The “once upon a time” NYC was a place where one could meander the streets after dinner to stumble upon an unsuspecting venue with a torchy chanteuse perched at an upright piano serenading a locals-only crowd with stylish renditions of classic jazz standards. Today, the live music scene is much more complicated to navigate, and more often than not, the best live music experiences require a bit more planning since the majority of venues focus on fixed showtimes, reservations and tickets as opposed to the old-school model of continuous music throughout the night.
Nonetheless, and despite the new normal of getting our music fix, we’re happy to report that live music is still alive and well in our great city. That’s why we put together this short list of our best go-tos for anyone in search of the perfect live music venue to fit their needs. First, we feature our top picks of the more readily accessible, unstructured options, followed by our picks for the best venues for ticketed, concert-style live performances.
RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED BUT NOT REQUIRED:
A cross between a neighborhood lounge with live music and a performance venue.
37 W 26th Street at King St + MacDougal St
Located in the basement of Niche Niche, Special Club is a classic New York City music venue with great music from lesser-known acts, including their ever-popular Live Piano Karaoke. With an extensive wine and sake list among other Japanese-inspired cocktails and dishes, Special Club is the perfect place to feel like you are discovering something that others have yet to discover. Live performances Wednesday – Sunday at 8:15 PM + 10:15 PM. Reservations are strongly recommended. Reserve a table here.
206 W 118th Street between St. Nicholas Avenue + Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
Time travel back to the 1940s and 1950s as you step in Minton’s Playhouse – the place where Bebop was born and the foundations of modern jazz were established. This typical Harlem music venue attracts its share of tourists, but it’s hardly a tourist trap. We love the Thursday jam session and the free-form Monday Nights At Minton’s which includes a sing-a-long! Ticketed shows every night. Showtimes vary by date.
2 6th Avenue, Cellar Level of The Roxy Hotel
Feels like a little bit of Paris right in downtown NYC. The Django, located within the subterranean level of Tribeca’s Roxy Hotel, The Django has a cave-like setting with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick walls that make for some amazing acoustics. This small jazz venue and cocktail bar offers handcrafted cocktails and dinner plates partnered with a brilliant entertainment lineup. Live performances every night with a $25 cover charge plus a 2-drink minimum ($35 on Fri/Sat). Showtimes vary by date. Reservations are strongly recommended and required for weeknights. Fri/Sat walk-in welcome based on availability. Reserve a table here.
9 Great Jones Street at Lafayette Street + Great Jones Street
Inspired by the old-school piano lounge setting, The Nines is a classy, chic and luxurious piano bar featuring a rotating cast of New York pianists performing an array of musical genres from jazz to classic covers of your favorite songs. Great for date night or post-dinner nightcap, this is the spot for hand-crafted cocktails in a warmly lit room with a stunning grand piano in the center of the room where the performers stylishly add to the ambiance. Live performances every night. Make a reservation here.
The Canary Club
303 Broome Street between Eldridge Street + Forsyth Street
Inspired by the intoxicating energy of New Orleans, The Canary Club is a restaurant, cocktail lounge, and live music club located in the heart of the Lower East Side. Serving up New Orleans-inspired bites and drinks alongside live entertainment ranging anywhere from Jazz to Funk to Disco, The Canary Club is a classic, funky hangout spot that every New Yorker must experience! Live performances Wednesday – Saturday. Showtimes vary by date. Make a reservation here.
240 W 52nd Street between Broadway + 8th Avenue
Looking to continue the night after seeing a Broadway show? Look no further than Haswell Green’s – a Broadway culture favorite located right in the heart of Times Square. Every night, Haswell Green’s keeps the night rolling with open-mic shows, live piano performances and more for locals and tourists alike. Live performances every night. Reservations recommended.
125 MacDougal Street at 3rd + MacDougal Street
If you’re looking for a live music spot with a neighborhood feel, The Groove is the place to be! The Groove is the only place in all of New York where you can listen to live Funk, Soul, and R&B music seven nights a week. Be sure to arrive early to check out their $5 happy hour specials! Live performances every night. Free shows + ticketed performances. Performance times vary by date.
Village Underground at Comedy Cellar
130 West 3rd Street between MacDougal Street + 6th Avenue
See a few of the world’s greatest performances in a neighborly, intimate setting at Village Underground, a classic Village venue routinely booking blues, hip hop and folk acts that usually play rooms 2-3 times the size. After the show, be sure to make a reservation at The Comedy Cellar for an even more memorable night!
The Flatiron Room
37 West 26th Street between 5th + 6th Avenue
If you’re more into a vintage bar scene vibe, check out The Flatiron Room – a classy nightspot housing a collection of over 750 brown spirits and intimate, live jazz shows. Live music lovers, whisky enthusiasts and foodies can all unite within this quaint, intimate venue. Live performances every night. Showtimes vary by date. Reserve a table here.
