On Friday, Queens will demonstrate that it has the cachet to attract three big musical acts on the same night, the top-notch venues to host them, and the appreciative fan base to make it all worthwhile. The hard-working Jason Mraz, who went from the San Diego coffee house circuit to international tours in the world’s biggest stadiums, will perform at the Colden Auditorium at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts. This two-time Grammy winner (and six-time nominee), whose probably best known for “Love Someone,” will jam with the eclectic rock-folk band Raining Jane. Two more concerts and two more photos after jump.
A donor has given the Flushing Town Hall a good challenge for the season. If the historic arts venue can raise $35,000 in new donations by February 2015, the donor promises to contribute another $35,000. The challenge takes effect today and applies to any new or increased contributions — not pre-existing financial commitments — from individuals, foundations and businesses. Flushing Town Hall set up a video where Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek describes the challenge, as well as a website. The website is the best place to go if you are interested in making a donation.
The “35″ in “$35,000″ represents this year’s 35th anniversary of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which works on developing and promoting the arts throughout Queens and puts on the art and educational programs at Flushing Town Hall.
Friday Nights + Live Music = Delightful Bliss. On September 5th, Mickey Coleman will pay a visit to the New York Irish Center. A former all-Ireland Gaelic football medalist from County Tyrone, Coleman is the latest folk singer/songwriter to make a splash on the Irish music scene. He has an innate talent for penning ditties which speak of his love for his native country matched with a fine, soulful voice. He will share the stage with special guest Dominic Mac Giolla Bhríde, a traditional Irish music singer with a light, airy voice and an easygoing, conversational stage presence. (He sings in English and Gaelic.)
This Friday, all are invited to bring a mat and enjoy sunset yoga in Flushing Town Hall’s garden. Yumcha Yoga Studio teachers will lead a series of poses, followed by kirtan singing from the Indian bhakti devotional tradition. Inner peace will certainly be in the air, but the event will also informally kick off the Northern Boulevard venue’s summer activities program. This jam-packed schedule includes dance performances and concerts featuring R&B, Jazz, country, drumming, and African-based music. Details are on the jump page.
America’s got talent, but Queens has talent and pride. On June 21st, Flushing Town Hall and Terraza 7 Café will celebrate Pride Month with an LGBTQ-themed concert featuring musicians, dancers and other performance artists who were selected via an open call. The two-set lineup includes the Mahina Movement (below), whose members are storytellers, music makers, everything painters and community mover-shakers. Brad Bradley (above, right), whose theater credits include Spamalot and Annie Get Your Gun, will do a set from his one-man show B Squared. St. John’s University student, singer, songwriter, musician and activist Nadia Bourne will share “original work about love, life, and revolution.” Londel Collier, known as “KenJi, will play rhythm and blues related to finding love then losing it. Also set to rock the house are singer, composer, songwriter Marissa Soo and Timothy Mathis, an award-winning songwriter and playwright who penned the musical Sylvia So Far, celebrating the life of transgender pioneer Sylvia Rivera.
Details: LGBTQ Immigrant Voices, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, June 21st, 7 pm, $15 for the general public/$10 for members and students.
Top photo: Brad Bradley FB; bottom photos: Mahina Movement FB
James Brown, who was known as “the hardest working man in show business,” would feel right at home at Flushing Town Hall. This multi-faceted arts venue, located in a historic landmark at 137-35 Northern Boulevard, completed a $1.2 million renovation in March and immediately started churning out visual art exhibits, live music and children’s shows. Now it’s picking up the pace with eight events — including jazz, tango, drama, and poetry — between May 23rd and June 21st. The details follow.
Helen Sung Trio: The (Re)conception Project, Friday, May 23rd, 8 pm, $15: A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and winner of the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition, Sung creates music that swings with a funky intellect while integrating her jazz & classical worlds. The pianist performs with Harish Raghavan on bass and Rodney Green on drums.
Tanglolando and Festejation, Saturday, May 24th, 7 pm, $15: Two performances with an open dance floor. Tangolando mixes tango with Afro-Peruvian music, while Festejation melds traditional Afro-Peruvian music with jazz, funk, and other Latin styles.
A Dream of Red Pavilions Staged Reading, Sunday, June 1st, 4 pm, $10: The Pan Asian Repertory Theatre presents a staged reading of a classic Chinese novel. Set in 18th century China, two beings from the heavenly kingdom — a stone and a flower — are reborn on earth as cousins. They fall in love, but their union is forbidden by their elders. Meanwhile, the noble Jia family heads for social disgrace and financial disaster as the Chinese aristocracy finds itself unable to maintain the facade of noble infallibility and comes into conflict with ancient Buddhist and Confucian values.
Monthly Jazz Clinic with Special Guest Kenny Brawner, Wednesday, June 4th, 5 pm, $10/free for players: Ray Charles look- and sound-alike Kenny Brawner participates in this periodic jam session, which is open to professional jazz musicians, graduate students studying the genre, and music educators. Some come to listen. Others come to network, hone skills and have fun. House band and jam session led by Queens Jazz OverGround.
