Monthly Archives: September 2008
Broadway has gotten very expensive and sometimes we don’t take advantage of what for New Yorkers is in our own backyard, and for visitors what is available when you come to NYC. It’s sad to think that money can mean the difference from experiencing culture or not, but it can play a big role in what we do and what we don’t or how much we do it.
This past weekend I had a girlfriend visiting from France and she had never been to a Broadway play even though this was her 4th time visiting me. In her case it was because of the language difference. But this time sort of last minute we decided to give it a shot as her English has improved. Choosing a musical so if she didn’t understand all of the language at least she would be able to enjoy the music; between us we settled on the play “Gypsy” with Patti LuPone. And because we were already going to Times Square for her to buy souvenirs for her children, I decided to give the old TKTS booth a try. It had been a long time since I ventured out amid all the tourists in NYC and went to Times Square and the TKTS booth on a Saturday. What inspired me were all the trips I have taken to France and the many times my friend has gone headfirst into the height of traffic and tourism to show me something I wanted to see or to do something that she thought I might enjoy, like driving from Aix En Provence to Nice and Cannes on a weekend in the summer. Armed with that as my context I ventured into the throngs of the tourist jungle in search of two tickets to the Broadway showing of “Gypsy.”
At first it was scary. I haven’t seen that many people crowded together in a long time. I have to say that a weekday in the winter is a lot easier to handle, but they are actually very organized and the lines though long move rather quickly, and if you put yourself in the right headspace you can turn it into an event. In the cue with you are mostly people on vacation so they are already in a better place then most working New Yorkers. Plus there is the excitement of Broadway, which truly does merit excitement. Some times I think that my best New York experiences come when I have company in from out of town, because you find yourself looking at the city through their eyes and doing things that you don’t ordinarily do. For example actually stopping at landmarks and museums you pass sometimes even on a daily basis. Or another example in my case taking the time and dealing with the crowds to get ½ price tickets to a phenomenal show that was totally inspiring and fun. For the cost of a moderate dinner out in NYC and maybe a drink or two depending upon where you go, you can enjoy some of the best talent in the world and in this case also some of the best “pit” musicians in the business play and sing their hearts out for your pleasure and experience. Or you can choose a drama, an off Broadway play, or some other theatrical event they have listed that day.
Selling same day tickets, in other words the tickets that are left and haven’t sold for that day’s performance or the next day’s matinee’s you can buy tickets for 25 to 50 percent off. With three booths, two in Manhattan (Times Square and the South Street Seaport) and one in Brooklyn (downtown), you can find dozens of plays to choose from each day. Below is a link to their website to find out more information. The hours and what they offer vary from booth to booth so check to see which one works best for your schedule. Also note that in January and February some of your harder to get tickets some times show up on the TKTS board. I’ve seen some wonderful performances this way. So if you live in NYC or are planning a trip here, and money is an option or you just can’t justify spending so much on one ticket, or whatever your reason may be, I suggest going a little out of your way and giving yourself the experience of a live performance or two or three. At these more affordable prices it’s something worth considering. I know I’ve never been sorry.
TKTS Discount Booths website. If interested cut and paste this link into your browser.
I want to apologize for not posting as regularly these past two weeks, but I have been on a great freelance job for Town & Country magazine and have been working long hours. I will still be on the job next week as well, but it will have slowed down and I should have more time to come up with fun things to write about that I can share with you.
I hope you enjoyed the several articles and photo’s I did post. I look forward to seeing you next week,
Had dinner with a friend the other night and we got around to talking about George Porter who in my opinion is one of the funkiest bass players alive. I’ve had a love affair with his playing for a long time, not to say I haven’t enjoyed watching him play too. My friend was in New Orleans recently working on a music project where George Porter was the bass player. I have to admit I was extremely jealous. It’s been some time since I’ve seen him perform, and I’ve never been in a recording session with him.
I proceeded to tell my friend that I own everything the Meter’s ever recorded (Porter is the bass player), have seen him perform live multiple times both as a part of The Meter’s, doing his own thing, and also several times with Leo Nocentelli who use to be the guitarist for The Meters and sometimes plays with them again now. I’ve screamed and yelled and danced and wiggled my way around many a Meter’s show. I’ve seen them in large crowds and in small clubs and have been to shows where they played for 3 hours straight and Art Neville had to be practically dragged off the stage to quit playing. They were amazing, digging their music at least as much as their audience if not more. I was lucky to be at a reunion concert at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 89,’ and to live in SF when Bill Graham managed The Neville Brothers, so The Meter’s (by then reformed with Russell Batiste on drums instead of Modeliste) tended to be in SF frequently and played fairly often around town, and those who were in the know reaped the rewards.
