Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

New York City Music Clubs and Venues

Updated 7/26/21, this list of over 200 clubs includes pretty much every New York establishment which had music frequently, as well as a small handful who hosted only occasional live shows before the lockdown.

Venues booked by Live Nation are not included here, since this isn’t a blog for corporate music, bait-and-switch ticket scams, or spaces which are complicit in New Abnormal lethal injection schemes. Venues which require proof of lethal injection for admission are listed on the short shitlist at the very bottom of this page.

From now on, this page will be updated regarding closures. Venues which close will not be deleted as in the past.

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Aaron Davis Hall
On the City College campus between W 133rd and 135th Sts on Convent Ave, one block east of Amsterdam Ave.
1 to 137th St. (don’t take the 2 or the A because those stations are on the other side of Morningside Park, and there’s no direct stairway through the park nearby)

Movies, occasional theatre and concerts once or twice a month in this comfortable auditorium. Some events are very expensive; others are free, although they usually require a RSVP. They like latin jazz a lot here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Alphaville OUT OF BUSINESS
140 Wilson Ave. (Stuydam/Willoughby), Bushwick
J/M to Central Ave.

Refreshingly laid-back beer bar with pub grub and a repurposed former bodega backroom for music, comparable sizewise and soundwise to Gold Sounds.  Music here ran the gamut from loud and noisy to retro and garagey; some surprisingly popular national touring acts showed up here from time to time. Cover was cheap, usually no more than $10. Sad to lose what was a welcome alternative to the more trendoid-infested venues in the neighborhood.

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***RATED BEST MANHATTAN VENUE 2016***
American Folk Art Museum
Columbus Ave. at 66th St.
1 to 66th St./Lincoln Center

The more or less weekly free Friday evening acoustic and global music shows hosted by crystalline-voiced Americana singer Lara Ewen were consistently excellent, a mix of front-porch folk, acoustic songwriters, string bands and sounds from the Balkans to the Mediterranean.  Performances, in the museum’s echoey, high-ceilinged first-floor atrium, have not resumed since the lockdown. Museum admission is also free, the staff here are very personable, but New Abnormal restrictions apply (limited time in the gallery, free tickets only available online). The sound here was better and more cathedral-like than what you would expect;  the seats would fill up fast with a mixed crowd of neighborhood folks and tourists.  The exhibits here remain very interesting and feature unknown and undeservedly obscure treasures from across the decades.

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The Americas Society
680 Park Ave at 70th St.
6 to 68th St.

Through March of 2020, there were occasional concerts with a mix of new music, classical and jazz from across Latin America in the cozy second-floor auditorium of this former Gilded Age mansion. Many events were free; some required a rsvp since space can be tight. The staff are friendly.. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Apollo Theatre
253 West 125th Street
between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
A/B/C to 125th St.

The dingy, multi-tiered interior is actually nowhere as big as the tv cameras would have you believe, in fact smaller than the Beacon. The sound isn’t bad but it isn’t pristine either. But this place is a landmark where pretty much everybody who was anybody, from the 30s through the 60s played at one time or another. Compared to the personnel at the other big theatres, the Apollo’s staff seem considerably brighter, more friendly and competent. In the late teens, the theatre opened a pricy upstairs cafe with a considerably smaller stage, stupefyingly bad sound and the occasional hip-hop, soul or corporate performer. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Arete Gallery OUT OF BUSINESS
67 West St., Greenpoint
G to Greenpoint Ave or about a 20-minute walk from the Bedford Ave. L station

The first casualty of the lockdown, permanently closed in March 2020. When the lockdown is over, the owners plan to move any scheduled shows to the Mise-En Space in Greenpoint.

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Arlene Grocery
Stanton between Orchard and Ludlow, south side of the street
F to 2nd Ave.

A taste of Bleecker Street on the Lower East. Arlene’s was ground zero for edgy NYC rock back in the 90s, but by the end of the teens had decayed to a Jersey mallternative room comparable to the Bitter End, even if the sound is better – and it isn’t always, more a fault of the personnel rather than the PA. Cover has risen to the $15 mark – and cash customers are being ripped off because the venue is now giving a discount on online tickets. Before the lockdown, Monday nights, with cover bands and karaoke, were sometimes free. Over the years, the segues between bands here became laughably jarring: singer-songwriter, hip-hop, death metal back-to-back without a thought of how much more money they’d make at the bar if everybody had something in common. Drinks remain on the pricy side although they have shot-and-shitbeer specials, and the bartenders are nice. Potential hassles at the door depend on who’s working: literally everything here has tended to run hot and cold.

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Arthur’s Tavern OUT OF BUSINESS
57 Grove St. just west of 7th Ave. South
1 to Christopher St. or any train to W 4th St., walk west on Waverly

Oldschool west village jazz dive with long-running weekly residencies, which bit the dust when the landlord sold the building in the early days of the lockdown. RIP.

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The Asia Society
725 Park Ave. at 70th St.
6 to 68th St.

Occasional folk, jazz and classical shows in the sonically excellent lower-level auditorium here. Adventurous programming has included both traditional and cutting-edge artists from across Asia, from Iran to China. In the past, ticket prices have been reasonable – in the $25 range, and some events have been free. The staff are nice and the rotating art exhibits are often very edgy as well. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Austrian Cultural Center
11 E 52nd St. (5th/Madison)
E or F to 53rd St.

For years, there were frequent, free classical, jazz and sometimes even rock shows in the cozy third-floor auditorium. A RSVP has typically been required for most of them. The sound is best up in the balcony, accessible by the stairs to the left at the front of the room. Very adventurous and cross-genre programming here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Baby’s All Right OUT OF BUSINESS
146 Broadway south of Bedford, S Williamsburg
J/M to Marcy Ave.

Baby’s All Right was famous for having the best air conditioning of any Brooklyn venue, a big industrial unit up on the ceiling. It was akin to a South Williamsburg version of Bowery Electric. Big stage in the back, a little oversize for the space, and surprisingly good sound for a former Hasidic furniture store space. The acts who played here were a mix of the lamer bands from the now-shuttered Glasslands and Death By Audio, along with occasional punk, psychedelic and garage rock. After a rocky start, there was some turnover and the staff mellowed out. Drinks were pricy. Too bad that some of the shows here gouged customers who opt for paying cash rather than buying online with a credit card.

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Bar Bayeux
1066 Nostrand Ave, (Lefferts/Lincoln), Prospect Lefferts Gardens
2 to Sterling St.

Pricy gentrifier microbrew bar with often exceptionally good, pass-the-hat jazz shows on the little stage in the back, with a couple of couches and chairs. You can see acts here for free that would cost you fifty bucks at a Manhattan jazz club. The staff are chill, the beer selection is good but it’s only drafts, no cheap cans or bottles. Gotta love that name (check the street address).

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Bar Chord
1008 Cortelyou Rd. (Stratford/Coney Island Ave.), Ditmas Park, Brooklyn
Q to Cortelyou Road

Expensive gentrifier bar catering to two separate and distinct crowds: local working people and the affluent new arrivals who until recently were driving them out of the neighborhood. Music on the little stage in the front window, bar alongside it, booths along the other edge of this long, rectangular space, with more tables and a backyard in the rear out of view of the band. No cover charge; the people who work here are nice enough. Before the lockdown, there was music here just about every night at 9 or 10 PM, a mix of jazz, Americana, funk, Afrobeat and the occasional rock band. No cover.Be aware that it’s a long ride home from here if you have to take the B train any distance. Reopened, but not publicizing anything that’s going on music-wise.

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Bar Lunatico 
486 Halsey St., corner of Lewis Ave., Bed-Stuy
C to Kingston/Throop Ave.

After taking a shot at being a shi-shi Jersey folkie joint, they became an elite jazz spot, the Jazz Standard of Brooklyn. Many acts far too popular for a Manhattan room this small played here and are returning since it reopened. It’s a charming little boite, the smell of spices wafting through the room (they serve crostinis and paninis and such), comparable sizewise with the back room at Pete’s. The staff are friendly; drinks are on the pricy side (although coffee and food is a good value), and the sound is fantastic. A perennial contender for best Brooklyn venue.

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The Bar Next Door
129 MacDougal between W 3rd and Washington Square South, right around the corner from the Blue Note
Any train to W 4th St.

A cynic would tell people thinking of going to the Blue Note to go here instead. Too bad it hasn’t reopened as a jazz venue. Better known as la Lanterna (the upstairs restaurant, which runs this little walk-down joint), it’s been a great place to see A-list talent for D-list prices. The restaurant also has good food (pizzas and pastas are consistently excellent). Small ensembles – usually trios, a mix of traditional and more adventurous jazz styles, played in the corner by the fireplace, heavy on the guitarists since the purist Peter Mazza was in charge of booking the place. The audience was pretty much on top of the band. Service is refreshingly oldschool West Village and laid back. Sets were at 8:30/10 Sun-Thurs.; 7, 9 and 11 on weekends; no cover for the early shows, $12 otherwise. Reopened but with no music.

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Baruch College Auditorium
On the south side of the pedestrian street on 25th St. between Lexington and 3rd Ave.
6 to 23rd St.

Frequent classical, jazz and global music here during the school year, in a sonically superb basement-level auditorium that was once home to one of the city’s most widely used recording studios in the 1950s and 60s. Cover has been on the pricy side ($25-$30, sometimes more) although there have been frequent free shows here too. The stairs here are sometimes closed off after hours, meaning that concertgoers need to take the elevator. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Berlin
25 Ave. A at 2nd St. under 2A, enter thru the door on 2nd St.
F to 2nd Ave.

Small basement space with loud sound and weird sightlines which has reopened, reputedly with restrictions and with a discriminatory policy against cash customers (they gouge you extra if you didn’t buy tickets online). The little stage is situated so it’s hard to see unless you’re at one of the tables around the corner from the sound booth, or clustered up on the left between the stage and bar. Cover has recently risen; the staff were annoying in the early going but have since turned over and prior to the lockdown were a pretty friendly bunch. Drinks are pricy as you would expect. Too bad the venue doesn’t have a website and has never done anything to promote the bands, a mix of punk, retro rock and garage acts who play here along with the usual parade of twee indie posers and Beyonce wannabes.

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Birdland
315 W 44th between 8th and 9th Ave.
A/C/E to 42nd St/Port Authority

Legendary, pricy restaurant row jazz club named after Charlie Parker. Swanky as you can expect: table service, expensive drinks and mediocre, overpriced food in the original upstairs dining room and also the more auditorium-like basement. Historically, it’s been on par pricewise with the Blue Note, with a similarly touristy crowd but less harried waitstaff, and with a more adventurous booking strategy including latin and big band jazz. The sound is as good as you would expect for what you pay (the cheaper seats by the door, or downstairs at the bar, are the best value). The staff have been surprisingly nice, maybe because they’re so happy to be back in business without restrictions!

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The Bitter End
Bleecker between LaGuardia and Thompson
A/C/E/B/D/F to West 4th St., take the exit on the south side

The prototypical Bleecker Street hellhole: cheap, cheesy and recently reopened with ridiculously high admission prices, considering the endless parade of Long Island and Jersey amateurs who play here. This place is so cheap that if the band wants to put somebody on the guest list, that comes out of their earnings at the door. Cheesiness is reflected in the Pearl Jam, Dashboard Confessional and Ani DiFranco wannabes onstage, lost in the 90s and cluelessly hoping for a big record label to discover them and make them famous. The sound has always been iffy, crowd Long Island and Jersey touristy, drinks expensive, with a minimum if you want to sit. And the staff are obnoxious – waitresses are always trying to round up people standing against the wall so as to extort money from them at the tables). And they gouge cash customers extra at the door now. Strictly a venue of last resort for acts who can’t get a gig anywhere else. With so many other places to see music in NYC, we definitely don’t need the Bitter End.

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Blackthorn 51
80-12 51st Ave., Elmhurst, Queens
R to Grand Ave, walk west on Queens Blvd

Queens’ home to heavy sounds, both metal and punk. In the months leading up to the lockdown, shows here were limited to only a handful a month. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Blue Note
W 3rd just east of Sixth Ave.
A/C/E/B/D/F to W 4th, take the southside exit

This place was a great jazz club, most likely before you were born, and vestiges of that remain: the sound is superb. But the prices are intimidating, the food is lousy and prices just keep going up. “Bar seating” has is the best deal here – it may get pretty crowded, but just stand in the crowd and you can beat the drink minimum issue. Booking here is a mixed bag, with Pan-American or European performers and the occasional jazz legend interspersed among Lite FM-style elevator jazz acts. Occasionally they’ll have a rock act. On Friday and Saturdays nights after the main acts are done, or for Sunday brunch, they have funk and fusion at reduced prices, but they discriminate against cash customers.

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Bowery Ballroom
Delancey St. just east of Bowery
J to Bowery or F to 2nd Ave., walk south and west

This former Yiddish vaudeville theatre’s slow, sad decline from New York’s best-sounding midsize venue to corporate tourist trap mirrored the decline of the city as a whole. By the late teens, Jersey tourists and parents apparently had stopped worrying about about getting mugged on the Lower East. Meanwhile, a turnover in booking meant the end of a long and storied parade of national touring rock and Americana acts, displaced by Disney autotune pop and its imitators from outside the country along with frequent gay meat market nights, cover bands and “comedy.” Back in the day, the door crew here were chill and didn’t hassle you, and ticket prices were more reasonable than at competing venues. Scheduled to reopen in September 2021, harsh restrictions may apply: it’s not clear if the needle of death will be required for entry.

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Bowery Electric
327 Bowery between 2nd and 3rd Sts.
F to 2nd Ave. or B/D/6 to Broadway-Lafayette

This split-level downstairs space that formerly housed the dreaded tourist bar the Remote Lounge is nothing like its predecessor, or its sister bar Niagara on Ave. A. Reopened, and music is returning slowly, but it’s a mix of old has-been or wannabe punks, the acts who weren’t cool enough to play CB’s back in the day (and you didn’t have to be that cool to play CBGB). At the bottom of the stairs, there’s the bar to your right, with the lower level about half-occupied by a surprisingly big stage for a space this size. The downstairs PA is excellent but the sound can be hit-and-miss, depending on who’s working the board. Occasionally, there have been acoustic performances in the tiny upstairs rehearsal closet straight past the bar, so ridiculously small that there’s hardly room in there for the band, never mind customers. Drinks have traditionally been more affordable than usual considering the neighborhood; the cover charge has risen to ridiculously high levels, i.e. $20 for leftovers from the Max’s Kansas City scene. And they discriminate against cash customers: you have to pay extra for the privilege of using cash if you don’t (or can’t) buy tickets online.

