Arts & Entertainment

This month's highlights.


The Queen of Soul Reigns Supreme in Stamford, CT




What you want? What you need? Baby, Aretha Franklin still got it. So give her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T she’s earned throughout her 50-year career of singing powerful, gut-busting gospel, soul, and R&B hits by heading out to see her at the Stamford Center for the Arts’ Palace Theater. She certainly got a little respect when she was the first woman inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but you have to see her perform in person to truly understand why she was such an obvious choice. The famed Queen of Soul gives her one-night-only concert on May 17—and seats are sure to go quickly, so buy fast to avoid being one of the chain of fools stuck outside without a ticket.


Feeling Crafty?





Warning: If you attend Artrider Productions’ “Spring Crafts at Lyndhurst" on May 18 to 20, you will be tempted to come home with a new object d’art. Perhaps a new piece of limited-edition jewelry will call out to you, or a one-of-a-kind small-furniture item or wall sculpture will look like the perfect thing to fill the blank spot in your living room. How can you resist when you have items like Sandi Garris’ hand-dyed and -batiked wall quilt (pictured) all around? Just go for it: sales from the event go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, so at least your impulse buys will be doing some good. In total, more than 300 artists and craftspeople will be on-hand hawking their accessories, home décor items, ceramics, and crafts in glass, metal, wood, and mixed media. For those not into the crafts-market thing—spouses and children, we’re thinking of you—there will also be specialty foods, kids’ activities, and live music.


3 Questions for...


Travis Sluss, executive director, Red Lotus Productions




I have a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Travis Sluss. After all, he’s already head of his own recording studio and a concert producer for big-name acts—and he hasn’t even graduated from Purchase College yet. The newest venture for the life-long Harrison resident is Red Lotus Productions, a nonprofit organization that puts on music events to help worthy causes. His first big concert, which took place in March, featured quirky indie songwriter Regina Spektor and benefited the Conservatory of Music at Sluss’s future alma mater.


1) How did you get involved in music?


When I was in high school, I interned at recording studios in the city. Through that, I learned about production and made connections. About seven years ago, I started my own recording studio, Crazy Hair Productions. At first, I was just recording friends, but it sounded good so it kept growing. Now we also do random things like film soundtracks or original music for people. We like to put our hands in everything.


2) Where did the idea for Red Lotus Productions come from?


I’ve lived in Westchester all my life so I know we don’t get good entertainment. I wanted to bring more popular artists into the area. Then I thought it would be better if I could entertain while helping out charitable causes. So now, we find nonprofit groups—or they find us—and we help them put on an event. Our first big event was for the Music Conservatory. In the future, we’re going to work with World Hunger Year.


3) If you could get any band to come play Westchester, who would it be?


Ben Folds—he’s probably my favorite musician. I also really like Broken Social Scene, a band not too many adults know about.


Just the Two of Them




Duets by married singers are nothing new. They’ve been tackled by everyone from Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash to Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. But when husband-and-wife cabaret singers Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano take the stage at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts on May 5, it’ll mark the couple’s first-ever joint performance—and getting them to share a stage is no small feat. They’ve each wracked up enough cred to sell out their own separate shows. The New Yorker called Comstock “an icon in the making,” while Fasano was hailed by Time Out New York as “one of the coolest singers in town.” The program, aptly titled “Two for the Road,” has the duo performing songs written by other famous pairs: Rodgers & Hart, Kern & Fields, Coleman & Leigh, Ellington & Strayhorn, and the Gershwins, among others. Fasano will also do a number or two off her new Harold Arlen album, Written in the Stars.



This Old House Tour




Like sunny yellow daffodils, charity house tours always seem to spring up around the county in May. Here’s where you can go to steal some decorating ideas:


• May 3 and 4: Visit a Southport Harbor antique house, a Greenfield Hill Colonial, and four other gorgeous Connecticut homes at the Southport/Westport Designer House Tour, to benefit Near & Far Aid. A cocktail reception kicks off the events on May 3, and the tour gets underway on May 4 after a breakfast featuring guest speaker Edward Goodman of Scalamandré (203-259-1710;


• May 6: The Accent on New Rochelle House Tour takes spectators to see five of the Queen City’s most spectacular homes, including a waterfront Tudor, a Wakagyl Colonial, and a renovated mid-century ranch, all to benefit the Solomon Katz Breast Center at the Sound Shore Medical Center (914-637-1628;


• May 11: The Junior League of Bronxville hosts its "Trails to Treasures" house tour, which features trunk shows at six beautiful estates (914-793-5097). There's also the aptly named Ridgefield Kitchen Tour, with six kitchens to behold (203-645-3259).


• May 18: The Rye High School Parents’ Organization has five unique homes on its house tour, plus a sit-down or to-go luncheon and fashion boutique at a historic Rye Colonial (914-698-9045).


• May 19: The oldest house-and-garden tour in America, “A Day in Old New Castle,” returns for its 83rd year. In addition to historic homes and gardens, the daylong event offers historical re-enactments, Victorian dancers, choral singers, and open-hearth cooking (877-496-9498;


Pretty in Pinkster


Warm weather, radiant sunshine, and bright blooms are all kicking into high gear—kinda makes you want to get outside and dance, doesn’t it? If so, celebrate the springtime colonial-style with the Philipsburg Manor’s Pinkster Festival on May 20.  Pinkster is a raucous, let-loose holiday that was observed in the Hudson Valley by enslaved Africans as early as the 17th Century to welcome the new season—and Philipsburg Manor knows how to put on a good festival. It’s invited Kazi Oliver and Company to lead drumming and dancing workshops while Chef El-Amin serves up some festive ethnic fare. There will also be music, colonial dancing, period games, storytelling, and a grand parade headed by the Pinkster King.


The Wright Stuff




It’s easy to breeze right by Pleasantville’s Usonia—an enclave of 50 modernist homes developed under the supervision of über-architect Frank Lloyd Wright—and never even know you missed it. Now, the community is coming out of the woods that so inspired Wright and into the spotlight as an exhibition, “Frank Lloyd Wright and Usonia: An Experiment in Living,” debuts at The Studio in Armonk on May 5. The first such exhibit in 25 years, the show will feature photos, newspaper articles (including a New York Times piece dating back to 1947), Wright’s architectural drawings, and original site plans, among other archival materials not previously available to the public. On the opening day, Roland Reisley, Usonia resident, author of Usonia New York: Building a Community with Frank Lloyd Wright, and Usonia’s de facto historian, will give a lecture about the community. The exhibition will be open through June 24.


The Barber of Blue Hill


We all love Blue Hill at Stone Barns. And I mean really love it—whoever in the county claims they haven’t had a mid-week craving for the café’s duck panini simply hasn’t tried it yet. Want to learn its secret ingredient? Get face-time with Blue Hill chef Dan Barber during Westchester Community College’s “Celebrity Salons,” a series of intimate appearances by celebrity speakers at private homes throughout the county. Barber will lead a discussion at a waterfront home in Ossining on May 2. And yes, some goodies will be served.



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