NYC Events,”Only the Best” (01/05) + 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-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:

Swing with jazz singer Kurt Elling at Birdland
“The jazz singer’s latest album, “The Questions,” finds him in an unusually political mood, tackling Paul Simon’s “American Tune” and Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” as well as his own originals. As he wraps up his string of shows at Birdland, Kurt Elling plans to touch on that album as well as “The Heroes: Classic Material for Jazz Voice.” (Newsday)
WHEN | WHERE 8:30 and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4 and 5, Birdland, 315 W. 44th St., Manhattan
INFO $40 to $50; 212-581-3080, birdlandjazz.com

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> “American Dance Platform
>> Fred Hersch Trio
>> Andrea McArdle and Donna McKechnie Celebrate Sondheim & Hamlisch

>> COUNTDOWN 2019: JOHN COLTRANE FESTIVAL
>> ‘Target First Saturday’
>> Check out bull riders live at MSG
>> Learn to Make Chinese Dumplings with Josh Grinker

Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>> Winter Jazzfest
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

“American Dance Platform” (Jan. 3-7)
Joyce Theatre / 8PM, $75
Among the three pairings in this year’s sampler, the sole Joyce début is that of Raphael Xavier, whose poetic take on hip-hop, related to that of his colleague Rennie Harris, shares a bill with Ballet X, which reprises two of the solid works (by Trey McIntyre and Matthew Neenan) it brought to the Joyce last summer. Ronald K. Brown has a New York première, “New Conversations: Iron Meets Wood,” with live music by Arturo O’Farrill; it shares a program with Ephrat Asherie’s “Riff This, Riff That,” which explores the jazz roots of hip-hop. Stephen Petronio’s troupe, performing his sophisticated “Hardness 10” and parts of Steve Paxton’s “Goldberg Variations,” offers a stronger balance of past and present than its program mate, the Martha Graham Dance Company.” (Brian Seibert, NewYorker)

Fred Hersch Trio (Jan. 1-6.)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. S., at 11th St./ 8:30PM, +10:30PM, $35
Fred Hersch’s pianistic gifts are legendary, but his uncanny ability to assemble perfectly calibrated trios should not be taken for granted. Over the past decade, he’s had a winning combination in the bassist John Hebert and the drummer Eric McPherson, who, as demonstrated on the recent release “Live in Europe,” make up an intuitive rhythm team of distinction. On the final three nights of this engagement, the frighteningly adept alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon joins the unit.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

Andrea McArdle and Donna McKechnie Celebrate Sondheim & Hamlisch
Feinstein’s/54 Below / 7PM, $50+
“After a brilliant career as one of the all-time great Broadway dancers, McKechnie has refocused her energies on singing; McArdle has a performanent place in our hearts for her performance as the big-belting moppet in Annie. Now the two troupers team up for a salute to Stephen Sondheim and Marvin Hamlisch. Expect songs from Company and A Chorus Line—McKechnie was in the original casts of both—as well as Follies, A Little Night Music, They’re Playing Our Song and more.” (TONY)

COUNTDOWN 2019: JOHN COLTRANE FESTIVAL  (Jan. 1-6)
at Smoke /  7, 9 and 10:30 p.m.; $45
“Smoke is uptown Manhattan’s trustiest home for world-class, straight-ahead jazz; the venue also runs its own in-house record label. For the next two and a half weeks, it will present a festival featuring all-star groups made up of some famed performers who typically grace its stage, and its albums. From Thursday through Jan. 2, the pianist Harold Mabern will lead his quartet. Throughout the festival, there will be separate performances at 11:45 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. each night, New Year’s Eve being the only exception. From Friday through Thursday, the pianist and vocalist Johnny O’Neal will play these midnight sets; for the rest of the festival, they will feature the pianist Marc Cary and his Harlem Sessions ensemble.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

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

Elsewhere, but this is worth the detour:

‘Target First Saturday’
at the Brooklyn Museum / starts 5PM
“The Target First Saturdays series runs eleven months a year, offering a close-up opportunity to engage with artists, musicians and other interesting people while exploring all that the Brooklyn Museum has on display. This weekend’s edition includes singer-songwriter duo N0VA Trek; a screening of “The Foreigner’s Home”; poetry readings by Ama Codjoe, Kyla Marshell and S. Erin Batiste; and music with of DJ Bembona (in photo) and Young Paris.” (Newsday)
WHEN | WHERE 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5; 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn
INFO Free (visit the Admissions Desk at least an hour in advance to get tickets); 718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org

Check out bull riders live at MSG
The Professional Bull Riders are coming to Manhattan to compete live. The 2019 Buck Off at the Garden will feature a line-up of cowboys attempting who stay on bulls for eight seconds while the animals do their darnedest to toss them to the dirt.” (Newsday)
WHEN | WHERE Saturday, Jan. 4 through Sunday, Jan. 6; Madison Square Garden, Manhattan
INFO From $28; 719-242-2800, pbr.com

Learn to Make Chinese Dumplings with Josh Grinker
Kings County Imperial / 12PM, $75
“Bring good luck to 2019 with delicious dumplings.
Learn how to make three types of traditional Chinese dumplings at Kings County Imperial, where you’ll roll, stuff, and pinch your own doughy delights to delicious effect. Chef Josh Grinker will also discuss sauce pairings and cooking techniques. A family-style lunch of noodles and dim sum, wine, and beer is included.” (thrillist.com)

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Continuing Events

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 Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
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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Winter Jazzfest (Jan.4-12)
Various Locations, Individual shows $15-55; one day marathon pass $50–$60; two-day marathon pass $90–$105
“During the typically bleak post–New Year’s Eve concert lull, Winter Jazzfest is a bright spot on the city’s calendar. With shows spread across nine nights, the fest brings top jazzers to venues like Le Poisson Rouge, Nublu and, for the first time, Brooklyn Steel. The festivities end with its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon: a buzzy, multi-stage blowout that’s typically one of the best concerts in NYC. The marathon shows aren’t individually ticketed, so a wristband grants you access to any of each night’s gigs—as long as a given club doesn’t hit capacity. It’s a model that encourages sampling and venue-hopping. The event also requires patience and an open mind: If your preferred show is full, pull out the schedule, and head to one of the nearby spots for something unexpected. This year’s fest continues to stand with movements including #metoo and #blacklivesmatter in its active support of social and racial justice, gender equality and immigrant rights. (TONY)

Winter Jazzfest, the year’s largest survey of the jazz scene with over 100 acts playing from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, with its famous marathon sessions taking place both this Saturday and all next weekend. A full guide to Winter Jazzfest

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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 65 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

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
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, VERY SAD.
I HAVE LEFT THIS REVIEW ON MY SITE AS A KIND OF MEMORIAL.
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 SPRING 2019).
◊ Order before MAY 31, 2019 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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