Greenwich Village Music Tour
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New York, New York Guide (A): Greenwich Village Music Tour

Greenwich Village has long been an incubator for jazz, folk, blues, and rock. This tour visits twelve venues that had a significant place in the history of the Village’s music scene. Some are almost unchanged, yet as vital and exciting as ever; others have reinvented themselves to embrace new styles and new performers for new audiences. (Note: This tour covers the West Village; the East Village has a very different scene of its own.)
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Greenwich Village Music Tour
Guide Location: USA » New York
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 1.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Arthur’s Tavern   Cornelia Street Cafe   The Blue Note   Cafe Wha?   Le Poisson Rouge   The Bitter End   Terra Blues   Washington Square Park   Electric Lady Studios   The Village Vanguard   Smalls Jazz Club   Fat Cat  
Author: Eric Kraft
Author Bio: Eric Kraft is the author of a large (and growing) work of fiction called The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy. Newsweek called it “the literary equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing: great art that looks like fun,” and the San Francisco Chronicle said that it is “perhaps the most ambitious and rewarding literary enterprise of our time.” It consists, so far, of ten novels.
Author Website:,
Arthur’s Tavern

1) Arthur’s Tavern

Arthur’s has been presenting jazz and blues every night since 1937. Charlie Parker played here, and the room retains the atmosphere of those great days — and that atmosphere remains authentic, since Arthur’s has never been renovated or re-invented. Essentially it is today what it has always been. The décor seems to have just happened; ornaments seem to have drifted in over the years, settled down, and never left. The result is either tacky or wacky — depending on how seriously you take...
Cornelia Street Cafe

2) Cornelia Street Cafe

The musicians who appear at the Cornelia Street Cafe are first-rate, although they may not be world-famous . . . yet. Suzanne Vega got her start here. The cafe has grown in its thirty years, so that it’s now about five times its original size and offers two shows a night, nearly every night of the year. The music emphasizes jazz and singer-songwriters, but performances are not limited to music. There are also poetry readings, dramatic performances, cabaret nights, prose readings, and a science...
The Blue Note

3) The Blue Note

The Blue Note has been here for about thirty years. It’s one of the most successful clubs—so successful that it has become a franchise, with Blue Notes in Milan, Tokyo, and Nagoya. You’ll probably spot it from some distance, thanks to the distinctive marquee in the shape of the body and raised lid of a grand piano. Inside, you will find one of the best-looking rooms, with good sight lines and relatively comfortable seating. Almost from the beginning, the Blue Note has booked the top names...
Cafe Wha?

4) Cafe Wha?

In its Golden Age, which extended from the 1950s through the 60s, Cafe Wha? hosted Bob Dylan; Jimi Hendrix; Bruce Springsteen; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and many other performers who defined an era. Now it’s a place frequented mostly by tourists, and the performers are house bands. Monday night’s band plays Brazilian dance music; Tuesday’s plays soul, rhythm-and-blues, and funk; and Wednesday through Sunday, the band plays just about anything, including reggae, r&b, and rock. Okay, so...
Le Poisson Rouge

5) Le Poisson Rouge

Le Poisson Rouge is on the site of the Village Gate, once a jazz venue of stature equal to or greater than the Village Vanguard. The Village Gate sign has been preserved on the building at the southwest corner of Bleecker and Thompson. Le Poisson Rouge is now one of the most exciting and innovative venues for music in New York. The programming is eclectic and innovative: you can sip a scotch and soda while listening to Bach cello suites one evening, hear the debut performance of an electronic...
The Bitter End

6) The Bitter End

In the nearly fifty years that the Bitter End has been here, it has hosted many great folksingers: Joan Baez sang here; so did Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, and Phil Ochs— but the Bitter End wasn’t just about folk music. There was rock, too. In fact, the Bitter End bills itself as New York’s oldest rock club, citing a very mixed bag of artists that includes Neil Diamond, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley, Ricky Nelson, Van Morrison, and Neil Young. And there’s a standup...
Terra Blues

7) Terra Blues

For more than fifteen years, Terra Blues has been delivering the real thing. Over that time, the number of blues clubs in the city has declined dramatically, but Terra Blues has stayed the course, delivering the likes of Little Milton, Edgar Winter, and Johnny Clyde Copeland to an audience that knows and loves blues music. There are two sets nightly. The early set, running from 7 pm to 10 pm, is acoustic, usually a solo performer. The second set, beginning at 10, is electric, usually a...
Washington Square Park

8) Washington Square Park

Recalling the time when he came to New York in the 1960s, Bob Dylan had this to say about Washington Square Park: “Washington Square was a place where people you knew or met congregated every Sunday and it was like a world of music . . . There could be fifteen jug bands, five bluegrass bands and an old crummy string band, twenty Irish confederate groups, a Southern mountain band, folk singers of all kinds and colors singing John Henry work songs . . . bongo drums, conga drums, saxophone...
Electric Lady Studios

9) Electric Lady Studios

You won’t be able to hear any music at Electric Lady Studios, but you might want to pause a moment in front of the door, because this is a historic site in the history of rock. Jimi Hendrix had this studio built for him in 1968. It was designed precisely to his specifications, and he intended to do all his future recording here, but he actually recorded only one instrumental number in it. That was the last studio recording he made before his death on September 18, 1970. Many other musicians...
The Village Vanguard

10) The Village Vanguard

The Vanguard is a landmark in the history of modern jazz. Since 1935, the top musicians have played here, including Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, and the list goes on and on. The Vanguard is still as vibrant, interesting, and important as ever. Top-notch musicians play here, and a knowledgeable and appreciative audience comes to see and hear them, every night of the week. The doors open at 8:00 pm; sets begin at 9:00 and 11:00. Admission is...
Smalls Jazz Club

11) Smalls Jazz Club

Smalls has been around since 1993, when it began life as a very bohemian no-frills jazz den, little more than a bare basement room. Modest though it was, it attracted a late-night crowd and first-rate musicians. Many of the current generation of top-notch jazz musicians found their audience here, including Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, and Norah Jones. After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, Smalls struggled to keep its audience, as many clubs did at that time, and it closed for a...
Fat Cat

12) Fat Cat

There are three sessions every night at Fat Cat, each featuring a different band, and the final set is a jazz jam session that runs until closing time. The emphasis is on jazz (with some Latin jazz now and then, and even a capella vocal groups at times). Fat Cat’s a bit of an oddity in the Village music scene, because it is also a pool hall and game room, with pool, billiards, ping pong, shuffleboard, foosball, chess, checkers, backgammon, and Scrabble available. The musicians tend to be...

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