Transport yourself to a land of fiddles and banjos with three days of performances from bands with names like Feral Foster, Bill & Belles and plenty o’ jugs. If you feel like jamming out yourself, take a workshop to learn how to play your first few chords on the strings, or show your strength during the Banjo Toss contest.
For the past nineteen years, there had been only one official chef change at any of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, and it was a success: The addition of chef Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park. Thus, the Gramercy Tavern handoff a few months ago, from founding chef Tom Colicchio to Michael Anthony (Blue Hill at Stone Barns), carries the rarity of a papal succession. Gramercy, after all, is the restaurant that transformed Meyer from a one-shop restaurateur to a full-blown impresario, made Colicchio a star and launched a citywide proliferation of casual yet upscale American eateries. On a recent visit, the place felt like a parallel-universe version of the old Gramercy: The farmhouse-style setting (a look that’s getting dated), with its decorative brambles, pinecones and intoxicating smell from the wood-burning oven, are all there. But Colicchio and his hearty, meat-heavy fare are not. In a significant shift, it’s delicate constructions of vegetables and fish that dominate now. The influence of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant given to ingredients-worship, is evident as soon as the first course (of the main dining room’s mandated $76 three-course prix fixe) is rolled out. The broccoli soup was a light broth poured over dried shiitakes, airy sweetbreads and a runny quail egg. Each element appeared to have been prepared with care, but the interplay among them did little to elevate the dish. Meanwhile, a shellfish ragout, with baby turnips and a bitter escarole sauce, was a pun
Owners Paul Stache and Frank Christopher have created a jewel of a jazz joint. On weekends, folks line up around the block to hear a set by one of jazz’s remaining big names, and they are well rewarded: Low-lit chandeliers, comfy sofas, plush carpeting and unobstructed sight lines make it seem like the greats are playing in your living room. Early in the week, evenings are themed: On Sunday, it’s Latin jazz; Tuesday, organ jazz; Wednesday, funk. On weekends, internationally renowned jazz locals (George Coleman, Eddie Henderson, Cedar Walton) hit the stage, relishing opportunities to play informal gigs in their own backyard.
Run by local promoter Bowery Presents, this Williamsburg outpost is basically a mirror image of similarly sized Bowery Ballroom, one upping its Manhattan counterpart with improved sightlights—including elevated areas on either side of the room—and a bit more breathing room. With booking that ranges from indie-rock bands to hip-hop acts, it's one of the best rooms in New York to see a show.
Thanks to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, the Prospect Park Bandshell is to Brooklynites what Central Park SummerStage is to Manhattan residents: the place to hear great music in the great outdoors. Huge names routinely perform all summer long—often for free—from indie-rock royalty to hip-hop and soul veterans.
Renovation was just what the doctor ordered for the jazz den below restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke barbecue joint. Now the room’s marvelous sound matches its already splendid sight lines. The jazz is of the groovy, hard-swinging variety, featuring such musicians as organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, Larry Goldings and Cedar Walton.
This bowling alley and live-music venue fully embraces the new mania for local nostalgia. The space takes its design cues from Coney Island with old freak-show posters and carnival-game relics, and all of the beer sold inside—by Sixpoint, Kelso and the Brooklyn Brewery—is made in the borough. This is a great place to kill a few hours with a big rowdy group: You can tackle a pitcher and the stoner-food menu from the Blue Ribbon team (delicious fatty brisket, Old Bay–fried chicken) laneside between frames. The plush tufted couches are the most luxurious alley seating we’ve ever seen.
This eatery, bar and stage—located on a happening little Williamsburg strip—has already become a local musical institution in a few short years, with its lively schedule of au courant musical acts and DJs that range from experimental (Pharmakon) to the voguish (Ariel Pink). And the food's pretty good too.
Once a mainstay of NYC’s downtown scene, true rock & roll clubs feel like a dying breed in the post-Giuliani era. But this Greenpoint drinkery—moodily decorated with all-black walls and dead roses hanging above the bar—reinvigorates the tradition with a New Brooklyn twist. Rock fiends make the pilgrimage to satisfy a yearning for Marshall amps and screaming guitar riffs; when there’s no show in the back room, the front bar serves as a sleek clubhouse for drinkers who prefer Black Sabbath to Lady Gaga as a boozing soundtrack. Nouveau headbangers don’t have to settle for the usual well shots and Buds: Taps dispense mostly craft beers from New York, like Captain Lawrence and Ommegang, and bartenders are competent enough at classic cocktails such as old-fashioneds and vespers.
RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions Visitors may think they know this venerable theater from TV’s Showtime at the Apollo. But as the saying goes, the small screen adds ten pounds: The city’s home of R&B and soul is actually quite cozy. Known for launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, among others at its legendary Amateur Night competition, the Apollo continues to mix veteran talents like Dianne Reeves with younger artists such as the Roots and Lykke Li.
Since it first opened its doors in 1891, Carnegie Hall has been a mainstay of the New York music scene. George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong and the Beatles have all performed here, and to this day, artistic diector Clive Gillinson continues to put his stamp on the renowned concert hall. Whether you catch a show in the Isaac Stern Auditorium, Zankel Hall or the Weill Recital Hall, you're sure to be dazzled by the history and ambiance of the place.
