NYC Events,”Only the Best” (05/25) + 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:  “May NYC Events”
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.
OR to make your own after dinner plans TONIGHT, see the tab above;  “LiveMusic.”


Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

at the Village Vanguard /8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; $35
“There’s a quiet bravado to Lovano’s playing — on both tenor and soprano saxophones — that allows him to make a home in almost any jazz style, from the freely improvised to the rigorously composed. The music of this new trio, featuring the pianist Marilyn Crispell and the drummer Carmen Castaldi, lands somewhere in the middle, but it leans toward the open-ended. Melodies glide and taper, textures rise and shudder and dissipate. At the Vanguard, the trio will draw selections from a fine debut album, “Trio Tapestry,” recently out on ECM.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)


7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> Omar Apollo
>> John Lloyd Young: Jukebox Hero
>> Frank Kimbrough
>> Bill Charlap Trio
>> Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

You may want to look at previous days posts for events that continue through today.


Music, Dance, Performing Art

at Birdland / 8:30 and 11 p.m.; $
A National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Smith is the acting chairman of the board when it comes to Hammond B3 organ playing in jazz. From the 1960s on, he has treated R&B rhythm, church-derived harmony and the nondenominational, mystic mid-60s sound of John and Alice Coltrane as his guides toward a personal approach. In recent years he’s performed and recorded primarily with a classic organ trio (featuring guitar and drums), but this week at Birdland he is accompanied by the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, the Netherlands’ eminent big band.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

Omar Apollo
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St./ M
“The Mexican-American singer and guitarist Omar Apollo started recording soulful R. & B. experiments in his home town of Hobart, Indiana, in 2016. His first few releases were lovestruck, melancholic reflections, lightly washed in reverb and peppered with smooth vocal loops. But on his new EP, “Friends,” which came out in April, Apollo injects his sound with hefty doses of funk and dance, hinting at the multifaceted musical universe that he has at his fingertips. After this Manhattan set, he performs the following night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.” (Julyssa Lopez, NewYorker)

NEW YORK CITY BALLET (through June 2)
at the NYS Theater, Lincoln Center / 8PM, $35+
“This weekend coincides with the return of the principal Amar Ramasar, one of two dancers who was fired for sharing sexually explicit photos of female dancers and was then reinstated to his position at City Ballet by an arbitrator. He appears opposite Sara Mearns in George Balanchine’s “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” (the matinees on Saturday and Sunday). On Friday night, a relatively fresh cast of Jerome Robbins’s “Dances at a Gathering” takes the stage with debuts by four of the finest dancers in the company: Unity Phelan, Anthony Huxley, Russell Janzen and Joseph Gordon. The coming week affords more chances to see Robbins’s masterpiece, along with Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes.” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)

Frank Kimbrough (May 24-25)
Mezzrow, 163 W. 10th St./ 7:30PM, +9PM, $25
Last year, the pianist Frank Kimbrough delivered the comprehensive product of a personal obsession: “Monk’s Dreams,” an elucidative recording of all seventy of Thelonious Monk’s compositions. Though it’s close to a sure thing that Monk’s tunes will find their way into these sets, Kimbrough is also a highly individualistic interpreter of both standards and his own quirky work. He’s joined by the drummer Billy Drummond (an essential “Monk’s Dreams” participant) and the bassist Dezron Douglas.” (Steve Futterman, Newyorker)

John Lloyd Young: Jukebox Hero (May 22-25)
Feinstein’s/54 Below / 7PM, $75+
The Tony-winning star of Jersey Boys, both the Broadway musical and the Clint Eastwood film, brings his musical highs and puppyish eyes back to Feinstein’s/54 Below in a set of hit tunes from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s—including, surely, at least one by the Four Seasons.” (TONY)

Bill Charlap Trio (May 14-26)
Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center/ 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $40-$45
“Charlap approaches a song the way a lover approaches his beloved…when he sits down to play, the result is an embrace, an act of possession. The tune rises, falls, disappears, and resurfaces in new forms as Charlap ranges over the keyboard with nimble, crisply swinging lines, subtly layered textures, dense chords, and spiky interjections.” TIME Magazine
One of the world’s premier jazz pianists, Bill Charlap has performed and recorded with modern masters ranging from Phil Woods and Wynton Marsalis to Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand. Since 1997 he has led the Grammy Award-nominated Bill Charlap Trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, long recognized as a leading group in jazz. Veterans of all the top jazz venues, including, this trio is exemplary for its jaw-dropping level of chemistry and on-the-fly interactivity, made possible by both technical chops and hard-earned experience.”


Smart Stuff / Other NYC EventS

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit (5/25-5/27, 6/1-6/2)
University Place from East 13th St. to Waverly Place / 12PM-6PM, FREE
“Twice a year, this outdoor art fest sets up shop in the heart of Greenwich Village. Up-and-coming artists line University Place, selling painting, sculpture, and photography to visitors. The tradition began in 1931 when a young Jackson Pollock, hard up for cash, sold his now-famous splatter paintings near Washington Square Park, accompanied by another future luminary, Willem de Kooning. Check out University Place from East 13th Street to Waverly Place on Memorial Day weekend, and celebrate the start of summer with some fine art! “ (cityguideny)

AND The Statue of Liberty Museum opened just last week!

Continuing Events

New York’s 31st annual Fleet Week. (5/22-5/28)
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
“The legendary aircraft carrier that’s now the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum celebrates the men and women of the armed forces during New York’s 31st annual Fleet Week. Ships of every size will come steaming into the city. On Wednesday the 22nd, events kick off with the dramatic sight of Naval and Coast Guard ships sailing up the Hudson River. Through Memorial Day, Intrepid will be hosting talks, kids’ activities, ships open for free public tours, science demos, and the chance to hear stories from former crew members. On Friday night, catch a free screening of Top Gun right on the flight deck, under the stars! Learn more: Where to Celebrate Fleet Week in NYC.” (cityguideny)



5/25 Amy Ray, (le) Poisson Rouge
5/25 Greta Van Fleet, Forest Hills Stadium
5/25 Walk Off The Earth, Irving Plaza
5/26 The Hot Sardines, Joe’s Pub
5/26 Bjork’s Cornucopia, The Shed
5/26 Rodney Crowell, City Winery
5/29 Rufus Wainwright, City Winery
5/29 Weyes Blood, Music Hall of Williamsburg

♦ 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.

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).
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.

“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.


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.

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


Bonus#2 – 9 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend New York Times (05/24/19)

NYT Theater Reviews – Our theater critics on the plays and musicals currently open in New York City.


NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):


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