- Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen St., nr. Houston St.; 212-477-4155
Despite its tininess—just 520 square feet, and that’s with a baby-grand piano onstage—Rockwood Music Hall attracts an outsize following, mostly owing to owner Ken Rockwood’s singular obsession with booking topflight music (there are no readings or comedy nights or small-plates menus to distract from that mission). The typical lineup includes a discriminating mix of singer-songwriters (Amos Lee, Noe Venable, Ryan Star) and folk, rock, and indie bands. A musician himself, Rockwood runs sound from a nook above the entrance, his feet dangling overhead. Unlike the many other modest-size venues crammed into the Lower East Side, the stage isn’t relegated to a back room or basement: It’s visible from the street, surrounded by café tables, dripping candles, and a tip jar passed during each set in lieu of a cover charge.
Best Small Music Venue
From the 2009 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).