In Chelsea you can attend a concert of traditional Himalayan music one night, listen to a classic-rock tribute band the next, hear the world debut of an orchestral composition the evening after, and partake of live piano karaoke the night after that. When it comes to live music, the neighborhood really does offer something for everyone.
251 West 30th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)
Like myriad other local bars, American Beauty has a wide-ranging beer menu that includes a rotating list of craft brews, along with a pool table and a Pac-Man arcade. Unlike myriad other bars, however, American Beauty also has a performance hall that seats 300 people. Upcoming shows include Bruce Springsteen and Guns N’ Roses tribute bands on January 6 and a Jamiroquai dance party with DJ Logic on January 12. There is original music too; New Orleans-based rapper Dee-1, Milwaukee-based rapper Milo, and rock/hip-hop/electronica duo Icon for Hire are among those performing in the coming weeks. Another feature that sets American Beauty apart: a free personal-size pizza with every drink.
338 West 23rd Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)
The “falling man” artwork outside the Cell. Image: Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr
A self-described “21st-century salon,” the not-for-profit Cell hosts a variety of performances, readings, and exhibits. Its annual jazz series is especially popular. Recent performers included the Kelly Green Sextet, vocalist/actress Luba Mason, and the Free Sound Ahn-somble, which performs a blend of big-band and avant-garde jazz with a healthy dose of improv. On January 13 the Cell will host a record-release party for another jazz ensemble, the Rachel Therrien Quintet.
315 West 22nd Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)
The Chelsea Symphony prides itself on its self-governing, collaborative structure: Its musicians are also soloists and conductors, and they compose many of the pieces performed. In fact, since its founding in 2005, nearly every one of the symphony’s concerts included work by a living American composer. While the orchestra has performed at Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, and other renowned venues, its de facto home is the German Lutheran Church of St. Paul on West 22nd Street. It is here that the Chelsea Symphony will debut an orchestral work by composer/violist Eric Lemmon on January 26 and 27, as well as perform works by Saint-Saëns and Sibelius. The orchestra will also perform the world debut of “The Creation of Birds” by Seth Bedford at the church on March 9 and 10.
431 West 16th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues)
Reggae Beatles tribute band Yellow Dubmarine performing at the Highline Ballroom. Image: Vladimir/Flickr
To call the musical calendar of the Highline Ballroom “eclectic” is an understatement. A nightclub and concert venue that serves a full menu of food and drink, on most weeks the Highline Ballroom hosts Cirque Saturdays, featuring deejays, dance music, and burlesque and aerial performers; on Sundays throughout January it will feature Voss Events’ Drag Brunch, with performances from female impersonators. Among its upcoming live shows are the Afro-Cuban All-Stars on January 13, alt/indie rockers Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven on January 14, Steve Conte and Blues Deluxe performing the Rod Stewart album “Every Picture Tells a Story” on January 20, house-music innovator Drezo on February 1, and Joan Osborne performing Bob Dylan on February 10.
330 Seventh Avenue (between 28th and 29th Streets)
Opera America, an association of opera companies and performers, founded the National Opera Center in 2012 to provide its members with rehearsal and performance space. Upcoming events include a concert of solo cello music on January 25. The center also hosts “Onstage at the Opera Center,” a discussion series featuring performers. Tenor Michael Fabiano and sopranos Angela Meade and Ailyn Pérez are scheduled for upcoming months.
150 West 17th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)
The Rubin Museum of Art. Image: Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia
The Rubin Museum of Art is dedicated to cultivating an appreciation of culture from the Himalayan region and India. In addition to displaying paintings, sculptures, and other artworks, every Wednesday evening the museum hosts acoustic performances of music from the Himalayas and Southeast Asia. Dubbed “Spiral Music” because the concerts take place at the base of the Rubin’s spiral staircase, the series is free of charge. Upcoming performances include, on January 10, Jiaju Shen, who plays a four-string lutelike instrument called the pipa, and Wei Sun, who plays the guzheng, sometimes called the Chinese zither; composer and raga improviser Dawoud on January 17; and Tibetan musicians Tendor and Tenzin Choeying on January 24. Another Rubin series, “Naked Soul,” consists of acoustic performances from singer/songwriters who emphasize spirituality, tolerance, and compassion in their music. Holly Near and Tom Rush are among the artists who will be performing in the coming months.
165West 26th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)
This piano bar takes requests—anything from rock anthems to show tunes—so long as the requesters sing along. The resident pianists include co-owner Joe McGinty, a former keyboardist with the Psychedelic Furs. If you show up before the karaoke begins at 9 p.m., you will still be able to listen to a pianist plying his trade on the baby grand. Sid Gold’s also hosts a Monday evening showcase for a different downtown performer each week, hosted by comedian and singer Amber Martin, as well as monthly cabaret evenings and burlesque shows and other live events.