Everynight Charley Checkup: The Downtown Venues this Summer
The summer of 2021 is rocking, thanks in large part to all the small downtown Manhattan music clubs, bars and restaurants that have given local musicians a place to play before live audiences.
In the summer of 2020, when few bars and restaurants would even open their doors, Marshall Stack was among the bars that started the trend of having musicians play indoors at an open window to patrons seated outside. The Anyway Café, Baby Brasa, the Corner Bistro, David’s Café, Fine and Rare, the Flatiron Room, Joey Bats Café Lower East Side, the Juke Bar, Pinky’s Space and Rue-B followed with similar arrangements.
In the fall, Café Wha?, Caravan of Dreams, City Winery NYC, drom, Fiddlesticks Pub, Groove, Sour Mouse NYC and the Waterfront Ale House began showcasing live music. Several of these venues closed again in the winter months, when the state government temporarily ended indoor dining.
As the spring arrived, the government eased restrictions again, and the 11th St. Bar, Berlin, The Bitter End, The Bowery Electric, Club Cumming, the Django, Mezzrow, Mona’s, The Red Lion, the Red Room at KGB Bar, and Small’s reopened with curfews and limited capacity.
By June, with nearly all restrictions terminated, the 55 Bar, Arlene’s Grocery, The Blue Note, the Canary Club, the Cutting Room, The Ear Inn, Galway Hooker, Hill Country NYC, Mercury Lounge, Nomad, Nublu 151, the Olive Tree Café, Rockwood Music Hall, Terra Blues and other clubs reopened and began presenting live music. Otto’s Shrunken Head reopened for live music in early July and will slowly rebuild to a full schedule.
In an unanticipated move, venues that never hosted music before are hosting shows on a regular basis. These venues include Bowery Union, Five & Dime, and Stitch Bar & Blues.
We now await the late summer reopening of the larger venues, including Bowery Ballroom, the Gramercy Theatre, Irving Plaza, le Poisson Rouge, and Webster Hall. Smaller clubs, including Cowgirl, the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill and the Village Vanguard, will reopen as well, probably in September. The owners of several other downtown music venues that featured live music regularly before the pandemic, including the Delancey, Lola, Pianos and S.O.B.’s, have not yet posted their intentions regarding live music.