Big, beloved and not-so-beautiful MSG is perhaps the most famous sports arena in the world. Perched above Penn Station since 1968, the 20,000 seat venue is not only home to New York basketball and ice hockey teams the Knicks and the Rangers, but also is a favorite spot for college basketball tournaments (The Big East), professional boxing, MMA fighting and, as a destination for WWE. Non-sports fans, however, mainly know the Garden as the best spot in town to catch touring international sensations like Adele, Beyonce and Aziz Ansari and countless other amazing concerts.. To learn about the history of the arena, which existed in several other iterations at other locations for the past 130 years, and for a look at where the athletes get dressed, check out the all-access tour ($26.95, seniors and students $19.95, or with show ticket an additional $16, group rates available), which has stops in the locker rooms, the arena bowl and through exhibits featuring images and paraphernalia from iconic moments in sports and performance history.
This is probably the best venue in the city for seeing indie bands, either those on their way up or the ones holding their own. Still, the Bowery also manages to bring in a diverse range of artists from home and abroad. Expect a clear view and bright sound from any spot. The spacious downstairs lounge is a great place to relax and socialize between (or during) sets.
For night owls who equate clubs on desolate streets with hipness, the Bell House has your number. But this Gowanus bar and music venue is worth the bleak trek. The sprawling spot’s two bars—one nestled in an ornate front room, the other in the rear performance space—provide plenty of drinking options. Skip toxic cocktails in favor of one of 12 beers on tap—from Anchor Steam to Smuttynose—or a taste of more than 20 bourbons. A can’t-miss drinking destination the Bell House is not. But if a band draws you in, stick to a Booker’s and you’ll do fine.
The Knitting Factory finds its latest incarnation in Williamsburg (previous NYC locations include Soho and Tribeca), with a medium-size space divided in two by a huge glass window. There’s a low-lit bar in the front and an even dimmer stage in the back. The sound is great, the bookings even better.
This crimson-hued East Village spot is one of the only bars in the city where you can slam a shot of unicum, a 200-year-old bittersweet spirit from Hungary (owner Attila Draviczki’s homeland). Need something a little sweeter? Keybar also offers a selection of signature shooters, like passionfruit and lychee shots made with real fruit and a Rolo shot based on Draviczki’s secret recipe. Come on your birthday, and you’ll get a free round of any shot; come for the happy hour (all day Sunday and Monday or from 4pm to 10pm on all other days), and you’ll enjoy two-for-one drinks. That deal includes the entire bar: beer, signature martinis, well cocktails and anything else you can think of. On any given Saturday night, local DJs will likely be spinning some deep house or techno.
When R&B singer Abel Tesfaye released his debut mixtape, House of Balloons, in 2011, he did so hidden behind the Weeknd moniker: faceless and nameless, with no pictures, concerts or interviews. Since then, he's made the leap from mystery-cloaked DIY buzz magnet to Grammy-winning superstar, and deservedly so—in recent years, Tesfaye's revitalized his drugged out psychosexual fantasy with '80s funk basslines and a glossy pop shimmer. The heartbreaker dropped off last fall’s Meadows Festival due to a conflicting appearance on SNL. Fortunately, he’s making it up to us with a few stadium-size stopovers, so you have no excuse to miss the Toronto singer-producer pushing R&B to ever lusher, edgier extremes.
Back around 2004, pop songstress Jojo penned a megahit that charted No.1 on Billboard‘s mainstream Top 40, signed a a seven-album deal with Blackground Records and released a platinum-selling debut album. Most impressive about those stats? She was 12. After a decade-long struggle with label woes and legal snafus, the star recently returned to the spotlight with a hook-heavy third studio album, Mad Love—and it sounds like the time away has only matured her R&B pipes.
In a sure sign that summer's on its way, NYC's largest amusement park is back for another season of rollicking good times. The Coney Island institution boasts more than 50 attractions, including the iconic Cyclone, the high-flying Air Race and the new-this-year Endeavor. Try your luck at dozens of carnival games, or refuel with a burger at Cyclone Cafe. Keep an eye out for the Summer Series, which brings parties, concerts and performances to the park starting weekends in July.
Anthemic alt-rockers Coldplay hit town in support of their sixth studio effort, A Head Full of Dreams. This tour marks the Londoners return to bombastic laser lights and pyrotechnics at their usual stadium locales after their low-key Ghost Stories tour travelled through smaller, more intimate venues. Get ready for new gems like "Birds" and "Everglow" alongside classic hits like "Fix You" and "The Scientist."
BAM, which showcases local and out-of-town companies, is one of New York’s most prominent cultural institutions. The Howard Gilman Opera House, with its Federal-style columns and carved marble, is a beautiful dance venue. (The Mark Morris Dance Group generally performs there each spring.) The 1904 Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St between Ashland and Rockwell Pls), formerly called the Majestic, has hosted the work of John Jasperse, Wally Cardona and Matthew Bourne. Each fall, BAM’s Next Wave Festival highlights established and experimental dance groups; in the spring, there’s an assortment of African and modern dance and ballet.
Justin Sayre, an avatar of retro-queer cultivation, poses as chairman of the International Order of Sodomites in this delightfully droll monthly gay variety show, which features wittily scripted riffs and rants, plus sketches and musical interludes. The back-to-back series-finale shows on May 14 are sure be memorable.
RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions This historic harbor is home to the former Fulton Fish Market, the Seaport Museum, the country's largest privately owned fleet of historic ships and a shopping mall with retail stores and restaurants. It hosts outdoor concerts during the summer, as well as a range of lectures and public programs.