Walking up to the venue, my friend turned to me, confused. “Is that the space?” She pointed. “It looks tiny.”
Indeed The City Winery appeared to be a corner store. Hardly a spot for a lavish dinner event, followed by an intimate affair with the Haitian great, Wyclef Jean… but then my eyes shifted. It would be incorrect to call City Winery the staple of wine inNew York City. Staples are small. They bend. Sometimes they don’t properly click into place. And for a moment, on the outside it deceives this impression, but then you take in the entire Tribeca block, and realize: holy shit, the whole thing is The City Winery.
Nope. Not the staple of NYC wine. The stapler.
The space was packed with the hip and well-suited, though the latter were sitting and the hip were standing. The large bar was packed with single bills laid on the counter top, beckoning for a little attention. We went to the back of the room and watched plates of pizza, with sizzling melted cheese and tart smelling basil pass beneath our noses. A roasted chicken that made me hate the suits. Those bastards. Getting to rest their capped teeth into the warm salty meat. To hell with them! But that wasn’t in the spirit of the event. Love baby. Peace. Drink the Wyclef Wine. Fact. Wyclef now has a wine in collaboration with City Winery, and it is as dark and lovely as the man himself… is that okay for me to say?
Soon after we arrived, the show kicked off. Clef looked fit in a velvet jacket and white slacks. Anyone who says no to white after labor day, hasn’t seen Wyclef Jean in white slacks. He started off with a short eulogy in memory of Whitney Houston. They had been recording together just before she passed, and he played a snippet of a song they had been working on. A re-working free style of her classic, “My Love Is Your Love.” It was more than a little eerie to hear her beautiful gospel voice. Still there. Clean and alive. My skin rippled to the coo, and my friend outstretched her arm, “Goosebumps.”
After the song, Clef worked a freestyle on stage, rapping about his place in the world. His meditations in that exact moment. In a word, “Pizza.” I’m simply reporting, don’t give me that look. It worked. And then the list started off.
“No Woman No Cry.” I loved the Fugees. I grew up on them, and embraced all they had to offer. But hot damn, Mr. Jean can hold that ditty all on his lonesome. “Gone ‘Til November.” I slept in my brother’s room for the greater part of my childhood. After seeing Mars Attacks! I was pretty confident that little green aliens wanted to kill me. Still dealing with that. But at night my brother played this song on repeat as I fell asleep. I felt the same calm hearing it live. “Two Wrongs.” I had totally forgotten about this song. “This is gonna get some people laid tonight,” he called out between lyric breaks. I turned to my friend. She shook her head. I turned to the big black man next to me. He shook his head too… though he obliged me a picture. Something’s just aren’t meant to be, but that song surely was. They say two wrongs don’t make a right. So if I’m wrong I ain’t trying to fight. I’m trying to have some dinner with some candlelight. Lay up in the bed and make love all night. “Sweetest Girl,” followed soon after, with a grand finale of “Carnivale,” featuring a performance by The New York Samba School.
City Winery and Wyclef will join up again March 31st. I highly recommend grabbin’ some tickets. All info can be found at http://citywinery.com/events/256832.
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