05/04/15 4:00pm
Laura Cantrell (Amy Dickerson)

Laura Cantrell (Amy Dickerson)

It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since I first came across Laura Cantrell's music, which was sort of by accident. It happened at the Village Underground in Manhattan sometime around 2000 when I was checking out a gig by Australian country singer Kasey Chambers, with Cantrell as the opening act. When Cantrell performed her set, I was hooked, simply because it was a throwback to the traditional country music of the '50s, '60s and '70s. That same year, Cantrell (who was also the host of The Radio Thrift Shop show on WFMU) released her excellent debut album Not the Tremblin' Kind. Since then, the New Yorker-by-way-of-Nashville has put out several more records, followed by tours and appearances on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Spectacle: Elvis Costello, and A Prairie Home Companion.

After a period of hiatus of a few years, Cantrell reemerged in 2011, first with Kitty Wells Dresses, a tribute album to the late country music legend Kitty Wells; and then last year's No Way There From Here. Starting Tuesday, she will return to her former borough of Brooklyn for a month-long residency at Park Slope's Union Hall, whose intimate space downstairs is a perfect setting to hear her set of rootsy mix of originals and covers.

When I interviewed Cantrell about a decade ago, I asked her why she opted to pursue her music career in New York City as opposed to her hometown of Nashville. “I think I would have been too intimidated to perform down there," she said at the time. "It was easier to do that here [in New York] than in Nashville where I think people would have written me off as not very good. I feel like maybe I wouldn’t even have been a performer.” As it turned out for this now-longtime New Yorker and critically-acclaimed artist, it was a very wise decision.

Laura Cantrell will perform every Tuesday during the month of May at Union Hall, 702, Union St., Brooklyn; showtime 8 pm, $10.

May 5
w/Mamie Minch

May 12
w/Films by Russell Scholl

May 19
w/The Human Hearts featuring Franklin Bruno

May 26
w/Michael Shelley Band

05/04/15 3:00pm

gotham-brokerage-insurace-home-officeKeep your home office insured | daveynin via Flickr

Sponsored By Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc.

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Created By BlankSlate

Being a freelancer is tough enough. If something happens to your laptop — basically your whole office in one delicate package — it can be a catastrophe for someone with a dozen deadlines, living paycheck to paycheck.

So what happens if a pipe bursts in your walls? Or someone breaks into your apartment? Or a small electrical fire two floors down results in firefighters breaking in your windows so they can hose down your bedroom? With your laptop damaged or stolen, are you going to run your business from a 15-year-old desktop computer at the public library?

Simply put, renters insurance is worth the cost. For as little as $125 a year — what's that? a pair of shoes? — you could be making sure that your laptop, along with everything else in your apartment, is covered against fire, theft, and water damage. Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc. can help find the policy that's right for you. They know how New Yorkers live, and they'll get you the best rate for your individual insurance needs. Best of all, the whole process takes maybe about 20 minutes, probably less time than anything else on your to-do list.

Don't wait until something bad happens. Contact Gotham Brokerage today to find out what the right coverage is for you.

05/04/15 10:57am
Landhaus, and their delicous slab bacon on a stick, is one of 100 participating vendors at The Great Bacon Picnic May 16 & 17. Photo: Oleander + Palm Landhaus, purveyors of porky goodness like slab bacon on a stick, is among the 100 participating vendors at The Great Big Bacon Picnic May 16-17. Photo: Landhaus

Landhaus, purveyors of porky goodness like slab bacon on a stick, is among the 100 participating vendors at The Great Big Bacon Picnic May 16-17. Photo: Landhaus

On May 16 and 17 the first annual indoor/outdoor Great Big Bacon Picnic launches in Williamsburg with live music, booze and bacon-filled dishes. This isn’t one of those “taste what my friend can make with bacon” events--Hill Country, Prime, Ovenly, Nick and Toni’s, Spitzer’s, Mile End, and Landhaus are just a few of the 100 participating restaurants and chefs. We spoke to producer Craig Taylor about his well-curated, rocking party whose guest of honor is more than adequately honored.

How is this one different from all the other major bacon festivals?

