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Alternative Music Venues in New York

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The Big Apple has a long standing indie music scene which spawned punk rock icons such as the Ramones, the New York Dolls, Talking Heads, Blondie and Sonic Youth just to name but a few.

new york, alternative music venues

From cheap booze and tiny stages in the East Village to low-lit Harlem jazz joints, the alternative music scene continues to flourish in New York and you can shake your thing at any number of trendy venues in the city that never sleeps.


The Brooklyn Academy of Music is a major performing arts venue that is well known as a centre for progressive and avant garde performance.

As well as music, the academy has a four-screen cinema, open 365 days a year and showing new releases and BAMcinematek repertory films.  With a wide and varied programme of live music, the venue plays host to the annual New Wave Festival that celebrates actors, musicians, filmmakers and writers from across the world.


Check out local bands playing live seven nights a week at this lively bar and café in the Lower East Side.  As well as hosting music, theatrical and literary events in its downstairs performance space, Cakeshop sells excellent baked goods and coffee – it’s not just a clever name!

The business is also home to an impressive record store selling an eclectic mixture of new wave, indie and soul – as well as an independent record label, Cape Shok.

Cornelia Street Café

The Cornelia Street Café in Grenwich Village opened its doors in 1977 and quickly became a magnet for the city’s artistic and creative spirits, who were drawn to its edgy, off-beat vibe.

The café was home to a Monday night songwriter’s workshop known as the Songwriter’s Exchange.  The group was a breeding ground for aspiring performers with just one rule – all songs had to have been written within the past week.  Many famous songwriters, such as Suzanne Vega perfected their craft from the feedback received during these open mic sessions.

Today the café has evolved into a successful and well-respected gourmet restaurant that still showcases some of the city’s most innovative musicians, poets, writers and artists.


This intimate lounge in Broadway is the perfect place to tap your toes to mesmerising jam sessions and Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz beats – at the same time as sampling the extensive and tantalizing menu.

Opened in 1999, Smoke carries on a three-decade tradition of live jazz at this location, which was formerly known as Augie’s Jazz Bar.  When Augie’s closed in 1998, co-owners Paul Stache and Frank Christopher pooled their resources to keep the club alive.

With seating for just over 50 guests, every chair in the house is close to the action offering superb acoustics and an unparalleled experience for the true jazz fan.

Hotels in New York

Hotel Wellington room, New YorkHotel Wellington, New York
The 3-star Wellington Hotel  is centrally situated in the stylish Theater District of Midtown Manhattan, just off Broadway, 4 blocks from Central Park, and only a short stroll from Lincoln Center and the up-scale shopping of 5th Ave.

Broadway Plaza Hotel room, New YorkBroadway Plaza Hotel, New York
The Broadway Plaza Hotel is a 3 star New York Hotel located between the Empire State Building and the historic Flatiron Building at 1155 Broadway (at W. 27th Street).

Photo by marfis75

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer mhairi dewar

Mhairi is a freelance writer and marketeer. Based in Manchester, she is a lover all things food and wine shaped, travel, random adventures and general merriment. She can often be found propping up the bar at any one of the city's numerous watering holes.

2 responses to “Alternative Music Venues in New York”

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  1. Dave says:
    November 10th, 2010 at 19:58

    The indie music scene in NY is amazing. There are so many places to find really cool music. Nice to see someone else that is out having fun listening to tunes.

  2. Orlando Plaza says:
    August 5th, 2012 at 02:02

    An excellent article but there are some spaces off the beaten path that still retain a bit of the post Guliani/ Bloomberg NYC. One neighborhood in particular is East Harlem — aka El Barrio. Camaradas El Barrio is a live music venue in East Harlem that features indie bands in all genres Fridays and Saturdays as well as some of the most innovative and pioneering djs in NYC. Located at 2241 First Avenue (115th Street) you will be treated to great music excellent drink and wonderful food.

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