Selected Events (12/12) + Today’s Featured Pub (Midtown West)

Today’s SWEET 6 > SATURDAY / DEC. 12, 2015

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.
(click on links for more complete event info.)

Have time for only one event today? Do this:
Alvin Ailey at City Center (Dec. 2 – Jan. 3)
New York City Center, 131 W55th St./ various times, $25-$150,
If “Nutcracker” is the only dance you see at the holidays, it’s time to add Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to your repertory. The company will perform new productions of classic works by Ailey (“Blues Suite,” “Cry,” and “Love Songs”) and his signature “Revelations,” as well as dances by Ronald K. Brown, Christopher Wheeldon and artistic director Robert Battle.” (

“Since taking over as artistic director in 2011, Robert Battle, an insightful choreographer, hasn’t premiered a work of his own; that changes this season with his powerful new Awakening, plus the company debut of No Longer Silent, driven by Erwin Schulhoff’s dynamic score and darkened by the composer’s life story (he was murdered under the Nazis).” (Rebecca Milzoff-NYMag)

Music, Dance, Performing Arts
Rudresh Mahanthappa: ‘Bird Calls’
Miller Theater, 2960 Broadway at 116th St./ 8PM, $20-$30
“Bird Calls,” the audacious new album by the alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, takes Charlie Parker as a point of departure, if not a distant lexicographical ancestor. Mr. Mahanthappa reconnects with the sharp young trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, and a rhythm section consisting of the pianist Matt Mitchell, the bassist Thomson Kneeland and the drummer Dan Weiss.” (NYT-Chinen)

Jim Gaffigan
Madison Square Garden,/ 8PM, $
“Mr. Gaffigan occupies a special niche in modern stand-up: a completely clean comic who is equally at home in massive stadiums, late-night comedy clubs and quirky alternative rooms. With past hit specials like “Mr. Universe” and “Beyond the Pale,” he brings his new act, “Yeti in the City,” to Madison Square Garden” (NYT-Czajkowski)

‘Dearly Beloved: The Music of Prince’
Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Ave, at 135th St./ 7:30PM; talk at 6PM, $40
I just love this repurposed space (formerly a Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse) to listen to live music, and I was born only 5 blocks N on Convent Ave.
“Ben Williams, the Grammy- and Thelonious Monk Competition-winning jazz musician, pays tribute to Prince with a concert made up of new arrangements and compositions. Joining him onstage are guests from the worlds of funk, classical music, dance and more: the singers Goapele, Frank McComb and Christie Dashiell; the choreographer and tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith; the poet and vocalist W. Ellington Felton; and additional performers to be announced. Saturday’s performance will be preceded by a free talk in which Mr. Williams shares his creative process for reworking the songs of Prince as well as other artists.” (NYT-SpareTimes)

David Sanborn (thru Dec.13)
Blue Note, 131 W. 3rd St./ 8PM +10:30PM, $35, $55
“Even jazz purists who can’t abide Sanborn’s overtly commercial recordings have to admit that the alto saxophonist has a sound that’s one in a million: a gutsy, R. & B.-laden wail that can be identified from a single passionately blown note. His funky Electric Band features the keyboardist Ricky Peterson.” (NewYorker)

Holiday Swing (through Sunday)
Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th St. and Broadway / 7:30PM +9:30PM, $
“This upbeat celebration of holiday classics, a recent tradition at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, will feature three charismatic vocalists — Michael Mwenso, Brianna Thomas and Charenee Wade — backed by a band that includes the pianist Chris Pattishall, the trumpeter Alphonso Horne, and the drummers Joe Saylor and Jamison Ross.” (Chinen-NYT)

Bonus – Jazz Picks:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who is playing tonight:
Greenwich Village:
Village Vanguard – 178 7th Ave. South — / 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St., nr 6th ave. — / 212-475-8592
55 Bar – 55 Christopher St., nr 7th ave.S. — / 212-929-9883
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9 ave) — / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway, nr.106th St. — / 212-864-6662
Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St., nr Bleecker St. — / 212-691-7538
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening enjoyment and discovery.

♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.5 million, had a record 56 million visitors last year and is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2015.  Quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.

A PremierPub / Midtown West.

Russian Vodka Room / 265 W 52nd St (btw 7th/8th ave)

Sure, you could travel to Minsk or even Brighton Beach, for an authentic Russian experience, but why bother. On those days when you feel you must wash down your dish of kasha with a few glasses of icy, cold vodka, the Russian Vodka Room will definitely satisfy your urge.

From the outside this place looks a bit drab, and with no windows, a bit mysterious. Midtown tourists walk right by on their way to see “Jersey Boys,” just down the block.

lThose in the know enter a secret hideaway, a dimly lit front room with soft jazz playing – a perfect spot for an illicit late-night rendezvous, or maybe a meet-up with your Russian spy handler, but that’s later in the evening. Early in the evening the large U-shaped bar fills with the after work happy hour crowd, a group made very happy by the much reduced prices.

Their website says: “Welcome Comrades”. Of course, this welcome focuses on dozens of different vodkas, including their own special infusions, which marinate in giant, clear glass jugs visible around the room. The large vodka martinis ensure that you won’t confuse this place with your mother’s Russian Tea Room.

But man does not live by vodka alone. Eat some food, especially the tapa like appetizers. Be decadent and try the cheese blintzes with chocolate, or try a main dish like beef stroganoff with kasha.

Your best bet is to go on a night when the piano man is playing. This guy, who looks like he has eaten a lot of those cheese blintzes, plays five nights a week from 7 to 12 (no Mondays and Thursdays). When the piano man is playing American pop tunes, and you are at the crowded, dimly lit bar testing the horseradish infused vodka, that’s when the RVR shines.

It’s the kind of place where the noise gets louder and the crowd gets happier as the happy hour goes on. I’m generally a beer guy, but I like to come here with a group of friends. We find a table in the back room near the piano man; we eat, and we drink vodka ‘till it hurts (and it will hurt).


Phone #: 212-307-5835
Hours: 4pm-2am; Fri-Sun closes 4am (that could be trouble)
Happy Hour: 4-7pm every day
$4 shots infused vodka (2oz), $5 cosmos; $4 czech draft beer
Music: FR-SU; TU-WE / 7pm-12am
Subway: #1 to 50th St.
Walk 2 blk N. on B’way to 52nd St.; 1 blk W. to RVR
Confusingly, the Russian Samovar is right across the street, on the S. side of 52nd St.
The RVR, your destination, is on the N. side of 52nd St.
Update: music now includes a sax player with a younger, trimmer piano man. “tiny” we miss you.

“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge (except for certain jazz clubs).
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.


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