Remembering Bird


Jazz lovers will be happy to know that the Charlie Parker Jazz festival takes place this weekend!

Parker lived in Alphabet City, on the Lower East Side, during the 50s. The actual block he lived on, Avenue B between 7th and 10th Streets–right alongside of Tompkins Square Park–was renamed Charlier Parker Place in 1992. Ever since 1993, the jazz festival, which celebrates Bird’s birthday, is an annual event in the park and in other locations around the city.

This year’s festival highlights include a show on Saturday uptown in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, in the same neighborhood as Minton’s, the legendary jazz club where Parker and other greats sowed the seeds of the beginnings of be-bop. The show features the Wallace Roney Orchestra, guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke, pianist Kris Bowers and saxophonist Melissa Aldana, with a guest turn by soul singer Chris Turner.

Sunday’s show in Tompkins Square Park features incredible pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, saxophonist Craig Handy and vocalist Brianna Thomas.

That’s a lot of talent packed into two days. And did I mention that the entire festival is free? The magic word, F-R-E-E?

For info and complete schedule, click here.

Image via Scarlatti 2004/Flickr



Don’t Take The Brown Acid!


It’s been 45 years since Woodstock, which brings up a few thoughts:

  • Hippies are getting old(ish). Who’da thunk that would have happened?
  • Rock and roll has never died–it’s just evolved.
  • But the music from that era still holds up to the test of time, right? (Dylan, Richie Havens, Janis Joplin, The Who….)

A good song is forever. For a sample of what past hotel guest, John Sebastian, played at the festival, click here:

What a beautiful tune. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Image via Tais Melillo/Flickr



5 Reasons To Visit Us in September


Here’s a list of things that our fair city can offer you next month:

We have sports! Tennis fans can attend the US Open! The tournament runs from August 25th through September 8th. Nadal! Federer! Williams!

We have movies! The Harlem International Film Festival runs from the 10th through the 14th. A film on Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Children of The Light, narrated by his daughter Naomi, opens the festivities.

We have inexpensive art! You can buy some low-cost goodies at the Affordable Art Fair in Chelsea from the 25th through the 29th. Browse thousands of paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs in prices ranging from $100 – $10,000. (Most pieces are priced under $5,000.)

We have freebies! Saturday, the 27th is Free Museum Day. Head to the Smithsonian magazine website to download free tickets for participating museums in the city.

We have beer! Quaff ale and help animals at the same time at Beer for Beasts benefit at the Bell House in Brooklyn. $45 will get you samplings of suds plus noshes from some of the city’s best food vendors. All proceeds will go toward the Humane Society of New York City.

Okay–one more reason. It’s still warm, but with a very slight chill in the air…a light sweater is all you need. Perfect people-watching, outdoor-eating, city-strolling weather! So come see us next month!

Image via Sean Bryon/Flickr


Movies Under The Stars


It’s almost time for the annual Central Park Film Festival, where movies are screened nightly outside in the park for a whole week. Outdoor flicks! And it’s free!

This year’s theme is Scenes from our City, focusing on films where New York is one of the stars of the movie. Here’s a lineup of the dates and offerings:

Monday, August 18th: Big (1988, PG)
Tuesday, August 19th: The Royal Tennenbaums (2001, R)
Wednesday, August 20th: The Way We Were (1973, PG)
Thursday, August 21st: Coming to America (1988, R)
Friday, August 22nd: Rear Window (1954, PG)

Seems that they were able to pluck one terrific movie from almost every decade over the past 50 years, doesn’t it?

The festival takes place just north of the Sheep Meadow, between Sheep Meadow and the 72nd St. Cross Drive. (Best way to reach it is to enter mid-Park at 69th St.) Gates open at 6:30 pm and the movie starts at 8:00 pm.)

Bring a blanket and snacks!

Image via Facebook




Battle of the Burgers


Here’s a cool thing to do on Thursday night: the Battle of the Burgers. Time Out magazine took a survey of both their readers’ and food critics’ favorite burgers and came up with what they feel is the ultimate list. Check out the Top 25 finalists here. The lineup looks promising–and I already have a favorite. (Being a woman of simple tastes, I do love Shake Shack…but damn I hate standing on line!)

On Thursday, $40 will get you samples from over a dozen of the finalists, plus beer. Yes, beer is included. Lots and lots of beer…nectar of the gods. But be aware that if you’d like to attend, tickets must be purchased by midnight on the 6th.

If you can’t make it on Thursday, you can conduct your own taste battle right here in the lounge at North Square. We’re proud of the fact that there’s a burger for everyone. The sirloin burger with cheddar cheese (seen above) is for the purist. Lamburginis, or lamb sliders, with rosemary lemon aioli is for the more adventurous palate. And we don’t discriminate against vegetarians. The lentil and vegetable burger is great for them (and carnivores won’t turn their noses up at them too).

Oh–and we have beer. Lots and lots of beer…

Shakespeare In The Park


One of the perks of living in (or visiting) New York in the summer is Shakespeare In The Park. King Lear, starring John Lithgow and Annette Bening, debuted this week at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and runs through August 17th. Shows begin at 8:00 pm rain or shine.

