sea breezes close by. And perhaps most excitingly, see one of my favorite new bands on the scene, Innove Gnawa perform. Gnawa is the southern Moroccan trance music with roots in pre-islamic animist traditions and these guys made it fresh and exciting. They’re followed by one of my favorite accordionists, Rob Curto and his PE DE SERRA ALL-STARS, playing Forró, from northeastern Brazil. (Brooklyn) >>

Music: Ensō String Quartet. This classical string ensemble has risen to the top by masterfully performing repertoire classics, championing lesser-known works, commissioning new music, and playing its own transcriptions. This performance is part of the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Series that brings high-quality to music to different communities around the city. Their performances are always good. (NYC) >>

Music: The Klezmatics + Neil Sedaka. A night of klezmer music and very special guests. (NYC) >>

 

Monday, June 15

 

Music: Most weeks the New Music in Bryant Park series pairs a jazz group with a new classical ensemble. In its culmination, six ensembles perform, spanning these genres, including Cassatt String Quartet, the Donny McCaslin Group, and the Don Byron Quartet, amongst others. If contemporary classical and jazz is your thing, this is the place to be. (NYC) >>

***Music: The Huntertones at One Penn Plaza.  Their heavy horn-driven compositions meld jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, gospel, R&B, and rock to produce a signature sound that resonates with all types of audiences. They’re great! Disclaimer: I book this series! (NYC) >>

Opera: Metropolitan Opera. This beloved institution makes the rounds around the boroughs this week. They begin in Central Park. These performances are something you should knock off your NYC summer bucket list. Always beautiful and special. (NYC) >>

Film: Jaws. You know this movie. A classic! (NYC) >>

 

Tuesday, June 16

 

Music: Bhi Bhiman. Bhi Bhiman is “a mix of folk oddities, social outrages and sticky black humour” and has been compared to a mix of Rodriguez, Woody Guthrie, Nina Simone, and Bill Withers. He shares the bill with Heather Maloney. (NYC) >>

Music: Banda Magda. Greek-born singer and accordionist Magda Giannikou has a beautiful charm. The band’s music taps into a wide range of international influences with songs sung in seven languages and forays into Brazilian baião rhythms, Greek dance music, jazz, samba, tango, +.  She plays again on 6/21 in Staten Island. (NYC) >>

***Music: Yiddish Soul: A Concert of Cantorial and Chassidic Music. The music of my people! This program is part of KulturfestNYC, a week-long festival of Jewish performing arts celebrating the centennial season of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Yes, you heard that right: there is a national Yiddish theater. Second Avenue used to be the hub of Yiddish theater, with many theaters in the Lower East Side, the home base of many Jewish immigrants. Yiddish is an endangered language, so I’m always eager to support them. This program seems like a good way of understanding elements of Jewish music. It’s truly beautiful in all of its forms. (NYC) >>

Talk: Dinner Without an Agenda with Laura Raicovich. This is pretty cool: join the Queens Museum’s President and Executive Director Laura Raicovich for a meal and informal discussion. This is not an event where dinner is provided while you hear someone talk; you are having dinner with Laura! (Queens) >>

Music: Washington Square Music Festival. This series comes back for its 57th(!) season. This week, longtime first NY Phil clarinetist, Stanley Drucker performs with the Festival Chamber Orchestra. (NYC)

Wednesday, June 17

 

Talk: Dreams and “Epic Fails.” New York has always been a changing city, but you wouldn’t believe some ideas urban planners have proposed. This talk addresses them. Sounds so interesting! (NYC) >>

Dancing/Music: West Coast Swing. Bryant Park’s weekly Dancing in Bryant Park features a dance lesson, following by dancing to live music. This week Rakiem Walker Project plays its soul, funk, R&B, gospel, blues mix. (NYC) >>

Film: Africa 411: An Evening Of Short Films By West African Directors. Produced by the African Film Festival to get films from and about Africa on the map.  A short Q & A with festival directors will follow the showing. I’m a fan of the venue: the Staten Island Ferry Terminal! (Staten Island) >>

