Museum of Modern Art
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Thursday nights, July 31 - August 28, free with museum admission, 5:30 - 8:00
Every summer, the Museum of Modern Art’s lovely Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden becomes one of the city’s most beautiful spots to enjoy outdoor music. Free with regular admission, MoMA Nights, which this year focuses on woman-led bands, begins on July 31 at 6:30 (doors open at 5:30, with limited seating) with a performance by all-female Seattle quartet La Luz, who pays tribute to girl-group sounds. The series continues August 7 with LA dream popsters Tashaki Miyaki, named for guitarist Rocky Tashaki and drummer and vocalist Lucy Miyaki (bassist and vocalist Dora Hiller fills out the trio). Frankie Cosmos, a local four piece led by singer-songwriter Greta Kline, will highlight tunes from its March 2014 studio debut, Zentropy, on August 14. The jazzy, funkadelic THEESatisfaction, the Seattle duo consisting of Stasia “Stas” Irons and Catherine “Cat” Harris-White, takes over the garden on August 21. MoMA Nights comes to a close August 28 with Brooklyn twosome Widowspeak (Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas), whose “True Believer” was twi-ny’s song of the day back on November 13.
The Pershing Square Signature Center
The Irene Diamond Stage
480 West 42nd St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through August 31, $31.50 - $99.50
Art imitates life in the engaging, bittersweet off-Broadway musical Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story. In a prolific period between 1961 and 1967, Bert Berns wrote and/or produced more than two dozen big-time pop hits, recorded by such singers and bands as the Beatles, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, the Drifters, Janis Joplin, the Animals, Solomon Burke, the Isley Brothers, and Van Morrison, while also founding the seminal Atlantic offshoot BANG Records. Born and raised in the Bronx, Berns died in 1967 at the age of thirty-eight, and today his legacy is all but nonexistent, although his surviving family is in the midst of rebuilding his reputation with this show; the first major authorized biography, Joel Selvin’s Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues; and the upcoming documentary BANG — The Bert Berns Story. In Piece of My Heart, Leslie Kritzer stars as Jessie, Berns’s fictional daughter who receives an unexpected call that her mother, Ilene (Linda Hart), is going to close up Bert’s Broadway office and sell the rights to all of his songs. Disturbed by her mother’s intentions, Jessie, who didn’t know anything about the office, heads to New York City, where she finds her father’s former manager and right-hand man, Wazzel (Joseph Siravo), waiting for her. Wazzel tells Jessie how Bert (Zak Resnick), vocalist Hoagy Lands (Derrick Baskin), and the young Wazzel (Bryan Fenkart) got started, with the events unfolding right in front of them. Jessie sees her father going to Cuba and working with a revolutionary named Carlos (Sydney James Harcourt), meeting high-powered producer Jerry Wexler (Mark Zeisler), challenging the legendary Phil Spector, and falling in love with Ilene (Teal Wicks), a blonde dancer who would become Bert’s wife and Jessie’s mother. But when the current-day Ilene shows up at her husband’s office, she kicks out Wazzel and has a somewhat different tale to tell Jessie while trying to convince her that signing over the songs is the right thing to do, leaving Jessie trapped in the middle as she learns more and more about her father.
