City Vineyard: None Better

Written by | March 10, 2017 4:55 am | No Comments


There are many places to see live music in New York, but none of them better than City Winery. It’s relative small, the sound is good, and you can SIT! I am too old to spend the evening standing in a club. The Winery has now opened a smaller venue, City Vineyard, at Pier 26. It shares several fine features with its parent: a small but good menu for dinner, an excellent selection of wines by the bottle or glass, and a warm friendly atmosphere. It does have one feature that makes it stand out: a spectacular view of Jersey City’s skyline to the west, and the new World Trade tower to the south.
Another feature in common: small crowded tables. If your party can’t fill a table, be prepared to make friends with your neighbors.

The Vineyard introduced itself to downtown music lovers with a series of singer-songwriter evenings, starting in March. As of now the series has been extended through April. I was fortunate enough to attend three shows. They were all excellent. And as I was an early arrival, I was able to sit right by the stage all three times.

The first show was a solo performance by David Bromberg. In addition to being a masterful finger-style guitarist, Bromberg is also a raconteur. Between songs he told humorous stories about the 60s folk music scene in the Village. His playing was magnificent. He sings in a strong but nasal voice. It’s not classically beautiful but it’s effective. He really seemed to enjoy playing without a band. It enabled him to play songs he doesn’t usually play and change directions at will.

Next was James Maddock. James, originally from England, first came to prominence with the band Wood. For the last ten years or so he has been a fixture of the New York music scene, frequently performing at Rockwood Hall. Maddock was accompanied by a lead guitarist (can’t remember his name!). His songs are beautifully written and he sings in a sweet but husky voice. He has a warm stage presence somewhat reminiscent of James Taylor.

Last week Amy Helm took the stage- and I mean took it. She brought a 5 piece band onto a piece of real estate the size of a large postage stamp. Amy is the daughter of the late great Levon Helm. Her songs I guess could be categorized as Americana. The band was wonderful, although in the close quarters I was afraid the bass player was going to decapitate the keyboardist. She has a strong voice, always in the pocket with her talented band. I will share her set list: the version of Alan Toussant’s “Yes We Can Can” with a guest trumpeter was a highlight. Things calmed down a bit after the drummer left mid-set for another gig- a first for me.

Didn’t It Rain
Sky’s Falling
Rescue Me
Gentling Me
Cotton And The Cane
(live debut)
(Grateful Dead cover)
Yes We Can Can
(Allen Toussaint cover)
Down South In New Orleans
(Bobby Charles cover)
Bye Bye Love
(Allen Toussaint cover)
Deep Water
Rockin’ Chair
(The Band cover)
Play Video
([traditional] cover)
(Ain’t That) Good News
(Sam Cooke cover)

Only You Know and I Know
(Dave Mason cover)

Let’s hope this beautiful new venue continues to give artists like this a place where they can be seen in a comfortable and civilized setting. I had a different appetizer and main course at each of the shows, and they were all good, as were the wines I had with them. However, at the last show I think I was given regular instead of decaf – so much for sleep that night. And for us Jersey residents, the location right by the Holland Tunnel couldn’t be more convenient.



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