Never-Ending Entertainment

I have been absolutely spoiled rotten by the amount of entertainment that is at our fingertips here in New York City. Over the last year, I have had the privilege of experiencing:

  • The Barber of Seville at the Metropolitan Opera House
    • a  Christmas present to ourselves!

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  • Chicago 
    • a surprise from Sean for my birthday!

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  • Kinky Boots 
    • a fun girls’ night out and a gift from Uncle Dave

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  • La Traviata 
    • We actually watched this on a big outdoor screen in Lincoln Center with Sean’s dad and stepmom – super fun!
  • Mets games
    • two spur-of-the-moment summer afternoons

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  • Michael Daves
    • awesome bluegrass musician who plays at a venue super close to our apartment; I went with my Dad when he visited in October!
  • Milk Carton Kids
    • I went solo in September and had a blast; they are incredible!
  • Phantom of the Opera
    • a super special gift from Sean’s dad and stepmom

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  • Punch Brothers
    • my favorite band. ever. I’ve already seen them twice – once at the Beacon Theater and once for free in Prospect Park
  • Rangers games
    • thanks to our friend, Marc, and Uncle Dave, both Sean and I have been to more than one game at Madison Square Garden

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  • Rhiannon Giddens
    • another incredible performer I’ve seen twice – once at the Town Hall in April and once for free in Prospect Park
  • River Whyless
    • a fantastic band we’ve seen twice in three times in NYC!
  • The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
    • an awesome evening in Rockefeller Center with Alison, Judy, and my Auntie Bec!

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  • Spring Awakening
    • a gift from Nancy and Wally who visited us in September; our favorite Broadway show we’ve seen! Seriously amazing.
  • Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
    • attended with our friends Elizabeth, John, and a Lily; a hilarious and powerful act by talented improv actors who perform 30 plays in 60 minutes
  • Watkins Family Hour, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann
    • an incredible free concert at Lincoln Center – bands collaborated to play the entirety of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited album
  • Wicked
    • another gift from Sean’s dad and stepmom – we had a blast!
  • Yankees games
    • once with Nancy and Wally and once with Cameron, Alison, and our pilot friend Michael (who had just enough time on a layover for most of a baseball game!)

I’m looking forward to another year of entertainment!

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Village Jazz & Kinky Boots

I was recently able to experience a couple of events that epitomize New York entertainment. 

At the beginning of the month, Sean and I went to see the Le Boeuf Brothers, an incredible jazz quintet, at 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. I absolutely adore live jazz performances (especially when I know the band!). Watching a musician improvise is witnessing an artist create spontaneous (but intelligently founded) art…which is amazing! I’m looking forward to seeing more shows at all the cool jazz venues in New York.

Later that week, I got to see the Broadway show, Kinky Boots, with one of my best friends, her mom, and her sister-in-law. We had a delicious pizza dinner beforehand — and a cocktail each too — before heading to the show…where we got a rather large serving of red wine in some adorable souvenir cups…with straws included! The show is based on a true story, and the music was written by Cyndi Lauper. The music is very Lauper — super fun, upbeat, and worthy of some very talented drag queens! And everything else one might expect from a Broadway show was fabulous as well — the vocal ability, the dancing, and the set design. Overall, it was a super fun evening with wonderful company!

 A few more on the NYC bucket list: something at Madison Square Garden and the Opera. Anything else I should add?

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River Whyless in the Neighborhood!

On Wednesday night, Sean and I bundled up to walk a whole six blocks to a music venue called the Rockwood Music Hall to see my sister’s wonderful boyfriend and his awesome band playing on Stage 2. They’re called River Whyless, and they’re a quartet made up of a guitarist/vocalist (Ryan O’Keefe), a bassist/vocalist (Dan Shearin), a drummer (Alex McWalters), and a fiddler/vocalist (Halli Anderson). I would describe their sound as folk-rock with a little bluegrass sneaking in with Halli’s fiddle, and their lyrics are true poetry. If you haven’t heard them yet, do yourself a favor and click on all these links!

Fun to listen to and fun to watch — feathers in guitars, violin bows in teeth, cooking pots and bicycle rims as percussion instruments — I recommend catching a River Whyless show when they come your way. Click here for their tour dates and destinations! And check them out at the iTunes store — their two albums and a fun Christmas single are all available for purchase.

 

 

 

Lake Street Dive and Josh Ritter at the Commodore Ballroom

My fiancé’s sister’s birthday is two days before the wedding, and we’re all hyper aware of preventing a Sixteen Candles-esque tragedy. For my part, I took Jenny to a concert to celebrate her birthday! Last night we saw Lake Street Dive and Josh Ritter at the Commodore Ballroom and pretended it was August 14.

We LOVED Lake Street Dive. Rachael Price has an incredible voice. (Watch this!) And the band — Bridget Kearney on upright bass, Mike Calabrese on drums, and Mike Olson on trumpet — are so talented and entertaining. They got everyone dancing, especially during their hit song “You Go Down Smooth“.

Josh Ritter is a singer/songwriter who smiles more than anyone on the planet. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he puts off sort of a dorky, yet charming, youth pastor vibe. We decided that perhaps a prerequisite for one of his live performances is to have listened to his music while reading the lyrics. Josh Ritter is a poet — a good one, and his music is nice, but his songs blend together and all sound very similar. I do recommend listening to him, though. For starters, check out his NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance. And then listen to one of my favourite Punch Brothers songs because Josh Ritter wrote it!

It was a really fun night. Happy almost-Birthday, almost-Sister-in-Law!

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Nickel Creek at the Fox Theater in Oakland

On Monday night, I took BART into Oakland to meet my great friend, Alicia. We had pesto pizza at a restaurant on Grand Avenue called The Star (tasty, by the way, and with veg and GF options), and then we went to The Fox Theater to see a concert!

My family are HUGE fans of Nickel Creek, a bluegrass band who were together since they were little kids until 2008. This year they came out with an album and toured together for the first time in six years. I was lucky enough to see them in Oakland with Alicia, and my parents got to see them the following night closer to where they live in San Diego (at the Balboa Theater).

I adore each member of the band — Chris Thile (mandolin), Sara Watkins (fiddle), and Sean Watkins (guitar). They all sing, as well, and make incredible harmonies. Their music ranges from true old-timey bluegrass to more contemporary folk. I love their music because all three of them, and their cool upright bass player, are really, truly talented musicians in their own right.

I’m a huge fan of Chris Thile‘s solo work and his band, the Punch Brothers. I’ve seen him/them several times! He’s quirky and a very entertaining performer, and I think he’s the bee’s knees.

One of the highlights of the show was when Nickel Creek played “When You Come Back Down“, the song that Alicia will be singing at Sean’s and my wedding as my parents walk me down the aisle! Alicia, by the way, is an outstanding vocalist, and I can’t wait for her to sing one of my dad’s and my favorite songs on the big day!

I’m not sure that this post as expressed enough my absolute obsession with Nickel Creek and anything that Chris Thile does, so hopefully this sentence will take care of that!

It makes me so happy to be back on the West Coast where there are so many fabulous music venues. My aunt and I are going to see the Brothers Comatose, a local Bay Area band, this week. Some other bands/artists I hope to see soon are: the Punch Brothers (hehe…duh), Hozier, the Milk Carton Kids, the Avett Brothers, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Hitomi Oba, Nick DePinna, and the LeBoeuf Brothers.

Any music recommendations — artists? bands? venues?