5 Types of Live Music in New York

Millions of visitors flock to New York City each year to experience the city’s music scene. Yet, where do the locals head when they crave some live tunes? You can’t miss these New York music venues.

Jazz Music

Jazz may not have been invented in New York, but there was a time that jazz musicians believed that if you made it in the New York City jazz world, you could make it anywhere. Though many of the city’s famed jazz clubs closed long ago, you can still see live jazz at these hot spots.

Village Vanguard

The Blue Note is one of the Village’s most legendary jazz venues. It’s seen some of the most famous names in jazz over the years, including John Coltrane.

Arthur’s Tavern

Just a stone’s throw from the Village Vanguard sits another legendary jazz hotspot, Arthur’s Tavern. New York City’s own Charlie “Yardbird” Parker played here during his reign as jazz king.

American Legion Post #398

Though the legendary Small’s Paradise and the Big Apple didn’t make it through Harlem’s era of decline in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, you can still see authentic live jazz every Sunday night.

Gospel Music

Gospel music has deep roots in New York City history. Developed on plantations during times of slavery, gospel combines heavy African beats with the themes and stories sung about in Christian hymns. There are dozens of churches that offer live gospel music throughout the week in New York. Three of the most popular include:

Times Square Church

Conveniently located in Times Square, this non-denominational church’s choir performs every Sunday.

Abyssinian Baptist Church

One of the oldest African American churches in Manhattan, the Abyssinian continues its gospel tradition every Sunday and Wednesday.

Brooklyn Tabernacle

The Brooklyn Tabernacle sings contemporary gospel music–most of it written by the church’s musical director. They have won several Grammys and even performed at President Obama’s inauguration.

It’s important to note that these churches are home to active congregations and are not “tourist attractions.” The churches ask that you stay for the entire service (not just the gospel performance) and follow the dress codes stated on each website.

World Music

New York is a cultural hodgepodge, so it makes sense that the music scene would be equally diverse. Some of the best venues to sway your hips to world beats include:

Barbes

Tucked away in South Slope in Brooklyn, those not in the know might not even notice Barbes situated right next to Prospect Park. Yet this tiny jewel box theater has hosted world-famous performers, including artists such as Stephane Wrembel.

SOBs

Latin legends like Tito Puentes have graced the stage of SOBs, but it’s their Caribbean Saturdays that are not be missed. Hundreds of bodies packed in a dance hall, bobbing in sync to records spun by a locally famous DJ.

Alternative Music

Where do you go when you want to check out one of your favorite alternative bands? Luckily New York has as many spots to check out contemporary artists, too.

Knitting Factory

The Knitting Factory was one of the hottest spots for alternative music in Manhattan’s Lower East Side since it opened in 1987. In 2009 it relocated to its current location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Recent performances have included The Black Parade and The Function.

Brooklyn Bowl

What’s better than checking out your favorite band? Bowling while they play live on a stage adjacent to the alley. Past performances at Brooklyn Bowl include bands such as Cibo Matto and Big Freedia.

Classical and Symphony Music

No musical journey is complete without a trip to Lincoln Center to see the New York Philharmonic. The oldest symphony orchestra in the US (they were founded in 1842) is still one of the top must-see musical performances in the city. Lincoln Center is also home to the Metropolitan Opera.

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