Raphael Benavides is the new GM of Operations at Corner Social

unnamed (1)Corner Social has brought Raphael Benavides on board as the new General Manager of Operations as they work to stay competitive in an ever growing market of Harlem hot spots. Mr. Benavides has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is an authority on running successful businesses in Harlem.

raphMr. Benavides opened Ricardo Steakhouse in New York City and in 2009 he opened a Peruvian Cuisine restaurant called Ceviche, later renamed Ricardo Ocean Grill. In 2008 he collaborated and consulted to open East Harlem Café, his latest venture was Prime One16 Steakhouse also in East Harlem.

The owner Anahi Angelone is looking to make the Corner Social a stalwart in the community. If you remember, the restaurant opened under the moniker Lenox Social back in 2012 and in less than four years has established itself as a neighborhood favorite for meeting up with friends for a night of fun in Harlem.  Chef Jonathan Roman helmed the kitchen for the first two years of operation before leaving to open his own restaurant in his hometown.  Chef Banks White (formerly of Minton’s) took over operations of both Corner Social and Angel before packing his bags to head back to my hometown of San Francisco.

We look forward to the next phase of Corner Social and the direction that Mr. Benavides will guide it.

The Tempest storms through Harlem

This summer’s uptown iteration of Shakespeare in the Park brought The Tempest to the island of Hispaniola. I have attended the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s summer Shakespeare productions for the past three years and I hope to see next summer’s production. I have absolutely loved everything I have seen with the company thus far and am continuously happy to have high quality theater productions accessible uptown.

This is the last weekend of The Tempest, as it runs until Sunday, so prioritize this incredible free production! The final three productions are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8pm, at the Richard Rogers Ampitheater in Marcus Garvey Park. It runs about two hours. It is directed by Carl Cofield.

The Tempest
Airborne spirits entrall audiences at the Tempest in Harlem

On the island of Hispaniola, shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, spirits Ariel (Fedna Jacquet) and Caliban (Carl Hendrick Louis) are held captive by stranded sorcerer Prospero (Ron Cephas Jones) and his daughter Miranda (Kimberly Chatterjee), while Prospero seeks revenge and retribution from their family back in Europe.

The Tempest in Harlem
Prospero, Fernando and Miranda watch a spirit performance

Like last year’s production of Romeo and Juliet, the company brought this play to life and made it easy to relate to the characters. Through dance, music, and even song, the cast used their unique talents to turn words into larger-than-life magic.

For die-hard Shakespeare fanatics to newcomers alike, the ensemble stayed true to the original intention of the words, while bringing it to the modern day. Standout Trinculo (Anthony Vaughn Merchant), with his acrobatic feats, references to modern culture, and even breaking the fourth wall, yelling “But there’s no more stage!” when asked to retreat, made the audience laugh out loud. His comedic input was necessary in what could have been an otherwise somber play of revenge and reckoning. Additionally, Ferdinand (Reynaldo Piniella) made a convincing lad in love for Miranda, with as much swag as to be expected from a modern-day fellow.

The costumes, props and set all added to the magical feel of the play and truly transported the audience to the island where Prospero awaited his backstabbing relatives. The lighting and sound effects added to the air.

Just as I did last year, I am waiting impatiently for next years’ production! For more information please visit the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s website.

Unselfish: Love thy neighbor as thy selfie

Love, Damaa

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In a world filled with doom and gloom it can be hard to keep your head above the constant barrage of negatively. There are times when I have to sign off of my Facebook feed and turn off the TV so I won’t drown in the deluge of bad news and tales of mayhem. So when I was offered the chance to review Unselfish I jumped right on it.

Unselfish is a beautifully photographed coffee table book that illustrates ninety-nine stories of good will. How refreshing! The author chose only ninety-nine stories because your own story would be one hundred. There is a page in the back of the book where you can add your own unselfish act to the collection.

The subtitle of the book comes from a bible passage which can be found throughout the new testament that commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”  Unselfish reminds…

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Beyond the Lights Advanced Screening

1412639974Hey Uptownflavor family! I know it has been a while since we have posted here but if you follow our Facebook account you know that we have been promising you something special. We have FREE tickets to see an advanced screening of Beyond the Lights on November 6th at the Magic Johnson Theater! The film won’t be released until January 16, but you can see it this Thursday! Beyond the Lights has already been generating a lot of buzz so this is a great opportunity to check it out and see what all of the hype is about. 

Beyond the Lights is the story of Noni, the music world’s latest superstar. But not all is what it seems, and the pressures of fame have Noni on the edge until she meets Kaz Nicol, a young cop and aspiring politician who’s been assigned to her detail. Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them who urge them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance.  But it is ultimately Kaz’s love that gives Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be.
It has a great cast line up with a few newcomers and quite a few screen favorites. Beyond the Lights stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Colson “MGK” Baker and Danny Glover.

Here is the link for your tickets:  http://www.relativityscreenings.com/UptownFlavor

See you at the movies!

The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival 2014

“You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker” – the words of jazz great Miles Davis paying homage to the forefathers of a musical movement now celebrated around the world.

Sixty years after his passing, Charlie “Bird” Parker is celebrated for his contribution to modern music through rhythmically and melodically complex solos, and his creation of the bebop sound.  Parker, credited for changing the course of jazz history, pushed the envelope of improvisation and inspired a generation of  jazz performers and composers.

The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival presented by SummerStage and City Parks Foundation, now in its 22nd year, is celebrated in two Manhattan parks.  Tompkins Square park, across from his former residence, and Marcus Garvey park just blocks from famous Harlem jazz clubs where Parker played, such as the newly revived Minton’s.

Concert Schedule

This Saturday, August 23rd, from 3:00 – 7:00 pm at Marcus Garvey Park  in Harlem

The Wallace Roney Orchestra – trumpeter Wallace Roney, a renowned

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Wallace Roney

jazz musician since the age of 16, is one of the few of his generation who studied and perfected his craft directly from alliances with Jazz Masters.  Being mentored by the late Miles Davis and receiving original compositions written by Wayne Shorter for Miles Davis, Roney has earned the admiration and respect from his colleagues since the age of 16.  Lionel Loueke – guitarist and vocalist noted for bringing jazz into vibrant

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Melissa Aldana

contact with the sounds of West Africa.  With the aptly titled album “Heritage” he celebrates just that, and the influence of culture on his development as an artist and on a personal level.  Melissa Aldana – saxophonist, composer, and winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last September, first picked up her instrument at the age of six.  She will be joined on stage with her “Crash

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Kris Bowers

Trio” featuring bassist Pablo Menares, and drummer Francisco Mela.  Kris Bowers – pianist, as the story goes was influenced by jazz before birth and has been recognized as one of the newest and brightest lights on the jazz scape.  Schooled in jazz and classical, and influenced by the rap and hip-hop of the 1990’s, Bowers showcases a musical style that is clearly rooted in jazz tradition also reflecting his openness to  influences of this current eclectic musical age.   Special guest Chris Turner – a classically trained vocalist who has been performing since the age of four is a soul singer for the ages and a writer for our times.  Currently released is his digital mix tape “LOVElife Is a Challenge” as well as being featured on new recordings with Kris Bowers, Eric Harland, and Harvey Manson Sr.

This Sunday, August 24th, from 3:00 – 7:00 pm at Tompkins Square Park in the East Village

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Kenny Barron

Kenny Barron – one of the most renowned , most lyrical and busiest pianists in jazz today,  Barron has spent five decades at the forefront of the jazz piano aristocracy.  Inducted into the prestigious Jazz Master’s class of 2010, a multiple-Grammy nominee and award winning composer, arranger and bandleader, he has recorded over forty albums.  Cindy Blackman Santana – jazz and rock drummer, bandleader and musician, known for her soulful powerful playing.  Her beginnings  as a New York City street performer led to global tours and record recording, most recently sitting in with Santana.   Craig Handy – after experimenting with guitar, trombone, and piano, his first true love, the saxophone, won him over.  As a band leader for his new touring and recording project “Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith” he showcases originals,and standards.  Brianna Thomas – vocalist, has been hailed as

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Brianna Thomas

one of the best young straight ahead jazz singers of her generation, by Will Friedwald at the Wall Street Journal and “a marvelous new artist who has all it takes to reach the top of the jazz profession and music in general,” by Jazz Messenger Curtis Fuller.

