City Winery on Varick Street: It looks so mellow and sophisticated from the outside that it’s hard to imagine a house party raging in its backyard parking lot.
Yet that’s exactly the idea behind the Hudson Square Music and Wine Festival, returning next week for its third season. Every Tuesday from June 21 to August 16, the Winery will offer free concerts, complete with wine and other tasty delights. Here's why this is going to be something we return to again and again this summer:
Reason No. 1: The lineup is pure New York. From Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing and favorite-of-ours Nicole Atkins via the Gypsy All-Stars and the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, City Winery tapped in artists who are also neighbors. (From all five boroughs, no less: Did you know Living Color’s Vernon Reid lives on Staten Island? You’re welcome.)
Reason No. 2: The stage is actually just the building’s loading dock, which is not only smart, but gritty cool in a Meatpacking District-before-Manolos kind of way.
Reason No. 3: We love free outdoor concerts, but they can get so enormous, with the long lines and not a speck of room anywhere. City Winery’s proudly urban backyard doesn’t have a lawn, which we think is actually an upside: Less jockeying with baby strollers for room at these events (we’re looking at you, Prospect Park Bandshell. With love, but still.).
Reason No. 4: They roll out the barrels at these events – literally. City Winery has outfitted wine barrels with taps as sort of mobile boozing stations so you can sip on vintages that went from crush to corked right beneath your feet, in the building’s basement. Also: beer.
Reason No. 5: And because no-one wants you to drink on an empty stomach, caterer-neighbors-from-across-the-courtyard Great Performances will be serving up eats.
Reason No. 6: The shows are on Tuesdays, which we think is the perfect way to kick off your weekend, inasmuch as during the summer, while other people are at their timeshares by the beach, the rest of us have to get through the summer somehow.
Reason No. 7: Did we mention the free part?
Full schedule of performances below.
Third Annual Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival
06/21 - Mike Doughty and Emily Wells
City Winery, River to River, and Make Music NY kick off the first day of summer with an official launch party featuring the rocker and the genre-bending Wells.
06/28 - The New York Gypsy All Stars
The masters of contemporary Balkan Gypsy music are playing as part of the NY Gypsy Fest.
07/05 - The Holmes Brothers
Soul, gospel, blues and country with the glorious trio that’s been around for 30 years and worked with everyone from Dylan to Springsteen.
07/12 - Vernon Reid (of Living Color)
Funk and lightning-fast solos for the virtuoso named one the 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone.
07/19 - Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra
This 11-piece outfit puts Latin brass spins on indie material from the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and LCD Soundsystem. Free salsa lessons before the show.
07/26 -Forro in the Dark
Hailed by the Times as “one of the best party bands in New York,” presented in association with the Brazil Summer Fest.
08/02 - CCB Reggae All-Stars
This year, the reggae masters are holding their always-packed Bob Marley birthday tribute in City Winery’s backyard.
08/09 - Nicole Atkins
Throaty, throwbacky, self-proclaimed “soft anthem” singer-songwriter Atkins regularly sells out big rooms now. Don’t miss this rare free show.
08/16 - The Wood Brothers
…of Medeski Martin & Wood fame. Blues, folk, and rock with the guitar/ double bass/ drum trio.
Third Annual Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival (6/21-8/16) made possible by Trinity Real Estate, Great Performances and the Hudson Square BID. Every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30pm in the courtyard behind City Winery, 155 Varick Street; 212-608-0555. No tickets required.