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Liven it up!

The insiders guy to the best spots for live music in NYC


Don’t feel like shelling out $200 to see a bubble gum pop star lip-sync at Madison Square Garden? Are you more interested in the underground/obscure artists who play New York City, as well as your older favorites? Yeah… me too. Follow me to these venues that feature great music and low(er) ticket prices.

The Bitter End

Want to know where Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder (among MANY others) played some of their first gigs ever? Mosey on down to The Bitter End in Greenwich Village. This unassuming venue features up and comers, and to be honest, some that are not so up and coming, but it is a gamble worth taking. Who knows - you just might see a performer there that will show up on Billboard’s top 10 one day.

Le Poisson Rouge

With everything from spoken word to classical music, Le Poisson Rouge aims to please the eclectic live performer lover. More particular folks may want to check out the schedule before heading over, as you could end up with anything from a beat box competition to the best of Debussy. There are some fine performers passing through this venue, including some of the more well known classical artists like violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk. In this avant-garde venue designed as if it is an extension of our Modern Art Museum, you’ll feel very cutting edge.

City Winery

Get your wine, cheese and Cowboy Junkies on in this romantically lit gem in the West Village. There are more than 20 wines produced in house, and they offer a selection of wines ON TAP as well. City Winery features artists old and new, but generally laid back and/or more ethereal (in other words, you won’t fine heavy metal or hard core rap here). The tapas menu is decent and their very intimate setting makes for a great place to take that special guy or gal – I assure you he or she will be impressed.

The Jazz Standard

Calling all my jazz fans! The Jazz Standard features today’s finest jazz musicians, as well as the best food at any of the venues mentioned in this article. You’ll rarely pay over $30 for a ticket to a Jazz Standard show, and although there is no minimum at this venue (a very rare feature,) their award winning barbecue menu is extremely difficult to resist.

The Bowery Presents

If the first four venues fail you, go to The Bowery Presents website, where you will find a treasure trove of live music events at venues from Radio City Music Hall to Music Hall of Williamsburg. My favorite venues on their list are the intimate Bowery Ballroom and the beyond hip Terminal 5. All of these events tend to be reasonably priced, and feature our more well-known artists like Snoop Dogg and Fiona Apple, as well as newer artists who are definitely worth checking out.

You don’t have to scrape too hard to get that bubble gum sound out of your ears here in New York City. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there is something for everyone.

Rebecca Jaymes is a local singer in NYC. To find out more about Rebecca, head to

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