Dancing/Music: Swing + Matt Munisteri and his Syncopatin’ Detonators. One of my favorite presenters in NYC are the libraries. In this case, the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library converts the plaza out front into a huge dance floor where they provide a dance lesson and Matt Munisteri leads his band through the swinging music of the 1920s-1940s. (Brooklyn) >>

***Opera: Metropolitan Opera. This beloved institution continues making the rounds around the boroughs this week. This time they are in one of my favorite NYC performance venues: Brooklyn Bridge Park. (NYC) >>

Music: Biz Markie and Masta Ace. Baby you…you got what I need. An opportunity to hear the legendary Biz Markie live! Remember The Symphony? Then you remember Masta Ace. A good night in hip-hop. (Brooklyn) >>

Dance: Hudson River Dance Festival with Paul Taylor Dance Company, Parsons Dance, and Ballet Hispanico. Check out some of NYC’s most renowned dance companies. (NYC) >>

Music: New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks: Central Park. One of my favorite events of every summer. Grab a spot on the lawn, bring a fancy picnic, relish it, lie on a blanket, listen to the music, and watch the stars (and fireworks show that usually happens at the end.) Always a magical NYC summer evening.  Also on 6/18 with a different program. (NYC) >>

Film: Rooftop Films. Playful short films about games and pranks. (NYC) >>

 

Thursday, June 18

 

Music: Arturo O’Farrill Sextet. Latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill returns to the Third Street Music School for his annual lunchtime gig in Abe Lebwohl Park (NYC) >>

Music/Block Party: Somi. It’s opening night of Lower Manhattan’s River to River Festival and we get African soul and jazz musician, Somi. >>

Music: Harlem Hop. This series features the four pillars of hip hop: DJing, MCing, break-dancing, and graffiti. This week, Bobbito and Tony Touch are the featured guests. Grandmaster Caz is the host. (NYC) >>

Dance: Night #2 of the Hudson River Dance Festival with Paul Taylor Dance Company, Parsons Dance, and Ballet Hispanico. Check out some of NYC’s most renowned dance companies. (NYC) >>

Music: “Fred Astaire of the pipe organ,” Christopher Houlihan. With the “technical prowess of a rock star,” (Arizona Daily Star) organist Christopher Houlihan has been praised by The Wall Street Journal for his “dazzling performances” and “expressive music-making.” I don’t know Houlihan but a Fred Astaire of the pipe organ sounds unique! The venue is also a nice one. (NYC) >>

Music: Street Beat Brass Band. These guys are a great brass band. Join them as they play in their home-borough! (Queens) >>

***Music: Bixiga 70. I saw these guys earlier this year (check out the photo below, which doesn’t do them much justice) and I don’t think I’ve danced so hard in my life. Think Brazilian Afrobeat. Incredible energy and a guaranteed good time. (NYC) >>

The night keeps getting more and more electric. @bixiga70. #gF2015

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Here’s a taste of their music (though I think they’ve gotten even better since this was filmed!)

Music: eighth blackbird/Bill Frisell Trio. Classically-trained eighth blackbird, “an impeccable sextet with the energy and audacity of a rock band” links up with singer-songwriter, Todd Oldham. Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell who “plays the guitar like Miles Davis played the trumpet: in the hands of such radical thinkers, their instruments simply become different animals,” (New Yorker) links up with folk revivalist Sam Amidon. This is a really interesting bill, covering multiple genres of music. (Brooklyn) >>

Music: New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks: Central Park.  One of my favorite events of every summer. Grab a spot on the lawn, bring a fancy picnic, relish it, lie on a blanket, listen to the music, and watch the stars (and fireworks show that usually happens at the end.) Always a magical NYC summer evening. Also on 6/17 with a different program. (NYC) >>