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Branded Saloon
603 Vanderbilt Ave. at Bergen St., Brooklyn
2 to Bergen St., walk uphill 2 blocks

Expensive gay bar with a western theme, pricy diner food, and these days, infrequent acoustic music in the scruffy back room. Beyond the menu, the cowboy theme doesn’t really make itself apparent. Mellow staff, drink prices about average for the neighborhood, but it can be as much of a strain to watch here as it is to play. In quieter moments, the blare of the tv, or the bartender’s phone plugged into the PA in the front room, can drown out the band.

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Bric Arts
647 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place, Ft. Greene, Brooklyn
Any train to Atlantic Ave
Run by the private parketeers who put on the Prospect Park bandshell shows, this multi-purpose venue does quadruple duty as tv station, art gallery, music venue and home base for Silicon Valley slavers who want to make code monkeys out of the kids from across the park. Until the lockdown, there were three rooms; the tiny recording studio (which also hosts public access tv broadcasts), where the occasional concert in the “studio series” was held; the boomy, high-ceilinged front atrium with the occasional “stoop series” show; and the comfy split-level auditorium. Some were free, but rsvps have been required for the studio, predictably selling out fast. Ticketed shows at the auditorium were comparable pricewise to the expensive stuff at BAM; their box office, where advance discount tix were available, is now closed. They’ve reopened but as of summer 2021 aren’t booking any music.

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The Broadway
1272 Broadway, Bushwick
J to Gates Ave and walk back toward Williamsburg

The old Gateway space in summer 2021 with a mix of trendoid bands and some cool psychedelic and punk acts.

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Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn Heights
The closest train is actually the G to Fulton St.; BAM is only half a block away. Otherwise take any train to Atlantic Ave.

Ironically, BAM has mostly movies these days, reopened in June 2021 with nasty restrictions (lasers to zap your pineal gland, and muzzle requirements). The free Friday night shows at the upstairs cafe are long gone. The big, main space with tiered seating, the black-box theatre on Hanson Place and the smaller theatre across the street and down the block all have excellent sound, high ticket prices (advance tix from the BAM box office are a must) and programming that runs the gamut from the avant garde to global sounds, opera and Madonna – who sold out the moment tix went onsale. No music scheduled at present.

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Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Ave. between N 11th and N 12th., Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn’s worst music venue, hands down. These people treated customers like a criminal the moment you approached the door. Violent searches by a sadistic crew of ex-cons hell-bent on feeling you up in the most private places…whether you were a girl or a guy. And a meticulous search via metal detector, ticketholders forced to empty out their backpacks, purses, and pockets! Those who made it past the gauntlet at the door had to contend with a crowd of drunken tourists whooping it up at the bowling lanes. Bands played in the far corner past the lanes, meaning that in quieter moments the music could be inaudible. Booking stoner music – jambands, reggae, Afrobeat and funk – seemed to be a ploy to increase income for this hellhole’s ridiculously overpriced faux-southern-themed kitchen. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Brooklyn Bridge Park
At the water in Dumbo; closest train is actually the A/C to High St. although it’s also a short walk from the F at York St. and the 2/3 at Clark St.

Occasional free concerts on the little stage, hidden in a terraced enclave in the middle of the park, beyond the peninsula with the rollerskating rink.

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Brooklyn Conservatory of Music
58 7th Ave at Lincoln Pl., Park Slope
2/3 to Grand Army Plaza or B/Q to 7th Ave.

Reopened with frequent jazz, classical music and sounds from around the world, outdoors rather than in the school’s rustic, comfortable late 1800s first-floor auditorium. Cheap cover (always under $20, sometimes under $10); nice staff working here; drinks sometimes available. The space is not air conditioned, which might explain why there was no summer schedule here. They’re currently booking some outdoor shows at Byrne Park off 5th Ave. as well.

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Brooklyn Maqam Hang

Not a venue but a rising star in the NYC music world connecting the past and future of Middle Eastern music. They started with a low-key monthly Monday series of shows at Sisters Brooklyn in Fort Greene and then started book events all over the borough. Some were pass-the-hat, some with a cover charge; either way, it was a mix of hometown talent from across the Arabic-speaking world along with rare appearances by artists from the Middle East and North Africa. NO CONCERTS SCHEDULED; SOLO LIVESTREAM PAGE

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Brooklyn Public Library
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
2/4 to Grand Army Plaza

How to describe? Well, it’s full of books, and restrictions. You can see the big, massive old edifice from the subway. Free summer concerts here, outside on the steps, have returned, but the classical and jazz series in one of the small public rooms on the second floor has not. Be aware that many shows require an online RSVP and will sell out. Their site also lists events at the many local BPL branches.

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***RATED BEST MANHATTAN VENUE 2018***
Bryant Park
On 42nd St. between 5th and 6th Ave
Any train to 42nd St.
The frequent early evening and lunchtime concerts that were a staple here before the lockdown – brass bands, classical, salsa and jazz – have been replaced by frequent solo piano performances at half past noon on weekdays on the back terrace behind the library. Carnegie Hall is also booking a series of evening concerts there, although there are apartheid restrictions (full access for those who’ve taken the deadly needle, punitive measures for those with the brains not to). The main attraction annual attraction here in recent years has been the the accordion festival, a fall series programmed by the irrepressible Ariana Hellerman (founder of the indispensable free events guide Ariana’s List), featuring acts and styles all over the globe, situated just far enough from each other throughout the park so that there’s no sonic competition between them.

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Bushwick Public House
1288 Myrtle Ave. just past Central Ave
M to Central Ave

Airy, roughhewn gentrifier coffeehouse upstairs; comfortable bodega basement-type space downstairs. A few ratty old recliners and a handful of tables and a railing along the left side of the space. STATUS UNKNOWN – PRESUMED CLOSED

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Cafe Wha
115 MacDougal St. between Bleecker and W 3rd St.
A/B/C/D/E/F to W 4th St.

Talk about living off your reputation: Hendrix played here frequently before he went to England and got famous. And Van Halen played here once. Apparently the club owners also own the building, because the place is still here. Not that it needs to be: this stuffy little tourist bar has made a living off an out-of-town crowd, and late at night and on the weekends, an unsophisticated black clientele for whom rap apparently never happened. Expensive drinks, overzealous door crew, clueless bar staff, overly loud, generic funk and cover bands phoning it in on the little stage. Reopened – restriction situation unknown.

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Carnegie Hall
881 7th Ave. at 57th St.
A/B/C/D/1/2/3 to Columbus Circle

Before the lockdown, ticket prices kept climbing toward the stratosphere here. The sound is great (don’t let oldtimers distract you with hairsplitting comparisons of pre- and post-1985 sonics here). Three separate halls: the big, venerable 1891 Stern Auditorium, the more recent, smaller Zankel Hall and the third-floor Weill Hall for chamber music, small ensembles and solo performers. Most of the western world’s great classical and new music ensembles come through here eventually. Advance tickets recommended for everything, since many concerts here sell out. Early arrival is an absolute must, to beat the last-minute crush: you’d do well to get there at least twenty minutes before showtime. The people who run this place are pros: you’ll be treated well. Be award that the frequent free neighborhood concerts they sponsor, typically at parks throughout the five boroughs, may have apartheid restrictions. CLOSED UNTIL OCTOBER 2021

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The Cell Theatre
338 W. 23rd St (8/9th Aves)
C/E to 23rd St

By early 2020, music was more and more of a staple at this comfy, gilded-age ground-floor space with a small balcony in the back. Comfy chairs, surprisingly good sound for a place that was primarily used for theatrical events for years. Jazz, avant garde and smaller classical ensembles played on a stage in the window, more or less, backs to the street. Tix were typically in the $15 and under range;  beverages or snacks were sometimes available. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Cellar Dog
75 Christopher at 7th Ave. S.
1 train  to Christopher St.

Formerly the Fat Cat, a pool hall and sort of minor-league affiliate to Smalls. Drinks were very cheap for a jazz joint, and cover was cheap, usually $3; the staff, like the ambience, were laid back. There was a small listening area close to the stage, with a couple of couches and some chairs; otherwise, jazz fans would jostle for space with people holding big sticks. A lot of the same faces filtered through here on a regular basis, a mix of traditional and modern styles (a lot of the Smalls crowd basically used this place as a rehearsal room).

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The Center for Remembering and Sharing
123 4th Ave,(between 12th & 13th, second floor over the coffee shop

Frequent adventurous concerts, from jazz improvisation to new classical, Middle Eastern and chamber music, in addition to Asian artists rarely heard in this country, until the lockdown. Advance discount tickets were available at the front desk. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Center for Traditional Music and Dance

Not a venue but an advocacy organization similar to the World Music Institute, but more oldschool and grassroots-oriented. Over the years they’ve booked a ton of amazing global musicians into venues all over the five boroughs, with many free concerts. Most recentlly Balkan and Latin American music have been very well represented among the many regions whose music they support. When there is a cover charge, tickets have been typically available at the door as well as online. A good bunch of folks doing good work, lately off and on in public parks.

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Central Park Summerstage
Central Park, 72nd St. entrance, closer to the east side
1/2/3 to 72nd St. or 6 to 66th St.

Reopened in June 2021 as a Live Nation venue with stratospheric ticket prices and needle of death required for admission. It’s on this list strictly because the website also lists free shows in public parks across the five boroughs which do not have restrictions.

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Central Synagogue
652 Lexington Ave. at 55th St.
6/F to 53rd St./Citicorp Center

Before the lockdown, this sonically exquisite historic landmark – beautifully remodeled after a fire back in the zeros – had occasional free lunchtime organ concerts as well as traditional Jewish sounds from around the globe plus lectures, literary and film events. The synagogue’s Moorish-inspired interior decor is a feast for the eyes. Too bad you can’t get in to experience it. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Ceremony
224 Manhattan Ave (Grand/Maujer), Williamsburg
L to Grand St.

Occasional rock shows with some surprisingly interesting, edgy bands here prior to the lockdown. STATUS UNKNOWN – PRESUMED CLOSED

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Chhandayan Center for Indian Music
4 W 43rd Street #618
Any train to 42nd St.

Tabla lessons and frequent performances of all kinds of Indian classical music here: vocalists, instrumental ensembles and dance performances. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FALL 2021

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Chelsea Music Hall
407 W 15th St. (9/10)
A/C/E to 14th St.

Lame “comedy,” corporate urban top 40 acts (and innumerable Miley Cyrus wannabes and such) along with the occasional Caribbean or African band here. It seems expensive and exploitative, as white-owned clubs in places like New Jersey and Alabama that draw minority audiences tend to be. Reopened but not reviewed as of 2021.

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The Chelsea Symphony

Not a venue but a symphony orchestra, a welcome presence in the New York classical and new music scene. The Chelsea Symphony serves up politically fearless, imaginatively thematic, frequently holiday-centric (Halloween, Valentines Day, etc.) programs including numerous New York and world premieres. They also frequently include choral, operatic and even pop music in their programming, have a sense of humor and fierce social awareness. The quality of the performances is every bit what you’d hope for in a once artistically-inclined New York neighborhood. By early 2020 they’d been dividing their time between the DiMenna Center and St. Paul’s Church, 315 West 22nd St. Admission has been cheap (typically a $20 donation); early arrival was always a good idea considering that they’d built up quite a following on their home turf. NO MUSIC CURRENTLY SCHEDULED

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City Vineyard
233 West St at Pier 26, across the highway just south of Hubert, Tribeca
1 or A/C/E to Canal St.

City Winery’s smaller, wraparound-windowed southern annex has had music on and off since opening a couple of years ago and remains closed, with the flagship venue further north scheduled to open in summer 2021 with harsh restrictions. Acts here played on a tiny stage in the southwest corner of the main room. The sound was excellent, drinks and food expensive as at the main space, nice enough people working here.  There was also a backyard with picnic tables open during the warmer months (when it must cost a fortune to aircondition this place). Be super careful crossing the highway both ways here – those Jersey and Long Island drivers are insane. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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City Winery

The expensive, hangar-like flagship of this national chain, owned by one of the founders of the Knitting Factory, became one of the last bastions of singer-songwriter and dentists’ office pop in New York. The venue closed in the summer of 2019 and is scheduled to reopen with draconian restrictions in a new location at Pier 57 at 15th St. in summer 2021 since Disney bought the SoHo building and kicked them out.

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Cleopatra’s Needle OUT OF BUSINESS
2485 Broadway (92/93)
1/2/9 to 96th St.

Suddenly shuttered at the end of January, 2020. Sad to see this neighborhood jazz institution go – sure, prices went up, and they were lackadaisacal about air conditioning, but it was a useful spot for up-and-coming players to get their feet wet in the NYC scene. RIP.

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Club Bonafide OUT OF BUSINESS
212 E 52nd St just east of 3rd Ave.
6/F to 53rd/Lex

In the deadpool of NYC jazz venues, the back-room third-floor former Something Jazz Club space was at the top of the list and was one of the first casualties of the lockdown. In the words of everyone who ever played here, this was the place where nobody ever went. Surprising they lasted as long as they did.

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C’Mon Everybody
325 Franklin Ave. (Clifton Pl./Greene Ave), Crown Heights
G to Classon Ave
This gay bar books a mix of urban top 40,  indie poser music, and meat market nights. More and more frequently, they gouge cash customers extra for admission. Reopened with not much music but also no restrictions.

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Concerts on the Slope
St. John’s Episcopal Church
139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave., Park Slope
2/3 to Grand Army Plaza

A frequently adventurous weekend chamber music series featuring small ensembles, lots of premieres and interesting programming: bassoon music, Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and high-profile 20th and 21st century works along with obscurities and up-and-coming artists. Concerts were held in the boomy church confines; a suggested donation is appreciated. There may be a reception after more popular programs. NO MUSIC CURRENTLY SCHEDULED

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Connolly’s
121 W 45th St. west of 6th Ave
Any train to 42nd St.

The last home New York Irish legends Black 47 had in this city was an upstairs room at the most Times Square adjacent branch of this local chain, about the size of Arlene’s with excellent sound and predictably pricy midtown drinks. The pub grub is good but also not cheap. If only this venue could have gotten some good bands in here! It’s easy to get to, the people who work here are very pleasant and cover was cheap, usually ten bucks or less. Reopened, but with no music.

