Selected NYC Events (01/09) + Today’s Featured Pub (Greenwich Village)

“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.

Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

DONNY MCCASLIN GROUP
Birdland, 7PM, $30
“The turbocharged fusion band led by the saxophonist Donny McCaslin gained a poignant form of renown for its heavy lifting on David Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar.” This engagement will feature the group — with Jason Lindner on keyboards, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass and Mark Guiliana on drums — drawing from Mr. McCaslin’s own recent album, “Beyond Now,” which bears a dedication to Bowie, and features brooding covers of two of his songs.” (NYT-Chinen)

5 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY
DAVID YAZBEK, WITH SPECIAL GUEST ANAÏS MITCHELL
Sam Amidon
Kendra Shank and Geoffrey Keezer
When Honor’s at the Stake: Shakespeare’s Soldiers in War and Peace
BONUS: NYC WINTER JAZZFEST

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

DAVID YAZBEK, WITH SPECIAL GUEST ANAÏS MITCHELL
54 Below, 7PM, $50+
“David Yazbek makes music that jumps out of its skin. [He is] ferociously smart and intimidatingly hip. [His show] at Feinstein’s/54 Below [is] a raucous evening of unclassifiable musical comedy. -Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Here’s a rare opportunity to see one of the theater’s most innovative composers do what he’s actually best at— thrilling a live audience. The New York Times has called his live performance “A thrill-ride at a volcano’s edge.” Together with a band of the most exciting musicians in NYC, Yazbek will perform songs from his albums and shows— old, new and upcoming. Expect a cool Special Guest or two as well. Don’t miss this chance to see the composer/lyricist of The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Boardwalk Empire and the haunting Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego Theme strut his piano-banging stuff.

This January, for one performance only, David will be joined by special guest Anaïs Mitchell, the acclaimed singer-songwriter recently represented off-Broadway with Hadestown.”

Sam Amidon
Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St./ 8pm, $25
This genial indie-folk singer, banjoist, and fiddler grew up in Vermont with expansive tastes that included an appreciation for Dock Boggs, Elvin Jones, and the drone violinist Tony Conrad. In 2010, Amidon moved to England with his wife, the singer-songwriter Beth Orton, where he has tuned in to the work of pioneering sixties British folk revivalists like the singer Anne Briggs and the song collector and singer Shirley Collins. Amidon, meanwhile, maintains his own commitment to heterodoxy, which has been marked by collaborations with gifted improvisers like the Americana-tinged jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and the multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, his longtime cohort. For this show, part of the NYC Winter Jazzfest, Amidon takes his folk-improvisation hybrid one step further, inviting the free-jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille to open with a brief solo performance and asking a slew of guest improvisers, including Ismaily, the guitarist Marc Ribot, and the trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, to contribute embellishments to his affecting, gravelly songs.” (NewYorker)

Kendra Shank and Geoffrey Keezer
Mezzrow, 163 W. 10th St./ 8PM, $20
Shank, a vocalist of imaginative latitude, has found a duo soul mate in the veteran pianist Keezer, as demonstrated on the new recording “Half Moon.” Investigating worthy, under-the-radar material (including work by such jazz luminaries as Abbey Lincoln and Cedar Walton), Shank and Keezer find mutual inspiration in intuitive surprise.” (NewYorker)

BONUS:
NYC WINTER JAZZFEST (through Jan. 10)
“This teeming convergence of bands and artists, both emerging and established, qualifies as New York City’s biggest jazz event of the season, if not the year. The festival’s 2017 edition has adopted a theme of social justice, with related work presented by, among others, the trombonist Craig Harris (“Breathe”) and the drummers Mike Reed (“Flesh & Bone”) and Terri Lyne Carrington (with her band Social Science). They will represent a few options among many in the Winter Jazzfest Marathon, on Jan. 6 and 7 in a range of settings below 14th Street.

The festival then continues with a centennial tribute to Thelonious Monk, on Jan. 8 at Littlefield, featuring improvisers like the pianist David Virelles and the guitarist Marc Ribot; a double bill of the singer-songwriter Sam Amidon (with an array of guests) and the drummer Andrew Cyrille (performing solo) on Jan. 9 at Le Poisson Rouge; and the Liberation Music Orchestra, with the pianist Geri Allen as a guest conductor, on Jan. 10, also at Le Poisson Rouge.” (Chinen – NYT)

Smart Stuff / Other NYC Events
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

When Honor’s at the Stake: Shakespeare’s Soldiers in War and Peace
Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 695 Park Ave./ 7PM, $35
“Unlike our own time, when wars are viewed as uncivilized interruptions fought far from our shores, in Shakespeare’s England war was an inevitable mode of vengeance and resolution, and the bloodiness of battle a part of most men’s lives. But, then as now, soldiers came home from the stalwart, perhaps rigid, honor of war to the more complicated, perhaps fragile, humanity of peace. Shakespeare’s soldiers are not simply ruthless men of blood, but are also richly imaginative souls who frequently find themselves caught between their accustomed embrace of violence and their devotion to domesticity, love, service, loyalty and patriotism. Elizabeth Samet, English professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and author of Soldier’s Heart and No Man’s Land, will explore how military values of honor, valor, and service are exhibited, questioned, and betrayed in Macbeth and Othello.”

