Best Places to Watch Live, Local Music in New York City


The New York City area has a ton of great places to listen to live music. There are big outdoor stadiums like Citi Field and Metlife Stadium. There are indoor arenas like Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. There are music festival venues like Randall's Island. But the best places to watch live music in NY are, in my opinion, the smaller places where there is a more intimate atmosphere and you are more likely to encounter local bands. Here are some of my favorite spots:

Arthur's Tavern
Jazz and blues are what you will hear at Arthur's Tavern every night, including Mondays when the same band has performed weekly for 35 years. And there's no cover charge.

Cleopatra's Needle
This jazz club always has piano music going, frequently accompanied by vocalists, sax, etc. Weekly open mic nights at Cleopatra's Needle provide a chance for young, local musicians to hone their skills.

Cornelia Street Café
The Cornelia Street Café hosts close to 700 shows a year, two a night, with an enormous range of offerings: everything from science to songwriting, from Russian poetry to Latin jazz, from theatre to cabaret. I especially loved their recent classical festival featuring local pianist Melody Fader.

Smalls
Smalls is known for hot jazz, late night sessions, and a culture that welcomes and embraces young and local talent. Although the club has gone through several transitions and iterations, its commitment to nurturing musical artists is as strong as ever, as is evident by the SmallsLIVE Revenue Share Project.

Victoria Otto Franzese is a proud New Yorker who owned, operated, and wrote for a successful online travel guide for 15 years. Now, thankfully, all of her travel is purely for fun. See where she'll be going next at @VOFranzese.