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Cowgirl Seahorse
259 Front St. in the South St. Seaport
Any train to Fulton St.

Country-themed bar with a weekly Monday night Americana music night series, both cover bands and some excellent original acts. Bands play on the little stage to the left of the bar; no cover charge, decent tacos and pub grub, drinks on the expensive side. Nice people working here, very chill vibe, a welcome alternative to the Wolf of Wall Street atmosphere in this area.

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Culture Lab
5-25 46th Ave, Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar
7 to Vernon Blvd.

Frequent weekend daytime and evening concerts in the big parking lot that was home to a flea market for years. Some excellent music passing through here: new classical, jazz, psychedelic rock. The PA is also loud. Food trucks sell tacos and beer; the staff put plastic chairs out for those who want to sit. No restrictions.

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The Cutting Room
44 E 32nd St. (Madison/Park)
6 to 33rd St.

Beautifully renovated, oldschool New York elegance, often at a price to match, in this sonically superb old Curry Hill theatre space reopened in July 2021 with even more stratospherically high ticket prices. Has-been top 40 acts from the 80s, wannabes from that era and the occasional jazz or rock act play to an older crowd. Be aware of a $20 per person food/drink minimum at the first floor tables in addition to the cover. The smaller second floor balcony to the left of the stage’s large proscenium may or may not be open depending on who’s playing and how sold out the show is. No word on whether tickets are available at their box office at the door, or exclusively online.

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Damrosch Park
out back of Lincoln Center
1/9 to 66th St., or just take the 1/2/3/B/C to Columbus Circle and walk north

This is the park where the the annual Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival’s main events were held for almost fifty years. There were also daily concerts scattered around the Lincoln Center plaza: a sensationally good, eclectic range of A-list Americana artists, jazz and world music acts including many first-rate New York performers. Pharaoh Sanders’ concerts here in the late 90s are the stuff of legend. As of July 2021, admission is limited to an online lottery with draconian restrictions. And if you live in the neighborhood, there are frequent impromptu classical shows there in the early evening. Keep in mind that you can watch restricted events here from the sidewalk across the street, to the south.

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The Delancey
It’s on that little service road that runs parallel to Delancey St. on its north side, just east of Clinton.
F/J/M/Z to Delancey or B/D to Grand St. and walk north and east.

The Delancey earned respect for being home to Small Beast, the legendary Monday dark rock night founded by Botanica keyboardist Paul Wallfisch and which ran weekly from 2008 to 2011 until the club finally phased it out. That was upstairs on the little stage across from the bar, where they very seldom have live music anymore. Downstairs in the long, rectangular basement space, there are frequent rock shows. Acts who play here are a mix of oldschool NYC bands who bring an older, scruffy crowd, plus lots of tourist bands from Jersey with more of a fratboy following. The sound downstairs is shockingly good; upstairs, it’s what you would expect. As a bonus, the door staff have been vastly less attitudinous here than at most of the other LES clubs, and the Delancey has the best air conditioning of practically any other club in town. Fairly cheap cover; drink prices are about average for the neighborhood. Be aware that they have New York’s nastiest men’s room: those disgusting troughs make the old Mars Bar seem spotless by comparison. Use the adjacent unisex stalls instead.

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Desmond’s Tavern OUT OF BUSINESS
433 Park Ave. S., Murray Hill
6 to 28th St.

Irish bar/greasepit restaurant which lasted for decades (Veronica Lake reputedly once worked there) with regularly scheduled live music in the back room. Drink prices grew beyond-the-pale expensive – we’re talking ten bucks for a bottle of Bud. The fratboy vibe reflected the presence of Baruch a few blocks away. The sound was pretty bad; it was never really set up to be a music venue. Nice staff, obnoxious door crew: not a great loss to the New York music scene.

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The DiMenna Center
450 W 37th St. (9th/10th Aves.)
A/C/E to 34th St.

Comfortable, multi-room basement-level space with frequent classical, indie classical and theatrical events and home to the Orchestra of St. Luke’s before the lockdown. Reopening in late summer 2021, they seem to be shooting for a sort of Carnegie Hall Junior ambience. Drinks are sometimes available; excellent sonics; seating varied depending on the size of the ensemble (many orchestras played here to relatively small audiences). Cover can be cheap for what you get but is sometimes ridiculously expensive. Programming can be eclectic, from the chamber music canon to the avant garde.

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Dixon Place Theatre
161 Chrystie St. north of Delancey
J/M to Bowery or F to 2nd Ave.
Very little music anymore at this comfortable, recently reopened, often unexpectedly expensive black-box space. Before the lockdown there were frequent free singer-songwriter or jazz shows in the small bar/lounge just past the entrance. The sound isn’t much; chairs in back behind the bar and along the wall sometimes, which confounds people who come to see theatre here and can’t figure out where to go. Some but not all events here have ridiculous restrictions.

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Dizzy’s Club
Rose Hall at Lincoln Center, southwest corner of Broadway at 60th St., 5th floor
A/C/B/D/1/2/9 to 59th St./Columbus Circle

Coming off the elevator, walking down the hall and then into this semicircular room with its modernist decor and big window facing south, you wouldn’t expect the sound to be very good. But it was. If and when it reopens, it would be a remarkably pleasant place to take in a show, a prospect made even more enticing by the wide variety of jazz here: small combos, big bands, singers, European acts, and perhaps most notably, A-list New York players who’ve been plying the scene for years and were finally rewarded for all their toil with decently paying gigs here. Trouble was, cover was often ridiculously expensive. At least the comfort level here was a cut above: there was always enough space between the tables for customers and the remarkably pleasant, casual waitstaff to make their way through without stepping on your feet or spilling drinks on you. Shows were typically 7:30 and 10:30 PM; the midnight shows with up-and-coming talent were a great deal, sometimes a cheap as $5. CURRENTLY CLOSED – ARCHIVAL CLIPS AND SHOWS AT THEIR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

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The Django
2 6th Ave. north of Canal
A/C/1 to Canal St.

Jazz Wednesday-Saturday in the basement of this recently reopened, swanky Eurotrash hotel with idiotic restrictions, and prices continuing to climb toward Blue Note extravagancy. Lots of Romany swing, vocalists, postbop and the occasional latin or salsa jazz act. Not reviewed as of 2021 and not likely to be since the venue discriminates against cash customers who don’t buy online tickets.

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Downtown Brooklyn Concerts
Corner of Willoughby and Pearl Sts., or Bond St. and the Fulton Mall
Any train to Borough Hall

Occasional free outdoor concerts series running June through August. Lots of funky, danceable acts, from Balkan brass to soca. This could be something really good by the time we get to 2022.

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Downtown Music Gallery
13 Monroe St. (Catherine/Market), Chinatown

Downtown like never before, about equidistant from the East Broadway (F train) and Canal St. (6/N/R/Q/M) stations. Comfortably lowlit, dingy, wonderfully eclectic downstairs record store – if the outer fringes of jazz are your thing, it’s next to impossible to walk out of here without buying something. Some of their frequent free early evening Sunday jazz improvisation shows have been moved to Saturdays at 2 at Oliver Coffee at the corner of St. James and Oliver, a few blocks north.

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***RATED BEST MANHATTAN VENUE  2009***
Drom
85 Ave. A between 5th and 6th Sts.
F to 2nd Ave. or J/M to Delancey, walk north.

One of Manhattan’s most romantic dinner spots is now the new Jazz Standard, bolstering its status as arguably New York’s most fearlessly eclectic venue. Among NYC clubs, few rank with these guys for diversity, in terms of booking. Starting in late July 2021, they’re booking A-list jazz, many artists from the now-defunct Jazz Standard stable, along with the club’s usual eclectic, global mix of sounds from the Middle East, to Asia, to Africa, to Latin America. The sound on the big stage in the back of this basement spot is outstanding. You enter through a foyer; down the hall is a long bar to your right, with the big, spacious stage and plenty of standing room to your left. There are also rows of booths in back, and a row of tables along the left wall. Drinks aren’t cheap (no draft beer), although their menu is delicious, and cheaper than you would think considering the lush, lowlit surroundings (the peppered eggplant spread that comes with the mezze plate is to die for). Cover depends on the act onstage: for jazz, it’s on par with or sometimes even cheaper than what it was at the Jazz Standard, with advance tickets at the club’s box office highly recommended for more popular acts. Nice waitstaff, a casual yet romantically old-world vibe, and no restrictions. A perennial contender for best Manhattan venue.

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The Dumbo Archway
Under the Manhattan Bridge, go downhill from the York St. subway exit on Jay St. and follow the sound
F to York St.

Occasional concerts here during the summer and early fall: swing, Americana, latin and even hip-hop has been featured here over the years in the stone space’s echoey sonics. Sometimes there’s a bar here, sometimes not. 

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The Ear Inn
Spring St. between Washington St. and the highway, south side of the street
C/E to Spring St.

This place with the butcher paper and the crayons, where everybody draws on the tables, is open again but without much music. You’ve been there. Everyone has. It’s a NYC rite of passage, and this Revolutionary War-era landmarked building is a little oasis of normalcy way over on the west side far from SoHo Eurotrash hell. Beer is fairly cheap, they have decent bar food and live music that used to start late (midnight-ish) and go much later, even during the week. Country, blues, jazz mostly. Acts would play on a tiny stage to the right of the door as you walk in. The PA system is pretty primitive, so the sound is iffy, but this is the kind of place where if you’re still there in the wee hours, pretty much anything starts to sound good. The weekly Sunday hot jazz show hosted by trumpeter Jon Kellso and (usually) guitarist Matt Munisteri, a New York institution, has been moved to 1 PM, outdoors, weather depending.

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East Berlin
169 Ave. A (10th/11th Sts.)
L to 14th St.

The former Brownies and Hifi Bar space is now on its third name in as many years. Part of the Bowery Electric/Berlin axis, they discriminate against cash customers, gouging you extra at the door if you don’t buy tickets online. Tickets to a place this small – you really have to laugh,

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El Cortez OUT OF BUSINESS
17 Ingraham St (Bogart/Morgan), Bushwick
L to Morgan Ave

Mexican restaurant with a backroom and lots of different styles: punk, Americana, and the usual indie garbage, on and off – every time it seems they were going out of business, they started booking bands again. The lockdown killed them off for good.

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Elebash Hall
365 5th Ave. north of 34th St.
B/D/F to 34th St.

Comfortable downstairs CUNY grad center amphitheatre space which used to have frequent concerts by artists from around the globe as well as a regular series of socially aware panel discussions and some free early-evening classical and jazz programming as well. Staffed by students, who were pleasant to deal with; it’s a pretty dry room, but the sound system is excellent. Tix for the global music series were typically $25, other acts usually much less expensive. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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11th St. Bar
510 E 11th St. between Ave. A and B
L to 1st Ave.., or take the M14A bus which goes south on A.

Popular Midtown-style Irish bar in a strange location, a back street in the East Village. Drinks aren’t cheap, as you can expect, although the staff are very laid-back. Absolutely no hassles at the door, a pleasant change considering the neighborhood. Music is slowly returning here: before the lockdown, Tuesday through Thursday, singer-songwriters and bands would play through a recently much improved PA system in the back with the tables. The weekly Monday latin jam and Sunday Irish jam have also returned.

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Elsewhere
599 Johnson Ave (Gardner/Scott), Bushwick
L to Jefferson St.

Medium-sized and small indoor rooms plus a rooftop that’s been put into frequent use at this expensive, gay-themed venue founded by the former owners of Glasslands. Mostly electronic and disco music, and people plugging their phones into the PA and charging a cover. Some shows disciminate against cash customers because online customers get a discount. Expensive Mexican food is available. Not much of interest here, before the lockdown or since they’ve reopened.

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Empty Circle Concerts
499 3rd Ave at 11th St, Gowanus
F/R to 4th Ave/9th St

Once a fairly regular series of jazz improvisation and other lively styles from across the folk music spectrum, and around the world. Not reviewed as of 2021. NO MUSIC CURRENTLY SCHEDULED

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55 Bar
55 Christopher St. between 6th and 7th Ave.
1 train to Christopher St. or A/B/C/D/E/F to W 4th St. and walk west

The small, low-ceilinged basement space where Jack Kerouac used to hold court sixty years ago has reopened and hasn’t changed much since then. Restrictions have loosened and may disappear fast: worth checking with the bar if you’re thinking of going. A couple rows of tables to the left of the bar, remarkably cheap cover if in fact there is one at all, no hassles at the door, iffy sound. Mostly jazz here nightly, a rotating cast of familiar postbop faces with the occasional soul or blues act making use of the club’s ancient, rickety Fender Rhodes electric piano. Drinks are on the pricy side despite the dingy milieu.

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Flushing Town Hall
137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing, Queens
7 to Main St./Flushing

Beautiful old Gilded Age New York elegance in a Bowery Ballroom-sized space, with restrictions to match. Which is tragic: before the lockdown, Flushing Town Hall was sort of a Town Hall Junior with remarkably adventurous programming, music from every corner of the globe plus monthly jazz jams, theatrical and dance performances. Sadly, they are taking their time reopening, have harsh restrictions and capacity limits for crowds and are only selling tickets online, cutting off a considerable portion of their former customer base.

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Footlight Bar OUT OF BUSINESS
465 Seneca Ave (Himrod/Harmon), Ridgewood, Queens
L to Jefferson St.

Scruffy gentrifier bar with pricy microbrews and a big, cavernous, boomy back room where a mix of trendoid bands, free jazz acts and miscellaneous fauxhemians performed on the weekends. On one hand, it was cool that they’d book an afternoon-long program of jazz improvisation; on the other, it was hard to get to.

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***RATED BEST BROOKLYN VENUE 2014***
Freddy’s
627 5th Ave. at 17th Street, Park Slope/Sunset Park, Brooklyn
R to Prospect Ave. or F to 7th Ave and a ten-minute walk.

The bar that fought the good fight and finally lost to sleazeball developer Bruce Ratner’s land grab reopened in a new location, earned a lifetime achievement award for all they had to endure and overcome, and survive the lockdown. No music indoors at present (June 2021) but they have occasional impromptu performances outdoors. They brought the actual bar countertop from the old Pacific Yards space and reinstalled it here. The front room is somewhat nicer than at the old location, and Donald’s crazy, psychedelic video mashups still play on the tv over the bar. The back room is about the same size as at Pete’s and is more suited to acoustic acts than the loud rock that they used to have in the old downstairs room. As at the old location, there was music – which ran the gamut from Americana, jazz, the occasional Balkan band, rock, funk and singer-songwriters – although a lot of that was displaced by comedy and open mic nights. Same nice people, different place: stop in and enjoy a rare asshole-free oldschool NYC atmosphere with cheap beer, generous portions of diner food and maybe someday, some good tunes.

