5 Best Blues Bars In New York

April 26, 2012 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

While some of the more popular music venues in Manhattan are defined by smoky stages and absurd ticket prices, there are still plenty of intimate settings littered throughout the city that provide great music at an affordable rate. If you’re looking for an exciting night out that might open your eyes to one of the most diverse and robust blues circuits in the country, check out the clubs below before relying on the ol’ Saturday night standard. These are the city’s best, boasting soulful tunes and delicious drinks every night.
100092100 5 Best Blues Bars In New York

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Terra Blues
149 Bleeker St.
New York, NY 10012
(212) 777-7776

Hours: Sun to Thurs – 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Fri – 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., Sat – 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Click here for a calendar of events

Terra Blues perfectly balances the best blues acts in the city with excellent service that keeps the drinks coming without interruption. If you’re looking to talk with friends, opt for the seats at the side of the stage. Sit anywhere else and your voice will be drowned out. The early show at 7 p.m. is usually less crowded, and getting a table at that time shouldn’t be a problem. If attending the late show, however, be sure to arrive at least an hour early to ensure a good spot. Drinks here can be a bit pricey, but the bluesy tunes make it all worth it.

nightlife music blues bars blue note 5 Best Blues Bars In New York

Photo Credit: The Blue Note via Facebook

The Blue Note
131 W 3rd St.
New York, NY 10012
(212) 475-8592

Hours: Sun – 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Mon to Thurs – 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Fri to Sat –  6 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Click here for a calendar of events

The Blue Note is one of NYC’s most famous and historic blues clubs, known for mixing both established acts with young up-and-comers. While you’ll find yourself standing in a long line as the earlier shows wrap-up — often right beside the next act as it sits on their instrument cases — the Blue Note offers great music and nothing more. In other words, load up on dinner and drinks prior to the show. The space is small and loud, so socializing is best kept to a minimum. This is the perfect place for devoted jazz and blues enthusiasts who want to skip the distractions and head straight to the tunes.

nightlife music blues bars smalls 5 Best Blues Bars In New York

Photo Credit: smallsjazzclub.com

183 W 10th St.
New York, NY 10014
(212) 252-5091

Hours: Daily – 7:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Click here for a calendar of events

A true throwback to the jazz age, you’ll be introduced to odd characters in a uniquely intimate venue. The club’s name isn’t ironic, as the space fills up quickly, but it adds to the mystique and flavor that is Smalls. A must-see destination for blues adventurers, soulfully mesh with some of the most innovative artists on the blues circuit. Smalls adds an exciting, and somewhat experimental, twist to Saturday night blues.

nightlife music blues bars the 55 bar 5 Best Blues Bars In New York

Photo Credit: 55bar.com

The 55 Bar
55 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 929-9883

Hours: Sun to Thurs – 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., Fri to Sat – 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Click here for a calendar of events

This self-proclaimed dive bar lives up to its reputation by providing music-goers with front-row seats to some of the most promising young and local talent in New York City in an intentionally rundown backdrop. The drinks are cheap, the venue charmingly rugged and the tunes consistently solid. Catch the biggest blues acts of the future in one of NYC’s hidden gems. The 55 Bar promises an intoxicating start or soothing finish to any night filled with blues and booze.

nightlife music blues bars bb king blues 5 Best Blues Bars In New York

Photo Credit: B.B. King Blues Club and Grill via Facebook

B.B. King Blues Club and Grill
237 W 42nd St.
New York, NY 10019
(212) 997-4144

Hours: Sun  to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Fri to Sat – 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Click here for a calendar of events

Known throughout the country as one of the best blues and jazz venues, B.B. King’s legendary club does not disappoint. The artists who stop off here are, quite simply, the best at what they do. Once inside, you’ll be ushered to an aesthetically pleasing table to sip mouth-watering cocktails and delve into an eclectic selection of decadent dinners. While it’s unquestionably the most expensive of this batch, paralleling the ticket prices of some of the city’s larger venues, the experience is remarkably one of a kind. It’s the perfect spot for those new to the city or natives looking to up the bluesy ante in their lives.

Related: Best Cocktails in West Village

Matt Thomas is a freelance writer who has published articles and stories in The Village Voice, Examiner.com, The Worcester Review, The Journal of American Culture, and many others. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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