Jazz and comedy venues
Claustrophobes, beware: It gets crowded down here, especially on weekends, thanks to the immense popularity of this Village standby. Big names from Amy Schumer to Aziz Ansari will drop by for a set and on any given night, you can expect to see other local greats whose acts are more X-rated than at other clubs (and who will distract you from your bachelorette-partying neighbors).
Situated in the basement of the long-gone Village Gate—a legendary performance space that hosted everyone from Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix—Le Poisson Rouge was opened in 2008 by a group of young music enthusiasts with ties to both the classical and indie-rock worlds. With a top-notch sound system and modular stage that can be set up for in-the-round performances, LPR sounds great whatever the genre is.
The Blues series on PBS may have helped fill the seats, but the classic eight-bar has been the star of this unadorned, laid-back place all along. Both local musicians and marquee names play, including Little Milton, Edgar Winter, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland and the Holmes Brothers; bigger names draw a bigger cover charge, which is never too stiff. For stiff, there’s an extensive bourbon and Scotch collection, including Lagavulin and Bunnahabhain.
Since 2005, the prolific composer and improviser John Zorn has operated his nonprofit venue, The Stone, with one-of-a-kind curated lineups and a no-beverages-or-merch policy out of an East Village storefront. That space shuttered in March 2018, but the music keeps going at its new home: the New School’s Glass Box Theatre. Expect the same adventurous music organized by world-class curators (Sonic Youth rocker Thurston Moore and jazz-guitar wiz Bill Frisell are among the names penciled in for residencies).
Bob Dylan cut his teeth in this joint, which has proudly championed the singer-songwriter since 1961. (Though Younger patrons might come to gawk at the place where Stefani "Lady Gaga" Germanotta got her start.) Dylan aspirants as well as the occasional folk or country-rock star appear here, including Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. It ain’t the Mamas and the Papas, Joni or Joan, but you still get to check out who’s folking whom.