Rock The Night Away The Best Live Music Bars Manhattan Has To Offer

Are you looking for a vibrant nightlife experience in Manhattan? Do you crave live music bars that offer not only great tunes but also a relaxed atmosphere? Look no further, because we have compiled a guide to some of the best live music bars in Manhattan that will offer you just that – an unforgettable night out.

By reading this article, you can expect to have a comprehensive understanding of the diverse range of live music bars available in Manhattan that offer different genres of music, ambiances and price points to satisfy every taste and budget. Whether you are a jazz lover, hip hop enthusiast or simply looking for a mellow acoustic setting, this article will have you covered.

Our guide will showcase some of the most iconic live music bars in Manhattan, including testimonials from locals and tourists who have experienced the magic of the nightlife scene in the city that never sleeps. Not only will you gain insider knowledge of the must-visit bars, but you will also discover hidden gems that you may have never heard of before. So, get ready to explore the vibrant music scene that Manhattan has to offer!

1. The Blue Note

The Blue Note, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of the most iconic live music bars in Manhattan. It first opened its doors in 1981 and has been attracting music lovers ever since. The venue is known for its intimate setting and top-tier performances by jazz legends as well as up-and-coming artists. Its reputation as one of the best jazz clubs in the world is well-deserved, as it has hosted some of the biggest names in jazz history, including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan.

The Atmosphere

The Blue Note has a warm, inviting atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re part of a special community. The seating area is designed in a way that makes every seat a good one, and the intimacy of the space ensures that everyone is in close proximity to the stage, creating an unforgettable musical experience. The acoustics are flawless, so every note played by the musicians is crisp and clear.

The Music

The Blue Note is a mecca for jazz enthusiasts, but it also showcases other music genres from time to time, such as funk and soul. Jazz, however, is its mainstay, with nightly performances by some of the world’s most renowned jazz artists, both local and foreign. The Blue Note also hosts its annual New York Jazz Festival, which attracts jazz fans from all over the world.

The Drinks

  • The Blue Note has a full bar with an extensive wine and cocktail menu that complements the music and creates a sophisticated atmosphere.
  • They also offer a selection of small plates, designed to satisfy with either a quick bite or a full meal.
  • Diners can enjoy a multi-course meal at the Blue Note’s Jazz Brunch on Sundays.
  • Tickets for the jazz brunch include a three-course meal as well as the live music performance.
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The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Intimate and cozy atmosphere Drink and food prices are high
Legendary jazz performances by renowned artists Tickets can be hard to come by for popular shows
Full bar with an extensive drink menu Seating is limited and cramped

Interesting Facts

  • The Blue Note has won countless awards and accolades for its outstanding performances and contribution to the jazz industry, including a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance – Individual or Group.
  • In 2011, President Barack Obama brought in his 50th birthday at The Blue Note, with a special concert featuring Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, and others.

Overall, The Blue Note is a must-visit destination for jazz enthusiasts, seeking a unique and unforgettable musical experience. Though it can be an expensive night out, the intimacy, music, and atmosphere are worth it, making The Blue Note one of New York’s most iconic live music bars.

5. The Pros and Cons of Live Music Bars

A night out in Manhattan can be both delightful and expensive. Before spending money and time at a live music venue, one should carefully consider the advantages and drawbacks of the experience. In this section, we will dive into what makes live music bars a unique experience and what some of their potential downsides are.

Pros of Live Music Bars

  • Immersive Entertainment Experience
  • Connecting with friends and family
  • Discovering New Music
  • Supporting the local Music Scene
  • Experiencing the authentic atmosphere

Live music bars offer an immersive entertainment experience that is not comparable to listening to music through earbuds or watching a music video. The live performances are unpredictable and unique, which makes each show one of a kind. Such performances create memories that last a lifetime.

Going to live music bars with friends and family makes the experience even more delightful. Connecting with loved ones as you share a common interest and passion can deepen relationships and create new bonds. Live music bars are also an excellent place to make new acquaintances who share similar interests.

A live music bar is also an excellent place to discover new music. Experiencing new bands and sounds can expand your music library and expose you to a whole new world of music genres. You could discover your new favourite artist or a unique sound that you never knew existed.

Supporting the local music scene is important for artists to pursue their passion and get the recognition they deserve. Local music venues provide platforms for new musicians to showcase their talents and hone their skills.

Live music bars have authentic atmospheres that give insight into the local culture and traditions. You can immerse yourself in the local vibe while enjoying the performances. This makes the live music bars a must-visit place for travellers who want to discover what the local culture is all about.

Cons of Live Music Bars

  • Expensive Cover Charges
  • Noise Levels
  • Long Wait Times
  • Unpredictable Set Times
  • Crowded Spaces or Small Seating Area

The high cover charges at some live music bars that feature famous musicians have resulted in many people being unable to afford the experience. Alongside cover charges, living expenses in Manhattan can add up, making it challenging to financially keep up with the rising cost of night-life.

