425 Lafayette St., nr. Astor Pl.; 212-539-8778
It’s no secret that Joe’s has always played home to downtown comics and earthy singer-songwriters, and for good reason. With its plush, close quarters and oddly shapeless space, the Pub doesn’t impose any expectations on its performers and makes every show feel immediately intimate. Its pristine acoustics make each plucked string resonate, which might be why some of the most talented classical musicians in the city now consider it an ideal space for their own brand of chamber music. This year has already seen a handful of fantastic acts: smart young composer-chamber collective the NOW Ensemble; lush electro-instrumentalists itsnotyouitsme; and avant-pianist Uri Caine, a Carnegie regular who, this time around, chose Joe’s specially for a pre-Carnegie gig. Programming mastermind Bill Bragin departed for Lincoln Center at the end of 2007, but it’s clear his successors have more than picked up his torch, cementing Joe’s as the destination for musicians who think far outside the classical box.