This week I was treated to one of those magical day that feels like falling down an enchanted rabbit hole. Beginning with a spur of the moment bike ride up to Transmitter Park, home of the best view of Manhattan Brooklyn can offer, I soak up a couple hours of riverside sunshine. To my left, I spot a barge bedecked in tables, chairs and what looks like way more fun than usual. Met by my honey, we decide to explore this tugboat of fun. Indeed, it is the fully launched Brooklyn Barge, a barge bar cum beer garden docked on the Greenpoint shore of the East River. We marvel at our luck: drinks and a boat in the middle of the afternoon? The crowd is small and friendly. Ideal. Some plastic cup pints and tacos in the golden hour of the day enjoyed on deck is better than hitting the jackpot, as far as I'm concerned.
Next we head to Red Hook to meet friends and dig our heels into some serious bluegrass. Red Hook is the Venice Beach of Brooklyn. It makes you consider living on a boat and wish someone would give you the nickname 'Skipper.' It's the place where every great bar or restaurant you've heard of but haven't made it to resides, and Sunny's is their greatest. Open since the 80s, Sunny's has the worn in, tinker's workshop feeling that can only be created by decades of regular neighborhood visitation. It has a way of gathering exactly who needs to be there exactly when they need to be. Random friends show up as reliably as the ones you planned to meet.
Each Wednesday night, the bar is brought alive by Smokey's Roundup, orchestrated by the legendary Smokey Hormel. Smokey, a session guitarist who has played with the likes of Adele, Beck, Johnny Cash, Cibo Matto, Neil Diamond, The Dixie Chicks, Josh Groban, Marianne Faithfull, Norah Jones, K. D. Lang, Sean Lennon, David Lynch, Beth Orton, Kid Rock, Joe Strummer, Justin Timberlake, Rufus Wainwright, and Tom Waits. (to name a few), has led this country, bluegrass and blues night since 2006, and boy does the neighborhood turn out! Adorably mismatched couples dip and turn across the dance floor. The rest of the audience bobs their heads and taps their feet to the bouncing rhythms of this talented pack of musicians. Out back, people smoke cigarette and whatever else and peer through the back door at the band. Everyone gets giddy from a lot more than the suds, mostly from the good vibes and friendly familiarity of the night. Feels like something from back home, small town. Maybe this is how Red Hook snares the lucky ones it does to call home.