Noise levels play a significant role in the live music bar experience. While the lively ambience is attractive and compelling, some bars can be excessively loud, making it hard to carry out a conversation. This can be exacerbated by poor acoustics, which may cause an echo effect that is irritating to the ears.

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Long wait times to enter live music bars or to order drinks can be frustrating, especially when one has already paid a high cover charge. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to experience this when attending live music bars during peak hours.

Due to the unpredictability of set times, a band may be late or delayed, eat into your planned night out, or cause you to miss out on other events you may have planned for the night. This unpredictability can lead to frustration and unpredictability that can dampen the experience.

Crowded spaces and small seating areas are other issues that can affect the live music bar experience. Crowded spaces can make it hard to find a comfortable standing position, let alone enough space to dance. Meanwhile, small seating areas may be uncomfortable and lead to constant shuffling or standing at the bar.

Pros Cons
Immersive Entertainment Experience Expensive Cover Charges
Connecting with friends and family Noise Levels
Discovering New Music Long Wait Times
Supporting the local Music Scene Unpredictable Set Times
Authentic Atmosphere Crowded Spaces or Small Seating Areas

As shown in the table, there are both pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to visit a live music bar. While the cons may seem like deal-breakers for some, many individuals overlook these cons to have an enjoyable night out.

The pros more than compensate for the potential drawbacks of live music bars. Ultimately, going to the best live music bars and venues in Manhattan depends on personal preferences and what one is looking for in a night out.

FAQs: Live Music Bars Manhattan

What are some live music bars in Manhattan?

There are plenty of live music bars in Manhattan, such as the Bowery Ballroom, The Blue Note, The Apollo Theater, Brooklyn Bowl, and more. Each of these bars offers a unique experience, from the music genres to the ambiance, so it’s best to research and find the one that matches your preferences.

Do live music bars in Manhattan charge a cover fee?

Most live music bars in Manhattan do charge a cover fee, but the amount varies greatly depending on the bar, the day of the week, and the time of the performance. Some bars offer discounts or waive the cover fee for certain events, so it’s always best to check the bar’s website or call ahead to confirm.

What kind of music can I expect to hear at live music bars in Manhattan?

Manhattan’s live music bars showcase a diverse range of music genres, from jazz and blues to rock and pop. Some bars focus on specific genres, while others have a more eclectic mix. You can expect to hear both local and touring musicians, so there’s always something new to discover.

What are the best live music bars in Manhattan for jazz fans?

For jazz fans, The Blue Note and The Village Vanguard are iconic destinations that have hosted legendary jazz musicians for over half a century. Other popular jazz bars in Manhattan include Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smalls Jazz Club, and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

Can I find live music bars in Manhattan that cater to a specific age group?

Some live music bars in Manhattan have age restrictions, such as being 21 and over, while others welcome all ages. There are also bars that have special events geared towards specific age groups or demographics, such as college nights or senior citizen discounts.

Are there any free live music bars in Manhattan?

While most live music bars in Manhattan charge a cover fee, there are a few that offer free live music events. These include Ulysses Folk House, Pete’s Candy Store, and Parkside Lounge, among others. Keep in mind that these bars may have limited seating or a suggested donation, so it’s always best to check ahead.

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What is the dress code for live music bars in Manhattan?

The dress code for live music bars in Manhattan varies depending on the bar and the event. Some bars have a more casual atmosphere, while others require more formal attire. It’s always best to check the bar’s website or call ahead to confirm the dress code for the event you plan to attend.

What are some live music bars in Manhattan with food and drinks?

Many live music bars in Manhattan also serve food and drinks, such as The Bitter End, Bowery Ballroom, Rockwood Music Hall, and more. Some bars have a full restaurant menu, while others offer bar snacks and small plates. The drink menu also varies from bar to bar, with some bars specializing in craft cocktails, while others have a wide beer selection.

Do live music bars in Manhattan have seating?

Most live music bars in Manhattan have seating, but the type and amount of seating varies. Some bars have tables and chairs, while others have a standing-room only policy. Some bars have general admission seating, while others offer reserved seating for an additional fee.

Can I bring my own instrument to play at live music bars in Manhattan?

While some open mic nights at live music bars in Manhattan allow musicians to bring their own instruments to play, most performances are reserved for the featured acts. It’s always best to check with the bar beforehand and ask about any opportunities to perform.


In conclusion, Manhattan is home to a plethora of live music bars, each offering something unique for music enthusiasts. From jazz to rock and everything in between, there’s a bar for everyone. While most bars do charge a cover fee, there are some free events available as well. Dress codes and age restrictions vary, so it’s always best to check the bar’s website or call ahead before attending. Many bars also serve food and drinks for added enjoyment. After reading this article, consider exploring some of the suggested bars and experiencing the vibrant music scene that Manhattan has to offer. Good luck and enjoy the music!