Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swinging Manhattan

Not, of course, that type of swinging but while looking through some photos I took on my Iphone a few months ago, I remembered some of my favourite music-themed nights out this year which haven't made it onto this blog yet.

A picnic in Central Park is by far my favourite summer past-time. I love the hive of activities that Sheep Meadows becomes as soon as the first rays of sunshine appear. Finding an empty spot, as well as navigating your way through flying frisbees and other airborne implements, can be quite a challenge. But one that I do not mind.
Marie, Larry, Caroline and I had our first picnic in the park back in April on one of the first truly beautiful weekends of the year. Everyone will tell you that it is illegal to drink alcohol in Central Park and if caught, you will be fined. So far, it is a risk that we have been more than prepared to take and we had a wonderful afternoon, whiling away the hours chatting, laughing, eating and, of course, sipping wine.

As the evening dawned, Larry and Caroline decided to go home but Marie and I were of course still full of energy and she took me to the skate circle. I had never been before - it's an area of the park where groups of roller bladers congregate every weekend and dance until late at night. At first, we sat on a patch of grass and watched in awe as the skaters swirled and jumped. But it wasn't long before everyone there, whether skaters or spectators, started to dance together and a couple of guys dragged Marie and I into head spinning routines, the kind of old-fashioned couple dancing that I do with my dad at every family parties. I'm not exactly sure but I think that we stayed there and danced non-stop for four or five hours, amazed at how friendly, fun and eclectic the crowd was.

I am a huge fan of little Jimmy Scott, the 84 years old Jazz vocalist whose amazing and almost feminine voice combined with his physical frailty bring me to tears whenever I see him perform.

His live performances are very far and few between now because of his age and ailing health but I was lucky enough to see him at the Dizzy Jazz club at Columbus Circle when I moved here in 2007 and when he came back for a brief stint at the same venue back in April this year, I jumped at the chance and took along music-loving D, who I knew would enjoy it as much as I would.
Little Jimmy did not disappoint even though his set was much shorter than it was even two years ago with just four songs. But he delivered them with such emotional intensity that it sent shivers down my spine and made the evening even more special for me. The venue itself only added to the experience as its huge floor to ceiling windows overlook Central Park and 59th glittering in the night.

I really like Razorlight - to me, they are very much the epitome of alternative British rock bands: skinny lead singer, dodgy hairstyles, but with solid beats and occasionally thought provoking lyrics.

While they are big in the UK and would normally play at venues the size of Wembley stadium, they are pretty much unknown in the US and Libs, Marie and I got the chance to see them at the Hiro Ballroom, a smallish club in the basement of the Maritime Hotel on the edge of the Meat Packing district.

There were probably no more than a hundred or so people packed in the venue and unsurprisingly, they all seemed to be British. We perched up on the stairs leading to the balcony which afforded us fantastic views of the stage and the band. The atmosphere was electric as they played their original hits ("In America" and "In the morning") alongside tracks from their latest album "Golden Touch" .... and while we may have been feeling too old for the mosh pit, it didn't stop us from jumping up and down and head bang like a bunch of teenage groupies!

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