Ginny’s Supper Club
310 Malcolm X Blvd at Malcolm X Blvd + 126th Street
Escape from the hustle of the city and find yourself downstairs at this classic Harlem speakeasy! Ginny’s Supper Club is Red Rooster’s (and one of New York City’s) best-kept secrets – a classic, hidden, New York supper club celebrating the legendary music of Harlem and Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s world-renowned cuisine. Live performances + sets on Mondays + Wednesdays – Sundays. Showtimes vary by date. Walk-ins welcome.
95 Stanton Street between Ludlow Street + Orchard Street
Formerly a bodega, Arlene’s Grocery opened its doors in 1995 as one of the city’s first live music clubs within the Lower East Side. Featuring up-and-coming acts you won’t find anywhere else, Arlene’s Grocery is a rock music bar that is also home to live-band karaoke. Ticketed shows every night. Showtimes vary by date. Limited tickets are available for purchase at door.
345 Grand Street between Marcy Ave and Havemeyer Street
Intricately designed to pay homage to the Gatsby age, the live jazz music and classic decor at St. Mazie will make you feel as if you have time-traveled back to the 1920s. This quaint, delightful venue is accompanied by a full-service cocktail bar and restaurant – giving you a truly unique experience that is perfect for any special occasion. Concierge tip: be sure to check out their Sunday jazz brunches. Live performances every night. Make a reservation here.
5 Beekman Street, in the Beekman Hotel
Tired of your typical weekend brunch spot? Head on over to Temple Court, a fine dining restaurant located within the sumptuous Beekman Hotel. Every weekend, Temple Court accompanies its seasonal brunch with live jazz music from The Jazz Bazaar and Hudson Horns, adding an elevated, old-school New York feel to your weekend brunch plans. Live performances every Saturday and Sunday from 12 PM – 3 PM. Make a reservation here.
THE CLASSIC VENUES:
Ticket required, concert-style performances. Supper club meets small theatre.
10 Columbus Circle, Floor 1 at The Shops at Columbus Circle
With its wall of windows perched over Columbus Circle, Dizzy’s Club is a truly special venue to enjoy a wide variety of musical acts. Part of Jazz At Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s attracts the biggest performers in the business, from big-name jazz artists to Broadway stars. The relatively intimate supper-club setting and superb performers create a recipe for a truly memorable New York City experience that everyone should try at least once. Ticketed shows every night. Showtimes vary by date.
Birdland Jazz Club
315 W 44th Street between 8th + 9th Avenue
Renowned to be the ‘Jazz Corner of the World’ and an obvious New York go-to spot, Birdland Jazz Club features an array of performers every night, each with a set start-time and end-time. Walk-ins are welcomed based on availability, but advance reservations are always highly encouraged. If you’re a fan of impromptu “open mic” concepts, you will love Jim Caruso’s Cast Party every Monday where you are guaranteed to hear an array of Broadway performers take the stage on their night off. Ticketed shows every night. Showtimes vary by date.
Blue Note Jazz Club
131 West 3rd Street between MacDougal Street + 6th Avenue
The ultimate small venue boasting the biggest names in jazz, Blue Note Jazz Club is a world-famous showcase sure to tickle the ears of jazz aficionados in search of an intimate concert by a jazz legend or an up-and-coming discovery. Ticketed shows every night at 8:00 PM and 10:30 PM.
25 11th Avenue, at Pier 57 along Hudson River
Looking for both a wine bar and live music venue combined in one? City Winery sits you right next to your favorite performer, making it feel like you’re both in their living room. Here, you can listen to all types of genres – from headlining rock stars to indie music artists to country favorites and more! Ticketed shows every night. Showtimes vary by date.
425 Lafayette Street between Astor Place + 4th Street
From avant-garde performance artists to more traditional musical acts, Joe’s Pub hosts some of the most cutting-edge performances across many genres and arts ranging from cabaret to world music to modern dance. Not easily shocked? Check out Brigette Everett’s blush-worthy show, or an evening of kitch with Loser’s Lounge or a classic evening of LA’s favorite lounge lizard duo, Kiki and Herb. Ticketed shows every night at 7:00 PM.
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey Street between Chrystie Street + Bowery Street
A renowned concert venue that is just as intimate as it is grand, The Bowery Ballroom features live performances from favorite, well-known bands from across the globe. A classic New York favorite! Purchase tickets for upcoming concerts here.
Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street between Houston Street + Stanton Street
Boasting three intimate stages – all with top-notch sound systems – Rockwood Music Hall routinely finds and books the next best talent in music. Grab a drink at their bar and listen to music of all genres from both local and international artists – many of whom use Rockwood for their first plays ever in the city! Ticketed shows every night. Showtimes vary by date.
Culture Lab LIC
5-25 46th Avenue at 5th Street + 46th Avenue
Culture Lab LIC supports the efforts of local artists in all of its forms – including music, theater, dance, fine art and more. Support your local artists at this Long Island City classic! View the performance calendar here. Performances vary by date.