Best blues music venues
Many ghosts haunt the sodden crossroads known as Sheridan Square: poets, painters, firebrands. But only at 55 Bar can you imbibe alongside living legends, top boppers and bluesme, as they swing in the narrow basement boîte nightly. All shows have a two-drink minimum, but never fear: The bartenders know how to mix. If you want to talk, sit in back so the head-bobbing jazzbos don’t shush you.
B.B.’s joint plays host to one of the widest varieties of music in town: Cover bands and soul tributes fill the gaps between big-name bookings. But the venue hasn't lost its connection to the genre that made King himself a household name. You'll still find lightning-fingered blues axmen fending off the Times Square bustle outside.
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; bigger names draw a bigger cover charge, which is never too stiff. For stiff, there’s an extensive bourbon and Scotch collection.
If you’re looking for an authentic, atmospheric folk-and-country joint, this Red Hook honky-tonk is the real deal. Besides functioning as a gallery space, instrument store and café, the Jalopy has a super-cute, retro-style minitheater in the back.
This cozy French bar in Park Slope hosts one of the city's liveliest, most diverse music scenes in its cramped but friendly back room. Separated from the well-stocked front bar by a humble curtain, you might encounter indie rock, progressive jazz, classical chamber music, West African funk, French musette…you name it.
The guys behind Hill Country—which exists primarily as a bar and restaurant—host a variety of Amercana-based genres in the surprisingly spacious downstairs showroom. Entertainment includes blues, country-and-western, live-band karaoke and sundry other musical delights to go with your meat.