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Gallery MC
549 W 52nd St, 8th Floor (between 10th and 11th Ave)
C to 50th St.

Frequent edgy art and the occasional concert – jazz and Balkan music, mostly – at this 8th floor walk-up Macedonian arts center. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Gantry Plaza State Park
48th Ave. and the river, Long Island City
7 to Vernon-Jackson, take 48th Ave. straight to the river, or G to 21st/Van Alst, take 45th Ave. as far toward the water as you can and then make a left.

Surprisingly easy to get to, this little amphitheatre-like park is situated between the old crane gantries left behind when the Pepsi bottling plant was razed, and a complex of shoddy, hastily thrown up luxury condos across the street. The free, early evening concert series here from June through August is booked by the Queens Council for the Arts, which means a terrifically diverse mix of music from all over the world. You can see acts here who would otherwise cost you a hundred bucks at Lincoln Center. Bands play on the flagstones in the middle of the park, looking up at the audience who typically gather on the park steps facing the cranes and the water. The sound is iffy (the PA isn’t very powerful), but the breeze off the river is nice and once the sun goes down behind the skyscrapers across the water, it’s a lovely place to be. Bring a date but beware the Ubers shuttling between the luxury condos: they will run you down if you’re not careful.

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Ginny’s Supper Club 
310 Lenox Ave north of 125th St., in the basement under Red Rooster
B/D or 2/3 to 125th St.
Basement space: the staircase is on the right immediately after entering the restaurant. The setup is about twice the size of the Jazz Standard, with a big bar to your left as you enter, lots of tables in front. The sound isn’t anything special, drinks and food are pricy and the crowd tends to be a mix of blitzed locals and yappy European tourists. Which is too bad because the staff are nice and booking could be good here, a mix of trad, postbop and latin acts, and cover was relatively cheap, in the $15 neighborhood. Too bad nobody ever listened here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Gold Sounds
44 Wilson Ave (Melrose/George), Bushwick
L to Jefferson St. Take the Starr St. exit, go two blocks south to Wilson, then hang a right, it’s no more than a ten-minute walk

Sort of the deep Bushwick version of Alphaville. Prior to the lockdown, the better-quality, i.e. noisier and more guitar-oriented bands from the old Palisades scene, along with metal, punk and the occasional psychedelic band gravitated to this cozy former bodega backroom. The sound crew tried hard to get things right in the uninsulated, barewalled space. Cover was cheap (ten bucks or less), no Nazis guarding the door, nice people working here. Drinks weren’t cheap but they also weren’t insanely expensive like the rest of the gentrifier spots that until recently were popping up all over the hood. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Greene Space
44 Charlton at Varick, enter on Charlton
1 to Houston, C/E to Spring or any train to W 4th St., walk south and east

In what was once a deli space, WNYC built a brand-new, sonically immaculate studio for live broadcasts, lectures and the occasional concert, which is now closed. With NPR being heavily funded by the Gates Foundation and the other architects of the New Abnormal, any relevance this space had to the arts in New York died with the lockdown.

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Greenpoint Gallery
390 McGuinness Blvd at Dupont, Greenpoint
G to Greenpoint Ave.

Frequent rock and jazz events here, often on Friday nights, and always free. Not reviewed as of 2021. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Greenwich House Music School
46 Barrow St (Bleecker/Bedford)
1 to Christopher St.
This quaint old brownstone once served as home to a scene that foreshadowed the advent of indie classical music. That was in the 40s through the 60s. It’s still a music school and until March 2020 had frequent classical and jazz shows in their rustic second-floor auditorium (which isn’t air-conditioned, and can get stuffy in the warmer months). Cover wasn’t overwhelmingly expensive, usually in the $15-20 neighborhood; the staff were friendly and laid-back; the sound is best suited to quieter acts. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

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The Greenwich Village Orchestra

They’re an orchestra, not a venue, a terrifically talented ensemble who for years delivered concerts as good or better than you would typically see at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for half the price or less. Conductor Barbara Yahr brought out their best in Romantic material; they were also passionate advocates of new music, featuring many world premieres and New York premieres from some of today’s best composers from around the globe. They lost their Irving Place home in 2019 and moved all over town until the lockdown, then did a Prospect Park show in July of 2021. No word on what the future holds for his New York treasure.

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Yelena Grinberg’s Piano Salon
Intimate Upper West Side residential location less than five minutes from the 1/2/3 train at 96th St. (exit front of the train)

The elegant, fearlessly adventurous classical pianist and impresario is one of New York’s great champions of obscure classical and contemporary repertoire. Grinberg has wide-ranging, voracious taste in piano and chamber music and plays most of these semi-monthly, mostly Sunday and Wednesday shows in a comfortable space big enough to hold a few rows of folding chairs. If the idea of rare arrangements of famous (or unknown) symphonic works for small ensemble, unusual pairings like bassoon and harp, material you will literally hear nowhere else in New York, maybe even in this hemisphere, are your cup of tea, this is your place. An intimate alternative and refreshingly entertaining alterative to the stuffy classical rooms. Grinberg lives and breathes this music and is full of all kinds of colorful stories. And where else can you hear Beethoven on the mandolin?

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Groove
W 3rd St. and Thompson St.
A/B/C/D/E/F to W 4th St.

Homeless guys thrusting flyers in your face try to lure tourists into this recently reopened Israeli-owned bar with a stage in the back that caters mainly to an aging black crowd. Cover bands and the occasional funk act play on the stage at the back. Drinks aren’t cheap, the sound is lousy and loud and the staff are obnoxious. It’s hard to think of a reason why you’d ever want to go here, restrictions or not.

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Groove on Grove
NJ Path train to Grove St.

Until 2021, there was a weekly Wednesday outdoor free music series here, right at the exit of the Grove Street Path train station in Jersey City, an eclectic mix of rock, soul, funk and Americana. This year it seems that the space has reverted to a place for buskers rather than any kind of regular schedule of shows.

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Gussy’s Bar OUT OF BUSINESS
20-14 29th St (20th/21st Aves), Astoria
N/Q to Ditmars Blvd.
For years there was occasional rock, blues and metal at one of Astoria’s longest-running watering holes, victim of the lockdown.

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The Gutter
200 N 14th St. (Berry/Wythe), WilliamsburgL to Bedford Ave. or G to Nassau Ave.

A predecessor of the Brooklyn Bowl, this slightly less upscale trendoid bowling alley has occasional music, an often excellent mix of punk, metal, garage, country and similar retro sounds on the weekend in the back room. Small bar in the back, a few stools along the walls, expensive drinks and surprisingly good sound on the makeshift stage. Cover is typically cheap, typically under $10;. In recent years the staff have suffered from tourist fatigue, and could be obnoxious.

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Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery
734 Nostrand Ave at Park Place, Crown Heights
2/3/4/5 to Franklin Ave; A/C to Nostrand Ave

Jazz loft type space with art shows, yoga classes and frequent, adventurous jazz and indie classical sounds. Not reviewed as of 2020. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Hill Country
30 W 26th St.
F to 23rd St.

Loud, touristy barbecue restaurant which pretty much got rid of the steady stream of Americana, honkytonk and bluegrass bands they booked for years on the big downstairs stage.  The bar along the left wall is your best bet for seating: drinks are surprisingly a lot cheaper than the menu, although they don’t have draft beer. The staff are inobtrusive. Be aware that the place discriminates against cash customers, since discount advance tix, when they have them, are only available via credit card. Reopened but with no music til September 2021.

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Holo
1090 Wyckoff Ave.
Ridgewood, Queens
J/M to Myrtle-Wyckoff or L to Halsey St.

Gay meat market nights, electronic experimentation (and trust-fund kid self-indulgence), avant jazz, and a handful of intriguingly noisy abstract rock acts filter through here. They seem to have picked up some of the spillover from when Wonders of Nature closed. During the summer, there are frequent free outdoor shows here. Not reviewed as of 2021.

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Hungarian House
321 E 70th St. (1st/2nd Ave)
6 to 68th St.

Until March of 2020 there were frequent adventurous jazz, classical and wild traditional sounds, including some ferociously fun Romany dance bands, in the spacious upstairs auditorium here. Many shows were free; cover was usually cheap, no more than $15. Frequent movies and art exhibits too. Nice people working here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

 

I-Beam
168 7th Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn
F/R to 4th Ave.

Sort of the Gowanus version of the Stone. Surprisingly well tricked-out sonically, cozy and intimate first-floor former garage space: before the lockdown, a great place to see A-list cutting-edge jazz for a $15 cover. Bare-bones milieu, not much in the way of heat in the winter or AC in the summer but a pleasantly chill vibe and the top-shelf music with an adventurous, improvisational focus. Shows ran notoriously late here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Iridium
1650 Broadway, downstairs, just south of 51st. St.
B/D/F to Rockefeller Ctr.

Les Paul played a Monday residency here for the last decade of his life. Vestiges of the place’s fifteen minutes of fame as a jazz club remained up until the lockdown: the sound wasn’t bad and the people who work here were nice. But by the end, it had become little more than a slice of Bleecker Street in midtown with absurd, touristy prices: we’re talking fifty bucks for has-been Phil Collins wannabes from the 70s. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Issue Project Room
22 Boerum Place, downtown Brooklyn
2/3/4 to Borough Hall

After a long tenure in Gowanus and then a brief hiatus in Greenpoint, this well-loved avant garde and experimental music venue took over a truncated former theatre space in downtown Brooklyn, rows of folding chairs facing a makeshift stage. Their old custom-made, flying saucer-like speakers hanging from the ceiling were switched out for the stone-lined room’s great natural reverb. Many of the organization’s events were free; otherwise cover was typically $15 or under. Drinks were available, but this was never really a bar: people typically came to listen. The staff were pleasant and low-key, by comparison to the more pretentious contingent that would frequent the old space. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – OCCASIONAL LIVESTREAMS

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Jack
18 Putnam Ave, Bed-Stuy
C to Franklin Ave
They relocated in 2019, only to be crushed by the lockdown. This cool radical theatre space is scheduled to reopen in late summer 2021. They had lots of excellent jazz improvisation and the occasional classical show at the old location; Pauline Oliveros played her very last NYC show there.

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The Jalopy
315 Columbia Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn
F to Carroll St. and a ten-minute walk, or B61 bus

Venue-wise, perhaps the greatest tragedy of the lockdown. Until 2020 it was a neighborhood institution, NYC’s oldtimey Americana music central: a guitar and fretted instrument store, highly regarded repair shop, music school, venue and bar. Drinks were cheap, the staff were fun, the music was fantastic, so was the sound, and the dusky ambience made the space very popular for weddings. In their heyday, starting in 2008, they won the annual Best Brooklyn Venue award here three times. These days you can’t get in without proof of the needle of death or DNA sample. Their smaller Jalopy Tavern space next door features many of the venue’s regular acts playing solo, for free and strangely doesn’t seem to have any restrictions.

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The Jalopy Tavern
317 Columbia St., Red Hook, next to the Jalopy Theatre
F to Carroll St. and a ten-minute walk, or B61 bus

Until March of 2020, the Jalopy Theatre’s younger and more boisterous sister venue had yummy bar food, cheap beer, good people and a chill neighborhood crowd, plus a more electric but similarly diverse range of Americana music. Honkytonk, Hawaiian swing, torch jazz, even a house band that played dub and ska. Reopened, but with no music.

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The Jazz Gallery
1160 Broadway (at 27th St)., 5th Fl.
R/N to 28th St.

Considerably larger, more comfortable and sonically improved, by comparison to their old Hudson Street digs, the recently reopened current edition of the Jazz Gallery features the same adventurously tuneful acts as at their old Soho location, emphasis on numerous latin styles. You take the elevator up to the fifth floor; you have your choice of stairs or elevator as an exit. There are typically several rows of folding chairs as well as plenty of standing room. Cover has gone up well past the $20 mark and is sometimes pretty outrageous these days; the staff are laid-back and friendly. Depending on who’s working, there may or may not be drinks or snacks available for cheap. Early arrival (fifteen minutes before showtime, more in the case of popular big bands like Darcy James Argue or Orrin Evans’ large ensembles) is recommended if you want a seat.

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The Jazz Standard OUT OF BUSINESS
116 E 27th St. east of Park Ave.
6 to 28th St.

The owners made a fortune booking top-echelon jazz and selling barbecue here, but the lockdown ruined everything. There were cracks in the facade by the time that happened: booking had taken a bit of a downturn, prices had risen, but the food was fantastic and so was the sound. RIP.

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Joe’s Pub
Lafayette St. just south of St. Mark’s Place, next to the Public Theatre (of which it is a part)
B/D/F to Broadway/Lafayette or 6 to Astor Place

This blog bitched for years about the extortionistic drink minimums and lousy sound here…and after a brief period where the sound actually improved, they backslid. For the prices they charged, especially those appallingly expensive minimums, there was no excuse. And then the lockdown happened. Sad, because this place was once one of Manhattan’s elite venues. Renovations here resulted in slashing the size of the bar (it now sits in the club’s northwest corner, replaced by a long row of individual stools along a long railing) to accommodate more table space  The sightlines are still kind of a pain, and the once-adventurous booking declined: by early 2020, mostly just has-been gay cabaret acts from the 80s. The staff here suffered through a lot of changes and ran hot and cold. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – MORE OR LESS DAILY STREAMING ARCHIVAL CONCERT AND PERFORMANCE VIDEO

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The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
695 Park Ave at 68th St.
6 to 66th St.

Sonically excellent auditorium with tiered seating. Tix were available at the box office, concerts ranging from classical to jazz to the occasional global music act. The atmosphere was pretty chill and oldschool New York compared with the more shi-shi classical and jazz venues in town. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Kingsland OUT OF BUSINESS
269 Norman Ave, Greenpoint
G to Nassau St.

Ridiculously overpriced has-been emo bands, tourist pop acts and the occasional nostalgia punk tour passed through this Greenpoint spot, which absorbed some of the spillover from the late, lamented Grand Victory scene.