For much of its two hours and twenty minutes (with intermission), Piece of My Heart walks that fine line between bio show and vanity project. As pointed out numerous times in Daniel Goldfarb’s fairly standard book, Berns was determined to become famous; also, knowing that he was living on borrowed time because of a heart problem, he often said, “My children will know me by my music.” The show is produced by Berns’s son, Brett, and daughter, Cassandra, with the express purpose of finally bringing fame to their father, and the narrative sometimes gets bogged down with whitewashed scenes that turn Berns into a kind of heroic, misunderstood figure. It’s not helped by the casting of Resnick (Mamma Mia!, Disaster!) in the title role; while his singing packs a powerful punch, his acting is akin to a David Wright press conference, all white-bread clichés with no nuance. However, the rest of the cast of seasoned pros is outstanding, including Hart (Hairspray, Anything Goes) and Wicks (Wicked, Jekyll & Hyde) as the feisty Ilene, Siravo (Conversations with My Father, The Light in the Piazza) and Fenkart (Memphis) as the tough-talking Wazzel, De’Adre Aziza (Passing Strange) as Candace, Berns’s sexy first love, and Kritzer (A Catered Affair, Legally Blonde) as a kind of onstage stand-in for the audience. Oh, and let’s not forget about the music, which is performed admirably by a live band led by Lon Hoyt; the songs range from the somewhat obscure to the familiar to the super famous, but it’s best if you go without knowing what they are so you can be surprised by each new well-choreographed musical number (by director Denis Jones) on Alexander Dodge’s simple but effective sets, energized by Ben Stanton’s colorful lighting. The songs are listed in the Playbill and detailed on a large board outside the Signature’s Irene Diamond theater, but it’s better to read about them after the show, which got an instant and rousing standing ovation the night we went.
Portland, Oregon’s Sean Flinn and the Royal We began recording their sophomore album, The Lost Weekend, way back in the summer of 2012, but it was finally released earlier this month, and it’s a sheer delight, eleven tracks of pure pop pleasure. The follow-up to fall 2010’s Write Me a Novel, the new disc features the R.E.M.-like “Maps,” the rollicking “Heavy Hearts,” the CSN-ish “Riverbed,” the country ballad “Broken Arrows,” and the sweet and tangy finale, “The Ravine.” Singer-guitarist Flinn, guitarist and keyboardist Arthur C. Lee, bassist Richard Bennett, and drummer Adam Mack will be at Rockwood Music Hall on July 29 at 9:00, on a bill with Jordana de Lovely, Sarah Factor’s Birthday Show, Michael Daves, Nick Africano, and others.
U.S. Grant National Memorial Park
West 122nd St. at Riverside Dr.
Sunday, July 27, free, 12 noon - 8:30 pm
Harlem Week continues in multiple locations through August 24
On Sunday, July 27, “A Great Day in Harlem” kicks off the annual Harlem Week festivities, a month of free events including live music, film screenings, community fairs, a college expo, and more. This year’s theme is “Forever Harlem: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow,” honoring the past, present, and future of this historic part of Manhattan. The event, inspired by Art Kane’s legendary 1958 photo of fifty-seven jazz musicians, takes place in U.S. Grant National Memorial Park, featuring a cultural showcase with music and dance at 1:00, a gospel caravan with Bishop Hezekiah Walker and others at 3:00, and a fashion fusion showcase at 4:30, followed by “A Concert under the Stars,” which this year salutes Motown and the Philly sound, with appearances by members of the cast of Motown: The Musical, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, and special guests. Harlem Week continues through August 24 with such other events as the Dance Theatre of Harlem Street Festival on August 9; the Tri-State Jr. Tennis Classic August 14-17; “Summer in the City” on August 16 with the NYC Children’s Festival, Harlem Honey & Bears, the Historic Black College Fair & Expo, Dancing in the Street, the Fashion Flava Show, the Uptown Saturday Nite party, and ImageNation’s Outdoor Film Festival; “Harlem Day” on August 17 with the Upper Manhattan Auto Show, the NY City Health Village, the Upper Manhattan Small Business Expo & Fair, day two of the NYC Children’s Festival, and three stages of music, dance, spoken word, fashion, and more; the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run/NYC Health Walk-a-Thon for Peace in Our Communities on August 23; Golden Hoops in Rucker Park on August 23; and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 23-24.