Panel Discussion 

This Friday, August 22nd, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music  “The Marriage of Latin Music and Jazz” – led by Joe Conzo Sr., a Latin music historian, will share rare recordings from his private collection, followed by a Q & A.  If you can’t make it on Friday, you have another chance to participate on Wednesday, August 27th from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Pelham Fritz Center in Marcus Garvey Park

*concert seating is free and available on a first come, first served basis.  Please rsvp for panel discussions at  rsvp@cityparksfoundation.org

Free Passes to see When the Game Stands Tall

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Hey football fans! Great News! Uptownflavor has partnered with Sony Pictures to offer a special treat just for you! Because you are a loyal reader of our website You can receive free passes to see When the Game Stand Tall at the Magic Johnson Theater on Thursday, August 14, 2014. Doors open at 7 PM but you should arrive early to be sure you gain access to a special sneak peek of this inspirational story based on real life events.

When the Game Stands Tall tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.

To reserve your tickets (not your seats) click here: www.sonyscreenings.com/UptownWTGST

To find out more about When the Game Stands Tall visit the official website and social media links below.

www.whenthegamestandstall.com

Twitter and Instagram: @WTGST #StandTall

Facebook.com/WhenTheGameStandsTall

This is a first come, first served screening so be sure to arrive early. 

What the H!

Harlem nights are lit up, thanks to a two year project that has come to fruition in the form of an illuminated giant “H” suspended from the Riverside Drive Viaduct at the corner of 125th street and 12th avenue.  The ‘H’ in Harlem is the largest public art installation in the History of Harlem, measured at 66 feet wide and 35 feet tall.  Comprised of aluminum, steel, and lights, the sculpture is a juxtaposition of white plasma lighting in the “H” vs LED-lights in the oval frame.  The size of a tick tack, plasma bulbs are full spectrum emitting twice the luminosity of a street light, LEDs have small slivers of the spectrum which are amplified here to create visibility but not connectivity.

Artist Bentley Meeker, a Harlem resident for 13 years, is known for juxtaposing different types of light.  He believes that light as a medium and not just a tool evokes an interesting multi-sensory experience, through juxtaposition it is intended for the viewer to heighten their relationship to light.  “The upshot in all of my work is to create a relationship between humanity and light.  It goes beyond visibility.”  Meeker is the author of “Light x Design: 20 Years of Lighting” has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art and Burning Man Festival, and is well known for work by his event lighting company catering to many high profile clients.

The project is a collaboration between West Harlem’s Community Board 9, The NYC Department of Transportation, Th 125th Street Business Improvement District, The West Harlem Art Fund, and the artist, in commemoration of the culturally vibrant energy of Harlem.

“The ‘H’ in Harlem” will be on view through September 25th

for more information on the artist Bentley Meeker please click here

Who’s Culture is it Anyway?

A Review of the Potomac Theatre Project’s production of David Edgar’s Pentecost, Directed by Cheryl Farina

David Edgar’s play, Pentecost is rarely produced because of its large and ethnically diverse casting requirements, the political and complicated nature of the subject matter, and because the play poses a question that most people find difficult to answer: what is the value of cultural heritage?

I wanted to see this play for a while. A friend recommended it to me years ago, and loaned me the script. Reading through, I found myself constantly referring to the list of characters at the beginning of the script to understand who was speaking, in what language, and what ethnicity they are. Identity and authenticity matter a great deal in the play when a piece of artwork is discovered within an abandoned church in an Eastern European country.

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This unnamed locale references many countries wrestling with a complex cultural identity that is the result of a history rife with war, foreign influence and occupation. The ownership of the artwork is contested by those that have laid claim on the church itself, which has changed hands numerous times, but only when it becomes clear that the artwork may be of significant value. Suddenly national pride, cultural heritage, religious influence, the legacy of WWII, and the shadow of communism each have some stake in the determining the future of this painting. Claiming that it belongs to any party affiliated with these influences is to deny the tapestry of its historical significance.

After the play I walked across the street to Wrapido, a kind of pan-Mediterranean fast food establishment, to get a bite. I ordered a chicken shwarma wrap, bastardized to perfection by guacamole, cheese, and iceberg lettuce. In the background, the final moments of the World Cup match between Germany and Argentina played out to a captivated audience of Korean teenagers and Israeli and Latino Wrapido employees. As I chomped into my cultural melange sandwich, I realized that everything about that moment connected the themes of this play.

 

Conflicting, even contradictory cultural influences came together to create a singular moment in time- history in the making as Germany clinched the title- just as hundreds of years earlier the unknown painter in the play happened to be in that church by accident, and had brought with him all the influences of his travels and life experience to create a single piece of artwork that would stand as a testament to that moment.

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This got me thinking about Harlem. Who owns it? Who belongs here? Is it what it used to be? Who has a right to attend services at Abyssinian Baptist Church, or call Sylvia’s their favorite restaurant? Who has the right to claim Lenox Lounge, or the Apollo? If you ask Charlie Rangel you might get one answer, but so much of what makes Harlem a cultural landmark, are the layers of history that are visible to the naked eye that take us up to the present day.

Just the way that in Pentecost, the art historian Leon Katz played by Alex Draper, argues that ancient works of art should not be restored to a squeaky clean perfected version of themselves, because the process of stripping away the layers of wear denies the piece the historical significance it has earned.

It makes me wonder if there is a middle ground. Could you preserve a cultural specimen enough to make it last a little longer, knowing full well that nothing lasts forever? Take for example the Corn Exchange Building on 125th and Park, which is currently undergoing a renovation that will keep in tact most of the original structure and integrity of the architecture, but will build upon it to create a new modern space. How do we recognize and preserve our divided past in a way that welcomes and celebrates our shared future? These icons of cultural heritage serve as potent reminders of what came before, a lesson that should never be forgotten.

New York, NY – PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project), in association with Middlebury College, proudly presents its 28th repertory season, its 8th consecutive in New York, running from July 8 – August 10, 2014 in a limited 5-week Off-Broadway engagement at The Atlantic Stage 2, located at 330 West 16th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues in New York City.

This season’s line-up includes the U.S. Premiere of Howard Barker’s Gertrude – The Cry, directed by PTP’s Co-Artistic Director Richard Romagnoli, and a revival of David Edgar’s Pentecost, directed by PTP’s Co-Artistic Director Cheryl Faraone. Previews begin on July 8 and openings begin on July 15.

Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30pm, and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. The schedule varies – for exact days and times go to http://www.PTPNYC.org. Tickets are $35 and $18 for students and seniors and can be purchased online at http://www.PTPNYC.org or by calling 1-866-811-4111. For info visithttp://www.PTPNYC.org, Like them on Facebook athttps://www.Facebook.com/pages/Potomac-Theatre-Project-PTP/32709392256 and follow on Twitter at @ptpnyc.

‘The Women of Sugar Hill’

Experience a unique live music and art event being held at the Sugar Hill Building.  Running for three consecutive weekends, you still have time to catch this incredible collaboration on Saturday July 19th and July 26th, from 4-6 pm.  The Women of Sugar Hill will feature musical legend Ms. Marjorie Eliot, known in the uptown social circles for her free Parlor Jazz Sunday afternoon concerts.  Ms. Eliot will be playing a piano tribute to Duke Ellington while visual Artist Andrea Arroyo creates art, drawing and painting live contributing to her site-specific art installation “The Women of Sugar Hill” which is part of the “If You Build It” exhibition.