IAM Open Mic, Thursday, June 5th, 7 pm, $10: Join the advocacy group Immigrant Advancement Matters for an event that brings together some of NYC’s most talented performers/poets to share their work for a unifying cause: Immigration. Proceeds will support IAM’s Educational Programs.
Queens & Brooklyn Jazz Party, Friday, June 13th, 8 pm, $15/$10 students: The Queens Jazz Overground has some fun with its Brooklyn brethren. Each group plays a set, then they join forces for an inter-borough collaboration.
Kenny Brawner is Ray Charles, Friday, June 20th, 7 pm, $20/$10 students: This hybrid concert/theater work brings the music and story of the great Ray Charles to life. Kenny Brawner leads his 12-piece orchestra and three sultry vocalists (a la Raelettes) performing Ray’s top hits and recounting the legend’s life. Brawner offers a lecture at 7 pm.
LGBTQ Immigrant Voices, Saturday, June 21st, 7 pm, $15/$10 students: An LGBTQ-themed talent show co-presented with Terraza 7 Cafe in celebration of Gay Pride Month.
Food for thought, sounds for the spirit, and dancing for soul are part of a jam-packed weekend of entertainment at Flushing Town Hall. The fun starts on Friday night, when the Queens Jazz Orchestra (below) honors the music of Charlie “Bird” Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, who were known for their innovative contributions to the genre’s improvisation and vernacular. QJO Conductor Jimmy Heath will lead a discussion on these Jazz icons before the show. On Sunday afternoon, the group Ologunde will perform a mix of music, dance and martial arts inspired by the rich African-Brazilian culture of Salvador, a city in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The show will include rituals associated with candomblé, a synthesis of the Yoruba and Catholic religions; breathtaking capoeira martial arts dances; maculelê, a warrior dance with sticks and machetes created in the sugar cane fields by slaves; and the exhilarating samba de roda, which can be traced back to Angola. Later in the afternoon, Queens College Adjunct Professor Anahí Viladrich will deliver a paper on her work with Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights botánicas, which provide religious articles to practitioners of Santería, an African-Caribbean religion.
The maestro has met the MC… and they make great music together. On April 12th, Flushing Town Hall will host Wil B and Kev Marcus, the members of the revolutionary group Black Violin. These classically trained violinists — who say their influences range from Shostakovich and Bach to Nas and Jay-Z — have created a music genre that mixes the violin, which first emerged in Italy’s Bresica area in the 16th century, with Hip Hop, which evolved organically at block parties in the Bronx during the 1970s. Get prepared for rhymes, dulcet tones and some great stage antics.
Details: Black Violin, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, April 12th, 2:15 pm, $12/$8 children. Buy two family shows and the third is free.
Bonus details: The Mark Wade Trio, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, April 11th, 8 pm. $15/$10 students. Bassist and composer Mark Wade leads his dynamic trio in an evening of original jazz compositions.
I love this building. It has a wonderful sense of whimsy and joy to it, and is just a delight to behold. Unlike the usually dour and ponderous town halls of most cities and towns, the Flushing Town Hall is not trying to convince you of how serious and important Flushing is. To me, anyway, it says that the Flushing of 1862, which is when the building was finished, was a town reaching for higher and loftier goals. Considering it was built while the nation was embroiled in a horrible Civil War, that was certainly a good thing.
Flushing was originally called “Vlissingen” by the Dutch who founded the settlement in 1645. They named it after the city of the same name in the Netherlands, which was the port city of the Dutch West India Company. English settlers came soon afterwards, and “Flushing” is an Anglicization of the Dutch name. When the English took over New Netherlands in 1664, Flushing was one of the original five towns that made up Queens County.
Fast forwarding to the middle of the 19th century, Flushing had become a populous and popular area, due in part to its proximity to Manhattan. It was already spinning off separate neighborhoods such as College Point and Whitestone. The farms and fields of Flushing were quickly being developed into residential neighborhoods, with Northern Boulevard as the town’s main street. As the town grew, it became apparent that a centrally located town hall was needed for civic functions. (more…)
Portland’s A-listers are ready to rock Flushing Town Hall on April 5th. One Night in Frogtown is a multi-media musical based on a story by Emmy-winning author/composer Philip Pelletier (seen above with a few co-workers). This multi-faceted show celebrates multi-culturalism with different social groups of frogs that play different kinds of music — R&B, Classical, Jazz, Hip-Hop, etc. — while living in the same pond. The tale comes alive through beautiful illustrations, projected animations, live narration and live tunes by Portland’s best musicians. Pelletier, whose book won two National Gold Awards in Children’s Literature, handpicked the talent, which includes saxophone star Devin Phillips as lead character Tad, the jazzy tadpole. Attendance has some side benefits, too, as Pelletier will autograph books after the show and those present can enter a contest to win four tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s show Amaluna, which is currently running at Citi Field.
Details: One Night in Frogtown, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, April 5th, 2:15 pm, $12/$8 children (buy two family shows and the third is free).