We are committed to a 35-to-1 bacon [dish] to human ratio, and will not sell a single ticket beyond that. Also we're going to have a Bacon Bar. That's right, a bar that serves unlimited bacon lined up for you to sample, as many times as you want. Plus we have an incredible menu of craft beers, ciders and spirits from mostly local companies including Bakon Vodka, Van Brunt Stillhouse, Original Sin Cider, New York Distilling Co., Kings County Distillery among others. (more…)

05/04/15 9:00am

Sometime in the last decade, the day celebrating the Battle of Puebla became a major event on the American calendar, morphing from an obscure Mexican holiday into a beer commercial-fueled, Latin take on St. Patrick's Day. The celebrations of Mexican-American heritage around these parts are usually about as subtle as a keg of green beer, and if you're over the age of 22 you probably don't want to go to a bar in Manhattan tomorrow night. But Brooklyn has seen a bevy of authentic new Mexican spots open in the past couple of years, so perhaps Cinco de Mayo can also serve as an ideal time to check a few of these places out. Here's your guide to the newest and more noteworthy Brooklyn Mexican restaurants on our radar, so you can celebrate with an epic taco crawl this Tuesday. (And fine, maybe a frozen margarita or ten.) For more inspiration, consider these special dinners and parties planned for tomorrow; our taco guide for every taste bud; and our favorite Prospect Heights Mexican restaurant. (more…)

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05/01/15 3:02pm


Sponsored By iD Tech Summer Camp.

iD Tech is the world's #1 summer technology camp provider for kids and teens ages 6-18.

Created By BlankSlate

As the temperature warms up and school winds down, it’s time to start locking in your plans for summer camp. You want your kids to attend a camp that’s fun, but you don’t want to sacrifice the character- and skill-building experiences that made your own summer camp adventures so meaningful. Luckily, there are two new summer camps held at Berkeley Carroll School that your kids and teens will love.

At iD Tech Mini, for kids ages 6-9, kids explore programming, web design, Minecraft design, and robotics. At Alexa Café, girls ages 10-15 collaborate and learn to code apps, produce films, design websites, develop wearable electronics, and more.

In addition to these two summer camps, iD Tech also offers both co-ed summer programs for students ages 7-17 and 2-week, pre-college academies for teens ages 13-18.

Call a Program Advisor at 1-888-709-8324 or visit iDTech.com to register.

05/01/15 1:34pm

My 5-year-old-son has set up an area of his room (the windowsill and the curtain) which he calls his “play theater," where he spends hours acting out fairy tales and stories with his stuffed animals. There is a lot of research out there on the benefits of dramatic play for kids, and puppets can add a layer of magic to that. (The longstanding success of Sesame Street,PeeWee’s Playhouse, and the Muppets is pure proof of its hold on children.) Although puppet shows at home and on the big screen are great, nothing builds excitement for young kids like a live show. Usually, these shows are short, economical and geared towards young viewers, so they are great entrées into the world of theater, without the commitment or price tag of Broadway. So during spring break, in between acting out 100 puppet shows at home, we decided to hit up two professional puppets shows in the area.

The marionette puppets do a great job revitalizing a familiar story. Photo: Kate Hesler

The marionette puppets do a great job revitalizing a familiar story. Photo: Kate Hesler

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre (W. 79th and West Drive, Central Park)

This adorable little fairytale cottage in the middle of Central Park has been performing marionette puppet shows for New Yorkers for decades. Often sold out, and always crowded, this show is worth the inconveniences of attending. Finding the cottage is part of the fun, but allow yourself time to get lost on the curvy paths of the park, and look for a little gingerbread house. The current show, Jack and the Beanstalk, stays true to the original story and wowed us with magical musical numbers, including one that shut off all the lights and lit up stars all over the room. The puppets are joined by a live giant named Milford (played by an actor), who ends up not being scary at all but just in need of friends. Geared to kids between the ages of 3-9, this 45-minute show kept the attention of its audience, with only a few scared toddlers needing to leave when the lights went down. My son’s short review: My favorite part was the mother, because she was so mad.

Showtime Information (through June:). Tuesday–Friday: 10:30am & 12pm; Wednesdays: 10:30am, 12pm & 2:30pm; Saturday & Sunday: 1pm Ticket Information: Children: $7/ Adults: $10 (more…)

05/01/15 10:43am

There is an upside to the coyote invasion, air sex is real, and one of our major exports today are major-league jerks. These are just a few of the fascinating stories we enjoyed over the past month. Read on for 10 inspired conversation starters for your next happy hour or picnic in the park.

  1. Obviously, the death of Freddie Gray and the resulting protests in Baltimore and elsewhere are at the top of everybody’s mind at the moment. While taking the media to task for acting shocked by the existence of long-standing systemic problems in Baltimore earlier this week, Jon Stewart quipped, “"You know your city's fucked up when its last, most successful employment program was casting extras for a show about how fucked-up your city was.” He was referring, of course, to The Wire, which shined a light on Baltimore’s race and poverty issues and is widely considered one of the best television shows of all time. The Marshall Project posted a Q&A between Bill Keller and David Simon, the show’s creator, about the dynamics that led to the breakdown of police/community relations that is at the root of much of the unrest.
Ginger's Bar in Park Slope is one of a dying breed. Photo: Ginger's Bar

Ginger's Bar in Park Slope is one of a dying breed. Photo: Ginger's Bar

  1. Did you know that there are only four lesbian bars left in New York City? And that that’s more lesbian bars than you’ll find in any other city in the country? Heather Dockray wrote a fascinating piece for us exploring the possible reasons for the precipitous decline in places that were once considered “the church of the lesbian community” at a time when more women than ever identify as queer.

