Music walk

New York music, old and new, comes together in what really amounts to one neighborhood, separated by a river and connected by a bridge.

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  • Other Music

  • Other Music

  • John Varvatos

  • Mars Bar

  • Mars Bar

  • Mars Bar

  • Cake Shop

  • Cake Shop

  • Williamsburg Bridge

  • Williamsburg Bridge

  • Main Drag Music

  • Main Drag Music

  • Monster Island

  • Monster Island

  • Morrison Hotel Gallery

  • Zebulon

  • Zebulon

Other Music


Photos: Beth Levendis

Start: 15 E 4th St between Broadway and Lafayette St
End: North 7th St at Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 5.6 miles

1 If there is, in fact, other music, we don’t want to know about it: The folks at Other Music (15 E 4th St between Broadway and Lafayette St; 212-477-8150, othermusic.com) are the best in the city at curating new releases, from CD to vinyl to MP3s. Above all, the store, which was founded more than 13 years ago by Chris Vanderloo and Josh Madell (who had both worked at Kim’s), is tuned in to how the modern music mind thinks—the older albums are appropriately labeled then, so the latest Ra Ra Riot doesn’t get mixed in with Lou Reed’s Berlin.

2 Take your hip, orange OM bag and head on down to the place where everybody acted like the music died back in 2006. Yeah, it was a sad day when CBGB went, but in all seriousness, the show there on an average post-1995 night was pretty lame. Now the space is occupied by fashion designer John Varvatos (315 Bowery at Bleecker St; 212-358-0315, johnvarvatos.com), a man who had the gall to use Cheap Trick in an advertising campaign. While the commercialism of it all (and way-overpriced hi-fi receivers) is so not punk rock, the large shop, stuffed with band posters and records, is still—sort of—dedicated to music. Notably, the New York Dolls play here live on Tuesday 5.

3 While you’re on the block, stop by the Morrison Hotel Gallery (313 Bowery at Bleecker St; 212-677-2253, morrisonhotelgallery.com) and ponder why they had to name it after the frickin’ Doors. (Wouldn’t “Exile on Bowery Street” have worked?) Doors loathing aside, the gallery’s collection of fine-art rock photography (including shots of Joni Mitchell and the Who) gets the nostalgia juices flowing; we defy you to visit the joint and not put on a classic rock album as soon as you get home. Just don’t make it Morrison Hotel, okay?

4 Wanna pour one out for CBGB? You’ll find what you’re looking for at Mars Bar (25 E 1st St at Bowery, 212-473-9842). What exactly were you looking for? Cheap beer, graffitied walls, conversation with old men who may or may not be homeless, the spot where Karen O and Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs first met, and a jukebox stacked with everything from Lou Rawls to the MC5. Word to the wise: Keep the lights off when you’re in the bathroom—you really don’t want to see what’s going on in there.

5 You’ve now got a case of the drunken munchies; the next logical stop is Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts; 212-253-0036, cake-shop.com). At night, the downstairs space hosts some of the best live music in the city (like recently booked up-and-comers Dead Leaf Echo and Cymbals Eat Guitars). By day, the coffeeshop spins obscure indie tunes and serves caffeinated beverages and baked goods. Try a frothy, sobriety-inducing latte with an overstuffed whoopie pie, and stay to seek out the hipster with the tightest pants.

6 After too much whoopie frosting, a calorie-burning hike is in order. Hop down to Delancey Street and over the Williamsburg Bridge. The pink-painted metal may not rival the Brooklyn Bridge’s architectural grandeur, but the Billyburg B has musical chops: In the 1950s and ’60s, jazz great Sonny Rollins used to practice his sax far out over the East River here; he could make as much noise as he wanted without his neighbors complaining.

7 Just off the bridge sits Main Drag Music (330 Wythe Ave at South 1st St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-6365, maindragmusic.com), where bands like TV on the Radio, Interpol, the National and the Hold Steady have chosen from a large selection of guitars, drums and Moog synths.(8) At the intersection of Kent and Metropolitan Avenues, check out the colorful, psychedelic murals outside practice space/concert spot Monster Island. Then it’s over to Zebulon (258 Wythe Ave between Metropolitan Ave and North 3rd St; 718-218-6934, zebuloncafeconcert.com), a caf and venue that hosts stellar under-the-radar indie, jazz and world acts every night starting at 9pm...for free. (Past performers include Lemonade, the Thing and Holly Miranda.) If you’re still hungry, one of the smoked salmon panini will do the trick.

9 Close out your walk with a sup at a Bedford bar: Both Spike Hill (184 Bedford Ave at North 7th St; 718-218-9737, spikehill.com) and The Charleston (174 Bedford Ave between North 7th and 8th Sts; 718-599-9599, myspace.com/thecharlestonnyc) offer free or cheap live music. Is Bedford the new center of music in New York? Maybe not, but it makes for the liveliest of nightcaps.


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