08/14/14 1:00pm

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It’s kind of a battle of the bands, but if traffic is light and one group starts late, music lovers can catch them all. On August 16th, three fantastic concerts will take place in Queens. At 2 pm, Gordon Au & The Grand Street Stompers (above) will perform at the Louis Armstrong House Museum as part of the historic site’s Hot Jazz/Cool Garden Summer Concert Series. Though based in New York City, this jazz band revives the New Orleans-style music of the 1920s and onward. At 3 pm, Choban Elektrik will give a free concert at the Ridgewood Branch Library. This electric dance band draws from the folk music of Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, and the Romany people. Beyond singing in various languages and a powerful rhythm sections, attendees can expect traditional line dancing. Then at 6:15 pm, the party continues with The Ebony Hillbillies at the Queens Botanical Garden. New York City’s only African American string band plays all-American jazz, blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, rock and roll and country.

More information is on jump page.

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08/04/14 1:00pm

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World War I was brewing, Babe Ruth was pitching for the Boston Red Sox, and the Panama Canal was welcoming its first steamboats when George Winfield Schwagerl joined Troop 17 of the Boy Scouts of America in 1914. The 39-year-old letter carrier was the first scoutmaster of the newly founded Elmhurst branch, and he wrote on the application that working with boys was therapeutic because he had lost a son. Fast-forward to 2014 and there are roughly 1,000 Troop 17 alumni scattered throughout the United States, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. This Saturday, the Queens Botanical Garden will host a special scouting expo as part of Troop 17′s 100th anniversary celebration. Plans include demonstrations related to backpacking, camping, canoeing, compass skills, fishing, orienteering, rafting, rock climbing, and wilderness survival. Plus, there will be an extensive indoor display of Troop 17’s scouting artifacts, slides, and videos. And of course, all uniformed scouts who participate will receive an event patch regardless of their troop affiliation.

Details and photos after the jump. (more…)

07/24/14 1:00pm

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It is the original world music. Klezmer is a genre of mostly celebratory dance tunes of the Ashkenazi Jews that spread from Eastern Europe to the rest of the planet in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its name comes from the Hebrew words “kli” (tool or utensil) and “zemer” (to make music). Currently, Alicia Svigals (above) is without a doubt the world’s most accomplished klezmer fiddler. In addition to founding and leading the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, she has played with — or composed for — violinist Itzhak Perlman, playwright Eve Ensler of the Vagina Monologues, the late Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsburg, and even Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. This Sunday, she brings her talent and some friends (Brian Glassman on bass and Christina Crowder on accordian) to the Queens Botanical Garden, where she will make beautiful music in the Oak Allée alongside the bee, ornamental grass, perennial, rose, and woodland gardens.

More information and two more photos on jump page.

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07/21/14 1:00pm

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Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.

Details after the jump. (more…)

06/30/14 1:00pm

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It’s time to hit the pavement. On July 6th, the 2014 Tour de Queens by Jamis will take bicyclists on a fun-filled, family-friendly trek through the borough. An estimated 20 miles, the route will begin in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and take participants through Flushing, East Flushing, Murray Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bayside Terrace, Beechurst and Whitestone with a rest stop in Little Bay Park. It’s not a competitive race–riders will pedal en masse at about 10 mph as a rolling parade with an NYPD escort. There are no street closures, but volunteer marshals will block (or “cork”) traffic intersections for safe passage. Details after the jump.

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06/20/14 1:00pm

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It’s time to learn about the World’s Fair and sample the world’s fare. This Sunday at the Queens Historical Society’s Kingsland Homestead (below), Pierre Montiel will present a lecture and slideshow on the 1939 World’s Fair, which took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The event will informally launch Remembering Yesterday: Queens and Its NY World’s Fairs, an on-site exhibition on the two Queens World Fairs (1939 and 1964) featuring artifacts and photographs drawn from attendees’ collections. Over the next two months, the Flushing landmark will host four afternoon tasting-and-cultural events with live music, food and literature from Germany (above), Italy, Poland and Ireland, all of which participated in at least one Queens World’s Fair.

Immediate details: History and Highlights of a World’s Fair with Pierre Montiel, Queens Historical Society, Kingsland Homestead, 143-35 37th Avenue, Flushing, June 22nd, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, $8.

Upcoming details: A Taste of Germany, July 13th; A Taste of Italy, July 27th; A Taste of Poland, August 10th; and A Taste of Ireland, August 24th. Events roughly run from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, $15.

Ongoing details: Remembering Yesterday: Queens and Its NY World’s Fairs, open Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, runs through May 31, 2015, free with admission ($5 adults, $3 students/seniors).

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Photos: Queens Historical Society

06/18/14 1:00pm

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Bacon! Okay, if that didn’t grab your attention: Beer! On July 26th, Citi Field will host the Bacon and Beer Classic, a pork-and-suds celebration that will bring thousands of consumers and dozens of vendors, including Oliver’s Astoria, to the Flushing ballpark. Part of a first-ever moving feast hosted inside Major League baseball stadiums throughout the U.S., this two-session extravaganza will feature bacon-inspired cuisine and libation as well as craft brews, live music, cooking demonstrations, interactive games and the chance to hang out in a bullpen. Though roughly a month away, it’s not too late to buy tickets or sign up as a vendor. (The inaugural Bacon and Beer Classic took place at Safeco Field in Seattle on May 17. After Queens, the pigs fly to Houston.)