  1. Diane Sawyer’s blockbuster interview with Bruce Jenner last Friday night, in which he came out as a transgendered woman, was a huge step in the right direction for trans awareness and acceptance, and this Slate article does a nice job explaining how it has already changed the conversation in profound ways. But The New Yorker points out another pleasantly surprising result of Jenner’s revelation: The Kardashians, a family that literally built an empire on superficiality and appalling behavior, reacted to the news with tolerance, love, and unconditional acceptance.


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04/30/15 9:00am

We’re always keeping an eye out for new films, music, performances and openings we think are worth knowing about in advance. This month that includes a pair of documentaries about two of pop culture's most independent spirits; two chances to laugh with NPR humorist David Sedaris; and a memoir from one of America's most controversial photographers—no we're not talking about Terry Richardson. Here is our Culture Top 10 for the month.

Iris Apfel in IRIS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo credit: © Bruce Weber

Iris Apfel in IRIS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo credit: © Bruce Weber

10. Albert Maysles, who passed away in March at the age of 88, was a legend in the field of documentary filmmaking—having brought us both Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter—so it seems only fitting that he should be the one to capture the story of 93-year-old style icon (and a living legend in her own right) Iris Apfel for his final documentary. Even if you don't know Apfel by name, you probably recognize her by her eyeglasses—or possibly her recent Kate Spade campaign. Either way, there's a lot more to her story than an inherent love of accessories, which you can see first-hand in the new documentary IRIS. Right now, you can watch the doc at Film Forum, where Apfel herself will be participating in a Q&A on May 1, and at Lincoln Center.

new whitney museum 29. Last week I went with a friend and his ex-boyfriend, both of whom have lived in New York since the early '80s, seen it all and lived to tell about it, to watch John Cameron Mitchell take one last turn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which it was just announced he'll win a special Tony Award. Before Mitchell, in all his backcombed, bouffant glory took to the stage, our conversation turned to the new Whitney Museum, which opens tomorrow in the Meatpacking District. While both gentlemen felt it looked like some weird futuristic spacecraft hovering above the West Side Highway whose imminent takeoff could be witnessed best from the end of the High Line--and architecturally, I have to agree--we were still interested in seeing its inaugural exhibition, America is Hard to See, which features some 600 works by 400 artists in the museum's permanent collection. We have time to wait until the droves of people sure to descend on Gansevoort Street in the coming weeks has abated, though, and so do you, since the show is open through September. Photo: Whitney Museum of American Art (more…)

04/29/15 5:54pm
Hudson Mohawke (Lauren Gesswein)

Hudson Mohawke, one of the scheduled performers, from RBMA in 2014  Photo: Lauren Gesswein

May will be a great month of cutting edge music, conversation and cultural events when the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York returns to the Big Apple for the third year in a row, with a good number of the 20 scheduled events to be held in Brooklyn. And the lineup boasts an impressive roster of talented artists from yesteryear to the present, showcasing sounds as diverse as electronic, dance, world, hip-hop, and R&B.

If you're not familiar with Red Bull Music Music Academy, it's a series of programs/workshops that invites music innovators to take part in recording sessions and lectures. Since 1998, the academy has been held in various cities throughout the world, with this year's event to take place in Paris, starting in late October. Notable artists who have participated in past Red Bull Music Academy programs included Giorgio Moroder, Mark Ronson, Q-Tip, M.I.A., Hudson Mohawke, RZA, and Steve Reich. (more…)

04/29/15 3:00pm


Sponsored By Fillmore Real Estate.

Fillmore Real Estate has grown to become New York City's largest privately owned and operated real estate company.

Created By BlankSlate

Fillmore Real Estate presents #BKOriginal, a series about businesses and personalities that capture the true spirit of Brooklyn. Showcase your #BKOriginal photos for a chance to win prizes at BKOriginal.com.

Walking through Bedford-Stuyvesant with Rotimi Akinnuoye is like spending time on the campaign trail with a cheerful politician. It seems like he knows everyone, and everyone knows him. We stopped in to say hello at a recently opened farm-to-table restaurant, and he picked up a pastry at Common Grounds coffee shop. He showed me where to get the best ribs, and if we had come across a baby, I’m pretty sure he would have kissed it.

Akinnuoye is one of four partners who opened Bed-Vyne Wine in 2011, Bed-Vyne Brew in 2013, and Bed-Vyne Cocktail last month. He and his brother Ayo, another partner, have been in the neighborhood since 2000 renting commercial spaces, and the weariness of dealing with renters led them to start their own business. (more…)