It's not often a film evokes the spirit of a city the way John Turturro's Passione captures the musical exuberance that pulses through Naples, Italy. We're not talking opera, but a blend of genres that reflects the cultures of the city's invaders as well as its more recent immigrants. Greeks and Spaniards, Arabs and Americans, Turks and French—their songs and melodies have thrived, mixed, and married in a cultural petri dish warmed by the southern Italian sun. And that, in a nutshell, is the whole point of the movie.
Thanks in large part to the reopening of Goldeneye (doubles from $672), this Caribbean isle has been making waves, but you can experience its rich flavor without hopping on a plane. Now on iPods everywhere: the Jolly Boys, whose shuffling mento rhythm and twangy banjo evoke Jamaica’s movie-star days—after all, the band did entertain Errol Flynn there in the 1950’s. The septuagenarians are back this month with Great Expectation (Geejam Recordings), an album of covers (Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”; Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) recorded at the Geejam Hotel, near Port Antonio. Listen to their tracks over slow-grilled jerk chicken and ginger beer at Miss Lily’s (132 W. Houston St.; 646/588-5375; dinner for two $76), in New York City; the restaurant was just opened by Paul Salmon, co-owner of Negril’s Rockhouse hotel.
Photo by Anousha Hutton
Beginning in 2007 with the Berlin in Lights festival, Carnegie Hall has featured the music and culture of global destinations through wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary programming in its three concerts halls and at institutions throughout New York City. But right now, perhaps no other festival may be as important as JapanNYC (March-April), which celebrates the diversity of Japanese culture in more than 40 performances and events and pays special tribute to Japan and its people in the aftermath of this month’s earthquake and tsunami.
Lobby DJ’s are so last decade. The latest amenity: live concerts at hotels by Grammy Award–winning musicians.
As part of Renaissance Hotels’ new program RLife Live, guests may very well check in while listening to musicians—Thievery Corporation, Solange Knowles, or the Neon Trees—perform live. To know who’s playing where, visit rlifelive.com (dates are posted two weeks in advance). One recent showstopper: Bruno Mars’s New Year’s Eve concert at the R Lounge Times Square, with a certain crystal ball as the backdrop.
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure
Illustration by Kikou Johnson
If you’ve never heard of this international artist—I say artist rather than musician because what she does is art, in so many forms—there’s a good chance you have spent the last two years living under a rock, or in complete isolation. A veritable overnight sensation, Gaga has such a devout fan base—whom she affectionately refers to as her “little monsters”—getting tickets to one of her live concerts can be near impossible. (Not only do her tickets sell out in a matter of minutes, when she performed for the Today Show on July 9 this year, a record 18,000 fans crowded the streets in NYC’s Rockefeller Center just for a chance to see/hear her perform a few songs, no ticket required.)
On August 13, Gaga will be taking the stage at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena and, though tickets have already sold out (naturally), there are two ways you have a chance to not only win a trip to Vegas to see this concert for free, but also meet her. (I know, dream come true, right?)
When was the last time you bought a new album at an actual brick and mortar record shop? In the age of iTunes, it’s become the norm to download music from the internet. I'm guilty, too, even though you can frequently find me and my camera jammed in the front row covering concerts for various music publications.
Tomorrow, take advantage of the spring weather and head over to your local record shop for Record Store Day, a celebration of independently owned record stores in the United States, and other countries worldwide, now in its third year.
In addition to special vinyl and CD releases being made exclusively for Record Store Day from the likes of Phoenix and Jamie Lidell, there will also be a number of in-store appearances and performances from a wide variety of musicians, including Slash, Emmylou Harris, and Yeasayer. Search for your local participating stores here. I’ve put together a short list of standout events after the break.
When my boyfriend was invited to read a story of his at the launch of the newest issue of The Pinch literary magazine, based in Memphis, I convinced him we had to go. I love the South—for its friendly locals, music, and most importantly, for its food. Instead of spending upward of $300 on a flight, we decided to take a road trip. Surprisingly we only got lost once in 1,000 or so miles between New York and Memphis. And it was all because the ferocious beasts at Dinosaur Land distracted me from my navigatrix duties. Oops.
Where did author Jack Kerouac go to escape the legend that came with his life "on the road?" Big Sur. He holed up in a cabin along this vast stretch of California coast for over a month in 1960, desperate to find some inner peace while struggling with fame and alcohol addiction. He chronicled the experience in his novel Big Sur, one of his lesser known autobiographical works that now—40 years after Kerouac passed away on October 21, 1969—is coming to life in a new documentary film.
In T+L’s November issue I railed against the creep of background music into every corner of the traveler’s world, from airplane cabins to hotel lobbies to spa waiting rooms. I may have been, I now realize, a little harsh. True, most piped-in music functions like sonic novocaine: a fitting sound track for getting your teeth bleached. But there are bright spots. More businesses are realizing that background music need not be anodyne or obvious; that, in fact, a compelling sound track can elevate (pardon the pun) one’s experience of a place as effectively as smooth service or flattering lighting.
So maybe background music is improving. We’d better hope so. Given the sorry state of radio and the recording industry, hotel lobbies and day spas and the like are often the only places people hear new music nowadays. Bebel Gilberto sold a million-odd copies of Tanto Tempo, but how often was she played on commercial radio or MTV? Ditto Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Madeleine Peyroux, and Nouvelle Vague: many if not most listeners were introduced to these artists, consciously or unconsciously, at their favorite sushi bar or Sephora store. (Or, in the case of Feist, via an iPod ad.)
The New York cultural season, though just started, seems electrically charged as a new generation of conductors is stepping up and onto the podium. In mid-September, Alan Gilbert took over as music director of the New York Philharmonic, the first native New Yorker in the orchestra's 167-year history.
And on Friday, October 9, the New York Pops orchestra will introduce its young, dynamic music director Steven Reineke.