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Arroyo creates with a goal to bring attention to women’s issues by examining the status of women in society, celebrating the beauty, resilience, and strength of women.  This work is inspired by and in honor of ‘The Women of Sugar Hill’ past and present; from the indigenous Algonquin Nation, to the Harlem Renaissance, to the current immigration wave and women of all back-grounds contributing to the radiant diversity of upper Manhattan.

Presented in partnership by No Longer Empty and Broadway Housing Communities, “If You Build It” has temporarily taken over an unoccupied property, that will soon to be offices and apartments.  The exhibit is free and open to the public and will continue to be on view through August 10, 2014.  “The Women of Sugar Hill” is located on the corner of 155th street and St. Nicholas.

 

 

Shakespeare… the Harlem Way

The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Justin Emeka, opened last night at Marcus Garvey Park. This is the company’s second season in the park, following an uproarious run of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last summer. After attending a performance last year, I had been waiting for this summer’s play to hit the stage. I was not disappointed – once again the company magnificently brought the classic play to real life.

The company’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet captured the play’s spirit in Harlem, with a multi-racial and multi-cultural cast, adapting the dark love story to modern times. Between break-dancing, late-night rendezvous, a reggae dance party, and disappointed parents, Romeo and Juliet (played by Sheldon Best and Natalie Paul) attempted to free themselves from their family’s feuds to be together. Best and Paul brought their characters’ emotions and desperation to life, going to extremes to be with their partner.

This cast exemplified each characters’ desire to do the right thing against all odds, and facing the disastrous consequences. Lord and Lady Capulet (Jason Delane and Dorcas Sowunmi) wanted a stable marriage for their daughter Juliet, causing her utter despair; the nurse (Jamie Rezanour) only wanted Juliet to be happy; the Friar (or Sister Laurence, played by Zainab Jah) wanted to bring the Montague and Capulet families together through Romeo and Juliet’s love. Each characters’ actions resulted in ruin and tragedy, which then led the feuding families to reconcile.

As an uptown resident, I applaud the company for bringing a free, accessible theatrical event to the community and I look forward to many more successful seasons. Support uptown theater and make this performance a must-see this month.

Where: Marcus Garvey Park, Richard Rodgers Ampitheater (to find the theater, enter at 124th Street and 5th Avenue)
When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30, Friday at 8:15 through July 27 (no performance Tuesday, July 8). Runs under 2 hours.
Price: Free
More information: Classical Theatre of Harlem

See another Uptown Flavor Post on CTH’s production

Romeo N Juliet by The Classical Theater of Harlem

The Classical Theater of Harlem, (CTH), has their own version of Shakespeare in the Park.  This summer everyone’s favorite star crossed lovers take the stage at the Richard Rodger’s Amphitheater, in Marcus Garvey Park.  Romeo N Juliet, directed by Justin Emeka who edited and adapted the timeless tragedy to bring colorful characters of Harlem to life, will be performed starting tomorrow July 5th through the 27th.

“We are thrilled to blow the dust off this classic to reveal an array of identities within the African Diaspora.  Exploring centuries old themes around love, identity, violence, and masculinity through this culturally specific lens is an exceptional and unique offering for the theatrical community” says Ty Jones, producing artistic director of  CTH.  The production, which has a multiracial cast, is designed to bring professional entertainment to the local community, while drawing hard-core theater lovers from across the city.  Emeka is recognized for his new work and ability to integrate unique cultural traditions within classical and contemporary theater.  Romeo and Juliet, a story timelessly adapted for its relevance and relate-ability throughout time and generations, follows his last year’s acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Dedicated to presenting the classics in Harlem The Classical Theater of Harlem believe the best art does more than put on a show.

Showtimes are:  Fridays at 8:15 pm, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 pm.

The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater is located in Marcus Garvey Park, (enter at 124th st and Fifth Avenue and walk south to the venue) open for seating at 7:00 pm each night, and 6:30 pm on Fridays

Free 7:00 pm concerts by the  Jazzmobile provided on Friday’s!

 

Moda 360: A Revolution of Fashion Fusion

Moda 360 premiers this Monday, June 30th and July 1st, for a two day event at The Carriage House Center for the Arts, located at 149 East 38th street.  Moda 360 is a collaboration of Bel Esprit and Fashions Finest, offering media, press, buyers, and fashion professionals the opportunity to discover independent and emerging designers during the fashion off-season.

Artists, furniture designers, international film makers, and live model presentations of apparel and accessories will be showcased in a fusion of art and fashion.  Features include a special collective runway presentation from celebrity stylist Melissa Laskin combining pieces from participating collections for looks with attitude.  Fashion icon Audrey Smaltz will receive tribute as 2014 Fashion Ambassador and Honoree.  A cocktail reception to benefit Friends of the Congo will be held Monday evening from 7:00 to 10:00.  Exhibit and runway presentation begin June 30th at 1:00 pm with three showtimes, finishing July 1st with the closing runway presentation at 12:00 pm.  Click here for complete schedule information and tickets.

Moda 360 was created to promote independent designers and offer support outside of the fashion calender, providing an innovative platform to present their collections to an audience that might miss them during fashion weeks.  Don’t miss this premier before it moves on to LA and London!

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Holler if you Hear Me on Broadway

Last weekend two of the things that are near and dear to my heart melded together: Broadway and the music of Tupac Shakur. You see, I entered my adulthood during the time that Tupac took his place in the world of rap. So when I heard that there was a Broadway play based on his music, I had to see it. The show did not disappoint me.

Holler if You Hear Me is an original story written by Todd Kriedler based on the lyrics and poetry of Tupac Shakur. It is not a biographical story, yet there are definitely elements of the main character John (played by the phenomenal spoken word artist Saul Williams) that touch upon the struggles that gripped Shakur during his short and tumultuous life. The title of the show is taken from a song on Pac’s 1993 album. The storyline and lyrics to the songs in the show were pulled from the lyrics of his albums and combined with his poetry from the book The Rose that Grew from Concrete.

Holler if You Hear Me had elements of West Side Story, Rent, In the Heights, and even Do the Right Thing (which I could see being adapted for the stage). The reason I mention Do the Right Thing is because some the characters and their motivations were similar. There was the constant tug-o-war between life and death, dark and light, and good and evil in this play. John, a former convict who is trying to turn his life around in his old neighborhood keeps getting pulled back into the wrong crowd after the untimely death of his neighborhood pal Benny. John’s father (played by John Earl Jelks of Radio Golf) plays a street preacher who weaves in and out of the story as the voice of morality. While his role is small he threads the scenes together and plays a pivotal role in the storyline.

The show brings to light the socio-political ills of our society and humanizes the people who are affected by them. There are heartwarming scenes like when Vertus (played by Christopher Jackson) lovingly serenades his mother (played by the incomparable stage and screen veteran Tonya Pickins) with the Tupac classic “Dear Mama.” Then there is a jump to your feet party scene during the West Coast anthem “California Love” replete with a tricked out purple Caddy.

The show was directed by Kenny Leon of A Raisin in the Sun and Fences and it had good pacing and a nice balance between the dialogue and musical scenes. The choreography was executed well by the ensemble and the music is true to the genre. Saul Williams spit Pac’s lyrics with furious passion, while Saycon Sengbloh (of Motown The Musical, and Fela ) carried the show with her sweet melodic voice.

It was invigorating to see so much young talent on a Broadway stage doing what they love and having a great time doing it. While there have been other attempts to infuse hip hop into Broadway, I would say that this is the first true hip hop show to grace the Great White Way. The closest show that I know of to successfully embody hip hop as a musical was an off-Broadway musical called Ghetto Chronicles written, choreographed, and directed by D-Whit.

Holler if You Hear Me opened a week ago on June 19, yet it is challenged with finding the right audience to fill the seats. After all, this isn’t your typical Disney inspired family-friendly musical. If you love Tupac and hip hop in general you need to buy your tickets today. Don’t wait until tomorrow. This show needs true hip hop heads and lovers of spoken word and poetry to show support.

