The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York

February 26, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

New York City has always been a town for performers and artists of all kinds. Times Square, Central Park, live music clubs—these are all beacons of both professional and amateur talent and where New Yorkers can go to see buskers plying their trade. Several venues cater directly to these traveling virtuosos, holding open mics at music and comedy clubs and inviting local musicians to perform alongside jazz legends. However, with the cold weather still looming, fewer buskers will be seen in the outdoor areas. This list of indoor venues (and a few surefire outdoor spots) is a great starting place for anyone looking to observe–or participate in–live performances.
creole The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York


Price: $5.00 per guest on Thurs. for The Lou Volpe Blues Jam Session
Hours: Mon-12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tue- 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., Wed to Fri-12 p.m. to 12 a.m., Sat- 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Jazz and blues fans will enjoy Thursday nights at the Harlem Creole and Supper Club, and every Thursday the talent opens up to the people. The Lou Volpe Blues Jam Session plays with rotating bassists and drummers in the Lou Volpe trio. After doing a set, Lou and company invite local area musicians to join in the fun. Legendary jazz flutist Chip Shelton is just one of the many talented people who frequently stop by the club. Anyone with an instrument or a voice and willingness to get into the groove is welcome to play along. Check the website to be sure that Lou and company will be there on a given Thursday as special events occasionally take over the night.

Related: 6 Best Live Music Venues in New York City

comedy The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York

(credit: Thinkstock)

Price: Open Mics $15 and two drinks per guest; children under 16 not allowed
Hours: Open Mics: Sun, Mon, Fri – 6 p.m. to close; New Talent: Wed to Thu – 9 close; Fri to Sat – 8:00 p.m. to close.

The New York Comedy Club has a very supportive community of comedians and management that really sets them apart. This community helps new comics to feel welcome into the foldand is also a magnate for up and coming talent. Open mics are generally run Tuesday to Friday at 6 p.m., and guests are asked to arrive a few minutes early for the show. There is no cover charge for the open mics but there is a one drink minimum. New performers are asked to pay $5 for six minutes on stage, and this also buys them a drink.

The club has shows for newly established acts as well, called “new talent.” For these shows, which are held Wednesday through Saturday, there is a cover charge between $10-$15, depending on the show. The website events calendar gives details.

Related: New York’s Comedy Scene, As Loved By George Carlin And Wife

bitterend The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York


Price: $7 to $10; check website for details
Show Hours: Starts at 7 p.m.; check website for details

The famous ‘red brick wall’ at The Bitter End has been the backdrop for the starting careers of Billy Joel, Judy Collins, Stevie Wonder, The Spin Doctors, Hall and Oates, Bo Diddly, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and many, many others. The venue also hosts newer performers, including students from the Beacon High School in Manhattan. Every second and fourth Sunday of the month, The Bitter End holds a Sunday Night Open Jam Session. Check the calendar for details—most acts are local from the live music clubs around the city.

nakedcowboy The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York

(credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Times Square

New York, NY 10019

The weather might not be ideal this time of year, but you can be sure some performers will still be out entertaining tourists in Times Square. Douglas C. Williams dresses and performs as Spiderman, most often right in the heart of the plaza, and can be easily spotted by the people taking pictures with him and giving him tips. Another famous staple performer is Robert John Burck, the so-called Naked Cowboy (who isn’t really naked), known as a New York City icon. Burck has licensed several Naked Cowgirls to use his trademark. All sorts of other street performers can be found in and around Times Square, weather permitting.

violinistcentralpark1 The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York

(credit: Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

The Mall in Central Park

Central Park, from 66th Street to 72nd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 310-6600

Various street performers can be seen in Central Park, particularly in the warmer months, including Mariachi bands, comedians, musicians, a violinist, break dancers, or even a man selling jokes for a buck.

starvingartistcafe The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York

(credit: Starving Artist Cafe/Facebook)

Price: $5 worth of menu items per person
Hours: Fri to Sat – 7:00 p.m. to 12 p.m.; Sun 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Open mic nights last Friday of every month

The Starving Artist Cafe & Gallery is the Bronx Mecca for performers of all types— singer/songwriters, authors, poets, comedians and more. Starving Artist primarily holds acoustic live music events, but open mic nights held the last Friday of each month see artists from all over the city hone their skills in front of appreciative audiences. The Starving Artist also accepts inquiries from musicians, particularly in the singer/songwriter genre, who wish to send in a demo tape in the hopes of getting a spot to perform when there is an opening. Payment for these events is always in tips, and there is a starving artist box that gets passed around for donations.

bar4brooklyn The 7 Best Places To See Buskers Around New York


Price: Free
Hours: Sun to Sat – 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Tuesday night is a great night for music and comedy in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. People from both New York City and abroad have come to share their talents with the crowd. The waiting list may be long, but the show runs from signup at 7 p.m. to as late as 3 a.m. A warm, candle-lit atmosphere and a combination of couches, chairs and bar stools at a copper bar fill this neighborhood bar with a comfortable ambiance that encourages relaxation and camaraderie among patrons. The bar treats everyone, regardless of whether they are local or from out of town, like family. One of the best kept secrets of Park Slope, Bar 4 also runs a Sunday comedy show that has hosted comedians who have performed on Comedy Central. Call for details.

Related: Best Theme Bars in New York City

Nick Gauthier is a freelance writer and lives in the Bronx. His work can be found at

Watch & Listen LIVE