If you’ve never met The Meter’s, it’s time you did. The original Meter’s formed in 1965 with Art Neville as its front man playing keyboards and singing. The band also included as mentioned guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter, and drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste. They became the house band for Allen Toussaint and his record label, and in 1975 Cyril Neville joined the band on percussion and vocals. They released some major R&B hits, but it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that they became better known in more musician circles and to a greater fan base. Performing at a party for Paul and Linda McCartney The Meter’s caught the eye of Mick Jagger and were soon asked to open for The Stone’s on their next American and European tour.
Seeped in New Orleans culture their music combines funk, soul, and dance grooves in a “jam band” style that is distinctly unique to The Meter’s. Having a great influence on the New Orleans music scene for decades, the group seems to have had a greater influence and more popularity after the fact. Disbanding in 1979 and then regrouping in the late 80’s to the present, both with and without Nocentelli and Batiste and Modeliste at times, they are a signature of a certain New Orleans sound and have been copied, sampled, and honored by many young players and bands from hip hop to soul to alternative rock and pop. Adding Neville Brothers guitarist Brian Stoltz to the lineup as guitarist in 94’ when Nocentelli left the band, the group started to go by the name The Funky Meters. It gets a little confusing as to who is playing with who at times as it keeps on changing, so when playing with the original members they call themselves The “Original Meters,” and when playing with some of the replacement players, “The Funky Meters.” In either configuration you will get a great funky energetic sound full of soulful playing and stellar Neville vocals. In 2007 guitarist Stoltz left the “Funky Meters” to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Art’s son, Ian.
To hear a version of The Meter’s playing their song “Just Kissed My Baby,” either click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.
To learn more about The “Original” Meters or The “Funky” Meters go to their official sites, which are listed below.
Always the last weekend in April through the first weekend in May the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival celebrating the music and cultures of New Orleans and Louisiana is a music and food lovers dream come true. With multiple stages featuring all kinds of music, fabulous ethnic food, arts and crafts; it is easy to say if you have the chance to go you will be happy and content finding most anything you could possibly want hour to hour and day to day during your festival stay.
If you’re wondering why I’m writing about this in September? That’s because it is never too early to plan ahead for this event. By December or January most f the good rooms in New Orleans and flights getting there will already be booked, as the festival has become quite popular.
I don’t know if it is still true or not, but years ago I was told that one couldn’t just have a food concession stand at the festival because they could afford it. You had to earn the right to have one. That meant you were in competition with others who made Crawfish bisque, jambalaya, gumbo and po-boys. You had to make the best sweet potato pies or beignets. You had to prove that you deserved to be there. My first time attending I remember never having been to any festival or fair where the food was better then most 4 star restaurants. And of course the music is out of this world! With 10 or 11 stages and venues going at once, it is hard to choose where to go and who to see next, so you usually choose beforehand your absolute must sees and go from there.
Most people who go to Jazz Fest come for one weekend or the other, either the first Friday through Sunday or the second Thursday through Sunday. The lucky ones stay the entire ten days maybe resting a bit midweek, although there is plenty of music happening in all the clubs throughout the entire 10 day festival period. And if you’re wondering if the groups only play jazz, the answer is a definite no. You will be pulling your hair out trying to choose between blues, R&B, Afro-Caribbean, country, Latin, zydeco, Cajun, gospel, jazz and rock. You will be choosing between major headlining-talent, to smaller well-known signature players and bands of various styles and degrees of notoriety. Let me tell you it’s a tuff decision as sometimes your favorite people are playing at the same time.
Tickets have definitely gone up in price. They now cost $40 tp $50 a day, but you get a lot of music and a lot of culture for that 40 or 50 dollars, and there is so much to do in New Orleans, you don’t necessarily have to attend each day. You can choose your top two days if money is an issue. But if you can work this into your schedule and your budget, don’t miss it. Besides my first trip to Europe I think the thrill of Jazz Fest is the only vacation that came close to equaling the enjoyment of that experience.
Next years festival will take place April 24-26 and April 30-May 3rd. For more information either click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.