NYC Events,”Only the Best” (08/12) + 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-August”
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:

Margo Price & Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Annual Roots of American Music Weekend: Americanafest NYC
Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center / 7PM, FREE
“With her infectious blend of Nashville country, Memphis soul, and Texas twang, Margo Price is “one of the most compelling country talents to come out of Nashville in recent memory” (Vulture). She brings unflinching honesty and vivid songcraft to nuanced portraits of men and women just trying to get by, evoking everyone from Waylon and Willie to Loretta and Dolly along the way. Price splits the night with singer-songwriter Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son) and his band. On tour with Neil Young in recent years, they’ve built a devoted following for their distinctive brand of cosmic country soul.”

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> BATTERY DANCE FESTIVAL
>> ALICIA OLATUJA
>> Kevin Smith Kirkwood: Classic Whitney—Alive!
>> Mark Morris Dance Group
>> Momix
>> “Curator’s Choice: Bernstein”
>> Play NYC
Continuing Events
>>
NYC Restaurant Week 
>>
Twelfth Night
>>
Brasil Summerfest 
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

BATTERY DANCE FESTIVAL (Aug. 12-17)
at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park / 7 p.m., FREE
“With a breathtaking backdrop of the New York Harbor, this festival returns to Battery Park City (the closing event on Aug. 18 will be at the Schimmel Center) with eclectic programming by the artistic director of Battery Dance, Jonathan Hollander. Along with his company, participants include Ariel Rivka Dance and Douglas Dunn & Dancers, as well as out-of-town groups like Damir Tasmagambetov (Kazakhstan), Skopje Dance Theater (Macedonia) and Mophato Dance Theater (Botswana). The breeze is nice, too.” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)

ALICIA OLATUJA
at Jazz Standard / 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., $30
“Ms. Olatuja has a big and clear voice, and she usually seems to be aiming squarely at you. An auspicious young talent, she comes to jazz via the church and performed for years in the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. That history is always evident, whether she’s collaborating with her Nigerian-born husband, Michael, in the Olatuja Project, or guesting with the storied organist Dr. Lonnie Smith. At Jazz Standard, Ms. Olatuja appears as the lone headliner, fronting a band that includes Schadrack Pierre and Rasul A-Salaam on backup vocals, Sullivan Fortner on piano, David Rosenthal on guitar, Richie Goods on bass and Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums.” (NYT- GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Kevin Smith Kirkwood: Classic Whitney—Alive! (also Aug.13)
Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater / 9:30PM, $30
“On a night off from his ensemble role in Broadway’s Kinky Boots, Kirkwood takes center stage as Whitney Houston in a show that impressively re-creates the doomed diva’s performances and concert banter. This latest Joe’s Pub residency is divided into two separate sets: The Greastest Hits: Volume 1 (Aug 5, 13) and The Greastest Hits: Volume 2 (Aug 6, 12).” (TONY)

Mark Morris Dance Group (LAST DAY)
Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, $75+
“The redoubtable choreographer Mark Morris displays his precious resources at Lincoln Center this summer, including an expensive showing during August’s Mostly Mozart festival. From August 9 to 12, make your way to the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where the Mark Morris Dance Group performs a program including Morris’s Love Song Waltzes and the world premiere of The Trout, to the Schubert quintet played live by the Ariel Quartet, joined by pianist Inon Barnatan. Tickets for this are scarce already, so don’t dally.” (Elizabeth Zimmer, Village Voice)

Momix (LAST DAY)
Joyce Theatre, 175 Eighth Ave., at 19th St./ 7:30PM, $45+
The troupe of acrobatic illusionists returns with another of its prop-laden greatest-hits samplers. As usual, though the performers’ physical skill impresses and many of the images beguile, the thinness of the ideas grows ever clearer and the tasteless music grates. Three local premières stick to the group’s formula: cartoon cowboys with limbs of strange length, costumes made of paper or equipped with pulsing rods of light.” (Brian Seibert, NewYorker)

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

“Curator’s Choice: Bernstein”
Paley Center for Media, 25 W. 52nd St./
“Eleven months into the yearlong celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s hundredth birthday, there are no more gems still to polish or curios left to unearth in his œuvre. The Paley Center, though, is devoting every Sunday in August to a hitherto underexamined aspect of his legacy: his famous television appearances. The second weekend highlights his warmth and elegance as a music educator with screenings of three CBS specials, in which he discussed everything from Bach to the Beatles and introduced Glenn Gould and Igor Stravinsky in their U.S. television débuts.” (Oussama Zahr, Village Voice)
12:15 pm
Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic: The Creative Performer
1:15 pm
CBS News Special: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution
2:10 pm
New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts: Bach Transmogrified

Play NYC  (Aug.11-12)
Manhattan Center / $33 on Saturday, $28 on Sunday, with two separate sessions held each day (10AM & 3PM)
Game on, New York.
Play NYC, an interactive games convention for both players and creators, returns for the second year in midtown this weekend. Organized by Playcrafting, which touts itself as “the largest network of game developers in New York,” games of all types are playable at the con.

“We launched Play NYC last year to really give New York its own full-scale, all-games convention, and we delivered on it,” said Dan Butchko, founder and CEO of Playcrafting.

Describing Play NYC as a “carnival of games” that’s welcoming to both hard-core gamers and families looking for a fun outing, Butchko said the Manhattan Center will assume hosting duties through 2020 after last year’s Terminal 5 debut. After attracting an estimated 5,000 people last year and selling out the first day, the event moved to the larger venue, which can handle up to 10,000 visitors. More than 300 developers, publishers and streamers will be running booths, all featuring playable games.” (amNY)

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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.

Brasil Summerfest  (last day)
Brazil’s beats and bites come to NYC
“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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♦ 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 NYC events– Jazz Clubs:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. My favorite Jazz Clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide, feature top talent every night of the week.
Hit the Hot Link and 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. So., villagevanguard.com, 212-255-4037 (1st 8:30)
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. bluenotejazz.com, 212-475-8592 (1st set 8pm)
55 Bar – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S. 55bar.com, 212-929-9883 (1st 7pm)
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave. mezzrow.com,646-476-4346 (1st 8)
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St. smallslive.com, 646-476-4346 (1st set 7:30pm)
Cornelia Street Cafe – UG, 29 Cornelia St. corneliastreetcafe.com, 212-989-9319 (6pm)

Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595 (1st set 7:30pm)
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080 (1st 8:30pm)
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com/ 212-864-6662 (7pm)

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. — caffevivaldi.com / 212-691-7538 (1st 7pm)
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.

Alas, Caffe V is no more, another victim of a rapacious NYC landlord. Owner Ishrat fought the good fight and Caffe V will be sorely missed.

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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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