Holler if You Hear Me is playing at the Palace Theater 1564 Broadway at 47th Street. http://www.HollerIfYaHearMe.com

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Bowery Mission’s Newest Location is in Harlem

The Bowery Mission Women’s Center has opened its second location in Manhattan on a quiet street in Harlem.  On Thursday, June 12, a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the newest addition to the Women’s Centers, now offering a home to 23 women in crisis who need help rebuilding their lives.  It has taken two years, and with donations in the form of materials and finances, The Bowery Mission is now able to double their capacity for providing housing and assistance to troubled women.

The women in this program receive counseling, educational and career guidance, and a plan for the future.  The Bowery Mission has served homeless and hungry New Yorkers since 1879, and provides residential living programs for women by offering a home and emotional support along with classes and training.  “This two year effort has been a labor of love for all involved” said Veronica Kelly, the Mission’s Director of Special Projects.

The renovated brownstone is designed to create a structure of community and love for rebuilding self-worth.  After suffering the trauma of having nowhere to go and no one to turn to, women in need can find a sense of security and hope.  The Bowery Mission Women’s Centers are the only faith-based residential recovery programs in Manhattan for women who have experienced homelessness.

 

Photo credit: Bowery Mission Women’s Centers Director Cheryl Mitchell, Director of Special Projects Veronica Kelly, Bowery Mission President Ed Morgan, and Elder Mark Williams of Bethel Gospel Assembly cut the ribbon on the new Bowery Mission Women’s Center in Harlem. © Lesly Weiner Photography

 

Harlem Vintners

“Liberate wine from a glass!” says the company’s co-founder Matt Dollar.  Maenad – Wine in a Can, is a business venture by three men who saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between sophisticated wine enjoyment and adult beverage options at outdoor events.  The guys at Harlem Vintners want you to enjoy wine anywhere and everywhere

What started as a joke between friends became a real business idea when they found themselves mutually unemployed.  The prospect of providing an alternative adult beverage to  be enjoyed in casual settings such as picnics, sporting events, and music festivals, seemed like a largely untapped market niche.  Although they are not the first, they aim to be the best.

The wine is packaged in aluminum cans which are light and convenient for travel, using award winning Vinsafe technology known for preserving freshness and flavor without any aluminum interference in the taste.  The whimsical design of the can by artist Susan Burghart is a glimpse into the story of the Maenads, the female followers of Dionysus the god of wine and ectasy.  Working with wine broker Ciatti, Harlem Vintners currently offers two California whites, a Chenin Blanc and a White Zinfandel.

Matt was gracious enough to invite me to sample his product.  As a wine drinker these are two varietals I shy away from, yet I was pleasantly surprised!  They both proved to be well balanced, offering soft fruit notes without being overly sweet, and full flavored but not overbearing.  “We created a product that we enjoy drinking and offering to our friends,” says Matt, adding that “chuggability is a definite factor.”  Their goal is to unite, to bring back the sophisticated party but keep it light and approachable for everyone.  “Wine is not supposed to be in a can, wine is not supposed to be from Harlem, the dots in the can’s artistic design highlight : A : N : D for a reason, it’s not either or, it’s both and.”

Being of the community and giving back to the community are of  special importance to the team of Harlem Vintners who have a business goal to donate 10% of their profits.  I like to drink for a reason, don’t you?  For purchasing information you can visit this page, just in time for summertime festivities!  As always, please enjoy responsibly.

 

Harlem eats on the streets

By Margaret Johnson for Uptownflavor

Some of New York’s best food truck vendors have found a new parking spot.  Harlem Eats presents an uptown street food market on the corner of Frederick Douglass Blvd. between W. 117th and 118th Streets. Can’t decide where to brunch?  Keep your options open and enjoy an eclectic sampling of international cuisine from New England to the Caribbean. This outdoor food festival has something for everyone.  Foodies, vegetarians, and commitment-phobes alike can enjoy small bites or big plates in a casual, family-friendly, neighborhood setting that won’t stretch your wallet.

I had a watermelon jalapeno lemonade, some kale nachos, a vegetarian taco, and a platter from the Jerk Shack.  I thought it was all delicious, and I didn’t necessarily have any favorites although the kale stand I would deem as ‘a must try’ especially for those who are not health conscious or vegetarian because they were so good and offered so many flavor options that it would appeal to anyone.  I am not a vegetarian, however I did taste all veggie foods, because I feel it’s a little harder to make a strong flavor impression when meatless.  As far as the crowds, I did see a fair mix of people, generally a fair representation of today’s Harlem and definitely family friendly.  I was impressed by the variety of cultural food, and it was clear that the organizer meant for the event to appeal to those who enjoy delicious food.

So, if you haven’t yet made your way uptown to explore Manhattan’s reborn cultural destination, then this is the perfect way to fuel your walking tour.  Harlem Eats kicked off Saturday May 10th and continues through November 1st, every Saturday from 11-5. Experience fusion tacos, kale nachos, snacks, sandwiches, and gourmet lemonades.  It’s easy to get to on the B or C train to 116th st, or the 2/3 train to 116th and a short walk two blocks west.  Keep in mind that the vendors take cash only.

HARLEM EATS EVERY SATURDAY MAY 10-NOV. 1st 2014
Location: Fredrick Douglas Blvd. between 117th & 118th Street
Transportation: B or C to 116th or 2/3 train to 116th (walk 2 blocks west)
Prices: Food and drinks are $1 – $10 Cash Only.

Caranval  “Brazilian Barbecue
Tipsy Scoop  “Artisan Ice Cream with a Cocktail Twist
Takumi TacoJapanese Inspired Mexican Tacos
Mr. Nice GuyClassic Sliders and Fries
Frittering Away “Specialty Lemonades in a Jar”
Jerk ShackCaribbean BBQ and Jerk Everything
Gorilla Grilled CheeseThe Finest Grilled Cheese, and So Much More
It’s KaleKale Snacks, Delicious and Healthy in One Bite”

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And the winner of the Uptown Battle of the Bars is…

It’s official! Jonathan Franco of La Bodega 47 has earned the title of  Best Uptown Bartender.  He impressed a panel of judges with an eye for flair and a discerning palate for flavor with his on-the-spot concoction of Hennessy and yuzu fruit.  The second annual Battle of the Bars invited neighborhood restaurants and bars throughout Harlem and Washington Heights to put their best bartender forward in a friendly competition.  Out of 28 participants it was narrowed down to the final two this past Monday at Harlem Tavern.  Sponsored by Hendrick’s gin, Hennessy cognac, and Uptown Magazine, the event was designed to spotlight the burgeoning uptown social scene. Congratulations to Jonathan, and  La Bodega 47!  So what do we know about one of Harlem’s newest night spots?

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La Bodega 47 Social Club  is a rum cocktail bar with an impressive selection of 47 rums from around the world.  I was tempted to taste and found myself there two nights after Monday’s competition.  It is a sexy little lounge located easily on the corner of 118 and Lenox Avenue.   The perfect place for a rum aficionado or someone like myself who knows next to nothing about rum, but why not use that as an excuse to try something out of the ordinary?  The menu is easy to navigate for one who wouldn’t know where to begin, yet appealing to those who already have an appreciation for rum.  Each listing offers a geographical background complete with tasting notes, making it easy to get started with a little self-taught lesson in one of the worlds most complex distilled liquors.  My brief experience with this libation is limited to the mojito, any version of a rum punch, or the classic cuba libre (really, who even says that, it’s a rum and coke!).   However, After a few hours tucked away into this cozy spot I had seriously graduated to sipping aged rum with an air of sophistication, albeit I was probably just tipsy.  Nevertheless I decided I had found a new favorite hideaway and I’m ready to declare a new hobby of drinking rum. I mean hey, it’s all about learning, right?!  But seriously, the connection between rum, the Harlem speakeasy, and the prohibition era are just one more reason this place is a must visit.  In recognition of what has been dubbed the Harlem restaurant renaissance this is a lounge that isn’t just a new local watering hole; it’s a nod to the way people used to congregate uptown and a celebration of global influence, while guests indulge in a unique experience.

