5. Boardwalk Empire puts one of NYC’s hardest working musicians on the map
When HBO decided to fork over for a prohibition-era show about Atlantic City racketeer Nucky Thompson, it juiced an entire scene—that of vintage jazz, one of the city’s most vibrant subcultures—starting with tapping longtime NYC big-bandleader Vince Giordano as a musical consultant. People across the nation are rediscovering music of the 1920s and 30s via the show, largely thanks to him.
4. Jack White & the Dead Weather’s illegal show
On August 4, alt-ish supergroup the Dead Weather—that’d be Alison Mosshart (of The Kills and Discount), Jack White (of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), Dean Fertita (of Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes)—played one of those shows for which the expression “you had to be there” was invented. The fact that it was at Don Hill’s while the club was closed for renovations—and thus illegal—made it even better.
3. Florence and the Machine take NYC
While Florence and the Machine played their first New York show in October of 2009, 2010 was the year English musical force Florence Welch truly colonized the city (and the country), with shows in April and then again in October. At every appearance, to say the crowd went wild would be a massive understatement – “apoplectically bats**t” is closer to the truth.
2. Patti Smith wins National Book Award
With her magical memoir Just Kids, punk poet Patti Smith recalled her 20something soul-searching, starving-artist years and on-and-off relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe—but she also brought New York City’s shimmering 1960s/’70s art scene (Max’s Kansas City, CBGBs, the Chelsea Hotel) to life on the page. On November 17, Just Kids received the National Book Award.
1. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings own Prospect Park
About midway through the August 7 show at the Prospect Park Bandshell, Sharon Jones (by then a sweaty bundle from pulling out one of her trademark high-energy funkathons with excellent backing band the Dap-Kings) got slipped a note by a grinning stagehand. The note confirmed what we in the audience suspected: The show had shattered attendance records for the highly popular Celebrate Brooklyn series, and more than 20,000 had shown up to see the former Rikers Island corrections officer—who grew up in nearby Bed-Stuy—do her thing. How often do you witness a 20,000-strong standing ovation for a 54-year-old woman (whose career has only just begun)?