Drom, the home of global music in New York, celebrates its 15th anniversary

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New York’s Drom will celebrate 15 years as Manhattan’s unofficial home for global music by scheduling a special series of 15 shows, festivals and events featuring acclaimed artists and legendary performers throughout 2022. first slate of shows is announced and includes Turkish indie band Mor ve Ötesi; the GRAMMY-winning Latin jazz group Spanish Harlem Orchestra; Jazz guitar legend Mike Stern and the New York Gypsy All Stars with Franco-Lebanese trumpet genius Ibrahim Maalouf. Additionally, Drom has teamed up with Lincoln Center, Brooklyn’s Barbes, and globalFEST for a one-time July 30 concert at Damrosch Park on July 30 as part of Lincoln Center’s “Summer for the City” series. See below for more details and ticket links for all shows.

Located on Avenue A in the East Village, Drom is a gypsy-language word for travel. Thousands of artists and countless music fans have made the trip to the club. It’s a music venue that celebrates these diverse yet intersecting cultures, showcasing hundreds of performances by international, national, and New York-based artists over the past 15 years.

Founded by Serdar Ilhan and curated with Mehmet Dede, Drom welcomes musicians and listeners who share a passion for live music and performance.

“Our goal from the beginning was to bring cultures from different regions together in one room,” says Serdar, who moved from Istanbul to New York in 1989. “We created a scene with contemporary world music and jazzy sounds.”

“Few venues were willing to take risks with diverse world cultures and music, but we did and still do,” Mehmet adds. “Sometimes that means a sold-out Cuban soul-funk show, other times a handful of people watch Mongolian throat singing. It might be left-wing music, but it has a community even if it’s small and talks about our mission to celebrate cultural diversity in the performing arts.”

There are never two identical nights. While programming all kinds of music, they took chances with Eastern European music. There was Greek music. There was Turkish music. Responding to Serdar and Mehmet’s goals, Drom spotlighted immigrant communities, their culture and their music.

Serdar is the owner and manager who overlooks every part of the place. From interior decoration to the kitchen, which he has transformed in recent years. From now on, the quality of the food is at the height of the animation. An accomplished photographer, Serdar’s photographs hang on the club’s Wall of Fame, displayed as patrons enter the club. A trained graphic designer, he designed the club logo and all other design elements used by the club to present shows.

While Serdar still enjoys booking bands, programming director Mehmet handles most of the bookings, working with artists, agents and their management. Both were honored with the globalFEST Impact Award last year for their cross-cultural work. Mehmet is internationally recognized as an award-winning music curator, festival producer and tour organizer. He also teaches at the Hartt School Conservatory of Music at the University of Hartford. Still, Drom and booking music remain a passion.

“I’m excited to discover these bands, introduce them to our audience, our community and beyond,” says Mehmet. “We wanted the club to be a discovery platform, a showcase for emerging talent. A place for artists who make noise.”

They also have a reputation for featuring yet-to-be-discovered local and jazz artists like Robert Glasper, Snarky Puppy and Gregory Porter before moving to large rooms. Jazz royalty like Chico Hamilton, Al De Meola, Jimmy Cobb and Sun Ra Orchestra have played Drom. Up-and-coming Brooklyn pop singer Sammy Rae played a sold-out show just before the pandemic hit.

The room also attracts big stars looking for a more intimate setting. This includes J. Cole when he was already playing Arenas and the Legendary Gloria Gaynor. Hip hop stars like ?uestlove, Afrika Bambaataa, Q-tip from A Tribe Called Quest come here to spin records.

Unfortunately, some places didn’t return after the pandemic shutdown because they couldn’t see a way forward, but Drom is not one of those places. Never was. “We realized that people can’t live without music,” Serdar says. “The fire and the passion are still there, 15 years later and still going.”

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