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Ethnic Festival on May 17 is venue for Local Culture

This upcoming Saturday, Union Settlement, one of East Harlem’s oldest and largest social service agencies, will host its 22nd Annual Ethnic Festival on East 104th Street, between Second and Third Avenues from 11am to 5pm.

The street will be filled with vendors, food from around the world, arts and crafts activities, a petting zoo, and performances all day highlighting the vibrant cultural traditions of East Harlem.

The featured artist this year is Joe Bataan, who helped coin the phrase “Salsoul,” which combined the musical culture of urban Latinos who were inspired by African-American popular music, and infused their own new musical culture.

The event is free to attend and family-friendly.

For more information, visit the Ethnic Festival Facebook page.

Jazzed! The Changing Beat of 125th Street

Harlem and jazz are intertwined with one another, the influence of the music created during the Harlem Renaissance is a lesson in American history.   To walk the wide, tree-shaded streets of Harlem is a unique experience.  Brownstones  stand strong and powerful, with the stories  of music, art, and culture as much a part of their foundation as each stone.  You are invited to experience the legacy of jazz and it’s ongoing development through a new exhibit opening May 23.

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH) have collaborated to present an interactive multimedia exhibit designed to bring original art and live performances to families.  “Jazzed!  The Changing Beat of 125th Street” is a celebration of artistic achievements during the 1920’s-1940’s, and the jazz icons who helped shape that era.  Opening May 23, and running through December 31, 2014, visitors will have the opportunity to experience the energy of the birth of Harlem jazz culture, at CMOM located at 212 West 83rd street.

Guests are encouraged to participate in hands-on art and music workshops through singing, dancing,  score composition, instrument crafting, and even an opportunity to make your own tap shoes.  Other immersions into the world of jazz include a ballroom designed for Duke Ellington and his jazz orchestra, a theater starring Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and a jazz club featuring Ella Fitzgerald.

The NJMH  All-Star Band will perform a special concert series opening weekend May 24-25.  Continuing throughout the exhibit, piano presentations and live performances by jazz artists and dance companies will display how art can break through social barriers, tell a story, frame history and influence the future.

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is devoted to child development through early education, creativity, and culture.  The National Jazz Museum in Harlem embodies a commitment to the preservation, promotion,  appreciation and celebration of jazz locally and internationally.  The collaboration of these institutions for this exhibit, funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will bring together children and adults, into the world of jazz history and the Harlem Renaissance.

 

Siblings spice up BLVD Bistro

By Sarah Kuras for Uptownflavor

What happens when you mix southern-style cooking, two siblings, and an old café? BLVD in Harlem, of course. This renovated and remixed restaurant reintroduced itself to Harlem on March 15 as a joint project between siblings Joi and Carlos Swepson. By adding a few small touches, the pair turned a standard neighborhood café into a thriving Mississippi kitchen.

My dinner guest and I settled into a booth and were greeted with Executive Chef Carlos Swepson’s While Lily flour biscuits, served with butter infused with Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup from New Orleans, a Spiked Sweet Tea, and Sangria. Our first course was Fried Natchez Okra with Spicy Creole Ketchup, a great crunchy and savory blend of flavors and textures, and the Beef Short Rib Taco.

photo 1 (6)The main courses – my friend chose the pan-fried chicken, and I had the mac and cheese – left nothing to be desired. “This is the best mac and cheese I’ve had since… I can’t remember,” my friend said between forkfuls of the mouth-watering dishes. We ate our meal in the not-too-dimly lit restaurant, which played a mix of ’80s pop music. Other diners were in their 30s and 40s, young professionals, and neighborhood couples. By 9pm, the restaurant cleared out and we dug into an apple cobbler with cinnamon ice cream.

“First and foremost, we’re family,” says Joi, sitting down to talk with me after we had our fill of the delectable southern-inspired cuisine. “When you come here, it’s almost like you’re family.”

The two siblings decided to buy a corner café and give it new life and new flavor. They wanted to share their mothers’ and grandmothers’ soul food, while still putting their own touch on the recipes by using fresh and intentional ingredients.

“I’ve always wanted to create something that was my own, that was building something that was with my family,” says Joi. “[My brother and I] are lucky that we always got along and we know each others’ strengths.”

Going forward, they plan to alternate in more specials (including more seafood, and more vegetarian options), revamp their outdoor seating, and expand the Happy Hour offerings.

Follow Sarah on social media at @itssarahk.

Bryonn Bain’s Lyrics from Lockdown Incredible True Story of Being Wrongly Incarcerated

Photo by Lee WexlerBryonn Bain’s amazingly true story needs to be told. Wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit due to a frightening combination of mistaken identity and racism, Lyrics From Lockdown is a haunting and beautifully written tale of Bain’s incarceration and transformation into a leading prison activist. The performance at the National Black Theater this past Saturday July 21, was filled with folks who had to come see and hear for themselves, some for the second or third time, the play which serves as a testament to Bain’s incredible journey.

Director Mei Ann Teo does an impeccable job of establishing a driving pace of the play after Bain seduces you into the top of the show with sweet sounding vocals, “so the story goes,” he tells us. Like a master storyteller he reminds us that “things are not always what they seem.” The momentum of his story pulls you right along with is. Though it was difficult to keep up with his rapid fire lyrics at times, his physical presence on stage powerfully recreated his emotional responses.

Spoken word as a medium is now almost a household phrase. Well, depends on the household. In terms of the theatrical tradition, the elevated language of verse that we inherited from the Greeks and Shakespeare is no where more alive and well than within the context of contemporary spoken word and hip hop theater. The audience’s experience is not just one of anticipated spectacle or narrative arch, but of the surprising and enriching quality of the text itself as it is so articulately delivered. Understanding this power, Bain’s lyrics do not disappoint, and his words wash over you like a mighty wave. He even references Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be,” given new meaning within the context of his story, and engages the audience in a call and response, “when I say spoken, somebody say word!”

Photo by Lee Wexler

Bain intersperses letters from Nanon Williams, another poet wrongfully accused and sitting on death row. Nanon’s perspective provides a tragic contrast to Bain’s but turns up the heat on the imperative to reform the prison systems. The play points a finger at those people who benefit from the system as it currently exists, but also highlights the unsustainability of it. The play goes further to suggest the real roots of the issue are systemic racism and refers to the “cage called flesh,” as the real confinement. For Nanon and Bain, poetry represents their call to action, their hope and as Nanon puts it, “poetry is all the pieces of who we are, broken but glued back together.”

I hope this play continues to tour schools, prisons, and theaters alike as it has been and expands its reach to the folks that need to bear witness to the injustice and the triumph of Bain’s story, and the critical message it delivers. Photo by Lee Wexler

Holistic Gem in East Harlem

Strolling through East Harlemlast week I came across a charming spa tucked away on 103rd Street. Curious, as I had not noticed it before, I went in Soluna Holistic Spa, to inquire about their services and found the space to be inviting and peaceful. The spa’s business card boasts “an urban oasis in the heart of Spanish Harlem” and I agree.

A few days later I was back to have my first ever facial. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the owner’s (simply known as Susu) knowledge of skincare not only externally but from a holistic health perspective. Equipped with alternative remedy wisdom passed on from her grandmother and years of skincare experience, Susu confidently knows her stuff and passionately shares it in a candid way that I appreciate. My face was in good hands. Susu talked me through each step of the process of the European facial, which is the type of facial she recommends for facial newbies. I departed from the spa feeling relaxed with radiant skin and a holistic game plan to keep it that way.

The day after my facial I sat down with Susu and listened to her share about the evolution of the spa, the community response to its arrival and their small business grant Facebook campaign.

TBelle: Your spa has been called a gem, tell us more about that.

Susu: A lot of people are saying we are a rare gem in Spanish Harlem, unspoiled. They are actually keeping it to themselves because they want to be able to still come in, have sessions, and for us not to be so overwhelmed that they can’t get an appointment. It really is a rare gem, we love it.

