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Friday Night Fever Music History

The return of Webster Hall: A tale of debauchery and activism in one of New York’s oldest clubs

The East Village nightclub Webster Hall reopens this evening with a concert by Jay-Z after an extensive interior renovation by new owner Barclays/Bowery Presents. Have tickets to tonight’s show? Then you’ll be able to judge for yourself whether the storied venue retains its “idiosyncratic grandeur.” The hall has had many facelifts over the past 133 years, evolving to mirror the […]

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Music History Podcasts

Scott Joplin in New York: A Ragtime Mystery

PODCAST How did one of the greatest composers of the 20th century end up buried in Queens in a pauper’s grave? Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime”, moved to New York in 1907, at the height of his fame. And yet, he died a decade later, forgotten by the public. He remained nearly forgotten and buried […]

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Film History

Celebrating New York City history at the Oscars: Julius Bar, Minetta Lane, Madison Square Garden

Films honored annually at the Academy Awards usually have a historical backdrop — lavish sets and period-accurate costumes plucked from the past. Most of the nominees for Best Picture this year take a time machine to a past generation. The Favourite peers at the backroom (and bedroom) intrigues of Queen Anne. Roma dives into Mexico City in the early 1970s; BlacKKKlansman visits […]

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It's Showtime

What’s Your Favorite New York Film? PLUS: Music Row, Gowanus Ghosts

It’s great fun to watch an outdoor movie in one of New York City’s many parks; it’s a tradition that been in the city for well over one hundred years.  But the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment wants to go bigger than that by having the entire city watch the same movie. The winning film […]

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The First

The First Song Ever Recorded (Was Never Meant To Be Played Back)

THE FIRST PODCAST Imagine if we could hear the voices of Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria or Harriet Tubman? Believe it or not, somebody was making audio recordings as far back as the 1850s. Had these techniques been widespread, we might have had the words of those famous people preserved, as well as recordings from the Civil […]

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It's Showtime

The first Shakespeare performance, recorded by Edwin Booth

The plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare, as the finest examples of the English written word, were also the first recorded sounds ever made.  The first recording ever made at Alexander Graham Bell‘s Volta Laboratory in Washington DC in 1881 was that of Bell’s very own voice reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Here’s another recording of Bell’s […]

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Friday Night Fever Podcasts

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age. The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs in the American […]

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Friday Night Fever

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age.   The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs […]

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Pop Culture

HBO’s Vinyl: Getting Into The Groove

The music industry is the focus of Martin Scorsese’s new HBO show Vinyl just as the mob-run liquor business was the focus of his last show Boardwalk Empire, but in many ways, the two are pretty much the same. Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) runs his record label American Century Records out of the Brill Building […]

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It's Showtime

Stage Magic: Oh-What-A-Beautiful History of the St. James Theatre

On Sunday The Bowery Boys join up with The Ensemblist to present a special cabaret event at 54 Below — a tribute to the great St. James Theatre! Perhaps some of you may be asking — why do a live show about a individual theater? The St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street) was prominently […]

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Friday Night Fever

Podcast Rewind: Webster Hall Nights “I’ve Been To A Marvelous Party”

PODCAST REWIND  Webster Hall, as beautifully worn and rough-hewn as it was during its heyday in the 1910s and 20s, disguises a very surprising past. It’s a significant venue in the history of the labor movement, Greenwich Village bohemians, gay and lesbian life, and pop and rock music. The Webster Hall ballroom has hosted the likes […]

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Bowery Boys Bridges

The High Bridge Opens! And Other Links

Harlem River Speedway Course, looking south, towards the High Bridge. Picture from Port of New York Authority, courtesy Museum of the City of New York. — A new Bowery Boys episode every Friday this summer. WHAT?! Well, sort of. On top of a brand new show every two weeks, we’ll be updating the Bowery Boys Archives […]

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It's Showtime Podcasts

Billie Holiday’s New York: Here’s to Swing Street, Harlem’s 133rd Street and other landmarks of jazz

PODCAST Grab your fedora and take a trip with the Bowery Boys into the heart of New York City’s jazz scene — late nights, smoky bars, neon signs — through the eyes of one of the greatest American vocalists who ever lived here — Billie Holiday. Eleanora Fagan walked out of Pennsylvania Station in 1929 […]

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Pop Culture

On Nina Simone’s birthday, a look at her breakout Town Hall performance from September 1959

Nina Simone was born on this date in 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina.  She came to New York as a student of the Julliard School, but her unique blend of genres came from her experiences in the nightclubs and cabarets of Harlem and Greenwich Village.  She wowed audiences with a memorable New York debut at the Village […]

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It's Showtime Podcasts

The Broadway Musical: A trip through NYC’s musical history, from HMS Pinafore to Show Boat, along its most famous street

  The comely ladies of ‘The Black Crook’. The show originally debuted at Niblo’s Garden, although I believe the photo above is from a later revival. (NYPL)The Broadway Musical is one of New York City’s greatest inventions, 150 years in the making! It’s one of the truly American art forms, fueling one of the city’s […]