NYC Events,”Only the Best” (08/20) + 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.

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:

MEG OKURA AND THE PAN ASIAN CHAMBER JAZZ ENSEMBLE
at Dizzy’s Club / 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., $35
“Ima Ima” is the new album from this impressive violinist and bandleader, and her fourth with the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble. It’s a record of grandiloquent beauty that transitions easily from grooves to big cascades to buoyant swing. She composed it with syncretism in mind: Ima means “now” in Japanese and “mom” in Hebrew, the language of Ms. Okura’s recently adopted Jewish faith. Here she is joined by her 10-piece ensemble, which includes the eminent trumpeter Tom Harrell, a featured guest on the album as well as at the show.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> Alejandro Escovedo
>> Natalie Douglas: Tributes—Ella
>> Broadway Sings Alanis Morissette
>> GILAD HEKSELMAN TRIO
>> Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
>> The Presidents’ Book Club: Books that shaped Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and others.
>> Archive Dive: The Research Behind Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical
Continuing Events
>> 2018 U.S. Open Fan Week
>> Candytopia
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Alejandro Escovedo
City Winery, 155 Varick St./ 8PM, $35+
“This Mexican-American punk veteran will play songs from his new album “The Crossing,” which is about the American immigrant experience and his own journey. Don Antonio, the all-instrumental Italian group that also played on the record and MC5’s Wayne Kramer, The Stooges’ James Williamson, Joe Ely, The Only Ones and others will join him.” (amNY)

Natalie Douglas: Tributes—Ella
Birdland / 7:30PM, $35
“In her ongoing Tributes series, dectuple MAC Award winner Douglas has previously plumbed the catalogs of Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holiday and Cher, among many others. Now she reprises her homage to scat queen and Great American Songbook master Ella Fitzgerald, joined by Billy Stritch at the piano.” (TONY)

Broadway Sings Alanis Morissette
Highline Ballroom / 8PM, $30
“As Broadway prepares for the likely arrival of the Alanis jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill later this season, the Broadway Sings series gets a leg up with a concert of her biggest hits, arranged by Joshua Stephen Kartes for a 14-piece jazz orchestra. Isn’t that ironic? (No? Are you sure?) Vocalists include married American Idol finalists turned stage stars Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, as well as Derek Klena, Wesley Taylor, Alysha Deslorieux, Lauren Patten, Ben Thompson, Krystina Alabado, Crystal Monee Hall, Corey Mach, Jillian Mueller, Laurissa Romain, Joey Taranto, Stephanie Jean Umoh and American Idol Season 7 winner David Cook.” (TONY)

GILAD HEKSELMAN TRIO (also Aug.21)
at Smalls / 7:30 and 9 p.m., $
“This guitarist doesn’t need to be slick to sound commanding. When he starts to scamper in a single-note line, he’s usually quick to cut himself off — interrupting his own train of thought and grabbing your ear. A strong new album of original tunes, “Ask for Chaos,” is out next month. He appears at Smalls alongside the bassist Rick Rosato and the drummer Jonathan Pinson, who form one of two trios featured on the record.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Birdland, / 9:30PM, $30
“Jim Caruso’s Cast Party is a wildly popular weekly soiree that brings a sprinkling of Broadway glitz and urbane wit to the legendary Birdland in New York City every Monday night. It’s a cool cabaret night-out enlivened by a hilariously impromptu variety show. Showbiz superstars, backed by Steve Doyle on bass, Billy Stritch on piano and Daniel Glass on drums, hit the stage alongside up-and-comers, serving up jaw-dropping music and general razzle-dazzle.” (broadwayworld)

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

The Presidents’ Book Club: Books that shaped Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and others.
Joseph Luzzi / Bard College
SUNY Global Center – Global Classroom, 116 E 55th St./ 7-9PM, $95
“All of us at One Day U who love books wondered about the reading habits of past presidents, and what we found led us to offer this new brand new course.”
Bard’s Joseph Luzzi explores leadership and literature with close looks at the libraries of six Presidents. Luzzi will discuss JFK and a favorite spy novelist, Abraham Lincoln’s obsession with Shakespeare, and “how Barack Obama came to understand his American identity and spirit through two favorite authors.” (ThoughtGallery.org)

