6 Great Places to Catch Live Music in New York

Long a hotbed for jazz, soul, funk and R&B — not to mention rock, disco and classical music — New York’s musical legacy is a living and breathing embodiment of the city’s diverse population. It’s here that the early 20th century saw the rise of popular sheet music. The birthplace of Broadway and the home of Tin Pan Alley — synonymous with the golden age of American songwriting — New York has cemented its place in American, and global, music history.


Want to experience some of the city’s best live music for yourself? Whether you prefer the stylings of local acts or dig world-renowned musicians, catch a show at these fun, funky and unforgettable live music venues.

Tip back a Lone Star and bourbon-spiked tea to the tune of local country artists at Williamsburg honky-tonk saloon Skinny Dennis (152 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn,  212-555-1212, skinnydennisbar.com). If you’re lucky, it’ll be from the comfort of its coveted 1981 Ford F100 pickup bench or a repurposed church pew.


The birthplace of bebop in the 1930s, Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem (206 W. 118th St., New York, 212-243-2222, mintonsharlem.com) is not just a throwback jazz club — it’s also a solid place to catch live music over smoky, buttery clams casino and prime rib. The top tipple? An ice-cold martini, of course. Just be prepared to pay a $20 cover and drink minimum for the experience.


Set in the same location since 1935, intimate, basement-level Village Vanguard (178 7th Ave S, New York, 212-255-4037) is a West Village bastion for live jazz, one that has booked the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Stan Getz. Expect an admission and one-drink minimum to see sets. That’s a small price to pay for a seat at this legendary joint.


Casual with a soulful neighborhood vibe, Harlem Nights (2361 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., New York, 646-820-4603, harlemnights.nyc) is more than a happy hour go-to — though its happy hour is pretty grand. It’s also a relaxed, lounge-like venue with all-night snacks (think smoked wings) and top-notch local musicians, who perform regularly at the pretension-free haunt.


Located in Midtown, Theater District staple Birdland (315 W. 44th St., #5402, New York, 212-581-3080, .birdlandjazz.com) is a moody choice for storied acts. Hosting everyone from Freddy Cole to Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker since opening its doors in 1949, it also serves hangover-abating Cajun fare (try the jambalaya). Offering a slice of New York’s musical heritage, it appeals to jazz enthusiasts — heck, music lovers — the world over.


Offering live music most nights, Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-599-5800, babysallright.com) welcomes timely acts and DJs to its Williamsburg stage. An added plus? The food at the eatery and bar is likable, too.

Needless to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more places to explore. Delve deeper on our blog.

Leave a Comment