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The Kitchen
512 W 19th (10th/11th Ave.)
C/E to 23rd St. or L/A to 14th St. and a long walk north and west

Dance, film, art but not a whole lot of music in the years before the lockdown at this storied Chelsea avant garde black-box performance space. Tix weren’t overwhelmingly expensive, nice people running the place, diverse cultures and ethnicities represented here, and the sound in the surprisingly comfy auditorium was good. There was just less going on here than there used to be. Although that could be said for the city in general. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – OCCASIONAL WEBCASTS

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The Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Ave. at Havemeyer, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
L to Lorimer St., left on Metropolitan at Kellogg’s Diner, walk under the overpass, the club will be on the right across from the old Black Betty space

It’s basically a bar, more than ever: reopening does not include music for them. The former Luna Lounge space was split in half when this New York-based chain of small venues took over, resulting in an oversized stage overlooking a room in back about half the size of Drom. The sound is first-rate; booking would typically run the gamut of sissy indie bands, metal, ska, punk and Americana. The staff were sometimes hostile and sometimes surprisingly less so.

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The Knockdown Center
52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, Queens
L to Jefferson St.; you have the option of a leisurely 20-minute walk north along Flushing Ave., or you can take your chances on the bus that stops at the corner of Flushing and Jefferson.

Huge, cavernous former doorframe factory originally repurposed for experimental theatre and the further reaches of indie classical and performance art. That turned out to be just a ruse to attract donations: it turned into a gay bar/disco. Ticket prices, as you would expect, went through the roof. The staff seemed friendly; the sonics weren’t nearly as boomy as you would expect, looking up at the beams way up in the ceiling. Reopened but not with anything interesting, musically or theatrically.

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The Korean Cultural Center
460 Park Ave. (57/58)
6 to 59th St.

Not a lot of events at the space here, although until recently this advocacy organization booked a lot of shows all over the five boroughs, an exciting mix of classical, jazz, rock and traditional sounds by natives as well as expats. For those not already in the know, Korean music is awesome and the South Korean government knows that, fiercely promoting their agenda all over town. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Lincoln Center
65th and Broadway
1 to 66th St.

New York’s beloved onetime cultural mecca is no longer, and is in crisis. Nobody knows when the various theatres will reopen and how. In the meantime, the 2021 outdoor series requires online tickets and has draconian restrictions – and programming is cancel culture central. Those are not good omens for the future, or the New York Philharmonic, who used to make their home here. What happens to Alice Tully Hall, the intimate 10th floor Kaplan Penthouse, the second-floor Walter Reade Theatre, plus the opera and dance spaces, is up in the air. The atrium space on Broadway north of 62nd, whose free programming was the most adventurous of all the rooms here, is vacant. This was an institution and one of the world’s great cultural centers, even as sinister billionaire interests encroached further into the minutiae of how the campus was run. But the future looks bleak.

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***RATED BEST MANHATTAN VENUE  2017***
Lincoln Center Atrium NOW CLOSED
61 W 62nd St. (across the street and a little south of the big main complex: enter on Broadway, middle of the block between 62nd and 63rd)
1/A/C/B/D to Columbus Circle

This is where New York’s flagship cultural institution staged their most cutting-edge, relevant programming…and it was all free, regular, mostly-weekly 7:30 PM concerts encompassing sounds from around the world in addition to classical and jazz acts. There were also frequent panel discussions, literary and theatrical events. Bands played on the stage in the middle of this long, rectangular, groundfloor space as crowds filling the seats. Opened in 2009, it quickly became an upper westside phenomenon. It smelled like fresh, hot grilled cheese; it was a fun scene. RIP.

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Lincoln Square Park
At the triangle at 65th where Columbus crosses Broadway
This little patch of land used to be a junkie hangout back in the 90s but was cleaned up and through 2019 was home to weekly Wednesday noon shows in July and August under a little canopy on the north side. Some good bands passed through here: Americana, Balkan and jazz sounds. NO MUSIC CURRENTLY SCHEDULED

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Littlefield
635 Sackett St. between 3rd and 4th Ave., Gowanus, Brooklyn
R to Union St. or F to 4th Ave., walk back in the direction of downtown Brooklyn; or if you’re up for a walk, it’s only about ten minutes downhill on 4th Ave. from the Atlantic Ave. station (use the 4th Ave. exit, not the one at BAM).

This gay bar swapped uptight, swanky, sonically superb digs around the corner for a roughhewn, barewalled former industrial space. Trouble is, they traded out the bad vibes for bad sound. Very little music here anymore. When they do, it tends to be eclectic, everything from Balkan brass to acoustic songwriters and the occasional rock band. While this is the kind of venue you could sneak into if you really put your mind to it, restrictions are draconian here.

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Long Island City Bar
45-58 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
G/7 to 21st St./Court House Square

This popular, laid-back local hangout has a long history of music on frequent weekday nights and also on the weekends, an impressively eclectic mix of singer-songwriters, rock and jazz acts more prominent than you would expect at this long-running Irish pub. Bands play on the little stage just around the corner past the end of the bar, with several tables nearby, or under the eaves of the backyard garage. The back courtyard with picnic tables is a popular local hang during the warmer months. No cover charge. The vibe is casual and friendly, drinks not overwhelmingly expensive and the crowd surprisingly diverse: this is a definite 99-percenter bar. Music is scheduled to return in August 2021.

 

.***RATED BEST BROOKLYN VENUE 2019***
Lucky 13 Saloon
644 Sackett St. at 4th Ave, Gowanus
R to Union St.

Like St. Vitus on steroids. One of the real gems of oldschool NYC rock and a hotspot for heavy psychedelia, metal and punk for the last few years. Excellent sound in the backroom at this long, rectangular former industrial space in Gowanus, nice people working here, a shockingly laid-back, multicultural vibe and cheap drinks. Greasy food was also available; ten dollar pitchers of draft beer were a happy hour specialty. Bands on the weekend, with the occasional punk or hardcore matinee; cover  never more than $15, often a lot less, sometimes free. All the best heavy NYC rock bands called this place home. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Made in New York Jazz Cafe & Bar OUT OF BUSINESS
155 5th Ave (Douglass/Degraw), Park Slope
R to Union Street and walk uphill

Russian-owned club that ambitiously tried to become the Jazz Standard of Park Slope and then was abruptly put out of business by a fire. Sad.

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Madison Square Park
north of 23rd St. at Broadway
N/R to 23rd St. or take the F or 6 and walk to Broadway

The free summer concert series here is back: in 2021 it’s all classical music. Unlike some NYC parks concerts, this is a very mellow scene: they don’t indiscriminately rope off half the park and cram the audience into a tiny space. Fun fact: since alcohol is sold in the park, it’s legal to drink here, regardless of the fact that you’re in public with an open container. The sound isn’t all that great, but you’ll probably be able to get pretty close to the stage. Over the years, they’ve moved the stage around and have featured some pretty big names. Mose Allison played here a couple of times, as did Christian McBride and Black Joe Lewis.

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The Manhattan JCC
334 Amsterdam Ave at 76th St
1/2/3 to 72nd St.

Mostly movies, theatrical and literary events at this big multi-room space, although the occasional concerts here tend to be excellent: classical, jazz, klezmer, Balkan music, even Afrobeat. Shows once or twice a month, sometimes in the auditorium, sometimes on the roof. Food and drink frequently served at the rooftop parties; admission is always affordable, i.e. under $30, sometimes much more. Very family-friendly, comfortable place, nice people working here, a genuine oldschool neighborhood vibe. Reopened with restrictions and no music, but the staff here are clearly sick of them and can’t wait to get back to normal.

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The Market Hotel
1140 Myrtle Ave at Broadway, Bushwick
J/M to Myrtle Ave

After a long stint in South Williamsburg, this lo-fi space moved to Bushwick and has either successfully evaded the cops or actually obtained a liquor license. Also known for very rarely booking anything other than the most twee and sissified Bushwick indie bands. Not reviewed as of 2020 and not likely to be. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Merkin Concert Hall
129 W. 67th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.
1/9 to 66th St. or A/C/B/D to Columbus Circle and walk north

Late-zeros renovations did wonders for this late 70s-vintage concert hall with tiered seating which became a popular Upper West attraction and a remarkably cost-effective alternative to Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall. Orchestral, chamber music and mellower jazz sounds have worked best here: while places like this weren’t built for amplification, the sound here was much improved. Balcony seating has typically not been available unless the lower level sells out.  Programming has been diverse and imaginative, running the gamut from various classical styles to jazz, folk music and many global styles. General admission rather than assigned seats tended to be the rule here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Metropolitan Museum of Art
5th Ave at 82nd St
6 to 86th St.

Gone: cheap admission, as little as a dime or a nickel, for New York City residents. Also gone: the occasional chamber or global music concerts in the galleries, along with the classical, ,jazz and other intriguing sounds in the plush Rogers Auditorium. All replaced with draconian New Abnormal restrictions and online-only ticketing. Not-so-fun fact: the Met, like many museums around the world, has been selling off its collections to hedge fund tycoons to pay the bills.

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Metrotech Park
At the end of Myrtle Ave. between Jay and Bridge Sts., downtown Brooklyn
F to Jay St. (rear exit if you’re coming from Manhattan) or 2/4 to Borough Hall

Located adjacent to scam developer Bruce Ratner’s first failed project and longtime home to an annual summer series of soul, reggae, blues, jazz and hip-hop shows booked by BAM. That’s gone, replaced by the occasional classical performance.

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Mezzrow
163 W 10th St. at 7th Ave. South, basement level, next door to its sister club Smalls
1 to Christopher St.
The people behind Smalls opened this long, swanky, rectangular basement space to book more popular acts who would typically play the Vanguard or Jazz Standard but want a place to work out new material in a duo or trio setting. Drinks and bar snacks are expensive; the sound is fantastic, service is low-key and unobtrusive. Fun fact: Mezzrow and Smalls offer a discount for cash customers: walk in for $25. Reopened without restrictions, they also have biweekly concert livestreams.

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Miller Theatre
2960 Broadway at 116th St.
1 train to 116th St.

For years this charming old gilded-age theatre boasted indie classical programming as adventurous as any NYC venue, a yearlong Bang on a Can marathon. Otherwise, it’s been a more laid-back, inexpensive alternative to Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, with frequent jazz and classical music. The roughly semimonthly free early evening concert series, with free beer and wine, was a neighborhood institution for years. Being part of the Columbia University empire does not portend good things for them: this Ivy League school obviously wants to become a fulltime real estate empire since they require their students to take the needle of death. But Columbia kids are bright: we’ll see how much resistance that creates. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Minton’s
206 W 118th St. (ACP Blvd./St. Nicholas Ave)
B/C to 116th St.

The many-times-renovated Harlem jazz shrine, where bebop was invented in the late 30s by the Ellington band, has made a career out of reopening again and again. Much of the same minor-league talent they were featuring before they closed abruptly in the summer of 2017 are filtering through again too, with post-lockdown prices that have gone through the roof: this is Manhattan’s most expensive jazz club, bar none. And a ripoff for what you get here.

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Mise-En Space
341 Calyer St., 2nd Fl, Greenpoint
G to Greenpoint Ave

Cozy former industrial loft and home to one of NYC’s most adventurous new-classical ensembles. The jazz concerts booked at the now-shuttered Arete Gallery were on track to be moved here after the lockdown. Snacks and drinks were sometimes available; good programming from good people. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Muchmore’s OUT OF BUSINESS
2 Havemeyer St. just off McCarren Park, Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave.

This gritty lo-fi space was a lot like the old Black Betty, more reflective of neighborhood diversity than most of the other Williamsburg spaces. Victim of the lockdown: RIP.

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The Museum of Chinese in America OUT OF BUSINESS
215 Centre St. (Howard/Grand), Chinatown
6 to Canal St.

Reopened after a fire at the end of January, 2020, but with exhibits that reinforce New Abnormal lies about the need for lockdowns, ad nauseum. Chinese communists at work, or just the Gates Foundation/World Economic Forum axis of evil? Sad.

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Museum of Modern Art
53rd between 5th and 6th
F to 53rd/5th Ave.; B/D/F to Rockefeller Ctr.; 6 to 51st

For years, insiders knew that the steep “suggested donation” did not apply to New York residents and that we could name our price. Too bad that’s gone, along with the movies, the long-running Summergarden classical series and occasional rock or even hip-hop show. New Abnormal restrictions are the rule not: cash customers are not allowed in, you can’t hang in the galleries for as long as you like, and there are all sorts of other restrictions. And the collections are being sold off to speculators to pay the bills.

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Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Avenue at 103rd St.
6 to 103rd St.

No more concerts here, in the comfortable basement-level auditorium. Fewer draconian restrictions here than at most of the other Manhattan museums, but still too many as of July 2021 to make a visit worthwhile.

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The Music Hall of Williamsburg
N 6th St. between Wythe and Kent, next door to the old Galapagos space, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
L to Bedford Ave.

The former Northsix space was taken over by the Bowery Ballroom empire, who did a good job and then spun it off to corporate giant AEG. Mostly corporate pop, instagram sensations riding their fifteen minutes of fame, and lame indie acts too smalltime to play Bowery Ballroom have been booked here in recent years. Plus, the door staff have been a nightmare, to rival the gauntlet at Brooklyn Bowl. High ceilings, decent sound, expensive drinks in a room about half the size of Bowery Ballroom. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
58 W 129th St (Lenox/5th Ave.)
B/D to 125th St.

Prior to the lockdown, there were occasional free concerts and rare film screenings in this first-floor space in a cheaply constructed Harlem speculator property. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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National Sawdust
N 6th and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave.

Opened in the fall of 2015, highly regarded composer/impresario Paola Prestini oversees booking Williamsburg’s sonically exquisite home to indie classical music. A rotating cast, including some of John Zorn’s circle at the Stone, take turns bringing in their friends and colleagues; music runs the gamut from new-music chamber ensembles, to choral groups, postrock and other less auspicious events like gay meat market nights and wimpy indie rock. The cavernous, expertly appointed main room has sound to rival any venue in town; it’s not as dry a space as, say, Avery Fisher Hall. From day one, tix were on the pricy side, $30 and considerably more, and had risen even higher before the lockdown. Expensive drinks were available at the little bar down the hall after you walk in. At least the friendly staff all seemed happy to be here. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – LIVESTREAMS AND WEBCASTS

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Naumburg Bandshell 
In the middle of Central Park, south of the bathrooms and west of the Summerstage arena
C to 72nd St; 6 to 66th St

Bandshell concerts are back for 2021, with no restrictions! The series of summer classical and new-music shows begins at around 7:30 and you’d better get there an hour early if you want a seat. Some of NYC’s best ensembles make regular appearances here; it can be a charmingly oldschool experience. The shade from the trees overhead and the mid-park breezes keep the space surprisingly cool in the early evening; just keep an eye out for divebombing bats.