Film: A screening of From Mambo To Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale. I really like this Henry Chalfant documentary, showing how the South Bronx was a cauldron of musical creativity from the 1940s through the 1970s. Music preceding the film by DJ David Medina. (Bronx) >>

Friday, June 19

 

Dance: Souleymane BadoloInspired by the contrast in the paces of life between his native home of Burkina Faso and his adopted home of New York City, Souleymane Badolo’s Dance my life is a celebration that crosses boundaries to highlight the similarities of what we all experience. The outdoor location, Pier 15, near the old South Street Seaport is one of the best in the city. This repeats throughout the weekend. (NYC) >>

Dance: For four consecutive weeks, Bryant Park presents modern dance. This week: Francesca Harper Project, Loni Landon Dance Project, and Steps Repertory Ensemble. (NYC) >>

Dancing/Art: Swedish Midsummer Family Dance. Learn folk dances from Barnklubben Elsa Rix and Swedish Folkdancers of New York, while making midsummer wreaths, decorating the midsummer pole,  parading, and eating Swedish delicacies. Traditional music by Paul Dahlin and Fiddlers from the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. (NYC) >>

***Music: New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks: Prospect Park.  One of my favorite events of every summer. Grab a spot on the lawn, bring a fancy picnic, relish it, lie on a blanket, listen to the music, and watch the stars (and fireworks show that usually happens at the end.) Always a magical NYC summer evening. (Brooklyn) >>

Dance: a canary torsi. Court/Garden is a “3-act dance and live music performance that is inspired by the imperial ballets of King Louis XIV of France’s courts, the spectatorship of the stage, and the use of video feeds as cultural, social, and political frames of experience.” This takes place in the birthplace of the American government, Federal Hall. Sounds deep. I’d be curious to see it in action. It repeats on 6/20. (NYC) >>

Film: Priceless by Pierre Salvadori. Part of the French Film Festival, which screens classics around town. (NYC) >>

 

Saturday, June 20

 

***Parade: Mermaid Parade. An only-in-NYC experience. Check out the creativity and fun that is the Mermaid Parade and go for a swim to cool off after. One of my favorites, Batala NYC will be marching with their samba reggae grooves. (Brooklyn) >>

Parade/Festival: The Fish Parade is a mile-long procession through the streets of Hunts Point featuring a caravan of marchers and colorful “floats” created by visual and performance artists from the South Bronx incorporating issues of environmental awareness and community advocacy. After, there’s a day-long party celebrating Hunts Point’s – its culture, businesses, and the arts. (Bronx) >>

Music: House of Waters. As part of the now-annual, Rite of Summer Music Festival that celebrates contemporary classical music, House of Waters, a group that “embraces the multi-layered sounds of the world, ignoring limiting definitions and restrictive genres” performs. One of their instruments is the dulcimer, which is pretty mesmerizing to listen to and to watch. (Governors Island) >>

Festival: Celebrate the solstice with Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, one of the most important ancestral celebrations of the Native peoples of the Andes. (NYC) >>

***Music: Jungle / Ibeyi / Sunni Colón. I’m recommending this event for Ibeyi. I’m slightly obsessed with them. They have brought the indie-Cuban sound to life and they’re damn good at it. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the others on this program. (NYC)

Music: The Carol Sudhalter Jazz Ensemble performs favorites from the American Songbook and an array of sambas, bossa novas and other Latin rhythms. (Queens) >>

Dance: a canary torsi. Court/Garden is a “3-act dance and live music performance that is inspired by the imperial ballets of King Louis XIV of France’s courts, the spectatorship of the stage, and the use of video feeds as cultural, social, and political frames of experience.” This takes place in the birthplace of the American government, Federal Hall. Sounds deep. I’d be curious to see it in action. Two shows. (NYC) >>

Music: Every Saturday afternoon, Bargemusic, a great presenter of classical music (and also a cool location: an old floating barge on the East River with amazing views of the city) has free concerts, including a Q&A with the musicians. (Brooklyn) >>

