NYC Events,”Only the Best” (01/30) + 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:

JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE
at Le Poisson Rouge / 8 p.m, $20
“The big-band LSD meditation you’ve been waiting for can be found in “Long Swing Dream” from the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble’s grand new All Can Work. The drummer-composer’s third album with his powerful twenty-piece ensemble is richly inventive, as usual, and contains longer and shorter pieces inspired by the likes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, and the group’s late trumpeter, Laurie Frink. There’s also a high-register remake of Billy Strayhorn’s “Elf,” and a maximalist rendition of Kraftwerk’s “The Model,” which hearkens back to Hollenbeck’s earlier collection of pop covers. Tuesday’s concert, the first in a series of co-presentations with the neophilic New Amsterdam label, opens with a set by harmonically kaleidoscopic guitarist Ben Monder and vocal experimentalist Theo Bleckmann, who’ve been recording together since 1997.” (Richard Gehr, Village Voice)

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6 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)

>> New York City Ballet
>> Orfeh and Andy Karl: Legally Bound
>>Il Trovatore
>> ROBERTA GAMBARINI
>> Uptown Showdown: Love vs. Money
>> Shaping Policy in the Era of Alternative Facts, Fake News, and Digital Disruption

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

New York City Ballet
NYS (dhk) Theater, Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, $30+
Today: All Balanchine No. 2
Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart)
The Four Temperaments (Hindemith)
Chaconne (von Gluck)
“Out of Balanchine’s deep archive, these three pure dance treasures emerge to illustrate his ability to create whole worlds without using scenery or story. From regal courts to hushed expanses, sparkling classicism to commanding modernity, these works conjure narratives and settings in the imagination through their costuming, music, and movement.”

Orfeh and Andy Karl: Legally Bound
Feinstein’s/54 Below / 7PM, $70
“One of musical theater’s royal couples—power belter and blue-eyed-soul recording artist Orfeh (soon to be seen in Pretty Woman) and her charming husband, Rocky dreamboat Andy Karl (most recently of Groundhog Day)—share some of their love.” (TONY)

Il Trovatore (Jan 22-Feb 15; next performance Feb.3, 1PM)
The Metropolitan Opera House / 7:30PM, $
“Sir David McVicar’s production of Verdi’s thrilling depiction of life on the edgeexhilarating production features Jennifer Rowley as the noble heroine, Leonora, Yonghoon Lee as the troubadour who loves her, Quinn Kelsey as his rival, and Anita Rachvelishvili as the Gypsy Azucena, whose bloodthirsty curse propels the story.”

ROBERTA GAMBARINI (Jan. 29-31)
at Blue Note / 8 and 10:30PM, $20-$35
“Ms. Gambarini, a vocalist, is all assiduous precision and formidable strength. She brings it to bear on jazz standards and classic Brazilian fare, always with the help of top-tier accompanists. For this run her band includes Jeb Patton on piano, John Lee on bass and Victor Lewis on drums.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

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

Uptown Showdown: Love vs. Money
Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway / 7:30PM, $16
“Money can’t buy you love. It can buy you: Nice apartments, dinners at Nobu, and the company of gabby arm candy named Gabby or Arm or Candy. If love has any way to defend itself, the comedians at Uptown Showdown will figure it out during this night of unhinged, unpredictable debate.

You never know what to expect at this bi-monthly, wacky debate series that brings together two teams of comedians, writers and performers to argue a chosen topic.

Debaters will argue these lingering questions, drawing from historical fact and personal-opinion in equal measure, and with plenty of silliness and audience participation. Forget about school reform and health care, these issues, heatedly argued by some of the funniest, smartest, intensely wacky creative thinkers around, are the topics that keep us awake at night….in a good way. Winner decided by the audience. Hosted by Matthew Love.”

Shaping Policy in the Era of Alternative Facts, Fake News, and Digital Disruption
Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Ave./ 6:30PM, $40
“A panel looks at the role of think tanks in information-rich societies that tend to ignore factual evidence within the context of rising nationalism, populism, and protectionism.” (ThoughtGallery.org)

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BONUS:
Try  a double header. “NYC Broadway Week and NYC Restaurant Week will overlap this winter, creating the perfect storm of events where you can sit down indoors. NYC Broadway Week begins first with two-for-one tickets to the best shows from January 16 through February 4. NYC Restaurant Week joins in on January 22, and it runs through February 9, offering lunches for $29 and dinner for $42.”

See TONY magazine:  Your guide to combining NYC Broadway Week and NYC Restaurant Week

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Continuing Events

‘MICHELANGELO: DIVINE DRAFTSMAN AND DESIGNER’
Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Feb. 12).

”A monument to a monument. With 133 drawings by the beyond-famous artist on loan from some 50 front-rank collections, this show is a curatorial coup and an art historical tour de force: a panoptic view of a titanic career as recorded in the most fragile of media: paper, chalk and ink. And it demands that you be fully present. Drawing is more than a graphic experience; it’s a textural one, about the pressure of crayon and pen on a page; the subliminal fade and focus of lines; the weave and shadow-creating swells of surfaces. These are effects that can’t be captured by a smartphone.” (Cotter-NYT)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

The art world has been agog about this exhibition for sometime. One critic after another exclaims that it is the “Exhibition of a lifetime!” The hype has been over the top. Usually that means you’ll be disappointed when you actually experience it, because it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. Not this time.

This is a huge and marvelous exhibition that shows the evolution of Michelangelo from a young artist to a mature, divine genius. An exhibition that you will remember for sometime. Even the works of other artists that are included for contrast and context are amazing.

Here are a few reviews from the critics to give you a fuller flavor of this exhibition. They strongly encourage you to make the time to see this “once in a lifetime” exhibition. I also encourage you to see it.

Only 14 days left, because the exhibition closes February 12, and that last week it will probably be crazy packed.

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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.

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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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