CITYSIGHTS NY BLOG
Folk music lovers, get ready to smile! The Brooklyn Folk Festival is here! The three-day event features 30 bands in genres that range from traditional American mountain music to, folk music from Ireland, a string band from Hawaii, and Klezmer from Belarus! There will also be vocal and instrumental workshops, a family-friendly square dance and swing dance, jam sessions, film screenings, the famous Banjo Toss contest, and more!
The Brooklyn Folk Festival is a kaleidoscope of the best in folk, blues, bluegrass, jazz, ragtime, Americana, string bands, and more! This year’s lineup features folk legend Michael Hurley, ragtime pianist Terry Waldo, King Isgto’s Tropical String Band, mountain music by the Ozark Highballers, organist Chad Levitt, country music by the Cactus Blossoms, Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, Grammy winner Art Rosenbaum, jug music by the Whiskey Spitters, and many more!
From old-fashioned folk jam sessions to special film screenings, the Brooklyn Folk Festival is alive with family-friendly activities for music lovers of all ages! Stephen Petrus, from the Museum of the City of New York, presents “Folk City!” an exploration of New York City’s roots in folk music, with a look at seminal artists like Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, and more! Be sure to check out the Museum of the City of New York’s extensive exhibit on the folk music revival opening in June 2015. And at 4pm join in a fun vocal harmony workshop with Don Friedman and Phyllis Elkind. The Festival’s famous “Banjo Toss” will give you a chance to show off your throwing skills and maybe even win a free banjo! Plus there are films presented by folklorist Alan Lomax and a fiddle workshop by Bruce Molsky. In the evening join in for the big old-time square dance with the Ozark Highballers as the dance band!
If you go:
Brooklyn Folk Festival
April 17–19, 2015
St. Ann’s Church
157 Montague Street (between Clinton and Henry), Brooklyn
When one thinks of New York City today, piracy is not the first word that comes to mind. But delve 325 years into the city’s history, and you’ll find a past rich in privateering and piracy—much of it either ignored or directly financed by New York’s colonial governors!
In the late 1600s, sea trade flourished as ships flying under the flags of many European powers (including England, France, and Spin) pursued trade routes from the Near East to the Americas. As the American Colonies thrived, port cities along the east coast from Boston and New York to Philadelphia and Charleston became hubs of activity for traders, merchants, and yes, pirates.
In the late 1600s, New York, while a thriving port, had to compete with both Boston and Philadelphia for revenue. Jacob Leisler (governor in rebellion, 1689–1691) entered into active privateering and piracy arrangements, using his personal funds to pay William Mason to attack French shipping off the Massachusetts coast.
After Leisler’s downfall and subsequent execution as a traitor, governorship fell to Colonel William Fletcher. Fletcher immediately recognized the value of the Sweet Trade (as piracy was sometimes called) to New York’s economy. Since England and France were at war, it was not uncommon for one country to seize the other’s ships. “Letters of Marque” carried by privateers granted them legal authority to seize ships and cargo in the name of the Colonial Governor. Under these rules, all seized cargo was to be brought to port for proper (and legal) disposition. Of course, it was far simpler to forego the formality and resort to direct piracy. Fletcher was open to hosting pirates in New York Harbor for a fee of 100 Spanish dollars—quite a tidy sum in the 1690s.
So, through Fletcher, piracy found a home in New York City, and the city’s many merchants, innkeepers, and tavern owners profited nicely from the illicit business. It was not uncommon for pirates to spend all sorts of coin on the streets of Manhattan—from doubloons to dinars.
Perhaps the most famous celebrity pirate to be associated with New York City was Captain William Kidd. There’s some evidence to suggest that Kidd’s association with New York began early in his career when he may have worked as a ship’s mate for privateers sailing out of the harbor. Later Kidd applied some of his wealth to building a substantial home in the city. In 1691, Kidd married Sarah Cox Oort, an English widow who was one of the wealthiest women in New York. Kidd was also instrumental in the financing and construction of New York City’s first Trinity Church. It has been said that Kidd even provided heavy block and tackle from his own ship to help hoist some of Trinity’s heavier stones into place.
