NYC Events,”Only the Best” (07/29) + 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, check the tab above: NYC Events-JULY”
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:

Catherine Russell (LAST DAY)
Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $45
With guitarist Matt Munisteri, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Tal Ronen, and drummer Mark McLean.

“Grammy Award winner Catherine Russell has been one of the most widely recognized jazz vocalists since the release of her debut album in 2006. Her latest album, Harlem on My Mind, was nominated for the 2017 Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy Award. Russell’s experience extends beyond releasing seven acclaimed albums as a solo artist; she has also worked with Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and Levon Helm. Seeing Russell perform live is a truly uplifting experience and an easy recommendation for any fan of jazz vocals.”

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6 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>>‘Summergarden: New Music for New York’ 
>> Panorama New York City
>> Fred Hersch Trio
>> Regina Carter Quartet
>> DIZZY GILLESPIE ALL-STAR BIG BAND
>> NYC Poetry Festival
Continuing Events
>>
NYC Restaurant Week 
>>
Twelfth Night
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

‘Summergarden: New Music for New York’ (LAST DAY)
Museum of Modern Art (enter through the Sculpture Garden gate on West 54th Street between Fifth and Six avenues), 8PM, FREE
Tonight: Jazz Concert II: Matthew Shipp Trio

“The Museum of Modern Art’s annual outdoor presentation of contemporary classical music and jazz returns to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Members of the New Juilliard Ensemble, under the direction of Joel Sachs, perform Sunday, July 8, and Sunday, July 22. Jazz groups from Jazz at Lincoln Center perform July 15 (Michael Rodriguez Quintet) and July 29 (Matthew Shipp Trio). (amNY)

Panorama New York City (July 27-29.)
Randall’s Island Park
“For the past two years, Gotham has had its own Coachella in the form of Panorama New York City, a three-day music fest on Randall’s Island that, much like last month’s Governors Ball, functions as a primer on the contemporary sounds that engage those who stream the most music. Rockers, m.c.s, soul-stirrers, and d.j.s rub right up against one another—or, at least, their fans do. It’s interesting to imagine the folks who follow the literary songwriter Father John Misty making nice with the trap-rap denizens who turn out for Atlanta’s Migos; both acts appear on July 27. On July 28, Janet Jackson headlines a fine bill that puts her atop Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, St. Vincent, and the dreamy pop of Japanese Breakfast. Highlights on July 29 include David Byrne, the xx, and the techno sound-shaper Moodymann.” (K. Leander Williams, NewYorker)

Fred Hersch Trio (LAST DAY)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. S., at 11th St./ 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $35
The pianist Fred Hersch generally forms deep connections with his rhythm mates, who, since 2009, have been John Hebert, on bass, and Eric McPherson, on drums­­—an assured, near-telepathic team. The splendid results of this artistic union recently arrived in the form of the album “Live in Europe,” which stands as a testament to Hersch’s commanding stature as an improviser and bandleader.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

Regina Carter Quartet (July 26-29.)
Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th St./ MM
Jazz violinists, never a populous breed, are few and far between in the new millennium. Carter, a string stalwart since the nineties, brings a commitment to musical and familial history to her art (her cousin is the maverick sax player James Carter), lending her playing a striking personal edge. (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

DIZZY GILLESPIE ALL-STAR BIG BAND (LAST DAY)
at the Blue Note / 8 and 10:30 p.m., $30-$45
“Gillespie is known for helping to establish two important idioms that aren’t always associated with large ensembles — bebop and Latin jazz — but he did much of his most impressive work with big bands. In the final chapter of Gillespie’s career, his United Nation Orchestra was his main vehicle: an ecumenical group of improvisers from across the Americas, pushing his compositions into fresh terrain. After he died in 1993, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band sprang up to carry the torch. Today, that group includes such major figures as the vocalist Roberta Gambarini and the pianist Cyrus Chestnut.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

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

NYC Poetry Festival (July 28-29)
Governors Island,
“Calling all romantics! The New York City Poetry Festival returns this weekend to Governors Island with two days of live readings, both inside historic homes and outside in the parks, with the skyline of the city as your backdrop. It’s free to hear from established poets and up-and-comers, though ticketed members get better access. Headliners are Nico Tortorella, Terrance Hayes, Danielle Pafunda and Ladan Osman. Make it a VIP weekend with a tent suite, s’mores by the campfire and breakfast included.” (Metro)

