Battle of the Boroughs 2014: The Ultimate Battle

WNYC & The Greene Space’s Battle of the Boroughs has come to be one of my favorite events to attend. A blend of great original music and borough pride, it’s a show you’ve got to see. The Ultimate Battle is best of all because of the prizes at stake and the healthy competitive air to see which borough is voted the best. Sadly, Manhattan won again this year, but I am happy to report that all of the musicians that performed were all worthy of winning the ultimate battle.

As mentioned in my post on the Bronx battle , Royal Khaoz, an AMAZING reggae fusion band represented the Bronx with a suave and energetic performance. They perform in various locations throughout the city and trust me when I tell you it’s well worth it to travel downtown to see them.

5J Barrow represented Manhattan and had such strong chemistry between its band members. You could tell they were genuinely having fun and could communicate just by looking at each other. Their performance was high energy and a great way to start the show off.

From Staten Island, Leila Hegazy gave us a soulful performance as she masterfully tapped away at the keys of the piano. She also happens to be a close friend of one of my coworkers, so that was cool, too.

Out of Queens came Annika, a talented singer-songwriter who just finished up her junior year of high school. She made me regret the many (MANY) hours I spent sleeping when I was that age.

From Brooklyn, came the funky Hey Lady. Another high energy group with great chemistry, Hey Lady’s music had audience members swaying in their seats and clapping their hands.

Check out the slideshow below for photos of the performers.


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Party all summer long to celebrate Fania Records’ 50th Anniversary!

There’s no excuse to be bored in NYC- especially in the summer. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Fania Records teamed up with Summerstage and Remezcla to put on free shows in all five boroughs this summer. Check out the line up for the Bronx and Washington Heights below:


SummerStage Events:

  • June 24 – The New Swing Sextet at Crotona Park
  • July 8- Tony Vega at Saint Mary’s
  • July 9 - Jose Alberto “El Canario” at Saint Mary’s
  • July 10 - Domingo Quinones at Saint Mary’s
  • July 11 - Ballet Hispanico’s second company, BHdos at Saint Mary’s Park


Armada Fania Events:

APT 78 (4447 Broadway, Washington Heights)

  • June 26: DJ Christian Mártir & Guest, Sucio Smash
  • June 28: Dura (Radio Buschwick), Bio Ritmo with DJs Christian Martir, E’s E, and Monk-One
  • July 10: Uptown Jazz Festival at Ft. Tryon park (5PM-8PM) Performance by Mobius Collective
  • July 10: Pa’lante NYC (Uptown Jazz Festival After party)
  • August 28: Pa’Lante NYC with guest DJ Christian Mártir  + Guest

Catch Bronx Poet Urayoán Noel’s Book Launch THIS Saturday, July 5

The Bronx Council on the Arts will be doing having a special book launch party for BRIO Award Winner Urayoán Noel this upcoming Saturday! Read below for details from BCA.

The Bronx Council on the Arts’ (BCA) Bronx Writers Center will present a book signing and reading by Bronx poet and scholar Urayoán Noel, at BCA’s future headquarters at 2700 East Tremont Avenue       

(corner of St. Raymond Avenue) on Saturday, July 5, 2014, from 4:00-6:00 pm. Noel will speak about his newest book, In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam, followed by a Q&A discussion. Admission is free and all are welcome. Books will be available for purchase.

“The Bronx Writers Center is honored to host Mr. Noel’s first New York City book release event for this groundbreaking study. And we will have more events as such in the future, as part of our book presentation series designed to spotlight books being published by Bronx natives and residents, as well as books about the Bronx In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press, 2014) is a critical analysis of the development of the Nuyorican poetry movement, from its mid-20th-century barrio roots to the contemporary global stage. 2011 BCA BRIO winner and Bronx resident Urayoán Noel is a poet, performer, scholar, translator and Assistant Professor of English and Spanish at NYU. The Bronx Writers Center supports and develops the appetite for writing and reading in the Bronx and searches for and promotes new community voices and audiences via literary and literacy programs. The Bronx Council on the Arts is a private, non-profit membership organization that is the official cultural agency of Bronx County for more than 50 years. Recognized nationally as a leading arts service organization in providing cultural services and arts programs, BCA serves a multicultural constituency of almost 1.4 million residents. BCA provides an array of services to 5,000 artists and more than 250 arts and community-based organizations.

The Bronx Writers Center, a program of the Bronx Council on the Arts, is supported by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Robert A. Bowne Foundation, the NYS Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, Arts Midwest, the Lambent Foundation of the Tides Foundation, and the Bronx Branches of the New York Public Library.


The Spotlight: John Henry Soto

For this edition of The Spotlight, I interviewed Bronx  filmmaker John Henry Soto. Keep reading to learn more about his new television show “Pitch” set in the Bronx!


Which neighborhood in the Bronx are you from? How has it inspired the setting for your new show “Pitch”?

I grew up in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx. On Southern Blvd, Bryant Ave, Westchester

Ave and Aldus St. I was raised by my grandparents and my grandma liked moving. :) The corner

bodega to me was always a place of comfort because everyone knew who you so no matter what might

be happening outside, in there you were cool. If you needed to find someone you would walk in and

yell, “Hey! Have you seen Tito!?” It was effective. The idea for Pitch came to me because I love

detective shows. From Columbo, Baretta, Magnum PI to Monk, SVU and everything in between. I got

good at figuring out who committed the crime and really enjoyed that element. But, I always noticed

that very few shows would ever venture up into the Bronx. I decided to not only venture up there but

have the character live and work there too. Having him work in a bodega in the Bronx seemed


How has the neighborhood responded to the filming of “Pitch?”