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New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)
1 Center St., Newark
Path or NJ Transit train to Penn Station/Newark and about an eight-block walk.

Plush, comfortable auditorium just a five minute walk from the Path train, with fewer and fewer concerts and draconian restrictions. Over the years, it’s been sort of a Town Hall Junior: pricy tix, but an easygoing, helpful staff. Home to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the rest of the programming has been more corporate and less sophisticated than what you would find at the big midtown Manhattan concert halls. The brief series of free outdoor jazz and hip-hop concerts has been moved from the plaza to a fenced-in space, also with restrictions.

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New York City Parks Concerts
The Parks Dept. has created this incredibly useful citywide concert page, indispensable in the summertime.

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The NY Klezmer Series
These wandering Jews wandered, and wandered, and wandered: from the Sixth St. Synagogue, to the Upper West, to Red Hook and were most recently headquartered back in the East Village at Town & Village Social Hall, 334 E 14th St. (between 1st & 2nd Ave.) Brilliant drummer Aaron Alexander hosted this killer weekly klezmer series and then handed booking over to clarinet wizard Michael Winograd. Cover was $15 for the show starting at 8, with dance and music workshops available as well, plus a package deal for the entire evening for extra money. Over the years, they brought in a global cast of talent, klezmer being the loosely connecting thread among the many jazz, rock, classical and folk artists from the Jewish diaspora in Alexander’s deep address book. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The NY Philharmonic

New York’s flagship classical orchestra, who made Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center their home when not on tour, will be moving around from venue to venue in the fall of 2021 while their usual digs are being renovated so that more luxury boxes can be added. It remains to be seen what kind of restrictions will be involved.. Music Director Jaap van Zweden gave the ensemble a badly needed shot of adrenaline when he took over the reins a coupe of years ago, programming a very auspicious series of works by women composers before the lockdown ruined all that. Ticket prices seem to be rising to prohibitive levels. WEBCASTS AND LIVESTREAMS

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Niagara
the club’s website is useless and never updated
112 Ave. A (southeast corner of E 7th St
Closest train is actually the F to 2nd Ave.

In the months before the lockdown, the loud little upstairs backroom had music off and on, picking up some of the spillover of the rock acts left homeless when Hank’s closed, as well as some of the spastic/autistic open mic crowd who used to hang out at Sidewalk, and the Lady Gag wannabes who’d play the Rockwood if they could but didn’t have the social numbers. No more music here; it remains to be seen how much of a weekend bridge-and-tunnel fratboy scene will remain, or if a local contingent will gravitate here.

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Nublu 151
151 Ave C bet. 9th and 10th St.
L to 14th St. or take the M14A bus w hich stops about a block away

Turkish sax legend Ilhan Ersahin’s original shady, lowlit den of trippy jazzy sounds between 4th and 5th finally bit the dust during the lockdown. Its infinitely swankier sister bar up the block at 151 Ave. C is less cash-friendly and has reopened. As at the old digs, things start late and go way later. The stage is on the center of the ground floor, with a balcony, bar and benches up the stairs on the right. Drinks are ridiculously expensive but the sound is good and the music often is as well, a mix of jazz, hip-hop, Middle Eastern sounds and clubby electronic stuff. Before the lockdown, it was drawing a much more affluent crowd, no great surprise. If there are restrictions, the club isn’t publicizing them.

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Nuyorican Poets Cafe
263 E 3rd St. between Ave. B and C
F to 2nd Ave.

This friendly, socially conscious neighborhood institution, home to all kinds of latin sounds, hip-hop and some excellent jazz, was shuttered in the wake of the death of founder Miguel Algarin and seems unlikely to reopen. Sad. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Old Stone House
In the middle of little Byrne Park, bordered by Fourth and Fifth Avenues and Third and Fourth Streets, Park Slope, Brooklyn
R to Union St. or any train to Atlantic Ave. and about a 10 minute walk

Reconstruction of a 1699 Dutch farmhouse that served as a pivotal site during the Battle of Brooklyn and was eventually razed in 1890. Kind of small and quaint with occasional jazz, classical or folk concerts on the weekend, outdoors these days. When it’s open, it’s relatively cheap cover (under $15 usually), wine and pricy snacks are available.  Seats get taken quickly by the oldtimers and neighborhood people.

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Oliver Coffee
5 Oliver St (corner St. James Pl), Chinatown
4/6 to City Hall or Canal

This is where some of the Downtown Music Gallery Sunday afternoon free jazz series have been moved, now taking place at 2 PM on Saturdays, Not reviewed as of 2021.

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1 Rivington St.
Southeast corner, 2nd floor, off Bowery
J/M to Bowery or F to 2nd Ave.

Indie classical group Metropolis Ensemble‘s cozy home base used to have frequent shows featuring work by a global cast of new and emerging composers. Lots of exciting stuff was happening here. The door is unmarked; the little auditorium with folding chairs is on the second floor to the left. Most events were in the $10-20 area; the space was known for its very unpretentious vibe. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE 

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Otto’s Shrunken Head
14th St. just west of Ave. B, south side of the street
L to 1st Ave. or 4/6/N/R to Union Square and walk east or take the M14 bus to Ave. B

Before the lockdown, Otto’s ran hot and cold. During the week, it could be a good cheap afterwork bar populated by neighborhood people and old punks left over from the Continental scene. On the weekends, it could be hell, packed with fratboys swilling the bar’s expensive tiki drinks. The door crew used an ID scanner mercilessly on pretty much everybody under 40. There have been stirrings around the place and it seems the bar is open again, but not with music.

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Our Wicked Lady
153 Morgan Ave at Meserole St., Bushwick
Theoretically, L to Morgan Ave

This scruffy, barewalled bar just steps from the Morgan stop unexpectedly reopened in the spring of 2021 and suddenly became one of Brooklyn’s best venues. All kinds of sounds here: metal, punk and postpunk, indie rock, good singer-songwriters, with frequent rooftop shows. They’ve picked up some of the best acts who in years past would have played St. Vitus, the Mercury or the Rockwood, Cover is cheap; drinks are not, but most importantly, there are no restrictions.

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The Owl OUT OF BUSINESS
487 Rogers Ave at Midwood St., Lefferts Gardens
2/5 to to President or Winthrop St

Oren Bloedow’s magically lowlit, Lynchian venue had a great run booking the kind of edgy jazz and Americana acts who made Tonic such a happening place back in the 90s and zeros. It was sort of Lunatico relocated to Prospect Lefferts Gardens, an instant contender for best Brooklyn venue. And it’s gone now, victim of the lockdown. Who knows whatever became of their beautiful concert grand piano.

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Paddy Reilly’s
519 2nd Ave. at 29th St.
6 to 33rd St.

The most raucous Irish music bar in town has reopened. No word on restrictions or the extent that shows will return to this legendary spot where Black 47 ruled for so many years.. Stay tuned

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Paperbox
17 Meadow St. (Waterbury/Bogart), Bushwick
L to Grand St.

Right across the street from the now-closed Shea Stadium (the loft venue/rehearsal space, not the ballpark parking lot), this multi-room groundfloor space stopped booking music more than about once a month long before the lockdown. The labyrinthine entry opens up on a big main area with good, powerful sound; there’s also a smaller room to the side that lacks soundproofing and consequently has dodgier sonics. Mostly EDM garbage here these days.

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Paris Blues Bar
2021 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd at 121st St.
closest train is actually the 2/3 to 116th St.

Scruffy old 60s style jazz lounge whose octogenarian proprietor probably hasn’t done a single renovation since about that time. A vestige of the hardscrabble neighborhood crowd who haven’t yet been priced out by the yuppies jostles at the bar with rich white kids who’ve convinced their parents to let them go slumming in the hood. Cover is cheap if there is one; drinks aren’t super cheap but they aren’t yuppie-expensive either. If you’re not a regular, you may be treated with suspicion: considering how badly devastated the area has become, that’s understandable. A rotating cast of hard funk, Chicago blues and postbop jazz talent play weekly residencies here. A time capsule of how vital Harlem was during an era when absolutely no money was coming in other from people who decided to make this place part of a genuine community.

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Park Church Coop
129 Russell St. (Nassau/Driggs), Greenpont
G to Nassau Ave

The church basement has been many things: enterprising indie classical spot, meditative ambient space, punk rock hideaway. The church fathers would sometimes rent it out to scuzzy promoters like the Poisson Rouge, who used the spot as a venue of last resort if they couldn’t sell enough tickets to a place like Union Pool. Lately they’ve been scheduling a sporadic series of classical and acoustic rock acts, some of them in McGoldrick Park down the block.

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Parkside Lounge
Houston and Attorney Sts.
F to 2nd Ave.

Old-school LES bar with a music room in the back.  The sound is erratic; it can be pristine one night, and awful the next, depending on who’s working the board, if anybody. The crowd at the bar is surprisingly mixed: since it’s so far east, it tends to draw locals who’ve been driven away from the Ludlow Street strip by the tourists. Beer is fairly cheap but everything else isn’t. There are door personnel on the weekend, but they’ll let you in without carding you if you’re obviously of age. Not much music here in 2021.

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People’s Symphony Concerts

Not a venue but an organization that has been staging cheap, high-quality classical chamber music performances for over a hundred years, a remnant of an earlier, more civilized era in NYC. Still very popular with an older, impressively diverse demographic. Concerts typically take place at Washington Irving High School auditorium on Irving Place, cattycorner from Irving Plaza, and occasionally at the Town  Hall. In a happy development, tickets for single concerts became available along with their usual series subscription packages. NO MUSIC CURRENTLY SCHEDULED

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People’s Voice Cafe
In the Assembly Hall at Judson Memorial Church, 239 Thomson St
Any train to W 4th St.

The long-running series of socially conscious acoustic performances is reopening in the fall of 2021 in new West Village digs after years in the Garment District. In the past, ,shows were bimonthly, Saturday nights at 8. Cover was typically $15 and “no one was turned away” for lack of funds.” Be aware that the entrance to use is not the front door of the church on Washington Square South, it’s around the corner.

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***RATED BEST BROOKLYN VENUE 2015***

Pete’s Candy Store
Lorimer between Frost and Richardson, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
L/G to Lorimer St., walk along Union toward the BQE (downhill), take a right, walk along the BQE to Lorimer, left on Lorimer, under the BQE and about 5 blocks to the venue

Williamsburg’s second fulltime music venue earned a lifetime achievement award for having been Brooklyn’s original outpost for Americana, and has happily reopened without any restrictions. There’s a bar as you walk in, the music room straight ahead. When bands are playing you need to go through the walkway to your right, into the small room. It’s a tiny little place with what can be great sound (bands do it themselves). Drink prices are about average for the neighborhood; they also have fancy grilled cheeses  Pete’s started out twenty-odd years ago as the place to see Brooklyn people playing country, bluegrass or oldtimey acoustic music, but when co-owner/booking agent Juliana Nash left, it went into a steep decline and the trendoids took over. After a brief resurgence with some eclectic classical and jazz-inclined acts, booking is now a grab bag that reflects both the club’s glorious past (adventurous songwriters and oldtimey acts) and the area’s dubious present  (gentrifiers hell-bent on being the next Toby Keith or Taylor Swift). There’s a back garden for smokers – be aware it gets really crowded on weekends and late at night.

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Pianos OUT OF BUSINESS
Ludlow between Stanton and Rivington, east side of the street just north of the Living Room
F to 2nd Ave.

Usually it’s sad to see a venue go, but this hellhole couldn’t have shut their doors too soon, lockdown or no lockdown. Fratboys and powder drugs, an ugly combination.

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Pier One
70th St. and the river, upper westside: walk down the stairs at Riverside and 68th St.
1/2/9 or A/C to 72nd St.

Occasional free summer concerts – a diverse mix of sounds from around the globe, many of them very danceable – at this former shipping pier on the Hudson. The annual Main Squeeze Accordion Festival was held here for several years. The rows of plastic chairs on the pier itself get taken quickly by the locals; you may want to hang on land, just out of reach of the scorching sunset.

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Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer Street (Imlay & Conover), Red Hook
The B61 bus – which you can catch outside Sahadi’s, or on Court St. before it gets to Atlantic Ave – will drop you off about a block and a half away.

Big, cavernous multi-purpose art/music space which has reopened but with restrictions and little music. A big hit with the locals when it first opened  Otherwise, the Silicon Valley slavers, with their computer nerd seminars and such, have moved in, along with trendoid promoters booking shows by the likes of Bon Iver for ten thousand dollars a ticket, that sort of thing. Which makes sense, considering that the venue often gouges cash customers, a shameful practice considering that they’re just a couple of blocks away from the projects.

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Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker St. just west of LaGuardia, south side of the street
A/B/C/D/E/F to W 4th St.

This venue’s ownership worked hard to create the illusion that they booked cheesy cover bands on the weekend in order to selflessly finance a series of indie classical shows. The reverse is true: they were trying to play every angle, pushing for nonprofit status even as they raked in the bucks from the Jersey tourists. The downstairs former Village Gate space is reviled among musicians for its dodgy sound, high ticket prices and annoying minimums if you want to sit. And it’s shameful that the club would pay lip service to the idea of supporting of minority artists while gouging customers extra if they don’t pay by credit card. Reopening in September 2021.

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The Postcrypt Coffeehouse
116th St. and Amsterdam Ave., in the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel on the Columbia campus
2 to 116th St.

For decades, this underground, stone-walled space for unamplified music was legendary in acoustic music circles, despite incessant attempts on the part of the college administration to shut it down. With Columbia’s requirement for their students to submit to the needle of death, it looks like they’ve finally succeeded. Sad.  CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Prospect Park Bandshell
Prospect Park West at 9th St., Park Slope, Brooklyn
F to 7th Ave. and walk uphill on 9th St., the entrance will be on your left. Accessible via other trains, but as you walk through the park you will realize how large and difficult to negotiate it is.

This space has been through good times and bad and 2021 is the worst of all of them. There was a time when local mobsters would take over the entrance gates and extort cash from anyone who wanted to get in, then somebody stepped in and cleaned up that mess. For awhile it was impossible to get in unless you got here early, then booking improved and crowd control policy loosened. Just as at Central Park Summerstage, the game plan seemed obviously to be to eliminate the free shows and to turn the space into a ridiculously overpriced Live Nation venue. The free shows are back this year, but most of the acts are putrid corporate pop. And there are restrictions: you can’t even bring in food! Your best bet, if you’re curious, is to linger on the fringes or behind the back fence.