TBelle: What do you think makes your space special?

Susu: I think we are the only holistic based spa in Spanish Harlem, which is slowly evolving into a holistic sanctuary. We have a wonderful garden where we going to be offering classes starting the week of July 4th in yoga, meditation, chi gong, pilates, tai chi as well as outdoor massages, Caribbean style. We also offer these wonderful modalities that are an alternative to conventional medicines, encouraging people to take charge of their health through natural means. We are all very passionate about it, being the only [holistic based spa] that I am aware of in this area. On Sundays, we offer our nutritional workshops; we will be offering aromatherapy workshops coming soon as well. We offer seniors a discount once a month. We are trying to partner with a few of the hospitals for women [undergoing] breast cancer treatments to offer a free wellness day once a month. That’s our way of giving back.

TBelle: How has the community responded your business?

Susu: Very, very positive, very encouraging, with welcome arms. We have had people cry literally on the [massage] table or when they come out from the sessions they will give us a hug and ask us to continue to do what we are doing and to offer the services we are offering, because we are much more than just a place of massages. For some reason, they are feeling a very powerful, healing energy here. So we are just amazed at some of the responses that we are getting. It has been overwhelmingly positive and a surprise. And those people who are not aware of holistic therapies are so open to it, they are coming in and just experiencing all of our services, which is also a wonderful surprise. We are getting so much demand for these different [services].

TBelle: The spa is currently running a Facebook voting campaign for a small business mission grant, tell us more about that.

Susu: We were invited by Chase and LivingSocial (LivingSocial is one of the companies we do online deals with), as a business to qualify for a $250,000 grant for small businesses. So we would be in the running with other small businesses across the nation if we have enough votes from our clients, friends and people we network with. We need 250 votes so we are asking people that come in to vote for us at missionsmallbusiness.com. [The grant] would help us to solidify our business here in El Barrio, expand our business, and create jobs locally. [It] would sustain what we are doing as well as open it open to more opportunities of workshops and classes that we could offer for free to the community. This week from Wednesday through Saturday (June 27th – June 30th) we are hosting an afterhours Facebook party 7- 9 pm. We are asking people to come in vote for us and purchase raffle ticket for our Goddess packages and 2 free weeks of classes. We are also handing out free weekly guest passes to the Bally’s gym on 106th street. So we are giving people some treats. We need the votes by June 30, only a few days left.

TBelle: Next month you are celebrating the one year anniversary of the Soluna Holistic Spa East Harlem location, what are your thoughts?

Susu: It is our one year anniversary and I am really happy, ecstatic and surprised. We have evolved, we originally started out as Soluna skincare and of course I said we are much more than skincare. So we then evolved into Soluna Holistic Spa, but we are not a spa that is based on hair services or mani-pedi services. This is about holistic healing, therapeutic healing, and alternative methods to conventional medicine. Our one year anniversary is coming up in July, and we are planning to have a party, so we invite you to come back and party with us. There is going to be music, food and dancing, it’s just going to be wonderful, so we encourage everyone to visit us. Come, visit the spa and be a part of it, experience it with us.

Soluna Holistic Spa

143 East 103rd Street

Between Lexington and Park Avenues

New York, NY10029

212-876-1326

http://www.solunany.com

Harlem Haberdashery comes to Lenox Avenue

Uptownflavor had a chance to sit down with Shay Woods, one of the co-owners of 5001 Flavors and Harlem Haberdashery to discuss the new store, long-time clients of their  custom clothing company, and shifts in the entertainment business. We will post the interview in a separate post, but first we wanted to share exclusive first look inside the new store as it is being prepped for the grand opening next month.

Harlem Haberdashery
245 Lenox Avenue Btwn 122nd & 123rd Street
New York, NY 10027
1 646.707.0070

www.harlemhaberdashery.com

Chester Gregory Discusses Being Brown on the Great White Way

The Great White Way was given a dose of black magic this past week during the Apollo Music Café’s “Black Magic: A Broadway Cabaret.” The evening featured the stellar talents of Tony-award winner Lillias White (“Fela” and “Chicago”) and Chester Gregory (“Dreamgirls” and “Sister Act”) performing songs that were made famous by black entertainers on Broadway. The timely event arrived in a season where there is a surge of African-Americans on Broadway in productions such as “Porgy & Bess,” “Sister Act,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Magic/Bird,” and the recently closed, “The Mountaintop.”

While Gregory welcomes the increased presence of diversity, he remains unsatisfied with the lack of people of color behind the scenes. “What I still long to see is more of us producing, writing and directing to share a more authentic experience for what it is to be African-American,” he says.

Gregory believes that promoting such change begins by nurturing the interests of youth in theatre. So if you happen to attend “Sister Act,” and mention that you’re a student, chances are he will come and greet you with open arms. “I get excited when I see black folk and students in the audience.  I go out and talk to them and let them know there is work for you here in this field behind the scenes.”

Heeding his own advice has recently found Gregory working on his own untitled theatrical project in collaborating with playwrights. However, don’t expect Gregory’s play to debut on Broadway since he noted funding is a major challenge for many people of color in the theater world. Off-Broadway and off-off Broadway is often rich in works from people of color including Katori Hall’s “Hurt Village” and Layon Gray’s “Black Angels Over Tuskegee.”

While much is discussed about the state of African-Americans on Broadway, the Latino community is largely overlooked. Therefore, worthy of being added to the aforementioned list is the Felix Rojas’ “Growing up Gonzales,” at The Jan Hus Playhouse. The play is about the coming-of-age experiences of two brothers in a mostly Puerto Rican section of the Bronx. According to Rojas, the Latino community faces a slightly more complex challenge when it comes to increasing visibility on Broadway.

“People think if it’s a play about Latinos all Latinos can relate to it. That’s not the case,” he reveals. “Mexicans will support Mexican theater, the Spanish will support theirs, [yet] our cultures are very different. African-Americans have done a great job [of] creating an audience for film and theater. The African-American community is a lot less complicated than the Latino community.”

Rojas is focused on creating universal works with humor and pathos to help bridge such divides within and outside of the Latino community. “I know you can’t give a crash course in the Nuyorican culture, but I am a cultural ambassador to anyone who is open to [having] one.”

If only the gatekeepers of Broadway would crack those doors even wider, then talented individuals like Rojas and Gregory could find an even larger stage where they can shine from Harlem to the Great White Way.

SouleoSouleo Enterprises, LLC is the umbrella company that creates and produces entertaining, empowering and informative media and philanthropic projects by founder, Souleo.

This article is courtesy of our partner The Harlem Arts Alliance

Review: Children of a Future Age-Young Theater Artists Shine

L to R Molly McAdoo, Raphael Sacks, Will DaggerThe spirit of William Blake could very well be called the fourth character in this three-hander production of Knud Adams’ sophisticated Children of a Future Age. Doses of thick symbolic poetry are ladled into the story and blend seamlessly with the characters millennial speech patters, with poems emerging briefly like a whale peeking through ocean waves, and then diving back under. Skilled acting and carefully considered staging brought three believable characters to life, and indicated the level of urgency that envelops them in this post-apocalyptic setting.

Hiding from whatever is chasing them, Cole and Tyger find refuge in a small hovel furnished with primitive survival supplies like a bucket of water, a soiled mattress, a bottle of vodka, and a lofted area accessed by an 8 ft ladder. Adams and his team do a brilliant job of creating a textured and detailed setting that utterly transport us out of one of the empty white boxes at Theatrelab on 14th street. Overall the production quality felt full without overreaching and provided a seamless experience that used that maximized the space they had.

