Ukrainian bandura master to join Cuban musicians

“Ukraine Meets Cuba” at Flushing Town Hall Aug. 21

Julian Kytasty, Danae Blanco and Juan Carlos Formell.

Later this month, concert-goers of Flushing Town Hall will experience a unique cultural blend.

As part of their most in-demand series, Common Ground: Mini-Global Mashups, Flushing Town Hall will continue its summer run with the Ukraine Meets Cuba concert on August 21 at 1 p.m.

The concert will feature Julian Kytasty, master of the Ukrainian bandura, which is essentially a Ukrainian lute or harp, and Havana-based singer Danae Blanco.

They will be accompanied by Grammy-nominated Cuban guitarist Juan Carlos Formell.

Julian Kytasty was born in Detroit, Michigan, but prides himself in being the descendant of Ukrainian immigrants.

In fact, Kytasty’s first language was Ukrainian, and he’s been playing the bandura since he was a child—carrying on the family tradition.

He is one of the world’s premier players of the bandura, and the instrument’s leading North American exponent.

Kytasty has performed and taught instrumental and choral music throughout the Americas and Europe.

“I developed a very close relationship with the instrument over the years and everything associated with it. I’ve done a lot of research on it,” he said.

“The bandura is such a beautiful, unique instrument that many people probably haven’t heard, and I’m always looking for opportunities to bring it to new audiences.”

Kytasty has been recognized for his expertise in epic songs and early bandura repertoire.

From 1989 to 1990, Kytasty was one of the first North American-born bandurists to tour Ukraine, performing in over 100 concerts.

Blanco provides a welcomed counterpoint to Cuba’s typically male-dominated timba music with her feisty delivery and enchanting lyrics, and has even been credited with bringing salsa romantica into the 21st century.

In 1993, Blanco joined the famous Cuban underground group 5U4, also known as “The Beatles of the Americas,” as a vocalist.

She released her debut single, “Pido,” in 2003 and has been a mainstay in Cuban music since.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Juan Carlos Formell is at the forefront of a new generation of musicians from Cuba who are redefining the parameters of Cuban music.

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Formell has been hailed as a successor to iconic Cuban artists such as Caetano Veloso, Joao Gilberto, Jackson Browne and Nick Drake.

Juan Carlos’ father, Juan Formell, is a bassist and the founder of the trailblazing group Los Van Van.

“Audiences can look forward to enjoying amazing performers whose music is tied to their traditions but simultaneously modernized and fused with other musical elements that expand their borders,” said Frank London, acclaimed trumpeter and composer and curator of the series.

“We are so lucky to be able to put on these Mini-Global Mashups each month and give the fans a great show,” says Flushing Town Hall Executive & Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek.

“I am looking forward to our audience being able to experience the phenomenal musical talents of Julian Kytasty, Danae Blanco, and Juan Carlos Formell.”

The August 21st performance will be followed by a Q+A conversation between the artists and the audience.

In-person tickets are $12 for Flushing Town Hall members and $15 for non-members. Those who are unable to attend in person can view the livestream for free at Donations are encouraged.

For the Mini-Global Mashup series’ full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit: or call (718) 463-7700 x222.

For the venue’s full schedule of 2022 Summer and Fall  events, visit:

The Eighties Strike Back in Middle Village

Rubix Kube performs at Juniper

As part of Councilman Robert Holden’s summer concert series in partnership with NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and Queensborough Performing Arts Center, Rubix Kube rocked the house last Thursday.

Hundreds of locals gathered in the Multi Purpose Play Area of Juniper Valley Park for “The Eighties Strike Back Show” by the celebrated tribute band, self described as the “rad lovechild of a Rock concert and a Broadway musical.”

From Michael Jackson to Madonna, the group’s singers, musicians, and dancers wowed the audience with the hottest tracks from the decade.

The band’s frontman, Scott Lovelady, transformed himself into the iconic faces of the ‘80s with the costumes to match, as did the danc- ers with their flashy neon wardrobe reminiscent of the time.

They were also joined by 11-year- old vocalist and drummer, Kobi Reese—who channeled Billy Idol for the night.

Rubix Kube’s frontwoman, Cherie Martorana Neve, hails from Massachusetts and lives in New Jersey. She was proud to perform on the Juniper Park stage for a lively crowd of people.

Although the ‘80s has so many hits and genres of popular music, Martorana Neve said her favorite song to perform by far is “Under Pres- sure” by David Bowie and Queen.

“It’s an incredible song that’s sung by two of the most legendary and talented musicians of all time. Most of all, the lyrics of that song are more relevant now than they have ever been,” she said.

“When we perform the song now, it’s like everything going on in the world for COVID, politics, just get- ting older, growing, everything. We get emotional when we perform that song; I actually cry sometimes and get teary eyed,” she continued. “It’s just a very moving song, but in all the right ways. Not a lot of songs do that, but music does that in general.”

Michael Jackson’s signature moves

For more free concert fun, check out this week’s Rolling Stones tribute band—Satisfaction—on July 14 at 7 p.m. in Juniper Valley Park.

Little Billy Idol

Cherie Martorana Neve

Hair metal was well-represented


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