Since the very day New York was founded, music has been a fundamental part of life in the city. From colonial-era shanties to ragtime, jazz and blues, there’s no question about the fact that the musical landscape of the United States would look a lot different if you were to remove New York from the equation.
Indeed, the musical landscape of the entire world wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for New York. Just think; what would music be without the creative freedom brought on by jazz, or the pure expression and emotion of blues? That’s a thought we don’t even like to entertain! All things said and done, we’re just really glad that New York exists.
If you’re planning to visit New York, there are a number of worthwhile tourist attractions that you can no doubt add to your itinerary, but we think that music should have a place on that itinerary too. With such a rich musical heritage, it just wouldn’t be right to visit this city without dedicating at least a little time to seeing and hearing the music that put this city on the artistic map.
Of course, you can’t really appreciate the music of New York if you don’t know where to go to find them. That’s where we come in! In this article, we’ll be giving you our recommendations for the must-see (or must-hear, in this case) musical attractions in New York City. From record stores to concert halls and music clubs, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Let’s get into it!
Whether you’re a hardcore audiophile or haven’t touched vinyl since the advent of the 8-track, its hard to deny the simple pleasure of browsing the collection at a record store. The smell of paper and wax, the thousands upon thousands of eclectic records, the feeling of sliding one out of its sleeve, all of it is simply magical!
Those in New York with time to kill will be delighted to learn that there are plenty of record shops to choose from, where you can spend hours browsing, listening and talking to other clients. It was tough to choose just one for this list, but after hours of deliberation and careful thought, we’ve come to the conclusion that Black Gold Records should be your first stop!
Visiting a record store is special in and of itself, but this particular records store is on an entirely different level. With a unique and individualistic showroom, an overwhelmingly massive collection and some of the most friendly and helpful staff of any such establishment in the city, this is a can’t-miss attraction for anyone who loves music!
There are a lot of genres of music on today’s market. With the advent of the internet, it has become exceedingly easy to create and share music for a large audience, and that has led to an explosion of ever-interdependent subgenres inside of subgenres. In spite of this newfound artistic diversity, there’s still nothing that feels quite like a good jazz record or show.
Jazz is the music of life. It’s the sound of making a coffee on a snowy winter morning, and the sound of lazily swinging in a hammock on a warm summer evening. Jazz is everything and nothing, an expression of the deepest and simultaneously most mundane events and emotions that everyone in the world experiences at one point or another.
If you’re looking to experience the phenomenal feeling that is jazz, then your best bet is to drop by the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, NYC. This phenomenal jazz joint has some of the best live music you’re likely to hear anywhere, along with excellent food and drinks to boot. Over the years, its stage has been graced by some of the all-time jazz greats, and its reputation is sterling as a result!
If the Blue Note Jazz Club is friendly and intimate, Carnegie hall is exactly the opposite, in the best way possible! With its large concert hall and overwhelmingly massive structural size, Carnegie Hall has hosted some of the most famous names of the music world over the years, and that tradition continues to this very day.
Carnegie Hall has no particular affiliation when it comes to genre, so there’s no telling what type of music you’ll find playing if you opt to pay the place a visit. On one night, you might catch the slow, sensual blues licks of John Mayer, while another night it could very well be hosting the funky goodness of Joe Dart and his band Vulfpeck.
There’s one thing you can be sure of when visiting Carnegie Hall, however; whatever music is playing, it’s guaranteed to be good! If you’d like to pay this historic concert venue a visit, you’ll likely need to go online and book your tickets a few weeks in advance. This is one of the most famous establishments in the world; you can’t expect them to allow walk-ins!
Let’s say you’re tired of old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill musical performances. The lights and tightly choreographed dance routines are all well and good, but after a while it does tend to get old. You’re looking for something with a bit more flair, some pizazz and a generous helping of theatricality, all without losing the musical brilliance of today’s top musicians. If this is the case, then we’ve got you covered: you’re going to want to visit the Apollo!
The Apollo Theater is a historic New York landmark, with a long and celebrated past that extends back nearly 110 years. Founded in 1914, it changed hands a number of times over the years, in the process becoming an integral part in the saga of the civil rights movement in the city of New York.
Today, this notable venue is the perfect place to catch one of the headline shows or relax with a cult favorite. What’s more, this theater is an integral part of the African-American community in the city of New York, so paying the place a visit helps support one of the most important African-American community centers!
This one isn’t a particular place or attraction, nor is it limited to New York City. Buskers (i.e. musical street performers) can be found wherever there’s foot traffic and a place to sit or stand. While they may not be exclusive to NYC, buskers are without a doubt way more common here. On any given day, you’re likely to see several while just going about your business!
Buskers are the heart and soul of New York’s music scene, providing the city with a desperately needed infusion of talent and originality where so often there is nothing but tired cliches and derivative pandering. These musicians might not serve up the artificial polish and over-the-top spectacle that their onstage counterparts do, but they’ve got something better: raw emotion, or as many call it, soul.
On the streets of New York, you’ll hear a variety of music that far exceeds the relatively constrictive bounds of formal musical institutions. You might see a blues musician set up shop with an electric guitar and a mic, or a quartet of jazz brass players cranking out uptempo swing in phenomenal style. Whoever and whatever you come across, be sure to drop a dollar or two in their cup!
Considering its long and storied musical history, it would be simply criminal to visit the city of New York without taking some time to appreciate the rich cultural beauty on display here. From musical theater to live performances in the street or a concert hall, we think we’ve made it clear how much variety is right at your fingertips. We hope you do yourself a favor and see these attractions for yourself!