NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/22) + Today’s Featured Pub (Times Square / Theater District)

“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-December”
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:

Pentatonix
Beacon Theatre, Broadway at 74th St./ 8PM, $65+
“The a-cappella group Pentatonix knows all about holiday cheer. Their first Christmas project, released in 2014, remains their highest-selling album, with their festive 2016 collection not far behind. In keeping with the tradition, this year’s “Christmas Is Here” runs the gamut of classics and pop-culture favorites, including a gorgeous cover of “When You Believe,” featuring Maren Morris, and an altogether jolly (and orchestral) version of “Jingle Bells.” The Grammy-winning quintet is nothing if not keenly aware of the unique and reliable power of a cappella to channel the energy of the season.” (Briana Younger, NewYorker)

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> Darlene Love
>> The Magic Flute
>> ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER
>> FREDDY COLE QUARTET FEATURING JOEL FRAHM 
>> GILAD HEKSELMAN
>> ROY HARGROVE TRIBUTE CONCERT
>> Norm Lewis: Nutcracker Cool
Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>> New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker”
>> Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Darlene Love
Sony Hall, 235 W. 46th St./ 8PM, $55
“Darlene Love has the imposing work ethic of many show-biz survivors and a voice of thunder and cool, well preserved after seventy-seven years. However deep her repertoire, come December, all songs are but a prelude to “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” crafted with the evil genius Phil Spector in 1963. No modern Christmas song matches its heartbreak and grandeur; Love nails it every time.” (Jay Ruttenberg, NewYorker)

The Magic Flute (next Dec.24, 7PM)
Metropolitan Opera House / 8PM, $20+
“Now a holiday tradition, Julie Taymor’s beloved production of Mozart’s enchanting fairy tale returns in its abridged, English-language version for families. Soprano Erin Morley, last seen at the Met as a brilliant Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, is the empowered Pamina, and tenor Ben Bliss is the valiant Tamino. Baritone Nathan Gunn is the comic birdcatcher Papageno, and soprano Kathryn Lewek reprises her hair-raising rendition of the malevolent Queen of the Night. Harry Bicket conducts.”

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER (through Dec. 30).
at New York City Center / 2PM, +8PM, $30+
“This troupe continues its run at City Center with its “Three Visionaries” program, opening on Friday. It spotlights dances created by the artistic directors who have presided over the company since its formation in 1958: Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison and Robert Battle. From Jamison, the artistic director emerita, are excerpts from “Divining” and “Forgotten Time.” Battle, its current artistic director, offers “Mass” and “Ella,” and from Ailey, its founder, there are the classics “Cry” and “Revelations.” Another program pick is “Timeless Ailey” (on Saturday), a presentation of rarely seen Ailey dances, including “Pas de Duke” and “The Lark Ascending.” Both are gems.” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)

FREDDY COLE QUARTET FEATURING JOEL FRAHM  (thru Dec.25)
at Birdland / 8:30 and 11 p.m.; $50
“Cole will never fully escape the shadow of his brother, Nat King Cole, who died in 1965 at age 45. But the younger Cole — also a pianist and singer with a low, lambent voice and a repertoire that centers on romantic balladry — has become a popular performer in his own right, particularly over the past few decades. He plays here in a quartet featuring Frahm, a luminous tenor saxophonist. On Dec. 24 and 25, the young vocalist Veronica Swift will join as a second special guest.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

This may be heresy, but I like Freddy’s voice just as much as his brother’s wonderful voice.

ROY HARGROVE TRIBUTE CONCERT (Dec. 21-22)
at the Jazz Gallery / 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; $50
“The unexpected death of the pre-eminent trumpeter this fall shocked the jazz community — particularly in New York City, and especially at the Gallery, a club he co-founded over 20 years ago. Hargrove typically played every holiday season at the Gallery, and this weekend, an all-star squad of musicians pays homage to him: the alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, the pianists Orrin Evans (on Friday) and David Virelles (on Saturday), the bassist Eric Revis and the drummer Nasheet Waits. The group will be joined by various special guests over the course of the two evenings.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

GILAD HEKSELMAN (Dec. 21-22)
at Cornelia Street Café / 8:30 and 10 p.m.; $
“Hekselman, a fiercely melodic guitarist and an increasingly shrewd composer, released a strong album this year, “Ask for Chaos.” He appears at Cornelia Street with the rising-star vibraphonist Joel Ross and the drummer Kush Abadey on Friday, then alongside the tenor saxophonist J. D. Allen and the drummer Colin Stranahan on Saturday. The shows are worth catching on their own merits, but it also bears noting that this storied performance space will close on Jan. 2, after 41 years in Greenwich Village.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Norm Lewis: Nutcracker Cool (thru Dec.22)
Feinstein’s/54 Below / 7PM, $75+
“Who says nice guys finish last? Broadway leading man Norm Lewis exudes amiability, but that hasn’t stoppped him from a long career that has included stints in Porgy and Bess, Les Misérables, Side Show and Chicago; in 2014, he became the first African-American to play the Phantom on Broadway. In his annual Christmas set at Feinstein’s/54 Below, he welcomes audiences to enjoy holiday favorites, warmed by the hearth of his voice.” (TONY)

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

More Smart Stuff coming soon.