Cole, played by Raphael Sacks possesses an ethereal quality as the prophet of William Blake. With a sweet voice and golden boy good looks, he is an easy protagonist to believe in. Similarly Will Dagger does an excellent job carving out a contrasting character in Tyger, the rambunctious and petulant first mate to Cole’s captain. When Mouse, played by Molly McAdoo crashes their safe little hideaway, the two men wrestle over whether her arrival is destined or disastrous. The three young actors deliver memorable performances, and each has a turn singing original songs written around Blake’s rich lyrics. Well cast in their roles, these three performers are also all soulful singers and their musical interludes added levity and effectively conveyed their motives and feelings without ever feeling like we were watching musical theater.

Sharp writing and direction distinguish Adams as one to watch in the indie theater circuit, and hopefully beyond. He taps into the majesty of Blake’s poetry without trivializing it and makes me not only want to go dust off my old Blake anthology, but also wonder if there was something there that I didn’t catch before. His structure and storyline are reminiscent of Jose Rivera’s Marisol or Alan Browne’s Beirut with references to guardian angels, the threat of disease, and a drastic and dangerous futuristic landscape as the motivation that brings these unlikely characters into each other’s lives. It is no small achievement that he both wrote and directed the piece, a combination that seldom produces such an enjoyable result.

Harlem Haberdashery’s Mural on Lenox

Uptownflavor had a chance to get a sneak peek at the forthcoming Harlem Haberdashery coming to 245 Lenox Avenue between 122nd and 123rd.  Check back for our conversation with Shay Woods, one of the owners of the new store, and more photos of the construction taking place inside. Harlem Haberdashery is slated to open in May 2012.Image

TEDxHarlem Creates Waves in Harlem

After a controversial article appeared on website, DNAinfo accusing the TEDxHarlem Conference of being “elitist,” organizers quickly scrambled to move the venue from the Apollo Theater to Riverside Church and lowered the admission cost from $100 to $20 for general admission and $100 for VIP which includes a luncheon.

Critics have charged the organizers with everything from overpricing event to the lack of Latino representation at the conference.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDxHarlem is an independently organized TED event operated under license from TED.

Topics of  TEDxHarlem “Creating Waves,” include:

Movement #1: The Global Future: Topics that will impact your world tomorrow
Movement #2: The Application of Ideas: Ideas in motion
Movement #3: Innovation and Triumph: How we did it
Movement #4: Actionable Moments: The challenge. The call to action.

Throughout the day, approximately 20 speakers, including Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Thelma Golden of Harlem Studio Museum, Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman, and Bina48, the most advanced humanoid robot, will facilitate short talks, demonstrations and performances on an array of subjects. Topics include health and wellness, civic engagement, science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.) and mobility and connectivity. You can see a full list of speakers and performers on the TEDxHarlem website.

TEDxHarlem will run from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM and there will be livestream webcast available at www.livestream.com/tedx.

The event is open to the public and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

What do you think about the changes made by the organizers?  Leave your comments below.

Harriet Tubman Didn’t Take None

Harriet Tubman didn’t take no stuff
Wasn’t scared of nothing neither
Didn’t come in this world to be no slave
And didn’t stay one either
And didn’t stay one either

-by Eloise Greenfield

The Black Women’s Leadership Caucus commemorated the life and legacy of Harriet Ross Tubman, by laying a wreath at the feet of her statue in Harlem on a chilly, pre-spring morning in March. Tubman died on March 11, 1913 in Auburn, New York of pneumonia.

The program, which celebrated both Tubman and Women’s History Month, opened with an invocation by Reverend Julia Chaney-Moss, followed by a libation ceremony by Ndigo Washington.  Young people from the Manna House played a composition titled “Generations” immediately followed by a riveting original poem written and performed by Dfaye Anderson. Keisha St. Joan sang a medley of spirituals before Adrianne Jones-Roderick spoke about her great-great Aunt Harriet. Jones-Roderick’s mother created 300 handmade Harriet Tubman dolls that are now considered collectors items.

Also in attendance was Inge Ruth Hardison, a 98-year-old sculptor and photographer who created a series of busts of African American heroes titled, “Negro Giants in History.”

The program closed with the laying of the wreath to commemorate the 99th anniversary of Tubman’s death.

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Photo credit: D. Bell/Uptownflavor

Armory Week at The African Burial Ground

The West Harlem Art Fund teamed up with artist Scherezade Garcia to create a special digital installation in honor of the Omo Valley people of Southwest Ethiopia for Armory Arts Week 2012. The site of the projection was in Lower Manhattan at the African Burial Ground, National Monument.

The Omo Valley people have lived in southwestern Ethiopia and neighboring Kenya and the Sudan for centuries and still practice body painting and tattooing.

The West Harlem Art Fund re-created this body art work with Scherezade Garcia, sculptor and installation artist, that was projected at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan and online in a dedicated blog site.

Animation for the digital projected was done by special effects filmmaker Guillaume Renberg. Inspiration for the installation was based on photographs taken by artist Hans Silvester.

Related: Armory Week Wine tasting at Lot 125

Les Ambassades opens a Bar & Restaurant

Around this time last year, Les Ambassades (also known as Patisserie Des Ambassades) opened a second location called Ambassades Buffet above 125th Street on Lenox. Perhaps there was not enough business to sustain them, or perhaps they wanted to shift with the changing tide.  Perhaps it was the B letter grade they received at their last DOH inspections. Whatever the case my be, the owners have decided to discard with the buffet portion of the eatery and replace it with a bar and restaurant. Considering the fact that Red Rooster and Chez Lucienne dominate the east side of the street, and newcomers Lenox Social and Cove will be on the west, it makes sense that Ambassades should follow the trend.

Do you think this is a good business move on their part?

341 Lenox Ave at 127th Street

212-222-0083

Lenox Social open for business

Lenox Social quietly opened up last week with limited hours and great reviews on Yelp!

Lenox Social
321 Lenox Ave
(between 126th St & 127th St)
New York, NY 10027

(212) 510-8552

Editor’s Note: Springing into Action 2012

I originally wrote this post back in 2009 and it still stands today. I’m behind. No ifs, and, or buts about it. I steal time to post what I can, but the reality is that my email box is full of ’starred’ items that I want to post to the site and there are countless drafts sitting and waiting patiently to be given the green light which will catapult them from purgatory into published paradise once I press the publish button.

Last month was our 6th anniversary! We have been showcasing many of the good things about living uptown, and documenting the rise and fall of local businesses for 6 years.  When the website started back in 2006, I had no idea how long it would stay around, nor how far it would go. Yet, we are still plugging along 6 years later. We are still watching new businesses come and go. Still debating gentrification vs. revitalization. Many of you have been here since the very beginning and I appreciate your loyalty and support.

As we move into the next phase of our mission to showcase our neighborhood, we need you to be a vital partner. We need you to submit content.  Whether it is a tidbit, question, comment, observation, or rumor — send it our way! You can be a newbie writer or a published author – join our team! You can be a small business owner or large corporation – sponsor us!  You can send $5 or $5,000 – donate!  There are various ways you can help out, so help us move into our next phase.

There is so much more to this Harlem experience, so be a part of it!

D. Bell, Founding Editor
UPTOWNflavor.com
Email: Uptownflavor

Your Harlem Lifestyle Destination since 2006

What’s Up with Lenox Wines

Someone recently inquired via Twitter or Facebook what’s up with Lenox Wines. Since we are often in the area, we kept a close eye on the four-year-old store which has been closed for quite a few weeks now. While passing the store on Friday, I noticed a sign in the window. Apparently, the owners are behind on their taxes and are in danger of losing their personal property on the premises unless they can come up with $7,782.68 by the end of this month. The store is fully stocked, so it seems that selling off some their inventory might help them clear their tab with the State.

The owners, who also owned the now shuttered restaurant next door, seem to have been struggling for a while. The tax notice is confirmation of what was already suspected. The website is under development, which we think it has been for a while. The social media sites were last updated last month.

Click to enlarge

Read our past posts about Lenox Wines:

http://uptownflavor.com/2008/12/10/lenox-wines-grand-opening

http://uptownflavor.com/2008/12/04/pizza-and-vino-harlem-style

http://uptownflavor.com/2008/11/25/new-wine-store-on-lenox

http://uptownflavor.com/2011/02/13/trattoria-amici-shuttered-for-good

Thanks to readers who have been sending us tips.

