Cornelia St. Cafe all-stars in free Meatpacking concert

The amazing, multi-instrumental David Amram, 86 years young, played at the Cornelia Street Café’s 40th anniversary celebration on the Fourth of July. Amram — who used to hang out with the Beats and jam with Bob Dylan — regularly plays at the cafe once a month. Photo by Tequila Minsky
Multi-instrumental marvel David Amram — who used to hang out with the Beats and jam with Bob Dylan, before becoming a Cornelia Street Cafe regular — will kick off Cornelia Meatpacking’s Sept. 15 free concert. (File photo by Tequila Minsky)

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Cornelia Street in Exile returns Downtown as Cornelia Meatpacking with an end-of-summer celebration — a free outdoor concert in the Meatpacking District on Sun., Sept. 15.

The event is a collaboration between Cornelia Street and Aurora Capital, William Gottlieb Real Estate and the Meatpacking Business Improvement District. Aurora and Gottlieb are partners on the “Gansevoort Row” redevelopment project that is rebuilding — and raising building heights, to neighbors’ chagrin — along the south side of landmarked Gansevoort St.

Gansevoort Plaza, at Ninth Ave. and Gansevoort St., will be the venue from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Host will be Robin Hirsch, the former owner of the Cornelia Street Cafe, the landmark West Village bistro and performance space that closed its doors this past January after 41 years in business.

The afternoon will feature music, poetry and performances by an array of distinguished performers from the café’s long history — plus surprise guests.

Jared Epstein, principal at Aurora Capital Associates, is credited with pushing the idea to create the Meatpacking District outdoor festival, along with helping broker the partnership between Hirsch and William Gottlieb Real Estate, with the backing of Jeffrey LeFrancois, the Meatpacking BID’s executive director. 

“This event is dedicated to the incredible community that frequents the Meatpacking District and the patrons of the beloved Cornelia Street Cafe,” Epstein said. “The Meatpacking District has become a thriving hub for business, retail and tourism, and we want to pay homage to the Cornelia Street Cafe, which was an important mainstay of the downtown scene for decades.”

Arturo O’Farrill and his trio will be playing the Cornelia Meatpacking free concert on Sept. 15. (Courtesy Aurora Capital)

Hirsch has taken the lead in curating the event. Renowned composer David Amram, whose connection to the Village extends back to the Beats, will kick off the festivities with his personable blend of musical improvisation, spoken word and scat.

Also on hand will be Arturo O’Farrill — six-time Grammy-winning pianist, composer and music educator — and his trio, bringing their brand of Afro-Latin-influenced jazz to the plaza. 

In addition, the Bond Street Theater’s Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, an eclectic group of musicians, will entertain with a unique brand of swing, jazz and Dixieland music — all while towering over the crowd, on stilts. 

And fans of Brazilian jazz will enjoy the smooth stylings of Rogerio Souza and the Billy Newman Quarteto.

Hirsch has also called on a list of gifted artists and performers who called Cornelia St. Cafe home to drop in throughout the afternoon and surprise the audience with their artistry, including poets, singers, violinists, possibly dancers and more.

In April, Cornelia Street did six shows at Brooklyn Commons, on Atlantic Ave.

“Jared Epstein has been very, very supportive of this,” Hirsch said. “He approached me initially. The outdoor festival may have been my idea. We’re Cornelia Street in Exile. There’s no idea where we’ll pop up next.”

“Last month, the Meatpacking District opened three new public plazas in the neighborhood after many years of construction,” said the BID’s LeFrancois. “These plazas will bring dynamic programming into the community, and we’re thrilled to be launching with Cornelia Street in Exile, and their amazing roster of musicians and performers.”

The concert’s organizers hope it becomes an annual tradition. 

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