Elsewhere, but these two food fests look worth the detour:

Tastes of Brooklyn
Eat your way through Brooklyn
Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn / 2-6PM, $20-$50
“Two Brooklyn neighborhoods put their best dishes forward during Tastes of Brooklyn: Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. Work up an appetite during a free class at Brooklyn Tango at 2 p.m., then wander along a two-mile trail of participating restaurants and bars offering tasting-size portions redeemed with event tickets. Proceeds benefit Seeds in the Middle, which supports healthy eating for kids.” (Metro)

Brasil Summerfest
Brazil’s beats and bites come to NYC
Seward Park at 25 Essex St./ 12-7PM, FREE
“Brasil Summerfest, the largest music and arts fest of its kind, returns this week with its biggest year yet and runs through Aug. 12. Starting off Sunday at the Hester Street Fair are DJs Gaspar Muniz and Greg Caz, as well as choro music by Regional de NY, samba by Manhattan Samba and drumming from Fogo Azul. Food will include traditional fare like churrasco, coxinhas, feijoada and more, plus beer and sparkling wine. It’s free for all ages.” (Metro)

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Continuing Events

NYC Restaurant Week  (July 23-August 17)
“The summer edition of NYC Restaurant Week has arrived. You can make reservations now for deals at 386 participating restaurants through August 17th. How can a ravenous New Yorker whittle down the choices? Depends on what you like. Among this year’s offerings are nearly a hundred American Traditional spots, followed by 86 Italian restaurants, dozens of steakhouses and French bistros and brasseries, nearly as many Mexican joints, a smattering of Chinese, Greek, Indian, seafood, soul food, vegetarian, and Vietnamese options, and two places with the nerve to identify as “eclectic.”

Weekday lunch specials are down a few dollars and a few calories. Twenty-six bucks now buys a two-course midday meal — nobody has time for dessert on a work day, anyway. Three-course dinners still run $42. These four weeks in the throes of summer are like a culinary leap year — free celestial time to be bold, take a risk and try something new. Realistically though, you’ve maybe got the time and money to try, what, like five of these places? And remember the bi-annual NYC Restaurant Week refrain: tax, tip, and drinks not included.’ (Thrillist)
Here are the best of the best.

Twelfth Night (July 17 – August 19)
Shakespeare Delacorte Theater, Central Park / 8PM, FREE* (the Bard is off on Mondays)
“This musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy began in 2016 as a one-weekend run under the auspices of the Public’s civically ambitious Public Works program, which collaborates with NYC communities to create large-scale theater. Director Kwame Kwei-Armah is joined by Public honcho Oskar Eustis to helm the production’s return engagement; Shuler Hensley and  Ato Blankson-Wood joins original cast members Nikki M. James, Andrew Kober and Shaina Taub—who also wrote the songs—alongside less seasoned actors and local residents.” (TONY)

*tickets are free (two per person) and may be picked up after noon on the day of performance (be prepared for long lines.) Some tickets are also distributed via online lottery.
See TONY’s complete guide to Shakespeare in the Park tickets for details.

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, plus dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.6 million, had a record 63 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2018 – awesome! BUT quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just earlier on the day of performance.

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Bonus: Nifty 9 – Best Cabarets / Piano Bars NYCity
These are my favorite places for an after dinner night on the town – music and drinks.
Hit the Hot Link and check out what’s happening tonight:

Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 W 54th St.

The Green Room 42 – 570 Tenth Ave.

Don’t Tell Mama – 343 W 46th St.

The Rum House, in the Hotel Edison – 228 W. 47th St.

Laurie Beechman Theatre – 407 W 42nd St.

Marie’s Crisis – 59 Grove St.

The Duplex – 61 Christopher St.

Sid Gold’s Request Room – 165 W 26th St.

Cafe Carlyle, in the Carlyle Hotel – 35 E. 76th St.
This is the only one not located on Manhattan’s WestSide, and it ain’t cheap, but it has some of the finest singers.

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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” finally closed, now it’s “Mean Girls.”)

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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