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Public Records
23 Butler St., Gowanus
any train to Atlantic Ave, walk downhill on 4th Ave, right on Butler

Before the lockdown, this garishly renovated former guitar repair shop space seemed to be targeting a gay out-of-state stoner contingent. Some of the quieter electronic acts you’d find at, say, Holo or Troost passed through. Too bad they got rid of the jazz, which was excellent. And now there’s no music at all. Reopened, seemingly without restrictions.

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Queens Theatre in the Park
In the middle of Corona Park, across the street from where Shea Stadium used to be, past the tennis stadium and the Globosphere.

7 to Shea Stadium/Willets Point and no more than a ten minute walk: go back in the direction the Manhattan-bound trains are running, cross the street and take your first accessible left.

It’s been years since the comfortable black-box amphitheatre space here was used for music. The museum would occasionally stage folk music shows outdoor during the summer. Reopened as a quasi senior center with the occasional outdoor concert.

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Radegast Hall & Biergarten
113 N 3 Street, corner of Berry, Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave.

The original Williamsburg beer garden, a pretty big place, no longer has music. And that’s sad, because it could be excellent: all kinds of brass bands plus Romany and swing jazz and dixieland. Expensive bratwursts and pretzels, big wooden booths, huge mugs of excellent Eastern European beer, yuppie puppies everywhere and a big back garden where the bands used to play.

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Radio City Music Hall
48th St. and 6th Ave., enter on the avenue
B/F to Rockefeller Ctr.

Legendary art-deco theatre which is now part of the Madison Square Garden chain and currently closed. Reopening in fall 2021; it remains to be seen if they’ll require the needle of death for admission as at the Garden

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Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Blvd
Fastest way to get there is actually the ferry which leaves from Pier 11 on the East River near South St. Seaport and stops in Sunset Park on the way, for the price of a subway ride

Weekly early afternoon and early evening free concerts  with appropriately beachy music – surf rock, rockabilly and tropical psychedelia – at this popular Rockaways spot. No restrictions.

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Rocks Off Concert Cruises

Back in the day this was one of the funnest things you can do during the warmer months, taking a leisurely boat ride around the Statue of Liberty and back while punk reggae or cumbia bands played. Currently on hiatus and not likely to be revived. Sad.

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Rockwood Music Hall
Allen St. just south of Houston, east side of the street south of the overpriced pizza place
F to 2nd Ave.

The decline of the Rockwood, from NYC’s best and best-sounding room for songwriters and quieter rock acts, to stuffy, ridiculously overpriced Jersey tourist trap, mirrors how the neighborhood has gone to hell. When the original, small Rockwood room opened in 2005, it was the little engine that could, booking more adventurous acts than any similar venue. For that reason, the high prices on drinks could be overlooked, especially as the place was so small and there was no cover charge. But as the yuppie puppy blitzkrieg took over the area, the music went in a corporate direction, mostly clueless kids from out of state hoping for a big record label or a reality tv show to catapult them to stardom. The original small room is closed; the big downstairs room and the ratty basement space have reopened, with increasingly expensive cover charges and just a couple of shows a night. Much as both rooms are open without restrictions, management warns that some future shows may have apartheid for those who haven’t taken the needle of death.

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Rough Trade OUT OF BUSINESS
64 N 9th St. (Wythe/Kent), Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave.
It actually wasn’t the outrageously high prices on vinyl that killed the world’s highest-ceilinged record store: it was the lockdown.

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Roulette
509 Atlantic Ave. at 3rd Ave. (across the street from the old Hank’s space), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Any train to Atlantic Ave.

This huge old renovated theatre space became Brooklyn’s avant garde and indie classical central when they moved from SoHo in the late zeros. Their archive of thousands of live performances since the 80s is legendary. Too bad that such a formerly cutting-edge venue would have such sadistic restrictions on customers these days. With new loft and house concerts busting out all over town, Roulette stands to lose their core audience.

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Rubin Museum of Art
150 W 17th St east of 7th Ave.
1 to 18th St. or any train to 14th St.

Himalayan art museum which used to have frequent jazz, Indian music and occasional classical shows in the sonically accommodating, comfortable midsize basement auditorium. Reopened, with draconian restrictions and no music.

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Rubulad OUT OF BUSINESS
Various locations over the years: the last one was in central Bushwick

New York’s longest-running underground multimedia extravaganza/Burning Man clusterfuck finally closed its doors in 2020 after almost a quarter century of magic mushrooms, lukewarm keg beer and smelly bodies. And it was time: it had been going to hell practically for as long as it was around.

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St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral
Park Ave. north of 50th St.
6 to 53rd St.

Frequent classical concerts in the vast sonics here over the years, and possibly again in the near future, but not now. The organ is one of the world’s most powerful and boasts a ferocious trumpet stop hidden way up in the rafters. Until early 2020, Gotham Early Music Society hosted a fascinating series of weekly, free baroque and pre-baroque chamber concerts on Thursdays at 1:15 in the adjacent chapel from early fall to late spring. 

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St. Mazie’s
345 Grand St. between Havemeyer and the BQE, Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave.

The old Rose Bar space has reinvented itself as Ginny’s Supper Club East: daunting cover charges to see the same parade of oldtimey and swing bands you used to see at Radegast Hall and Sunny’s for free before the lockdown. This location, where Grand deadends into the BQE, has been problematic and it’s surprising the little bar has lasted there as long as it has..

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral
5th Ave. between 50th and 51st St.
E to 53rd St. or B/D/F to Rockefeller Center

One of the local television stations once aired an alarmist piece about germs on door handles. One of the doors tested happened to be right here at the church, and for some mysterious reason – you be the judge – it turned out to be the only one in town that was completely germ-free. So why isn’t there music here again? Obviously nobody is paying attention to divine intervention at the “world’s most famous U.S. gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral,” as they bill themselves.

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St. Peter’s Church
54th/Lexington Ave.
6 to 53rd St.
For years there were regular jazz concerts here: a weekly, free Sunday evening jazz vespers concerts at around 6 along with a 1 PM daytime series. Most of the acts here were older and on the more traditional swing tip, but every once in while they’ll have a real marquee act. The subterranean space has boomy acoustics best suited to less percussive groups. The church also staged infrequent classical and organ concerts. Reopened; the only music here accompanies the Sunday evening service.

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St. Thomas Church
53rd and 5th Ave.
B/D to Rockefeller Center; F to 53rd St.

The sound is as incredible as you would expect from an architecturally beautiful old New York stone space with a gorgeous, roughly three-second sonic decay and one of the most spectacular new organs in the United Stages The free, weekly 5:15 PM Sunday organ concerts here are legendary and long gone. A ticketed series is scheduled for the fall of 2021. The church’s world-famous choir of men and boys are also scheduled to perform. REOPENING IN FALL 2021

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St. Vitus Bar
1120 Manhattan Ave. (Box/Clay), Greenpoint
G to Greenpoint Ave. or a long walk from the Bedford Ave. L stop

New York’s home for heavy rock is scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2021: raise your forefinger and pinky to that. A perennial contender for best venue in town:  before the lockdown, they had a dimlit bar with a good, cheap happy hour,  relatively small room (about the same size as Gold Sounds) in back. The sound is excellent and LOUD as you would expect, considering who’s played here, a diverse and frequently excellent mix of stoner rock, doom metal, art-rock, darkwave and all sorts of hardcore and death-metal acts along with infrequent Bushwick sissy-rock acts. Cover was relatively cheap, around $10, except for the occasional pricier national or international touring act. The staff are easygoing and laid back although the door crew had battle fatigue from having to deal with indie boys and tourists.

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San Pedro Inn
320 Van Brunt St (corner of Pioneer), Red Hook
The B61 bus stops across the street; otherwise a 15-minute walk from the Carroll St. F station

New bar with killer jazz – some big names filtering through here. Not reviewed as of 2021 but word on the street is that this is a cool place.

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Scandinavia House
58 Park Ave north of 37th St.
Closest train is the 6 to 33rd St.

The sonically excellent downstairs auditorium at this Nordic arts center has had all sorts of adventurous programming: classical, jazz and the avant garde, as well as movies and art exhibitions over the years. Cover was typically cheap, considering the quality of the ensembles from across the Scandinavian nations, many of whom made their US debuts here. Nice people working here, good sound and the occasional art opening or free folk music performance The upstairs restaurant has gravlax, aquavit and other specialties from the lands of the midnight sun and has reopened, along with the rest of the venue, but with punitive restrictions.

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The Schimmel Center
3 Spruce St. (Gold/Park Row), Financial District
J/6 to City Hall; 2 to Park Place
Pace University’s comfortable auditorium was once home to a fantastic free series of concerts with music from around the globe. Most recently, it’s been very bland and very expensive. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Scholes St. Studio
375 Lorimer St. at Scholes,South  Williamsburg
closest train is actually the J/M to Hewes St.

Scruffy lo-fi jazz and indie classical space with cheap cover, if there in fact was one. Some pretty cool artists played here over the years. Not reviewed as of 2021. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Scratcher Bar
no website
209 E 5th St. (Bowery/2nd Ave)
6 to Astor Place

Comfortable oldschool neighborhood Irish watering hole with weekly 7 PM Sunday acoustic shows on the little stage to the right of the stairs as you walk in, a wide range of acts from Celtic to folk noir sounds and once in awhile, a really great twinbill. It’s a pass-the-hat situation. Drinks are cheaper than the midtown Irish pubs, nice people working here, and the crowd comes to listen. Good to see a popular neighborhood spot open again with no restrictions.

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Secret Project Robot OUT OF BUSINESS
1186 Broadway, Bushwick
J/M to Kosciuszko St.

Shuttered at the end of April, 2019 after a move from their first Williamsburg digs to Bushwick.

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Seeds
617 Vanderbilt Ave., Ft. Greene
about equidistant from the 2/3 at Bergen (walk uphill), the A/C to Clinton-Washington or the Atlantic Ave trains

Jazz in the front room – an enclosed front porch, more or less – at a private home, with a revitalized and expanded series of shows that ended with the lockdown. Steve Coleman used this as a live rehearsal room for years; others from his circle and beyond basicallly do the same thing. Most shows at 8:30 PM; cover has risen to $15 now. Lots of first-class talent passing through here at the moment, including lots of the old Stone/Tonic crowd. Drinks may or may not be available; the owners are friendly. A welcome alternative to the extortionistic Manhattan venues. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Shapeshifter Lab

18 Whitwell Pl., Gowanus, Brooklyn. Whitwell is a small street running parallel to 4th Ave. Exit at Union St.., walk 2 blocks in the direction away from downtown Brooklyn to Carroll, right on Carroll, left on Whitwell.
R to Union St.,

First-floor old industrial loft space repurposed as adventurous jazz venue, a little less roughhewn than I-Beam, but with daunting restrictions these days. For years this was big band central, with lots of New York’s more adventurous ensembles as well. Attempts at booking theatre and indie rock were not particularly successful

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Shea Stadium OUT OF BUSINESS
20 Meadow St. between Stagg and Bogart, Bushwick, Brooklyn
L to Grand St.
Props to the crew here for memorializing what may have been a dump – although it was OUR dump. And now, like the baseball stadium, it’s gone, shuttered in early 2017. It would be fitting if the next group to move into this old industrial loft space named their new digs Shitty Field – and ripped a gaping hole in the roof. No word if the old owners’ huge online archive of live performances will remain online.

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The Shed
545 W 30th St (10th/11th Aves)
Closest train is the 7 to the end of the line at 34th.

Located in that sick, surreal, hyper-rich Legoland monstrosity and run by Eurotrash, this new venue is trying to be the Hell’s Kitchen counterpart to National Sawdust. While they seem to be making a token effort to include ethnic minorities in their programming, ticket prices are obscenely expensive, among the priciest in the five boroughs. Not reviewed as of 2021, not likely to be. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Sheen Center
18 Bleecker St west of Bowery
6/B/D/F to Broadway-Lafayette

Classical, jazz and occasional latin music a few times a month in this comfortable basement-level auditorium, a little bigger than the Cell Theatre. TIx are on the pricy side; the staff are pleasant. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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***RATED BEST MANHATTAN VENUE 2011***
Shrine
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (133-134 St)
B/2/3 to 135th St.

For awhile this scruffy storefront restaurant/bar/club, just three blocks from the train, was where good acts from out of town who don’t fit the number-crunching datamining club booking model would end up playing. Sounds from across the African diaspora, hip-hop and funk were also big here. Things went downhill from there, although as the rest of the city fell victim to gentrification, some unexpectedly good rock, jazz and psychedelic acts would pass through here. They’re open again, with just a single show a night.

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Silvana
300 W. 116th St
D to 116th St.
The folks at Shrine further uptown saved their dough and opened this much more shi-shi basement-level sitdown bar and grill to cash in on the yuppies who’re destroying the neighborhood. This was where they put the more singer-songwritery and less energetic acts who wouldoccasionally pop up at Shrine, along with random jazz or African sounds. Expensive, loud and crowded as the night goes on: absolutely nobody listens here.

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68 Jay St. Bar OUT OF BUSINESS
68 Jay St., Dumbo, Brooklyn
F to York St.; walk downhill, the bar will be on your left at the corner of Water

Sad to see this place destroyed by the lockdown, It was a throwback to another, vastly more pleasant era when the streets down here were strictly for the adventurous and the down-and-out. Some of New York’s best and most popular Americana acts got their start here. RIP

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Skinny Dennis 
152 Metropolitan Ave. at Berry St., Williamsburg
L to Bedford Ave
Crowded, noisy Williamsburg corner bar which could be in the white part of Atlanta. Country bands tucked into the northwest corner of the space play mostly covers  Surprisingly good sound, no cover, and a lot of really talented original honkytonk-ish acts pass through here along with what’s left from the old Hank’s and Jalopy scenes. Noisy meat market crowd, drink prices a little cheaper than the surrounding shi-shi spots, and a hostile and attitudinous door crew, but at least there are no restrictions.

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Smalls
183 W 10th St. just west of 7th Ave. S, north side of the street
1/9 to Christopher St.; A/C/E/B/D/F to W 4th St. and walk west

This lovable basement-level dump is iconic as New York’s postbop jazz central, and for its wildly popular late-night jam when some of the biggest names in the world show up after hours. Even better,, you get a cash discount: cover is $25 for those just walking in from off the street. A lot of familiar faces make this place their home when they’re not on the road. The sound here is much better than you would expect from the junk-shop decor – several live albums have been recorded here. Drinks are as pricy as you would expect; the staff are casual and pleasant. Early arrival is always a good idea because this place sells out frequently, especially for the after-hours jam which predictably draws a lot of A-list talent. frequent livestreams.