Piracy in New York got a boost from the Revolutionary War, as seized cargo was invaluable to the struggling colonies. John Broome, a New York merchant, organized a privateering operation from his Connecticut home that raided ships in Long Island Sound. Following the War for Independence, piracy began a long but steady decline, and subsequent Governors were not so quick to turn a blind eye to the sea dogs who once strolled Manhattan’s streets with impunity. Yet it you tour the neighborhoods of Manhattan at night, you may still find a pirate ghost or two in the shadows.
Attention Foodies! If you’ve ever dreamt of sampling some of the finest and most diverse flavors New York City has to offer, and helping a worthwhile cause in the process, you’re in luck. On April 15, 2015, Grand St. Settlement sponsors the 15th Annual Taste of the Lower East Side—a gourmet event that brings together over 50 of the Lower East Side’s most exciting restaurants for a premier tasting event to delight the palate!
The Lower East Side of Manhattan has an established reputation as a food Mecca for both native New Yorkers and visitors. Mobile eateries and innovative kitchens have replaced the pushcarts and sidewalk vendors, but the spirit of the neighborhood remains a thriving inspiration. Taste of the Lower East Side is a celebration of flavor sure to bring everyone to the table, letting you sample some of the dishes that have made the Lower East Side a foodie’s paradise, while supporting Grand St. Settlement, an advocacy organization seeking to provide everyone, regardless of income, with access to the nutritious food needed to promote health and sustain life.
For 100 years, Grand St. Settlement has assisted the Lower East Side community by providing families with the skills and resources needed to improve their lives and their futures. In the multicultural setting of the Lower East Side it’s only natural to bring together a broad array of dishes reflective of the various ethnicities represented in the area.
The list of participating restaurants is essentially a who's who of food in the Lower East Side. This year’s restaurants offer a spectacular variety of fusions and flavors sure to tickle your tastebuds. Here are just a few of the fine establishments offering their wares for the tasting…Black Tree, Cata, The Comfort, DBGB, Fung Tu, GG’s, Kuma inn, Louie & Chan, Mezetto, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Prohibition Bakery, Sauce, The Wren, and MANY MORE!
So bring your appetite, and enjoy the many flavors of one of New York’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods!
If you go:
125 East 18th Street, Manhattan
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
6–7pm Tasting Preview ($300)
7–10pm General Admission ($195)
Looking at Broadway in New York City today, one can scarcely imagine a time when it wasn’t bustling with tourists and theatergoers, shoppers and office workers. The name Broadway is so synonymous with American theater that one can easily forget that Broadway itself stretches from Manhattan’s southern tip, north through the Bronx, and outside the city into its northern suburbs. But for now let’s take a look at the theater district in Midtown Manhattan and how it got to be so famous.
Back in the 1600s, what we now know as Broadway was a dirt path called the Wickquasgeck Trail, cut through the swamps, streams, rocks and brush by the Native American tribes of Manhattan Island. Dutch explorers noted the trail as a main north-south route along the island’s western side as early as 1642.
In the 1800s, as Manhattan’s now familiar grid structure of numbered east-west streets and north-south avenues began to take shape, Broadway remained a principal traffic route. Its often zigzagging contour through the city, however, necessitated the creation of some rather interesting intersections, or Squares. Union Square (at 14th Street), Madison Square (at 26th Street), and Times Square (at 42nd Street) became some of the most famous. The open spaces afforded by these unique intersections drew the interest od developers (circus magnate P.T. Barnum built the Hippodrome on the site of a former rail depot at Madison Square in the mid-1800s).
Theater culture, for which Broadway is widely known, remained sharply divided along class lines in the 1800s—with bawdy musical halls and minstrel shows for the blue collar workers ad their families downtown (now the Bowery) and classical theaters and concert halls for the white collar society uptown (now Midtown Manhattan). The theaters we know today did not begin to take root in the Midtown (Times Square area) until around 1900.
One major development in the evolution of Broadway’s theater district was the invention of the electric lamp. Broadway was among the first major U.S. streets to get the makeover, replacing gas lanterns with an interconnected system of AC-powered streetlights. It is from these lights that Broadway earned the moniker “The Great White Way.” Musical comedies by the hundreds were staged on Broadway around the turn of the last century, man written by Tin Pan Alley composers like George M. Cohan.
