Just hold on a moment. Before you start packing the car to flee somewhere pastoral for the final weekend of August, may I inform you of two delightful reasons to stay in (or visit) New York City on Saturday, August 29, 2015?
The first concerns our friend Dennis Lichtman — virtuoso on clarinet, fiddle, and mandolin. I first heard and met Dennis in 2009 when he was a member of the Cangelosi Cards, then heard him in other contexts around the city — always playing marvelously, with a bright sound and memorable creativity, whether sitting in with a hot band or leading his own group, the Brain Cloud.
Photograph by Bobby Bonsey
At 2 PM on Saturday, Dennis will be celebrating his tenth year as a resident of the borough of Queens, New York — in music. He and a great band will be offering a concert celebrating the history of jazz in Queens . . . the result of his first grant project, “Queens Jazz: A Living Tradition.” Thanks to the Queens Council on the Arts, he will be presenting “original music inspired by this borough’s jazz heritage.” In addition, there will be classic songs associated with Queens jazz masters of the Twenties to the Forties. (Think of Clarence Williams and Fats Waller, among others.)
The concert — the FREE concert — will take place at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th Street, Corona, New York, (718) 478-8274. In case of rain, it will be held at the Queens Public Library, 40-20 Broadway, Queens, New York.
Dennis has assembled a wonderful band: Gordon Au, trumpet; J. Walter Hawkes, trombone; Dalton Ridenhour, piano; Terry Wilson, vocal; Nathan Peck, string bass; Rob Garcia, drums. You can keep up with Dennis here and here is the Facebook event page for the concert.
But that might leave you at liberty in mid-afternoon on a beautiful Saturday. What to do?
I will be heading towards lower Manhattan for evening music of a most soulful kind: Miss Ida Blue and friends (including Dan Block, reeds, and John Gill, guitar) will be hosting an evening of the blues at Joe’s Pub. The photograph below also shows Andrew Millar, drums, and a figure I assume to be the heroic Brian Nalepka — you hear his sound even when you can’t see him.
Photograph by Steve Singer
Here is the Facebook event page for this concert. It’s a one-hour gig, starting at 9:30. And Miss Ida and Joe’s Pub go together spectacularly, as I have written here about her triumphant May 15 gig. I first heard her delivering the blues like a superb short-order cook — hot and ready — with the Yerba Buena Stompers, and I look forward to more of that spicy cuisine at this year’s Steamboat Stomp, which will begin in New Orleans a little more than a month from this posting.
I note with pleasure that Miss Ida has two pairs of dark glasses in this photograph. Obviously the energy she unleashes is so powerful that wise listeners might want to bring extra protection — aural sunscreen. But don’t be afraid: her power is a healing joyous experience. And you might hear songs associated with blues monarchs Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Robert Johnson, Sister Wynona Carr, and others, all performed with conviction, invention, and ingenuity by our own Ida. To purchase tickets ($15), click here.
Now you know it all, and can make plans. For me, a suburban New Yorker who commutes to Manhattan and Brooklyn for pleasure, I can occupy my spare moments in the next two weeks with the philosophical calculus of transportation: drive to Corona in the morning, enjoy the concert, then choose — take my car into lower Manhattan on a Saturday night and attempt to find street parking, or go home after Corona, take the commuter railroad in . . . matters of time, finance, ease. Such things should be my (or your) largest problems. I hope to see friends at both concerts!
May your happiness increase!