Here’s how to get tickets:

Line up at the Delacorte the day of the performance at noon for free passes–limit of two to a customer.


Check in for a virtual lottery. You can sign in between midnight and 12 pm on the day of each performance and request two tickets to that night’s show. If you’ve won, an email will be sent to you around noon and you can pick up the passes at the box office.

The organizers of the Shakespeare in the Park series truly strive to make admission accessible to everyone, regardless of income. (And these nice folks have been doing so for over fifty years.) Yet there is one way to bypass both long lines and Lady Luck.

If you become a supporter of the series and the Public Theater, you can help keep the program free for all New Yorkers while easily scoring tickets for yourself. A $200 donation will get you a pair of reserved seats, plus one ticket per production at the Public Theater on Lafayette St., plus 15% off an additional ticket at the Public. The donation is tax deductible and helps keep the production free for the masses–a win-win situation all around.

Image via

What Would Summer Be Without (Free) Music And Dance?

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There’s always plenty of music to listen or dance to in our city–especially in the summer. And a chunk of it is free, people! I’ve already given you the schedule for SummerStage, but here are some other worthy events scheduled for the latter half of July.

The Riverside Clay Tennis Association holds free sunset concerts, like Rickie T & his Reggae All-Stars shown above, post-sundown, on last Saturday night. Shows are held in Riverside Park, right by 97th St. next to the tennis courts (‘natch). Reggae, classical, tango and jazz are among the many genres represented. Bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and watch the sky above the river turn multiple colors as these seasoned performers close out the day. And be prepared to dance, people! Rickie T. got everyone from two-years-old to 80 up on their feet. Concerts begin at 7 each Saturday night and will run through August 16th.

Pete Seeger fans can mourn his passing together at Seeger Fest, a five-day event honoring the lives and legacies of Pete and Toshi Seeger through music, film and community events. Shows start at 7:30 pm on July 17th on Pier 46 (Charles St. and West St.)

Also on the 17th, the Bronx Raised Hip-Hop Series is on at the Willis Avenue Community Gardens in the Bronx (Willis Ave. and 143rd St.)  Local artists use dance, spoken word, and music to deliver rhythm and rhymes that reflect a Bronx state of mind. If you miss it tomorrow night, there will be another one on August 2nd. Who knows? Maybe you’ll witness the musical birth of the next Afrika Bambaattaa or Grandmaster Flash.

You can finally learn the dance of love…tango…in Stuyvesant Park (around Second Ave. and 16th Street). Argentine tango lessons will be among the around the fountain. Beginner lessons are from 6:00 to 6:45 pm, but the dancing doesn’t end until 9.

Motown will be represented on the Astoria Park Lawn in Queens in the Motor City Revue on July 31st at 7:30. Marvin, Smokey, Diana & The Supremes and The Temptations are just some of the artists that will be covered.

See? There’s something for everyone. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

Lincoln Center Arts Festival Begins Today


The Lincoln Center Arts Festival is officially on and lasts through August 16th. The beauty of this event is its global reach: you can enjoy performances by artists and ensembles from 11 countries unfolding in six venues right here in the city on and off the Lincoln Center campus. Theater, music and ballet will all be represented, so choose your poison. Here are some highlights:

From Russia, The Bolshoi Ballet, Opera, Orchestra and Chorus will bring the audience both ballet (Swan Lake) and opera (The Tsar’s Bride).

Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert will star in the Sydney Theatre Company’s presentation of Jean Genet’s The Maids, an intense play in which two housemaids construct sadomasochistic rituals while their mistress is away.

From Japan comes the top Kabuki theater company, Heisei Nakamura-za, with Kaidan Chibusa No Enoki (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree), a classic revenge tale from far east.

And from not so far away–just a few thousand miles west, in fact–comes the Houston Grand Opera production of The Passenger, an intense 1968 opera about the Holocaust from Mieczylslaw Weinburg, The libretto focuses on a former SS prison camp overseer on board an ocean liner who fears her secret past is about to be revealed. (A friend of mine from Houston who’s an opera nut and a man of great taste has seen it and says that it’s incredible.)

Check it out!

Image via Leo/Flicker





Yes, It’s Pride Weekend, Folks


We’ve already told you about the official events, so let’s take a look at a couple of the unofficial (yet no less wonderful) ones:

The fifth annual Harlem Pride Day celebration will be held at Jackie Robinson Park (Bradhurst Ave. and West 148th St.) tomorrow from noon to 6 pm. The festival’s theme this year, There’s No Place Like Home, marks the 40th anniversary of the premiere of The Wiz on Broadway. (I know, can you believe it’s been forty years???) After a day filled with fun, food and family entertainment, head over to St. Nicholas Park for a free outdoor screening of the movie version.

Check out the windows on Christopher Street. To mark the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, Stonewall 45 is a series of images posted on windows along Christopher Street. Everything from newspaper clippings from The Advocate and The New York Times to writings of the Daughters of Bilitis, an anti-lesbian organization, to photographs of early demonstrations against U.S. military policies against homosexuals are featured.

In addition, restaurants and bars all over the city (especially the West Village) will be celebrating equality. Including us! Stop in and have a drink!

Image via Atomische/Tom Giebe/Flickr