As the 20th century took shape, more theaters began to open. Many theaters were owned by consortiums like the Erlanger Syndicate and later the Shubert Brothers. Actors Equity gained standard wages for unionized actors in 1919. Light opera began to work its way into the Broadway canon as a strong demographic of middle class theatergoers emerged.
As motion pictures became the emerging technology of the 20s and 30s, Broadway was forced to adapt, taking on ever larger productions such as the Ziegfeld Follies to entice audiences. The era of the full-scale narrative musical was ushered in by Show Boat in 1927 and proved a definitive moment for Broadway musical theater. During the war years, the musical Oklahoma! became an overwhelming hit with over 2,200 performances.
Following World War Two, the Times Square area of Broadway began to see another sort of transformation, this one to the seedier side, as low-rent burlesque houses and adult movie theaters began to encroach on the district. By the 1960s and ‘70s, the districts was as synonymous with street crime, peep-shows, and prostitution as it was with theater. But beginning in the 1980s, Broadway’s theater district began to emerge from this darker era with increased policing and the closure of many of the low-rent businesses that had proven to be magnets for crime.
Modern Broadway has reinvented itself as a family-friendly neighborhood, well attended both by day and night, and aglow with the lights that made Broadway famous. Hit theatrical productions continue to be the defining characteristic of Broadway near Times Square, with hits like Finding Neverland, Aladdin, Chicago, and Phantom of the Opera attracting millions of theatergoers annually.
No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to Broadway, so bring the family, take in a show, and be a part of history!
Once relegated to the comic rack at the corner drugstore, comic and cartoon illustration has undergone a renaissance over the past two decades to emerge as one of the most popular and intriguing art forms. From Marvel’s Stan Lee and Sin City’s Frank Miller to Japanese manga artists like Akira Toriama (DragonBallZ) and Naoki Urasawa (Monster), creators of graphic novels have recently acquired star status within the genre and beyond.
Beginning in 2002, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York City has hosted a festival to honor the art form—featuring artists, publishers, panel discussions, slide shows, and presentation of the Klein Award (named in honor of MoCCA’s founder Lawrence Klein). In 2013, the festival was taken over by the Society of Illustrators, which changed the Klein Award to the Award of Excellence Now in its 14th year the MoCCA draws thousands of comic and cartoon enthusiasts to the annual event.
Considered by many to the be the premiere small-press gathering for comic and cartoon illustration, the MoCCA festival features over 150 exhibitor booths, including publishers Conundrum Press, Copra Press, GUMI Press, Koyama Press, Northwest Moon, Paper Comet Minicomics, Pegacorn Press, Revival House Press, So What Press, and more.
Topping the bill of this year’s special guests is painter and illustrator Aline Kominsky-Crumb (creator of Need More Love and wife of illustrator/cartoonist R. Crumb). Also featured are Zot! Creator and comic theorist Scott McCloud, and illustrator and creator of Smile and Drama Raina Telgemeier. International guests include Pénélope Bagieu, the artist DoubleBob, Annie Goetzinger, Ilan Manouach, Anne-Françoise Rouche, and Barbara Stok.
Events will be at the Center 548, conveniently located on Manhattan’s Lower West Side.
If you go:
MoCCA Arts Festival
548 West 22nd Street (near 11th Ave High Line)
Apr 11–12, 2015
11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Admission: $5 per day.
The history of Scots in America dates back to the 17th century, and Scottish Americans continue to honor their heritage annually in New York City with a weeklong celebration known as Tartan Week (a reference to the plaid design of the Scottish garment that defined a person’s family, home region and heritage). The highlight of the week this year will be the 17th Annual Tartan Day Parade on Saturday, April 11 at 2pm.
Parade day begins with the “Kirkin o’ the Tartan” at St. Andrew’s Church in Lower Manhattan—sponsored by Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York. The service is followed by a pre-parade brunch (reservations required) at the Church. Buses will be provided to transport all to the Tartan Parade start site.
Get warmed up for the parade with a celebration of Scottish music at Bryant Park! The pipes and drums will be out in force prior to the parade, so bring your Scottish pride. The concert is FREE to all and family-friendly.