Archive Dive: The Research Behind Show Time! The First 100 Years of the American Musical
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza / 6PM, FREE
“Writer-performer Ben West offers a live-demo and discussion of the research process behind his upcoming documentary musical, SHOW TIME! THE FIRST 100 YEARS OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL, which premieres Sept. 13 at the Theatre at Saint Peter’s as part of a three-year partnership with the York Theatre Company. SHOW TIME! charts the evolution of the American musical from the mid-1800s thru 1999, and features more than two dozen songs that shaped the canon.”

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Continuing Events

2018 U.S. Open Fan Week (Aug.21-26)
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park /
“There’s going to be a lot of racket (swinging) at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park come August 27 during the U.S. Open, a two-week tennis tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. Tickets for the usually star-studded matches (Bey and Jay-Z attended in recent years) tend to be steep ($65 to $100 for the cheap seats), but you can attend free of charge during U.S. Open Fan Week.

Just one week before the professional matches begin, head to the National Tennis Center to watch a qualifying tournament, where 128 women and 128 men compete. You can also check out the top dogs in tennis practice on the grounds (think Serena and Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal), and be just a few feet away from your favorite players. There’s even more tennis-related activities scheduled off the court, too. Get pumped for New York’s major summer sporting showdown during the U.S. Open Experience on Wednesday, August 22 and Thursday, August 23 at Brookfield Place. Players and special guests will make appearances and pose for selfies, and there will be food sampling and more sponsor-related activities at the scene. The event promises to be more fun than you can shake a racket at!” (TONY)

For a wonderful guide to the U.S. Open, try TimeOutNewYork’s guide.

Candytopia (thru Nov.15)
Candytopia @ Penn Plaza, 145 W. 32nd St./ 10AM-8:30PM, $34
“This interactive candy exhibit, which has drawn the likes of Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Corden and Wiz Khalifa from California, has more than a dozen rooms and art installations including a swimming pool filled with about half a million giant marshmallows; unicorn-pig hybrids that fart confetti; a candy-covered Sphinx sculpture; and candy recreations of such artworks as the “Mona Lisa,” Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” and Rodin’s “The Thinker.” (amNY) &  (amNY)
DIVE INTO A HUGE MARSHMALLOW PIT AT CANDYTOPIA
“First it was in Los Angeles, and now it’s made its way to the east coast. Candytopia is officially open in NYC! Just like many other pop-ups, this one has uniquely designed rooms — except this one is all about candy. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to snag a ticket and enjoy the marshmallow pit and candy-filled rooms.” (bestproducts.com)

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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 – Music Venues:
So much fine live music every night in this town. These are my favorite non jazz music venues on Manhattan’s WestSide. Hit the Hot Link and check out who’s playing tonight:

City Winery – 155 Varick St., citywinery.com, 212-608-0555
Joe’s Pub @ Public Theater – 425 Lafayette St., joespub.com, 212-967-7555
Beacon Theatre – 2124 Broadway @ 74th St., beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Town Hall – 123 W43rd St. (btw 6/7), thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474
Sony Hall – 235 W 46th St. (btw 7/8), sonyhall.com, 212-997-5123
and one more, not exactly WestSide:
Bowery Ballroom – 6 Delancey St. boweryballroom.com,

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 discovery and enjoyment.

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.

See Below.
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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.

CAFFE VIVALDI HAS CLOSED,  JUNE 23 WAS THE FINAL NIGHT. VERY SAD.
As reported in the “Gothamist”:
“Caffe Vivaldi, one of the last bohemian bastions of the West Village, is set to close this weekend. During its 35 years on Jones Street, the casual cafe won the hearts of locals and celebs alike, including Oscar Isaac, Bette Midler, and Al Pacino.

Despite that friendly communal atmosphere, the owners ultimately struggled to survive under their notorious vulture landlord Steve Croman, who they say waged a harassment campaign against the restaurant, and eventually tripled their rent.”

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:

Fish – 280 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 FALL 2018).
◊ Order before NOV.30, 2018 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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