NYC Events,”Only the Best” (01/14) + Today’s Featured Pub (Midtown West)

“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.

For future NYC Events better check the tab above: “NYC Events-January”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.
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Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

GlobalFest
B.B. King Blues Club, Lucille’s, Liberty Theater/ 7PM, $50
“The yearly planetary musical potpourri GlobalFest moves to Times Square, where, per usual, a dozen culturally disparate acts will perform on three stages for a convention’s worth of performing-arts presenters — and you! Drift between Jupiter & Okwess’s hard-charging Congolese post-rumba and the francophone boogie blues of Guadeloupe’s Delgres band, or between Brazilian singer Ava Rocha’s Tropicália-tinged pop and Detroit blues shouter Thornetta Davis. Don’t miss a rare appearance by Iranian singer Mohsen Namjoo, the polyphonic splendor of Georgia’s a cappella Iberi Choir, or Eva Salina & Peter Stan’s beautiful Balkan Romani songs. But time marches on, so Indian classical music meets hip-hop in Grand Tapestry and gender boundaries dissolve in the local all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Dig La Dame Blanche’s revved-up Cuban rumbas, then mellow out to Miramar’s reimagining of Sylvia Rexac’s Puerto Rican boleros.” (Richard Gehr, Village Voice)

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven
>> Erin Markey: Rainbow Caverns—Greatest Hits of All Time Including the Future
>>TOM HARRELL
>> BILLY HARPER QUINTET
>>AMERICAN DANCE PLATFORM
>>Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio
>> 50 Years After MLK: A Dream Deferred
>>“Nine ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy this weekend.”
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven
Highline Ballroom / 8PM, $
“Texan singer-songwriter David Lowery is one of rock’s most underrated jugglers: His ’80s band Camper Van Beethoven recorded scrappy, wry gems like “The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” and his ’90s flagship Cracker served considerably beefier fare, like the grunge-era standard “Low.” Dig the versatility as Lowery brings both acts out for the same Highline Ballroom night.” (Craig Jenkins, NY Magazine)

Erin Markey: Rainbow Caverns—Greatest Hits of All Time Including the Future
Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater / 7PM, $25
“Brilliantly off-kilter actor-singer Markey has spent the past few years making people uncomfortable with her nervy, edgy, marvy brand of strangely connected and fiercely committed humor, most recently as Squeaky Fromme in the Encores! production of Assassins. This Under the Radar festival event includes musical excerpts from past shows A Ride On The Irish Cream (2016) and Boner Killer (2017) and the in-development Little Surfer (2019); guests include Markey’s sturdy companion, Becca Blackwell.” (TONY)

TOM HARRELL
at the Village Vanguard / 8:30 and 10:30PM, $35
“Mr. Harrell boasts a smoky surety on both trumpet and flugelhorn; at 71, he’s making some of the best music of his career, employing his bop-Romantic sensibility in midsize ensembles that feature some fabulous supporting actors. Through Sunday, he performs with Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Adam Cruz on drums. After a break on Monday, the band plays six more nights with Jaleel Shaw joining on alto saxophone, and the drummer Joe Dyson subbing for Mr. Cruz.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

BILLY HARPER QUINTET (Jan. 12-14)
at Smoke / 7, 9 and 10:30PM, $
“Mr. Harper was of the most consistently exciting tenor saxophonists to emerge in the late 1960s and early ’70s. He seemed to wield his horn like hot iron; his book of compositions, meanwhile, read as an insurrectionary tract, while fusing concepts from John Coltrane and Joe Henderson. His powers are undiminished, though we haven’t seen a leadership recording from him in roughly a decade, and he does not headline his own shows in New York often enough. Catch him here with Freddie Hendrix on trumpet, Francesca Tanksley on piano, Hwansu Kang on bass and Aaron Scott on drums.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

AMERICAN DANCE PLATFORM (Jan. 12-14 at various times).
at the Joyce Theater / today: 2PM, +7:30PM, $66
These may be tough tickets, better order in advance.
“This festival, programmed by Christine Tschida, the director of Northrop at the University of Minnesota, wraps up this weekend with programs featuring shared performances. The newest pairing explores rhythm and showcases Ensemble Español Spanish Theater, which performs flamenco and folkloric dance, and Trinity Irish Dance Company. Other programs offer classic modern dance by Philadanco! alongside hula by Halau O Kekuhi; Jessica Lang Dance with, in its Joyce debut, Backhausdance; and BODYTRAFFIC with the tap ensemble Caleb Teicher and Company.” (NYT-GIA KOURLAS)