“Well a few interesting things happened which I thought were great. During our initial scouting for

bodegas to shoot in, we were having trouble looking for a place that had character and didn’t look

gentrified. When we finally found a place I walked in and it was the same owner and he recognized

me! It’s was great and we knew we had our spot. Then came the day of shooting a test scene and word

got around the neighborhood that they were “Shooting” in the bodega! So people gathered to find out

we were shooting a film and there was no violence in the store. I guess that’s one of the unfortunate

realities that someday I would like to eradicate about the Bronx. But on the positive side, the

neighborhood did gather to support the store so that was good.”

Tell us a bit about the main character Pitch. As a writer, I put a bit of myself into all of my characters. Does Pitch have any of your characteristics?

Sure. As you mentioned, I think anytime you’re writing it’s inevitable that part of you gets infused

within your characters but also for me it’s more fun to try to add characteristics that are a little more out

there. For example, Pitch isn’t shy about approaching anyone or asking anything from anyone and I’m

like that but writing for an evil politician can be even more fun. Pitch grew up in the South Bronx with

the hopes of becoming a police officer. Unfortunately for him his short stature made it difficult for him

to pass the physical exam needed to get through the academy so he failed. He then began working for

his father’s bodega and solving crime on the side. He got so good at it that his best friend, who did

become a cop, comes to him for help time to time. The police chief and other officers do not like Pitch

because he’s rather arrogant about how good he is and they are threatened. It’s a fun character with

many layers that we hope to explore for at least 6 seasons. :)

What are your top three favorite places in the Bronx?

I love the building I grew up in. 1058 Southern Blvd. I hope to get permission to shoot there someday.

It’s a big classic pre-war building with great character.

Botanical Garden is amazing. I grew up going there and it was always shocking to me that we were in

the Bronx.

There’s a bakery on Southern Blvd that I use to go to when I was a kid and it’s still there. I just went

there a few weeks ago and had an amazing cup of coffee with a Cuban sandwich. Love it. But as I

walk around my old neighborhood I find so many places that I really love and the memories are what

keeps me motivated to bring this show to life in a big way.

Now that the show has gone into pre-production, what are the next steps? Are you working on any

other projects?

Right now I just completed a new script and turned in to the production company No Name Brand

Films. We’ve already shot part of another script which we have used for marketing purposes. The new

script will be shot in its entirety and we will be casting for that soon. We really want to generate

excitement behind the show and tell as many people as possible. I’ve spoken to Councilman Fernando

Cabrera, got a Twitter reply from Senator Espaillat and News 12 the Bronx will be doing a story once

we go into production. That’s just a few of many more. The excitement is building and we hope to get

rolling soon.

As far as projects, I’m always working on something. I have a new web series titled Write in Bayonne

about a writer in the small town of Bayonne, NJ and all the characters he runs into. I’m always writing

for a few internet sites and auditioning. Keeping busy with the things you love is a key to success in

my opinion. I always love helping other artists so I teach guitar and help actors anyway I can. I’m

always available for that.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis at Woodlawn Cemetery


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I love jazz. I don’t have a favorite song or artist, I just love the sound. I have literally spent hours just listening to my jazz station on Pandora. It just puts me in a good mood. So, when I saw that Lincoln Center’s jazz orchestra was performing right here in the Bronx at Woodlawn Cemetery, I knew I had to attend. As a  well-known  final resting place for many famous musicians, the venue was the perfect venue for the show.

Led by the cool, calm, collected (and clever!) Wynton Marsalis, the orchestra kicked off the show with “The Dippermouth Blues.” The instruments were so crisp and clear, it almost sounded like a recording! The orchestra also covered songs from the likes of W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington (who is buried at the cemetery), Miles Davis, Celia Cruz, and Florence Mills. One of my favorite parts of the show was when Ali Jackson covered a Max Roach song. The rhythm of the drums captivated the crowd as it toyed with a steady, rumbling beat and switched to a low, rain-like pitter patter.

This was my first time visiting Woodlawn Cemetery and when I told some of my friends they all pause like “Oh…a cemetery…okay…” but just from the small glimpse I got walking in from the gate to the concert site, was enough to let me know I need to return ASAP. Though the concert was in honor of the cemetery’s 150th anniversary, I hope they consider hosting more live shows, because it’s such a great outdoor space.


Enjoy FREE Films at Bronx Terminal Market’s Rooftop Film Series

If the heat and humidity of this past week is any indication, this summer is going to be one that will require me to be as relaxed as possible – and what better way than lounging around watching free movies outdoors?

The Bronx Terminal Market’s Summer Rooftop Film Series starts up Tuesday, June 24 with When Harry Met Sally and featuring a line up including blockbuster film Frozen (which I still have not seen), The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. There’s also a bunch of pre-film festivities scheduled for you to enjoy if you show up early enough!

Check out the flier below for details.


The Winner of the #musictoyournose Giveaway is….

The  Lucky Winner of the #musictoyournose giveaway is….Thomas Murphy!

You will be receiving:

o Mr. Clean w/ Gain

o Swiffer Dusters w/ Gain

o Gain Dryer Sheets

o Gain Flings

o Gain Fireworks

o Gain Dish Soap

o Ear buds

o $25 gift card

o Floral notepad for creative inspiration!

o Gain laundry bag


Be on the lookout for an email so we can get your contact info! Congrats!


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