As the new condo buildings rise in SoHo, the historical perspective as to how we got here fades. Few of the swells dropping seven and even eight figure checks on the table for their new digs have much knowledge about why SoHo really is SoHo. Yes, they might know that the acronym stands for south of Houston Street, and that Warhol and Castelli were on West Broadway around the same time in the 70's, but what about the raw lofts, fixture fees and guerrilla art?
Once again, I find myself not that surprised but very pleased at the talent that Brian Newman introduces to a wider audience. And once again, I experienced these two talents for the first time at the Django, the cellar level venue of the Roxy Hotel, which is a venue that I swear by and consider my new home base for live music. On June 17th, Brian invited two acts to share the stage with him; the legendary Jose Feliciano, and the up and coming Carly and Martina.
The crowds don’t start until some time around noon. So, it seemed like a good time to walk along West Broadway. The vendors and artists that line the sidewalks from Broome to Houston Streets used to start shortly after 8 a.m. but even at 10:00 a.m. it was certainly not crowded. Some of the artists have headed to the High Line while others have left SoHo for other parts of the country but there are still a few familiar faces.
In an attempt to behave less like an irresponsible drunk adolescent and more like a responsible drunk adult, I’ve been following some of my favorite performers to new and immersive venues, my favorite being the Django. The performers I followed there were the incomparable Brian Newman Quintet, and I know anyone they choose to relinquish their stage to will be fantastic in their own right.
Several years ago there was an ad campaign for Levy's Rye Bread plastered all over the subway. A smiling face and a loaf of bread beckoned us to try their new product, proclaiming, “You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's Rye Bread!”
I didn’t think it possible, but creator, choreographer, and artistic director Austin McCormick has outdone himself. Company XIV very recently debuted their production of Snow White, and it goes beyond all expectations. Snow White was a different experience than Cinderella or Nutcracker Rouge, in that it had much more drama and less, but still some, humor. This show was unnerving in the most wickedly sexy way conceivable, and was emphasized by much more foreboding, climactic music than was featured in previous shows.
Every Tuesday and Thursday night, the Brian Newman Quintet graces Gramercy Park with a truly authentic old New York jazz set. Located in the Rose Bar of the notoriously lavish Gramercy Park Hotel, this bi-weekly event welcomes you into an experience of great music and extravagance. The environment is very grandiose while still maintaining a friendly and accessible feel, which can be difficult to do with Basquiats and Warhols adorning the walls.
“In 2006, Austin [McCormick] created COMPANY XIV, wowing critics and audiences with a unique blend of circus, Baroque dance, ballet, opera, live music and lavish design,” (companyxiv.com) and it does not disappoint. From the moment you walk in the door, you are met with a decadent atmosphere containing surfaces of red velvet, gold accenting, and all manners of old world glamour. The bar complements this vintage charm with the modernity and whimsy of stackable snack pods of wine, rosé in pink cans with bendy straws, and 5 for $25 champagne jello shots.
Having known Breedlove for six years now, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked him to meet me for an interview. Breedlove is an enigma, so much so that he apparently even puzzles himself. We met at the Gershwin Theater, home of Wicked, in a room full of outlandish wigs and rubber noses. One of the first things we talked about was his makeover; about a year ago, he went from his longtime long, wavy locks to a completely shaved head, and from tie-dye caftans and shirts with his face on them to a sleek, on trend new wardrobe by Mishka.