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio
Jazz Standard / 7:30PM, 9:30PM, $35
“Today What’s not to love about Dr. Smith, from his omnipresent turban to his concocted title to his shape-shifting ability to get old-school funky and then in-the-moment weird? His groove-intense trio includes the guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and the drummer Johnathan Blake.”(Ron Hart, Village Voice)

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

50 Years After MLK: A Dream Deferred
Apollo Theater / 3PM, FREE (you may have to watch this one online)
“The ’60s: The Years that Changed America festival kicks off at the Apollo Theater with the longstanding annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration from WNYC and the Apollo Theater, which features musical performances and brings together audiences from Harlem and around the city. The afternoon includes scholars, community leaders, and activists engaging in conversations that examine the future of social justice movements as we traverse the current social and political climate. The event also includes a performance by Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens.” (nycguide)

More Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Events
try New York Magazine’s very fine list:
“Nine ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy this weekend.”

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Continuing Events

NYC Winter Jazzfest  (Jan.10-17)
Various times and venues, Prices vary
“More than 130 acts perform in twelve venues over eight days during the annual stamina-testing NYC Winter Jazzfest, which kicks off Wednesday, January 10, with emerging British jazz acts The Comet Is Coming, saxophonist Nubya Garcia, and trumpeter Yazz Ahmed. Coming up, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane pays tribute to his mother, Alice; drummer Teri Lyne Carrington hosts an all-star celebration of the late pianist Geri Allen; and flutist-composer Nicole Mitchell explores a sci-fi musical utopia. The core of the festival, of course, is the weekend marathon. Bundle up Friday night to hear saxophonist Rudresh Mahathappa’s rhythmically elliptical Indo-Pak Coalition, drummer Ches Smith’s Haiti-centric We All Break, and experimental Brooklyn duo Sonnymoon at various locations. And explore the free-jazz outskirts at the New School on Saturday with power trio Harriet Tubman and the Sun Ra Arkestra’s live score to the Ra-written 1974 Afrofuturist film Space Is the Place.” (Richard Gehr, Village Voice)

For 12 essential sets to catch this Friday/Saturday, January 12/13, see this good piece from NY Magazine: “Loud, Wild, Improvised”

The New York Jewish Film Festival  (Jan.10-23)
Watch the screenings at Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
at various times; $15
“A wide variety of documentaries, narrative films and retrospectives awaits you at this packed festival. Catch Italian comedy Let Yourself Go (January 13, January 14), West Bank doc West of the Jordan River (January 23) a restored screening of 1937 Yiddish film The Dybbuk (January 14, January 17), among many others.” (TONY)

Today: 7:00 PM , Walter Reade Theater, Let Yourself Go
9:30 PM , Walter Reade Theater, Siege

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Let there be light!
Erwin Redl’s Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project, will light up in Madison Square Park. It consists of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a white LED light, and suspended from a square grid of steel poles. The swaying sequence of light will be on display until April 2018.

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Bonus NYC Events – Jazz Venues:
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:
(5 are underground, classic jazz joints. all 6 are within walking distance of each other):
Village Vanguard – UG, 178 7th Ave. South, villagevanguard.com, 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. bluenotejazz.com, 212-475-8592
55 Bar – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S. 55bar.com, 212-929-9883
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave. mezzrow.com,646-476-4346
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St. smallslive.com, 646-476-4346
Cornelia Street Cafe – UG, 29 Cornelia St. corneliastreetcafe.com, 212-989-9319

Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662

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.

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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 is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2017.  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 / 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.
(Alas, no more. After 10 years, “Jersey Boys” closed Jan.15)

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).
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Website: http://www.russianvodkaroom.com/
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 younger, trimmer piano man. “Tiny” we miss you.
Update#2: Rumor that “Tiny” is back playing only on Friday nights – need to check it out.

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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 (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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