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Cutting-edge Williamsburg music venue National Sawdust opens soon

Written by
Hank Shteamer

Williamsburg took a serious music-venue hit last year, with both 285 Kent and Death by Audio closing within a ten-month span. While there's no sign of a DIY resurgence in the hood, which long ago hit what felt like a saturation point of gentrification, we've just received word on National Sawdust, a spiffy-looking new venue opening there in October. In classic boho-chic style, the new 13,000-square-foot space at the corner of N. 6th St and Wythe Ave takes its name from the factory originally located in the same building. Opening in October of 2015, National Sawdust promises "genre-spanning music at accessible ticket prices."

If you read between the lines, you'll see that the venue is by and large a cutting-edge classical-music destination—one that, if it delivers everything it's promising, could do a lot to shift the balance of power away from old-guard Manhattan institutions like Lincoln Center. The list of curators is a who's who of vanguard composers (Nico Muhly, The National's Bryce Dessner, David T. Little) and performers (pianist Simone Dinnerstein, vocalist Theo Bleckmann, violinist-violist Miranda Cuckson), whose influence spans the classical and indie-rock spheres. And with shows on tap from Terry Riley, John Zorn, Roomful of Teeth, Tanya Tagaq, Muhly, Dessner and others, the slate of opening concerts is even more impressive.

So no, National Sawdust isn't exactly out to replace DBA. But with its heavyweight roster—in addition to Muhly and Riley, the venue's Advisory Board includes elite names such as Laurie Anderson, Suzanne Vega, Philip Glass and even James Murphy—it'll surely give similarly minded Manhattan spots like Le Poisson Rouge a serious run for their money. Stay tuned for more information as it's announced and feast your eyes on an indoor rendering of the venue:

National SawdustPhotograph: Bureau V

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