Details: Bacon and Beer Classic, Citi Field, 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, July 26th, brunch session is noon to 3 pm, evening session is 7 pm to 10 pm, VIP sessions begin one hour before, $39-$129.

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Photos: Joshua Lewis/Seattle Refined

06/16/14 1:00pm

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It only happens once a year, but there are three chances to celebrate it in Queens this weekend. This Saturday, Socrates Sculpture Park will welcome the new season with a Summer Solstice Celebration featuring various art workshops, face-painting, a nature-inspired ritual performed by urban shaman Mama Donna, a picnic, and of course, a wonderful Manhattan skyline. Plus, Norte Maar will present site-specific sound performances encompassing the entire park. These artists will create unique sound platforms through traditional instrumentation, amplification of objects, juxtaposition of voices, and experimental electronic sound. The same day but over in Jamaica, King Manor Museum will host ice-cream making, huge bubble creating, sun-inspired art and crafts, and historic games for children. Then on Sunday, the Queens Botanical Gardens will host its Festival de las Flores/Summer Solstice Celebration with purveyors of the beautiful Colombian craft of creating silletos or large medallions composed of flowers. Attendees can also enjoy live music and dance, craft and food vendors, bilingual story reading, face painting, botanical crafts, a petting zoo, and old-fashioned games for the children.

Details: Summer Solstice Celebration, Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, June 21st, 5 pm to dusk, free.

Bonus details: Summer Solstice Festival, King Manor Museum, 150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, June 22nd, noon to 4 pm, free.

More bonus details: Festival de la Flores/Summer Solstice Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, June 22nd, noon to 5 pm, free with admission.

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Top photo: Socrates Sculpture Park; bottom photo: Its in Queens

05/21/14 1:00pm

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Jack Eichenbaum grew up in Bayside in the 1950s. He left for academic and vocational reasons in 1963, and when he returned from completing his doctorate in urban geography in 1976, he found a completely different borough. The mostly white, working class neighborhoods of his youth had transformed into multi-ethnic enclaves, creating the world’s most diverse county. Fascinated, he started giving walking tours of his beloved hometown in the 1980s, and in 2010, Eichenbaum was designated the official historian of Queens, as per the borough president’s office. The former city assessor has five upcoming tours, which are famous for the amount of local trivia he shares and the great restaurants he hits afterwards with participants. For more information, please see below.

  • Willets Point, Sunday, May 25th, 4 pm: East of Citi Field is a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back recent attempts at redevelopment. But since it’s located between the world famous baseball stadium and booming Flushing, public and private interests are again trying to transform Willets Point. Eichenbaum will walk from central Flushing to the area, while discussing political, economic and ecological issues and explaining why “Willets Point” is a misnomer. $20.
  • The World of the 7 Train, Saturday, May 31st, 10 am: Eichenbaum calls this full-day program his “signature tour,” although it’s actually a series of six walks (Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing) and connecting rides. He focuses on the 7 train’s influence on surrounding neighborhoods. Lunch is in Flushing. Pre-register via jaconet@aol.com.
  • On and Off Jamaica Avenue, Sunday, June 8th, 10 am: After decades of dedication, redesign, and redevelopment, Downtown Jamaica is undergoing a renaissance as the borough’s major transportation center. Eichenbaum promises historic buildings, commercial activity, culture, and a surprise ending. $20.
  • Crossing Newtown Creek: Contrasting Industrial Brooklyn & Queens, Sunday, July 27th, 10 am: See remnants of the intense and largely unregulated industrial development that thrived along Newtown Creek during the late 19th century. See elegant Greenpoint highlights and East River shoreline redevelopment ending with shoreline views from Gantry Park and Hunter’s Point.
  • More Space and New Arrangements in Western Queens, Sunday, August 3rd, 10 am: During the first third of the 20th century, Western Queens nurtured developments where traditional open space/building area relationships were altered to create new urban architecture. Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District anchor this tour, which includes Phipps Garden Apartments, various Matthews Flats, the Metropolitan Life houses, and early truck-oriented industrial buildings.

Photo: Alex Engel

05/19/14 1:00pm

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Spend some time on the right side of the tracks! A model train system and a local musician who has enjoyed huge hits with his big band are pulling into the Queens Botanical Garden. Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Long Island Garden Railway Society will create a working “G-scale” exhibit with model trains traveling a track around a scaled-down Unisphere and other iconic features from the 1964 World’s Fair. On May 24th, festivities will include food-and-craft vendors, a trackless train for rides through selected sections of the Flushing green space, and a concert by John Yao’s Big Band, a 17-piece ensemble. A graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Yao is a composer, trombonist, and arranger specializing in jazz fusion. 

Details: World’s Fair Train Show, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, May 24th through May 26th, 10 am to 5 pm, free with admission.

Concert details: Music in the Garden: John Yao & His 17-Piece Ensemble, May 24th, 4 pm, free with admission.

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