Musician, conductor, composer, and educator Jon Faddis couldn’t have picked a more perfect place to celebrate his “reverse-sweet-sixteen” birthday than Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, a beautiful, intimate venue named for Faddis’s mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, who once said about his protégé, “He’s the best ever, including me!” Trumpeter Faddis, joined by David Hazeltine on piano, Todd Coolman on bass, and Dion Parson on drums, paid tribute to his past during a dazzling early show on opening night, July 24, his actual birthday. As the sun slowly set on Central Park, the soft-spoken California native recalled such fellow jazzmen as Clark Terry, Michael Brecker, Roy Eldridge, Thad Jones, Lionel Hampton, and others as he played “Waltz for My Fathers & Brothers,” entered the Faddisphere on a gorgeous rendition of Lalo Schifrin’s five-movement “Gillespiana,” and even sang lead on Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” He joked with the audience and a table of Russians, traded trivia with host Phil Schaap, and smiled at Hazeltine’s feet as one of the piano pedals made a surprise musical squeak, which actually melded well with Faddis’s horn, in fine form all evening as Faddis effortlessly reached ridiculously high notes and crafted mesmerizing melodies. After Schaap led the crowd through “Happy Birthday,” Faddis was presented with a cake, receiving help from his three-year-old son in blowing out the candles. Not quite done yet, Faddis encored with part of “Teranga” before leaving the stage, only to come back out and hang for a bit with his adoring fans for handshakes, photos, and fist bumps. The Jon Faddis Quartet continues its celebratory run at Dizzy’s at 7:30 and 9:30 through July 27.
Multiple locations in Chelsea
Thursday, July 24, free, 5:00 - 8:00
More than one hundred galleries from Sixteenth to Thirtieth Sts. between Ninth and Eleventh Aves. will keep their doors open until 8:00 tonight for the fifth annual Chelsea Art Walk. The evening includes open studios, artist talks, panel discussions, book signings, receptions, photo shoots, and other events. Below are some of our recommended highlights.
Wearable Art Photo Shoot: Everyone is invited to show up wearing some kind of self-made art (clothing, makeup, hair, nails), 530 West 25th St., 6:30 – 7:30
Bertrand Delacroix Gallery
Sneak peek at Federico Infante’s fall exhibition, “The Space Between,” including raffle of original Infante drawing, 535 West 25th St., 5:00 – 8:00
Churner and Churner
Performance and reception for opening of Ander Mikalson’s “Three’s Company for Eight Performers,” 205 Tenth Ave., three performances, 5:00 – 8:00
Dean Borghi — NBR Contemporary
Book reading, White Collar Slavery: Based on a Bit of Truth and a Few White Lies by Laurance Rassin and Tracy Memoil, 5:00; live music by Clusterfunk and short film Art Sharks, 6:00 - 8:00, 547 West 27th St.
Hauser & Wirth
Sterling Ruby “Sunrise Sunset” panel discussion with Michael Darling, Jeremy Strick, and Huma Bhabha, 511 West 18th St., 6:30
Opening reception for group show “Summer Garden” featuring works by Osamu Kobayashi, Shinji Murakami, and Gail Stoicheff, with free special Mizu Shochu cocktails and live performance by Zander Padget at 7:00, 521 West 26th St.
“The Art of Painting Portraits,” lecture by artist Alphonse van Woerkom, 115 West 30th St., 5:15
Yossi Milo Gallery
Book signing, Horizons by Sze Tsung Leong, 245 Tenth Ave., 6:00 – 8:00
Sinatra Drive between Fourth & Fifth Sts., Hoboken
Thursday, July 24, free, 7:00
At the May 2012 Thanks Jimi Festival in Wrocław, Poland, 7,273 guitarists set the world record for most people playing the same song, Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.” On July 24 at 7:00, Hoboken’s Guitar Bar will attempt to set a new high when they bring together instrumentalists of all skill levels in Sinatra Park to play Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” The world record attempt will be led by the Guitar Bar All Stars, teachers and staff of the popular Guitar Bar and the nearby Guitar Bar Jr. The setlist will also feature some combination of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” Patti Smith’s “Gloria,” Outkast’s “Hey Ya!,” Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s “Jackson,” Hank Williams’s “Jambalaya,” the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” and “Jersey Girl.” Feel free to just show up with whatever instrument you want; you can get a song tutorial here.