Tartan Day Parade
The culmination of the exciting Scottish events filling Tartan Week, this is every Scot’s and American-Scot’s chance to celebrate their heritage! Beginning from Sixth Avenue at 44th Street, hundreds of pipers and drummers from throughout the nation and representing various clans and societies will make their way up Sixth Avenue through Midtown Manhattan! The parade features dancers, floats, and of course lots of pipers!
If you go:
St. Andrew’s Church
20 Cardinal Hayes Plaza
Admission: $35 Adults; Children under ten $17.50; Children under five FREE.
New York City Tartan Day Parade
Sixth Avenue at 44th Street
Start time: 2pm
Now that the snow has melted and the mercury has begun to climb the thermometer, it’s time to get outside and have some fun! So if you’ve got kids and plan to be in New York City during April sure not to miss two very special weekends of fun and games at the Children’s Carnival at the Queens County Farm Museum!
About the Carnival
You may not think New York City would be the place to find an old-fashioned country carnival, but the Children’s Carnival will surprise you! Located in the Floral Park neighborhood of Queens, the Carnival features a classic midway, lined with food stands, games of skill, entertainers and of course rides! Everything at the Children’s Carnival is designed to put a smile on young faces—from sweet treats and games with prizes to cuddly farm animals. And it’s a great way for parents to take a break from the fast pace of the city and experience another side of New York.
About the Museum
Located on a 47-acre parcel of estate farmland that can trace its history to the 17th century, the farm features historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm equipment and tools, fields, an orchard, and an herb garden. The Museum is open 7 days a week, year-round from 10am to 5pm. Visit the sheep cows, and chickens, then grab some feed and give the goats and lamas a treat! Weekends feature guided tours of the farm buildings, and you can even enjoy a hayride through the grounds!
Come Back to the Farm in Autumn!
To celebrate the fall harvest season, the Farm Museum features another carnival in September—complete with hayrides, apple-picking, fun and games, and a corn maze that will challenge your path-finding skills.
If you go:
April 11 &1 2 and 18 & 19
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy
Floral Park, Queens
Admission: $12 (includes unlimited carnival rides!)
New York City has given the world of literature some of its most popular and iconic writers—from Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, and Washington Irving to Alan Ginsberg, Nora Ephron, James Baldwin, and Patti Smith. And New York remains home to some of the world’s largest publishing houses. So it’s no surprise that the city should celebrate the printed word in a big way. During Rare Book Week (April 7 –15), visitors can check out three major book fairs in the city!
The ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair
April 9–12, 2015
Park Avenue Armory,
Park Avenue, near 67th Street, Manhattan
Sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, this four-day event features over 200 rare book dealers exhibit some of the finest and most hard-to-find books, maps, manuscripts and illuminated manuscripts in the world. On the final day of the fair (Sunday, April 12, noon to 3pm), visitors may bring up to five items apiece for an informal evaluation by expert appraisers. While no dollar values are provided, appraisers are able to assess the condition and authenticity of each item. In previous years, Discovery Day has been the occasion of some remarkable finds—from Shakespeare to Kerouac—so bring your best and most unusual books!
If you go:
Admission: Adults $25, Students $10, Special Early Admission VIP Tickets $50
New York City Book & Ephemera Fair
April 11, 2015
Wallace Hall, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
Park Avenue near 83rd Street, Manhattan
Here’s your chance to browse and buy some of the most unusual items in literary history—from rare first editions and signed copies to personal correspondence, photographs, sheet music, and items of literary and historical importance. Nearly 50 vendors will exhibit their unique and unusual items. Dome of the items on display are a signed personal letter by Susan B. Anthony, a Union soldier’s hand-written Civil War journal, a copy of the Declaration of Independence printed in 1818, and a rare illustrated copy of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.” The fair is a must for lovers of the printed word.
If you go:
Admission: $15 at the door, $10 online
Free shuttle provided between Armory parking (at 67th St.) and the Fair (at 83rd St.)
