As Williamsburg music venues shutter left and right, this space is a rare newcomer for the Brooklyn hood. The cozy bar-venue is more akin to a sparsely furnished living room than what you might imagine as a concert hall, but that only heightens the intimacy of the music. Its website describes the events, presented by longtime Cake Shop booker Andy Bodor, as "fringe / avant-garde / experimental with a focus on music and performance." A recent visit featured a billl that merged outré outsider folk, stoned freak-rock and hushed songwriter fare.
Show up early if you want to get into Park Slope’s global-bohemian club—it’s tiny. Run by musically inclined French expats, this boîte brings in traditional swing and jazz of more daring stripes—depending on the night, you could catch African, French, Brazilian or Colombian music or acts that often defy categorization.
It may be pocket-sized, but that pocket is full of goodies. Evenings begin with readings, poetry and art. In addition to Wednesday’s Quizz-Off game night, there’s free music in the Pullman-car-shaped performance space, with acts on the cusp of wider recognition appearing nightly. When the weather warms, the backyard opens to stargazers. Throw in surprisingly good pressed sandwiches and reasonably refreshments. What more could you want?
Despite its cramped, awkward layout, the Sidewalk Café is the focal point of the city’s antifolk scene—although that category means just about anything from piano pop to wry folk. Nellie McKay, Regina Spektor and the Moldy Peaches all started here. Keep your eyes peeled for the next rising star.
Looking for more great music venues?
Don’t Tell Mama
What good is singing alone in your room when you can sing along with show tunes at a Theater District cabaret? Cabaret performers often congregate in the bar area before and after their numbers, and best of all, there’s no cover charge there, just a two-drink minimum. Sip a bourbon, hum a few bars, and soak up the Art Deco chic.