What Astoria lacks in a large music venue it more than makes up for in its variety of restaurants and bars serving live music alongside food and drink. As befits one of the city’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods, the musical offerings are far-ranging. Whether you want to dance to tango music, tap your toes to jazz, or bang your head to hard rock, you do not have to travel far.
41-01 Broadway (at 41st Street)
You don’t have to dance to enjoy an evening of music at Astoria Tango Club. Image: Poleth Rivas/Secretaría de Cultura CDMX/Flickr
Astoria Tango Club offers beginner and intermediate tango lessons on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, but you need not be a student—or even dance—to enjoy an evening of tango music here. After each class there is a “practica” or a “milonga” where you can dance, or simply listen, to live tango music or a deejay. The club is located in the Centro Español de Queens, and Spanish cuisine is available from its Circulo restaurant, as is wine should you work up a thirst.
29-12 23rd Avenue (between 29th and 31st Streets)
Thursday is live-music night at this industrial-rustic bar/restaurant where you can also enjoy cocktails and IPAs alongside comfort food. The music ranges from Southern rock to classic funk. Among the schedule for August are indie pop rockers DDWhite, Latin-meets-R&B-meets-hip-hop singer/songwriter BSKi, and guitar trio Velvet Elvis.
23-15 31st Street (between 23rd Avenue and 23rd Road)
A visit to Dionysos on a Friday or Saturday evening is a great way to bide your time until your next trip to Greece or Cyprus. On those nights a trio consisting of vocalist Rania Theofanidou, bouzouki player Yiannis Staikos, and keyboardist Dimitris Halaris perform traditional Greek music. Although dancing is encouraged, feel free to stay seated and continue savoring your bakaliaros skordalia (cod with garlic spread), moussaka, or pastitsio instead.
34-07 30th Avenue (between 34th and 35th Streets)
One of the house cocktails at Dominie’s is the All-Night Special: a can of Rolling Rock, PBR, or Miller Lite served with a shot of your choice. Whether or not you appreciate its rebranding of the tried-and-true boilermaker, this upscale take on a old-time joint is worth a visit on Sunday nights, as that’s when hard-driving jazz trio Trample Man holds court, often joined by other local musicians. The rest of the week you can make do with tunes from the jukebox (Dominie’s prides itself on having one in lieu of TVs) while you nosh on pizza and sip your choice of adult beverage beneath a tin-tile ceiling.
35-11 35th Avenue (between 35th and 36th Streets)
Located in the Kaufman Astoria Studio complex, George’s was originally a commissary back when the studio was owned by Paramount Pictures. Now it serves food and drink inspired by screen legends: Gloria’s Grilled Vegetable Platter, for instance, was inspired by Gloria Swanson’s vegetarian diet, while Valentino’s Pasta is made with Rudolph Valentino’s own tomato sauce recipe. The soigné space also offers live jazz Wednesday through Saturday evenings and during Sunday brunch. On Wednesdays throughout August, singer Jackie Gage is in residence, while composter/pianist Joel Forrester appears on Thursday nights. (If you listen to “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” you are familiar with Forrester’s work; he composed the theme song.) Pianist/vocalist Rosalyn McClore, whose inspirations include Nina Simone, takes the stage on Friday nights throughout the month, as does fellow pianist/singer Morgan Reilly on Sundays beginning at 11:30 a.m. On most Saturday evenings the Richard Baratta Trio holds court.
20-14 29th Street (between 20th and 21st Avenues)
Located smack-dab in an otherwise residential block, Gussy’s professes to be Astoria’s oldest bar. There’s certainly nothing gussied up about this old-school watering hole, which hosts rock, hip-hop, and punk performers on Friday and Saturday nights. Upcoming shows include hip-hop artist Ninja Scroll on August 18, alt-rockers Surreal Nation on September 28, and speed-punk band Elefantkiller the following night.
27-20 23rd Avenue (at 28th Street)
Piano & trumpet jazz standards. Image: courtesy of The LetLove Inn Facebook page
A corner bar with a world-weary glamour, the Letlove Inn has an eclectic range of beers and wines on tap, and its signature cocktails range from the straightforward (the Bukowski is simply Black Bottle scotch and water on the rocks) to the fanciful (the Caravan includes date-infused bourbon and Kas Krupnikas, a spiced-honey liqueur). Two jazz ensembles have residencies: the Adam Platt Trio on Monday evenings and the Subtonic Three on Tuesday nights, and deejays provide the soundtrack on Friday and Saturday nights. Special events find their way onto the calendar as well; for instance, on August 9, the bar will host a screening of the 1926 silent film “Faust,” directed by F.W. Murnau of “Nosferatu” fame, with live musical accompaniment.
47-22 30th Avenue (between 47th and 48th Streets)
A classic Irish bar, down to the shamrocks on its awning and the Guinness on tap, the Shillelagh is also a popular venue for bands playing everything from Gaelic rock to R&B most nights of the week. In August alone the lineup includes prog-rock band Flounder Warehouse (August 3) and classic rockers Slick Trick (August 4) and Kindred Soul (August 31). Monday nights are N.E.X.T. (New Emerging Xtraordinary Talent) Open Mic nights; Irish Sessions, a set of traditional Irish music, is performed on the third Saturday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m.
25-27 Broadway (between Crescent and 29th Streets)
The Strand Smokehouse is best known for its expertly smoked pork, brisket, and ribs (and let us not forget the house pickles and the garlic mashed potatoes). But it also hosts live music on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. Lukka, a singer/songwriter inspired by the rock and pop of the ‘60s and ‘70s; soul-rock band Jules and the Jinks; and reggae-rock jam band Over the Bridge were among those recently taking the stage.
30-09 34th Street (between 30th and 31st Avenues)
The juicy burgers, fried pickles, and craft beers are reason enough to stop by this homey restaurant/bar. On Monday nights, however, live music provides extra incentive. Among the acts scheduled for August are Felix Slim, a one-man band specializing in classic blues, swing, and ragtime; funk-jazz band the Matt Dickey Group; and folk-rockers the Deltaz.