Inside New York’s eclectic music scene
From the Bronx to Brooklyn, New York is filled with gems both hidden and widely-advertised where, most nights a week, you can listen to musicians from around the world. We asked Laura Wolf, who’s performed around the country as both a solo act and part of a larger band, to give us the lowdown. When she’s not touring, Wolf works on new material—haunting, layered songs in which her cello often plays a starring role. Below, Wolf offers suggestions on how to make the most of the city’s eclectic audio scene.
Name three of your favorite music venues in New York. What makes them special?
Rough Trade: I love this spot in the audience, on the stage, and in the record store. It’s the perfect size—there’s an intimacy but the room is big enough to carry the energy of a crowd.
Smalls: It has a speakeasy vibe and I always feel transported to another time and place. It hosts an amazing roster of jazz musicians every night and mirrors hang over the stage so you get to see all of the action.
DIY spots: Some of my favorite shows to attend or play have taken place in someone’s home or backyard. NYC has a really welcoming DIY scene, and l think that’s necessary in a city that can at times be overwhelming or alienating. The spectrum ranges from my friend’s living room to more official spaces that honor community driven roots like The Silent Barn or Secret Project Robot.
What makes New York a great place to work as a musician?
There are so many opportunities to connect and create here! On any given night there could be 10 shows happening all around the city that I legitimately want to go to. The well runs deep for inspiration and talent.
What do you miss most about New York when you’re on tour?
I miss the everyday things I do around my neighborhood like running around Prospect Park, going to my favorite coffee shop with a friend, walking to my practice space, and cooking in my kitchen. But that’s also the best thing about touring! I love exploring a strange city by going for a run the morning after a show, finding cool restaurants and coffee shops, and meeting new people at every show.
What are a few performances you’re looking forward to in the city this winter?
I’m particularly looking forward to Tune-Yards (March 9, Brooklyn Steel), Wye Oak (February 16, Symphony Space), Phoebe Bridgers (February 23, Music Hall of Williamsburg), and Palehound (February 9, Brooklyn Bazaar). And new shows keep getting announced! I’m going to see Parsifal at the Met Opera and l couldn’t be more excited… If l had all my nights free and the money, l think would go to National Sawdust every night.