Still feeling hungover from Governor’s Ball? Maybe it’s time to chill out and opt for a classy alternative. In all the hype of festival season, there is another gem held on Governor’s Island for two weekends this summer. The Jazz Age Lawn party, hosted and conceived by Michael Arenella, is a delightful throwback to the roaring 20s.
Governor’s Island will come to life with all the zest, charm and magic of the jazz era. Guests enjoy authentic music and cuisine from the 1920s on the beautiful landscape while dressing up in period appropriate outfits and dancing the night away. I got the chance to sit down with the musician-turned-entrepreneur at his recent album release show at the Clarkson Restaurant in the West Village, where we discussed his music, his inspiration and the Jazz Age Lawn Party over a glass of wine.
What inspires Arenella to return to this bygone era? He says “I feel it’s an obligation that I have been called upon to give the music of the past a new life. As a society we have been floundering for a while, we are lacking certain glamour, sophistication, elegance, maybe even a little bit of dignity. This music is essential to those attributes.” Simply taking a listen to any of Arenella’s music instantly gives one this feeling of elegance, a time-machine to a funner, freer and superbly marvelous time.
Michael Arenella was first a trombone player, an instrument he says “implies its own heritage and repertory. The ‘pop’ music of the 20s and 30s was all horn driven.” The lead musical act at the Jazz Age Lawn party is Michael Arenella & The Dreamland Orchestra, a jazz/swing group dedicated to this very “pop” music.
The Jazz Age Lawn party is in its 10th year which has a latent importance to it. An event that in its first year had 50 guests is now expecting close to 5,000. “We are always trying to throw a better, more fabulous party, and the more popular we get the more that responsibility grows” Arenella says. He takes on a very “if you build it they will come” attitude, and is very committed to conveying “the zest and beauty of the era.” Others sharing Arenella’s enthusiasm are the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, claiming the Jazz Age Lawn Party to be the most anticipated event of the summer.
So while you are getting your Governor’s Ball, EZOO and Bonnaroo festival tickets you may want to consider The Jazz Age Lawn Party. Tickets are still available for the August 15th and 16th parties and you can hear Michael Arenella & The Dreamland Orchestra’s beautiful and charmingly nostalgic album on soundcloud, although, by just doing this Michael thinks you’re missing out. “If you listen to me at home, you won’t come hear me play. I’m not interested in recording, I like the natural expression of music as it is manifested live.”
Written by Alessandra Licul