The Food and Book Fair
April 10–12, 2015
80 Wythe Avenue (at North 11th Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Celebrating the intersection of food and literature, the Food Book Fair is now in its fourth year and going strong. The only fair of its kind, the FBF embraces the new and emerging ideas in food and writing that spans the realms of art, science, education, activism, technology, politics, and entrepreneurship. The Fair features a wide array of events and panel discussions on topics that range from vegetarian cooking to advice on self-publishing. Over 50 chefs, writers, and publishers will be in attendance, and a wide range of independent food-related magazines and their makers will be on site as well. A must for those who care about what they eat!
If you go:
Friday Festival Pass, $149
Saturday Festival Pass, $149
Sunday Festival Pass, $129
3-Day Complete Festival Pass, $349
New York City has long been a prime location for both filmmaking and movie premieres, with many noted starts and directors either getting their start in the Big Apple or maintaining a residence three. The city is also home to some of cinema’s most dynamic and unique film festivals. So if you’re a film lover who’s planning to be in New York this April, you won’t want to miss these exciting events!
16th Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY)
April 9–17, 2015
Celebrating Hispanic filmmaking since 2000, the HFFNY opens its 16th festival on April 9 at the Directors Guild Theatre (DGA) with the New York premiere of Boccaccerias Habaneras (Boccaccio in Havana) by Cuban filmmaker Arturo Sotto. This year’s festival delivers a total of 40 films—from full-length features, documentaries, and shorts, to animation, and classics from Latin America. On the program this year are several U.S. premieres, including Abecé by Diana Montero, Conversando con García Márquez sobre su Amigo Fidel by Estela Bravo, Mientéme Bien Jackie Chan by Grethel Castillo and Adolfo Mena, The Troublemaker: Behind the Scenes of the United Nations by Roberto Salinas, and Un Asunto de Tioerras by Patricia Ayala. The HFFNY also features a juried competition for the Havana Star Prize in the categories of fiction and documentary filmmaking.
Take Two Film Festival
April 10–12, 2015
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue (near 2nd Street), Greenwich Village, Manhattan
The Take Two Film Festival, now in its fourth year, promises a dynamic roster of films showcasing new artists who are pushing the frontiers of artistry and technology. This year’ entries include films from Israel, Denmark, China, India and many other countries.
The Festival also is known for fostering a special relationship with a number of art and film schools in New York City, which has given us access to many generations of talented and creative filmmakers. The venue, Anthology Film Archives, is a pioneering film museum in a historic building that’s been renovated to include a 187-seat theater with a superb sound system. There will be two evening shows each day. Filmmakers from around the world will be attending the festival and there will be Q&A sessions moderated by prominent film figures. The Festival’s award, the Manny, resembles a NYC manhole cover is awarded to the best filmmakers who “take the lid off” independent film.
Make this April your film-lover’s paradise in New York City!
Imagine a live improvised comedy performance that’s not only kid-friendly but performed by today’s top kid comics! From inventive skits and original characters to songs and dances that are certain to delight, Improv4Kids presents weekly daytime shows for the whole family from their conveniently located Midtown West location.
Each performance is energy-packed and unpredictable, because in the world of improve you never know what’s going to happen next. The cast of kids and adults engages the audience to help them create their act—so no two performances are the same. That’s right, you the audience members can suggest the themes and props for the performance—anything from a favorite book or movie to a color or song. Audience volunteers are even featured in the performances!
Best of all, each performance is not only entertaining, but also educational. The players are able to spark young imaginations and introduce kids to the wonders of language, music, performance, pantomime, and the art of storytelling! The engagement provided by shows like Improv4Kids has even been shown to boost concentration and improve mental agility.
Improv4Kids made its off-Broadway debut at the Lambs Theatre in 2005, and since that time has played hundreds of performances to delighted audiences of all ages. In 2007 the show became the official outreach program at the former Laugh Factory and the current Times Square Arts Center. Improv4Kids has been featured on ABC News and recently has begun hosting weekday shows for private school groups. The show also tours nationally and has brought its unique brand of laughter to schools, military bases, regional theatres, libraries, camps, charity fundraisers, festivals, and special events across the country.
So don’t miss a minute of the fun, get your tickets now and bring the whole family out for an afternoon of laughter!
If you go:
Saturdays at 3pm through June 27
Broadway Comedy Club
318 West 53rd Street (near 8th Ave), Manhattan
Tickets start at $25.