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Bonus NYC Events – Music Venues:
So much fine live music every night in this town. These are my favorite non jazz music venues on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who’s playing tonight:

City Winery – 155 Varick St., citywinery.com, 212-608-0555
Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 W54th St., 54below.com, 646-476-3551
Joe’s Pub @ Public Theater – 425 Lafayette St., joespub.com, 212-967-7555
Metropolitan Room – 34W22ndSt., metropolitan room.com, 212-206-0440
Beacon Theatre – 2124 Broadway @ 74th St., beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Town Hall – 123 W43rd St., thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
B.B. King’s Blues Bar – 237W42nd St., bbkingblues.com, 212-997-2144
Bowery Ballroom – 6 Delancey St. boweryballroom.com,
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. caffevivaldi.com, 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.
See Below.

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♦ 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 60 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2016.  Quality shows draw crowds.
Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just on day of performance.
NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):
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A PremierPub and 3 Good Eating Places – Greenwich Village

Caffe Vivaldi / 32 Jones Street (btw. Bleecker St./W4th St.)

Café Vivaldi is a classic, intimate club located in Greenwich Village on Jones Street, the street featured on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, “Freewheelin’. ”

maxresdefaultEach night Ishrat, the long time proprietor and impresario, carefully curates and schedules an eclectic series of musicians. You can often see him at his table in the corner, hard at work reviewing music videos and listening to cd demos on his laptop, scouting out future bookings. Musicians come from all over to play and sing in a club in Greenwich Village. Some are local New Yorkers, others are just passing through, in town for a few days.

There is a small bar, seating maybe 10. It’s close to the stage and I find it’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of red wine while listening to the music. The room itself has the performance area at one end and a cozy fireplace at the other. The performance area here is small, dominated by a large black Yamaha Grand piano. Tables are bunched together and most people at the tables are eating lite meals or sampling the wonderful desserts.

There is also a good selection of fairly priced wines,  but you are here because of the music. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to find, and that’s half the charm of this place. It’s not a home run every night, but many nights it’s pretty special.

I remember the night I saw the most talented bossa nova group, just in from San Paulo. As I listened, I wondered if there was any better music playing anywhere else in New York City that night. And at Caffé Vivaldi there is never a cover charge. Their recently redesigned web site does give you a better idea of the type of music playing each night.

At one time Greenwich Village was filled with clubs just like this, but times change. Real estate interests have impacted the village, and not for the better. Even Caffé Vivaldi had a rough time recently, when a new landlord raised the rent exorbitantly. Fortunately, Ishrat has built a loyal following over the years, and a fund raiser and slightly more reasonable rent has kept Café Vivaldi in business.

When Woody Allen and Al Pacino wanted to make movies featuring the timeless quality of Greenwich Village they came to Vivaldi. It’s important that we keep this special place alive, for if we lose Cafe Vivaldi, NYCity will have lost a piece of it’s soul.

Website: http://caffevivaldi.com/
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Lunch/Dinner 11AM-on
Subway: #1 to Christopher St.
Walk 1 blk S. on 7th ave S. to Bleecker St., 1 blk left on Bleecker to Jones St., 50 yards left on Jones St. to Caffe V.
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“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.

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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3 Good Eating places

It’s not difficult to find a place to eat in Manhattan.
Finding a good, inexpensive place to eat is a bit harder.
Here are a few of my faves in this neighborhood:

Fish280 Bleecker St. (just a bit S. of 7th ave South)
This was an easy pick – the best raw bar special in town. $9 gets you 6 of the freshest oysters or clams + a glass of wine or beer. Don’t know how they can do it, but I tell everyone I know about this place. And it’s located right in the heart of some of the best no cover music in town.

Bleecker Street Pizza – 69 7th ave S. (corner of Bleecker St.)
The place is tiny and not much to look at, but this is one good slice. They like to brag that they have been voted “Best pizza in NY” 3 years in a row by the Food Network. I believe them. I would have voted for them.

Num Pang – 21 E 12th St. (btw. University Place/5th ave.)
This is a Cambodian banh mi sandwich shop that kept me well fed while I was in class nearby recently. It’s cramped, even for NYCity, but usually there is room up the spiral staircase to sit down and eat. In good weather carry your sandwich a few blocks to Union Square park. You may have to wait a few minutes, because everything is freshly made, but it’s worth it. Can you believe – an unheard of 26 food rating by Zagat.

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“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
No reservations needed.
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NYCity is the most diverse and interesting place to find a meal anywhere in the world. With more than 24,000 eating establishments you might welcome some advice.

◊ For all my picks of 54 Good Eating places, and essays on my favorite 18 PremierPubs in 9 Neighborhoods on Manhattan’s WestSide, order a copy of my e-book:
“Eating and Drinking on NYCity’s WestSide” ($4.99, available Spring 2017).
◊ Order before Mar.31, 2017 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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