One of the highlights of June in New York City, in my humble opinion, is the annual celebration known as Make Music New York. Held annually on June 21st, the longest day of the year, it is a massive music  festival with locations throughout the five boroughs of the Big Apple. It started here but this concept has spread to other cities in the United States.

Run by a non-profit organization, there is a huge, dizzying schedule of musical performances offered. Rock, jazz, classical, pop, ethnic and unusual musical genres are represented. The emphasis is on unknown or barely known performers. After all, New York City has plenty of concerts each year, featuring big celebrity acts. In a way, Make Music New York is comparable to the annual New York City Marathon: a few famous people run and typically win, but lots of average, less-well known people make up the bulk of the running population. Make Music NY (MMNY) showcases lots of lesser known musicians and singers, several student groups, and is full of promise.

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I decided to see at least one definitively Jewish act this time around. For reasons which will soon become apparent, I will not name this musician that I saw at 11:00 AM at a library in central Brooklyn. I showed up on time, along with a few preschool groups and other people, to see a Jewish folk singer.


He tuned his guitar and checked his microphones plenty of times, and then began his performance. And his performance stunk. It rankled me. He had the potential to be good and entertaining, but instead he spend a lot of time talking, much of that proselytizing about spreading the Jewish faith and Noahide laws, even to non-Jews (and there were several non-Jews there). He spent considerably time distributing business cards, instead of playing. This was not the venue for such a talk or promotional effort, and along with a few senior citizens who griped quietly, I left the library performance area. In fact, I complained to a librarian that the musician was not acting correctly, What a bore.

Later in the day I went to Astor Place in the East Village of Manhattan. Home to the Cooper Union college, the famous black  "Cube" statue, a K-Mart and more, Astor Place was to host several musical acts and the stage was maintained by the local Joe's Pub music space, part of the nearby Public Theater. I caught two performances, one by the Haitian-American singer Herve and his guitarist, and one by Svetlana and the Delancey 5.

Herve and his guitarist played on an enjoyable set. He has a nice smooth tenor voice, a charming manner, and his mix of pop-reggae and other styles was refreshing. Svetlana is a Russian-born jazz singer who actually fronted a six-piece band, and the female stand-up bass player was particularly swinging.

The Joe's Pub stage was also festive because workers gave away freebies (pins, pens, sunglasses and more) and workers from a Haagen Dazs ice cream stand distributed free cups of ice cream! The vibe was friendly and cheery, and the hot sun was tempered by gentle breezes.

Each year I check out some of the MMNY offerings, and if you are in NYC on June 21st, indulge in music! Enjoy.

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