Armory Week West Harlem Art Fund Wine Tasting at Lot 125

The West Harlem Art Fund hosted an evening of wine tasting at Lot 125 in Harlem for Armory Week. The wines tasted were Seven Sisters from South African and a variety of Argentinian wines.

In attendance were local artists, including  Scherezade Garcia, sculptor and installation artist, that displayed her multimedia presentation at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan for Armory Week 2012. Delicious sweet treats were provided by Juana’s Unique Sweets. Confections included handcrafted truffle lollipops and air popped popcorn  drizzled with chocolate and a touch of sea salt.

Lot 125 is located at 566 W. 125th Street, New York, N.Y. 10027 (212) 663-9015.

Juana’s Unique Treats can be ordered by calling (917)569-4855 or by emailing jci24sweet@aol.com.

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Related:

http://uptownflavor.com/2012/03/26/armory-week-at-the-african-burial-ground/

Outdoors: Harlem Art Park

East Harlem Art Park is located at the corner of East 120th Street and Sylvan Place. The peaceful park area is nestled between the Harlem Courthouse and Casabe Houses.

One of the main attractions of the East Harlem Art Park is “Growth,” an engaging 15-foot-high red sculpture located in the center of the park. Artist Jorge Rodriguez dedicated the sculpture in 1985. “Growth,” Rodriquez’s first large-scale permanent work, was also the first project completed by the Percent for Art Program. Administered by the City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Percent for Art Program uses one percent of specific capital project budgets to commission works of art as part of new construction.

Of his work Rodriguez says, “I have tried to capture the interaction between trees, birds, insects, flowers, and man. My sculpture may portray a seed sprouting from the ground, an insect transforming into a flower, or a bird changing into a tree. I hope to create an art piece that will serve as a source of enjoyment and inspiration to the community.”

Source: Parks Department

Photo credit: D. Bell/Uptownflavor

 

Peter Woytuk sculpture exhibit along Broadway.

Have you checked out the public exhibition of 18 sculpture compositions by Peter Woytuk on Broadway? The exhibit was organized by the Broadway Mall Association in conjunction with the Parks Department and The Morrison Gallery. It starts at Columbus Circle with the monumental “Elephant Pair,” located within the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, which plants and maintains the malls from 60th-70th Streets. The exhibit continues north along Broadway, culminating with the majestic and graceful “2 Bulls” at 168th Street.  You can see many of the sculptures on display at Bright Lights Big City or Broadway Mall Association.

Source: Bright Lights. Big City

On the A with Souleo: Did hip hop kill the funk

There are few things more powerful than strong, fierce, and bold women of color that challenge the status quo. This past weekend, independent artist and entrepreneur, Nucomme, paid homage to one such iconic figure in “Betty’s Story: A Tribute to Betty Davis.” The event, which was held at the Apollo Music Café, attempted to conjure the essence of funk innovator Davis through song, dance, and archival footage.

In a time when her male contemporaries, such as her ex-husband Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, were receiving praise for their groundbreaking music and images, Davis fought to be accepted as a woman singing, writing, and producing her own material. Much of that music featured sexual lyrics, social commentary, and a defiant stance against conformity. It was that spirit of rebellion, which attracted Nucomme to the legend. “We both create our own path and always maintain integrity of what we want to do,” she says. “Betty was about the purity of her music and she struggled with that [by] being a Black woman. She struggled for publishing rights and they banned her from radio, but she continued to write music for people.”

While over thirty years have passed since Davis abandoned the industry, Nucomme notes that not much has changed politically for women in music. For Nucomme, part of the fault lies with the popularity of hip-hop. “Not to bash hip-hop, but it’s such a male dominated thing with very few females. All of the balladeers got lost in this new trend,” she says. Plus, she notes that budget cuts to artistic programs in public schools are equally to blame. “The schools started cutting back, so the actual art of instrumentation and showmanship got lost. But I’ve taken on the mindset of an independent artist. You have to build your own stage.”

From one stage to another is the Woodie King, Jr. New Federal Theatre presentation of “Court-Martial at Fort Devens.” The play, held at the Castillo Theatre, is set during World War II and tells the true story of the strike of African-American WAC’s (Women’s Army Corps) stationed in Massachusetts during World War II. The play documents their legal battle for equality after they are denied access to be trained as nurses and subsequently disobey orders due to racial politics. In an age where some complain of a lack of leadership in communities of color, this overlooked chapter in U.S. history is a strong reminder that social justice is not just one person’s responsibility. “We have this idea that it’s a single leader who makes differences in history but it’s really two or three leaders who share the same goals,” playwright Jeffrey Sweet notes. “It’s the old argument of working within or outside the system. The point of the play is they are both right.”

From Davis, to Nucomme, to the women who challenged the segregated U.S. military, it is apparent that sometimes all you need is a few brave women that aren’t afraid to funk up the system.

SouleoSouleo Enterprises, LLC is the umbrella company that creates and produces entertaining, empowering and informative media and philanthropic projects by founder, Souleo.

This article is courtesy of our partner The Harlem Arts Alliance

3 Things you need to know about the inaugural Harlem Arts Festival

Harlem is going through another renaissance. Whether it’s prime real estate, good food or arts & culture that you’re looking for, you no longer have to leave the neighborhood to get it. 

To celebrate this revitalization and to capture the energy and essence of what’s going on Uptown, a group of local residents have created the Harlem Arts Festival. The inaugural fest is scheduled to take place in late June at the newly renovated Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park.

Here are three things you need to know:

1.      The Harlem Arts Festival is a Platform for Local Artists

The Harlem Arts Festival was created as a way to highlight and showcase local performers and visual artists. Although this is the inaugural year, the committee hopes that the festival will become an annual event that will inspire and nourish the community.

 “For years there has been a sort of silent mass exodus of creative talent leaving Harlem for Brooklyn. With the Harlem Arts Festival, we wanted to create a collaborative environment that local artists could transform and call their own,” said Neal Ludevig, the festival’s Executive Director. Read the full article here.

 Artists and performers of all artistic disciplines are encouraged to submit an application no later than March 31st  for a chance to be a part of an event that will surely make history. For more information on the application, please visit the website.

2.      The Harlem Arts Festival is a Community-funded Project

 You want to see an arts festival in your community? Skip your weekly manicure or daily cup of Starbucks and use your savings to chip in! The organization has applied for several grants including the new Richard Rodgers Foundation grant, but they are counting on individuals like you to help them reach their initial goal of $12,000 by March 18th.

Take a closer look at their Kickstarter pitch:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1373599076/the-harlem-arts-festival/widget/video.html

3.      The Harlem Arts Festival is a local addition to other summer festivals, blockparties and parades that happen in other parts of the city.

The inaugural Harlem Arts Festival is for Harlem, by Harlem and provides an opportunity to directly engage with a community in transition and bring together old and new residents over their shared love for the arts.

Festival goers will be able to see headliners and popular emerging artists right in their own backyards. They will also be able to observe and purchase one-of-a-kind artwork, sample delicious local fare and engage in interactive activities for the whole family through via a Harlem School of the Arts initiative.

If you want an arts festival in Harlem, this is your chance! Show some love!

 

 

The Harlem Treasure Chest Flea Market

We missed the grand opening of Harlem’s new flea market last week, but fortunately happened to be in the area around The Harlem Treasure Chest on Sunday. The dirt and gravel lot was full of vendors, but had very few customers in the middle of the afternoon on a spring-like day. Perhaps people still don’t know about it, or perhaps Harlem is less interested in flea markets than Brooklyn.

There were old toys, dishes, clothes, handmade hats, and custom jewelry to be found at bargain prices. The jewelry caught our eye so we purchased a few rings and a pair of earrings. Be sure to visit The Harlem Treasure Chest next weekend. The hours are 6 am-6 pm on the corner of Frederick Douglass Blvd. and 117th street.

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