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Continuing Events

So much going on in this town over the holidays. Too many events & performances to list here. For a much fuller list, expanding every day, check out the tab above: “Holidays.”

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Bryant Park (btw 5th/6th Ave. @42nd St.) / shops to 8PM, rink to 10PM
Enjoy the Holiday Shops, The Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Holiday Shops are open through January 2, 2019.

The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting and Rink may be closed for events – check here)
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New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker” (Through Dec. 30)
NYS Theater, Lincoln Center / various times, $40

“New York City Ballet continues performances of its acclaimed 1954 production that would melt the Scroogiest of hearts. The elaborate staging includes a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a 12 feet to 41 feet and an 85-pound, nine-feet wide Mother Ginger. The ballet highlights dozens of talented and adorable children from the School of American Ballet, but the star of the show isn’t just one dancer but a bevy of Snowflakes. Their waltz — full of beauty and daring — will take your breath away. ” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)
212-496-0600, nycballet.com

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Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes  (Nov.09- Jan.01)
Radio City Music Hall / various times, $46+
“There’s more great precision dancing than ever in the show’s current edition, which was revamped in 2007 and tweaked again this year. Glamorously outfitted in a series of eye-popping costumes, the Rockettes perform on a double-decker bus, a sparkly staircase and a snowy forest and enact a lightning-fast version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Not to worry: They’re still doing the classic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number, too. Each scene is enhanced by video backdrops displayed on one of the world’s largest LED screens.”

“Along with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the Rockettes’s “Christmas Spectacular” is one of New York’s most colorful and popular holiday traditions. An army of beaming beauties in candy-cane colors participate in eight dance numbers that range from tap dancing to that famous razor-sharp kick line and other merry scenes of highly synchronized prancing. In a new ending this year, the dancers get aerial reinforcement from a unit of blinking drones.” (NYT- Brian Schaefer)

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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)

For a comprehensive list of the best places to hear All Types of Live Music in Manhattan see the tab above “LiveMusic.”

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

Jimmy’s Corner 140 W 44th St (btw B’way & 7th ave)

IMG_2083Jimmy’s Corner is right in the heart of Times Square, but you won’t find it on the corner, it’s mid-block. Enter this long narrow bar and you are struck by the walls covered with mostly black-and-white boxing photographs, and memorabilia. Soon enough you learn that “Corner” refers to proprietor Jimmy Glenn’s long career as a corner man for some of boxing greats – Liston, Tyson, even “the greatest,” Ali.

Jimmy’s is a sort of time machine, taking you back to a time and place that no longer exists. All around you Times Square has cleaned up, grown up, assumed a new identity. Jimmy’s probably hasn’t changed a bit since it first opened in 1971. Certainly the bar itself looks original and the prices haven’t changed much either. When I brought a friend, who owns her own bar, she was surprised when she got the small tab for a round of drinks. Figured there must be a mistake, that maybe they forgot to charge for all the drinks.

Times Square today is filled with neon glitz and wandering tourists from Dubuque, but not Jimmy’s. You’ll likely find some old timer’s at the bar nursing their drinks, some younger locals at tables in the back, and maybe a few adventuresome tourists clutching their trusty guidebooks. There’s no food served here because this is just a bar, and sometimes that’s all you need.

On nights when no local team is playing, it’s a fine place to sip some drafts and listen to a great old time jukebox, with a great selection of  40s& 50s R&B and soul. On sports nights this very narrow bar can get a bit claustrophobic, filled with excited fans watching their team on the TVs. Either way, Jimmy’s is the place to be if you are looking for an old time bar in the new Times Square.
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Website: are you kidding !
(although there is a facebook page with lots of photos –
facebook.com/jimmyscornernyc)
Phone #: 212-221-9510
Hours: 11am – 4 am, except Sunday they open 12 noon
Happy Hour: not necessary, low prices all day, every day
Subway: #1,2,3 to TimesSquare 42nd st
walk 2 blks N on 7th ave to 44th st; ½ blk E to Jimmy’s

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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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