Music: KumbaCarey is the product of the late master percussionist Boni Raposo’s Afro-Dominican music ensemble, La 21 Division. KumbaCarey blends Merengue and Bachata with salves and rhythms such as Gagá, Machacó, Congo, Priprí, Mangulina, Carabiné, Bambulá and Palos. (Bronx) >>

***Dance/Music: DanceBrazil / Forro in the Dark. Get the closest you can to Salvador and Rio, from your home in Brooklyn. DanceBrazil fuses contemporary movement with the dance/martial arts form of capoeira. Forro in the Dark opens, playing the high-energy rural party music of Brazil’s northeastern states. (Brooklyn) >>

Dance/Dancing: Hearts of Men. Hearts of Men Ensemble is described as a community based, intergenerational, all male dance company led by Fredrick Earl Mosley. I’m eager to see how this manifests itself. Preceded by a master class. (Brooklyn) >>

Sunday, June 21

 

***Music: Make Music New York. This is one of the best days of the year, where all types of music sprout up in even the tiniest pockets of the city. From major presenters to local musicians, from punk rock to classical, there’s pretty much something for everyone. Some highlights for me include Mass Appeal Accordions (what did you expect from someone who programs an accordion series?), Harmonyum (highlighting Indian classical music in Central Park), Exquisite Corpses (music in burial grounds), Porch Stomp (old time and bluegrass music on the porches on Governors Island), and Concerto for Buildings (eight buildings on Greene Street in SoHo have hollow, cast-iron facades that resonate when struck. The street will be shut down for a 30-minute Concerto for Buildings has been composed for a full orchestra with 24 percussionists using the buildings as instruments.) I also want to plug my own event: in partnership with the wonderful HONK NYC (who puts on an incredible festival of brass and street bands every October), at Bryant Park. See below for more details. Generally, scan the Make Music NY website thoroughly, find what’s right for you, and report back on what you heard! (All five boroughs) >>

Music: Bang on a Can Marathon. I love this event. Ten hours of boundary-busting music. I’ve discovered some really interesting musicians from attending. Stay for as long or as little as you’d like! (NYC) >>

***Music: HONK NYC and Ariana’s List present an afternoon of music for the people! It seems like there’s a natural synergy between HONK NYC and me. Many of HONK’s performance are free and out in the public because the nature of brass, percussion, and street bands is that it should be enjoyed in public. My mission is that the arts should truly be accessible to all people. I am honored to partner with HONK (and my old friend, Sara Valentine) to present an afternoon of large, awesome bands in my second summer home, Bryant Park. We have NYC’s legendary brass outfit, Hungry March Band;  the city’s only all-female Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae percussion band, Batala NYC,; and the Haitian carnival band from Brooklyn, DJA-RaraHONK for the Arts! Arts for All People! Come join us! (NYC) >>

Music: Banda Magda. Greek-born singer and accordionist Magda Giannikou has a beautiful charm. Their music taps into a wide range of international influences with songs sung in seven languages and forays into Brazilian baião rhythms, Greek dance music, jazz, samba, tango, +. The venue, Snug Harbor, is the NY/Brooklyn Botanical Garden of Staten Island. It should be explored! (Staten Island) >>

Dance: Souleymane BadoloInspired by the contrast in the paces of life between his native home of Burkina Faso and his adopted home of New York City, Souleymane Badolo’s Dance my life is a celebration that crosses boundaries to highlight the similarities of what we all experience. The outdoor location, Pier 15, near the old South Street Seaport is one of the best in the city. This repeats throughout the weekend. (NYC) >>

Dance: Trisha Brown Dance. Trisha Brown is one of the most important choreographers in modern dance. In this outdoor piece, selected material from the company’s extensive repertoire will be weaved together, inspired by the beauty of Robert F. Wagner Park. The piece will repeat twice; once at 4pm and again at 6pm. (NYC) >>

 

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Aight friends, that’s what I got. Have a great week!

All good things,

Ariana

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