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Smoke
2751 Broadway (105/106)
1/9 or C to 103rd St.

More intimate than Birdland, this surprisingly friendly, swanky south Harlem dinner spot is a little bigger than Smalls, with excellent sound and a rotating cast of good postbop jazz acts who ceased to rotate when the place closed in March of 2020.. Tentatively scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2021.

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Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City
N to Broadway and about a 12-block walk,

This popular waterfront hangout spot with a trippy vibe akin to the East Village gardens of the 80s no longer has music.

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SOB’s
204 Varick St. at Houston
1 to Houston St. or any train to W 4th St., walk south and west

An expensive SoHo fixture on the west side for decades which has yet to reopen. “Sounds of Brazil” has booked a lot more than samba and bossa nova over the years: there’s been plenty of salsa, reggae, hip-hop and corporate urban pop on the big stage as well. Noteworthy for having a pleasant door crew in a neighborhood where that is an anomaly, and excellent sound. The club’s one drawback is that sometimes there’s’ not enough standing room (there’s an expensive minimum at tables, and the food isn’t very good) and the small nook of a bar area right at the entrance gets completely jammed up  Back in the day Gil Scott-Heron played an annual Martin Luther King Day show here, so there’s some history here: it would be sad to lose this place. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Soup & Sound
292 Lefferts Ave (Nostrand/Rogers), Crown Heights
2 to Sterling St

For the past few years, drummer Andrew Drury has programmed this adventurous improvisational jazz series, on the second floor of a ramshackle woodframe house. Traditionally, a donation would get you soup and potluck and maybe wine, and first-class sparring among an international cast of jazz musicians. Akin to the Seeds series in Fort Greene, but less composition-centric and with much better ventilation. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

 

South House OUT OF BUSINESS
149 Newark Ave., Jersey City
About a block and a half from the Grove St. Path station

BBQ restaurant with soul and funk music, some of it awesome. Black Joe Lewis played here once. And now they’re gone, consequence of the lockdown.

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***RATED BEST MANHATTAN VENUE 2014***
Spectrum
70 Flushing Ave at Cumberland, Ft. Greene
closest train is the F to Jay St. and a ten minute walk around the corner past the projects

Spectrum made a name for itself as a comfortable Lower East Side loft space for some of NYC’s – and the world’s – most adventurous avant garde sounds. Then they got priced out and moved to new digs across from the former Brooklyn Navy Yard. It doesn’t look promising for the future of one of New York’s real underrated shrines for adventurous sounds CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Stone
most recently located at the New School’s Glass Box theatre at 55 W 13th St.
closest train is actually the F/L to 14th St.

The programming for outsider jazz guy John Zorn’s iconic little Alphabet City corner room moved to this cozy ground-floor space just to the right of the entrance in 2017. With the New School – at one time a formidable and highly regarded institution – now requiring its students to take the needle of death, Zorn may need to pick up and move again. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Subculture OUT OF BUSINESS
45 Bleecker St. at Lafayette
B/D/6 to Broadway-Lafayette

A cynic would say that this sonically pristine, lavishly decorated basement-level space, downstairs from the Culture Project Theatre (hence the name) was always going in and out of business. The lockdown killed them for real. Sad, because it could have been a great jazz and classical room.

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The Sultan Room
234 Starr St (Wyckoff/Irving), Bushwick
L to Jefferson St.

Indie rock, funk, psychedelia and dance music from across the globe at this Turkish-owned spinoff of the adjacent restaurant. Not the most audience-friendly venue: frequent discrimination against cash customers and lots of rules here, it seems. Not reviewed as of 2021.

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Sunny’s

253 Conover St., Red Hook

B61 bus (which you can pick up on Fulton St. or Atlantic Ave. in front of Damascus Bakery) to Beard St. (next to last stop; ask the driver).; walk 1 block, opposite direction of bus, to Conover St., take a left, it’s in the middle of the block.

Semi-legendary little Red Hook neighborhood watering hole which doesn’t have seemed to have changed much since its decades as a real-life speakeasy. They’ve always had frequent live music, mostly Americana roots and most of it pretty good. Their local crowd in recent years became mixed with gentrifiers who can afford the $30 car service back to Bushwick – although the cash-only policy kept most of them out. Not much of a stage or a PA system, but it’s a party atmosphere and it’s contagious. Really nice people run this place and have reopened without restrictions.

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Symphony Space
1/2/3 to 96th St.
95th St. & Broadway

There are two rooms here: the long, cavernous ground-floor auditorium with floor seating in front and tiered seats in the back, and the downstairs Thalia Theatre which usually shows movies but which sometimes features music as well. They’ve been doing jazz, classical and global music here forever, along with frequent dramatic and literary events (a couple of NPR shows used to tape here). The sound is very good upstairs, fine for movies in the downstairs room but a little lacking otherwise. Prices can be alll over the map and can be quite affordable or obscenely expensiive. Their popular Thursday night Revelry series, featuring some of the best dance acts from the Brooklyn scene, made the venue an improbable neighborhood hotspot for about a year and a half before the lockdown. No word on if and when they’ll reopen, The adjacent shi-shi bar on the way down to the theatre is closed as well CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Teatro Latea OUT OF BUSINESS
107 Suffolk St. south of Rivington
F/J/M to Delancey St.

This was the performance space at the Clemente Soto Velez community center with a makeshift gallery and frequent, increasingly ambitious jazz, emphasis on improvisation and latin styles. Sad to see it go

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The Tenri Institute
43A W 13th St. east of 6th Ave.
F to 14th St.

Japanese-owned classical room for hire, like the DiMenna Center but smaller. The owners don’t do much in the way of helping spread the word about who plays here. The sound is decent and some of the acts who pass through here are fantastic. Ticket prices depend on the artist, some very affordable, some ridiculously expensive,. Drinks and snacks may or may not be available. Back in business, but with no music.

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Terminal 5
610 W. 56th St.
B/D/E to 53rd St./7th Ave. or B/D/1 to Columbus Circle and a long walk west either way

Philly’s Theatre of the Living Arts transported to NYC, reopening in September 2021.. A little bigger than Bowery Ballroom, with a similar layout: a couple of balconies with tables, big stage on the right as you walk in, and plenty of floor space. Booking encompasses the same type of acts who used to play the old Roseland, i.e. those not big enough to fill Madison Square Garden, which these days means a lot of lame EDM and sissy pop. No word on what restrictions you may have to avoid.

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Terra Blues
Bleecker between LaGuardia and Thompson, north side of the street, upstairs
A/C/E/B/D/F to West 4th St., take the exit on the south side

One of New York’s only two remaining blues bars has terrific sound, expensive cover considering what you get (old guys phoning in Chicago-style standards, with the occasional oldtimey swing or country-blues act) and pricy drinks. Usually it’s the same lame Clapton wannabes playing here week after week, but sometimes they’ll have some really good acts (Hazmat Modine frequently plays here on the weekends). Considering the neighborhood, the staff are surprisingly friendly. Tables up front with waitress service; bar straight ahead of you as you walk in. Take a seat along the rail on your far right, along the wall, if you don’t feel like drinking: usually, you’ll be left alone.

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Terraza 7
40-19 Gleane St, Queens,
7 train to 90th St/Elmhurst

All sorts of traditional and cutting-edge sounds from south of the border, much of it jazz, at this long-running populist hotspot which was the first New York venue to officially reopen without restrictions. Cheap cover (typically $10) and very popular with a neighborhood crowd. Many monthly residencies, from bi band jazz to cumbia to psychedelic rock. 

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Third Street Music School Settlement
235 E 11th St (2nd/3rd Ave)
L to 3rd Ave.

The outdoor free summertime Thursday lunchtime concert series at St. Marks Park at Second Ave. and 9th St., is all this longtime music school is booking right now. Known in the neighborhood for their free classical concerts on frequent Friday evenings during the school year, usually at 7:30 PM in the comfy first floor auditorium with a few rows of chairs as well as seating along the walls, amphitheatre-style, which has not resumed yet.

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The Town Hall
123 W 43rd St. just west of 6th Ave
B/D/F to 42nd St.

This big old 19th century theatre, a favorite with the folkie crowd back in the 60s, was parodied in the film A Mighty Wind. Tickets are expensive, often ridiculously so. Ironically, the sonics here work best when there’s a loud rock band onstage. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Trans-Pecos 
915 Wyckoff Ave., Ridgewood, Queens
L to Halsey St.
The old Silent Barn space was reopened and interestingly enough came to encompass both the more outside, avant garde-inclined acts who used to play there as well the prissier EDM crowd.  Scruffy ambience on the first floor of a big brick apartment building totally laid-back vibe, liquor license, more seating than this airy space had when it was the Silent Barn. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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The Treehouse at 2A
2nd St. and Ave. A
F to 2nd Ave.

For several years, Americana guitar genius Tom Clark (of High Action Boys fame) booked a diverse cast of country and roots music performers Sunday nights starting at around 9 upstairs at this long-running neighborhood bar,. There was occasional music there during the week as well: indie rock and some of the scruffier, more punkish acts you might find at Otto’s or Bowery Electric.. There’s been one show so far in the summer of 2021. The sound is better than you would expect and so is the PA; the Sunday night Americana series draws an older crowd like what you would see at the old Rodeo Bar. Drink prices about average for this snootily gentrified part of town, mellow bar staff. The downstairs bar also has popcorn.

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Tribeca Performing Arts Center
Borough of Manhattan Community College
199 Chambers St. east of the Westside Highway
1/2 to Chambers St.

This is the BMCC auditorium, occasionally used for concerts. expensive Jazz, latin and classical mostly.. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Trinity Church
Broadway at Wall St.
2/3/4/5 to Wall St. or any train to Fulton St., walk south and west

A beautiful historic landmark whose leadership went from heroes of the Occupy movement to zeroes over the course of that summer, which strangely coincided with a decline in music here. Their series of mostly-weekly organ concerts during the spring and fall were moved to its older and smaller sister venue St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway at Fulton and then died with the lockdown. Reopened with no music at present.

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Union Pool
corner of Union and the BQE, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
L or G to Lorimer, walk straight down Union toward the BQE, club is on the corner on your right.

The taco truck is back, the bar is open again, and gospel-funk jamband wildman Rev. Vince Anderso‘s legendary, weekly Monday night 9 PM residency is back. Union Pool has a long and storied history in Williamsburg. The former pool supply dealership began life in the late 90s as rockabilly central before branching out into punk, psychedelia, garage and indie rock as well as Americana. Known for good sound and as a pickup spot with surprisingly expensive drinks.

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Village Vanguard
1/2/9 to Christopher St. or A/C/B/D/E to W 4th St. and walk west
178 7th Ave. S

This small, legendary, notoriously expensive basement venue has booked pretty much every jazz legend since the end of World War II (believe it or not, CBGB owner Hilly Kristal got his start here). You can feel the history wafting from the shadows. Too bad the place hasn’t reopened so you can experience that. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Warsaw
261 Driggs Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
L to Bedford Ave. or G to Nassau St.

Big, beautiful, cavernous Polish wedding banquet hall which hosted the occasional shows put together by the former Bowery Ballroom booking agency. During the day, it’s served as a cheap Polish draft beer with generous portions of  steam-table Polish eats. These days it has the most hilariously random restrictions. For example, backpacks aren’t allowed: you have to lug your stuff in a clear plastic bag.

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The Way Station OUT OF BUSINESS
683 Washington Ave. at Prospect Place, Ft. Greene, Brooklyn
Any train to Grand Army Plaza

Closed in 2020, victim of the lockdown. Not that this loud yuppie puppy hangout and self-described haven for dorks and losers will be missed. The sound was awful and nobody listened here.

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World Financial Center

E to World Trade Center, take the walkway on the north side of Ground Zero over the highway and then hang a left at the bottom of the stairs.

In past years there were infrequent free concerts here during the colder months and lots in the summer, both inside the Winter Garden on the ground floor and outside on the plazas on the river, a mix of the avant garde, classical and jazz. The sound indoors isn’t much since the space is so boomy. It was home to the annual Bang on a Can Marathon for several years. Reopened, but with no music..

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World Music Institute
68 Jay Street, Suite 201, Dumbo
F to Jay St.

Not a club: this is the box office. They’ve been promoters of an astonishingly good range of music from around the world, often at Symphony Space, though they’ve moved around a lot. Typically, they choose venues with excellent sound. Tickets are typically available at their office (open Mon-Thurs 11-5, Fri 11-1) and also at Symphony Space and Roulette for shows at each of those venues. Tix are also available online for some shows, with a processing charge. Season subscriptions and membership (which includes a 20% discount on show tix, which could be worth it if you see a lot of them) are also available. CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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Zinc Bar
82 West 3rd Street (btw. Thompson & Sullivan)
A/B/C/D/E/F to W 4th St.

The move from their old digs on Houston to the old Sun Mountain/Baggot Inn space was a resounding success: the room has never sounded this good. The layout is the same: long bar on the left as you walk down, tables and couches in front where there is a minimum. Cover has typically been cheap, usually $15 or less. Regular residencies are popular here: tropical and African jazz and frequent big bands.  Relatively laid-back bar staff, drink prices about average for the neighborhood, CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

PLACES TO BOYCOTT
The following venues practice apartheid – no restrictions for those who’ve taken the needle of death, all kinds of harsh restrictions for those who haven’t:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The 92nd St. Y

The following venues and institutions require that customers take the needle of death for entry:

Bargemusic
The Bell House
Central Park Summerstage
The Cobra Club
The Juilliard School
Madison Square Garden
Mannes College of Music
Manhattan School of Music
The New School
Pangea
Troost
Union Hall

September 21, 2009 Posted by | blues music, classical music, country music, experimental music, folk music, funk music, gospel music, irish music, jazz, latin music, Live Events, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, New York City, rap music, reggae music, rock music, soul music, Venues, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Song of the Day 9/21/09

Every day at least for the next week or so, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #310:

Elliott Smith – Bled White

The best song ever written about scoring heroin, maybe, over gorgeously watery, crescendoing George Harrisonesque guitar played through a Leslie organ speaker. From the XO cd, 1999, mp3s abound

September 21, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment