57 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
57 Grove Street
There are a number of legendary jazz clubs dotting Greenwich Village - the Vanguard and Sweet Rhythm (ne� Sweet Basil) most prominent among them - but the history of Arthur's Tavern is as significant as any of the other jazz landmarks. Opened in 1937 at its present location at 57 Grove Street, Arthur's is the last continuously operating club to call Charlie Parker a regular player (to the degree that Bird did anything with what we�d call regularity), thus the club's nickname: Home of the Bird. And while it might be a little frayed at the edges, its endurance and vitality has made it as important to New York's cultural landscape as any of its Village brethren.
Beneath the white stucco facade, ice blue neon Old English letters and battleworn red and white awning is a small alcove with swinging doors. On the right door is a plaque which reads proudly THE GREAT AL BUNDY PLAYED HERE FOR 22 YEARS, a lasting tribute to the beloved pianist and singer. Inside, the rectangular space is intimate, not cramped, and every available inch of space is put to the best possible use. The well-stocked bar, surrounded by high-backed wooden stools, is at the front, and it's not clear whether the �NO SPITTING� sign behind the bar is meant for patrons or bartenders. Arthur�s also has a sense of humor which defines its priorities, as evinced by another sign near the bar: Please appreciate the hospitality & service....TIPPING IS NOT A CITY IN CHINA! Framed posters saluting past artists and paying tribute to the club�s rich history line the right wall above a phalanx of small wooden tables and chairs. There are also more chairs and tables in the corner to the left of the bandstand. The clientele ranges from tourists passing through to neighborhood regulars. The crowd is conversational but not raucous or disrespectful, and the buzz seems to provide a complement to the music, not a supplement.
When we first took over the club, all it had was piano trios, Nick Cranston, a part-owner of Arthur's for nine years, explained, shouting over Frankie Paris' funked-up cover of Bobby Caldwell's What You Won't Do For Love. We added more blues, R&B, and funk acts to bring in an old school feel to the place. You get a mix of old folks and young folks here. He then returned to trying to solve a nagging crisis that had been occupying him for a good part of the night.
Acclaimed pianist Eri Yamamoto has been a fixture at Arthur's for four years, and is proud to be a part of a club with such a rich tradition. I actually knew about [Arthur's] long before I came [to the United States] about eight years ago, she explained. One of my friends used to play here, and he asked me to take his place one Wednesday night. The owner liked our trio, so we moved to Thursday nights and now we play three days a week.
Yamamoto loves the neighborhood atmosphere, although it can sometimes hinder the creative process. 'Since the trio has been mentioned by a couple of newspapers and magazines, more people are coming to listen to our music. Sometimes the people are really crazy, and that makes it difficult to play the music, especially when I'm trying to hear the bassist, or the drummer, or myself,� she says with a smile.
The club's acoustics are such that, although the conversation can be loud, it's no match for the music. A ledge encircles the bandstand like an extension of the bar, high-backed stools and all. This gives Arthur's a kind of Benihana�s simpatico between the band and the patrons lucky (or brave) enough to sit there. There was a large jar sitting on that ledge before showtime, and later, as Cold Sweat worked out, septuagenarian trumpeter Johnny Parker walked among the crowd with the jar, upon which a handwritten sign reading BAND TIPS was taped. In a small club with no music cover, passing the hat is a matter of survival, not showmanship.
And Cranston's crisis? There was no ice for the bar! He eventually managed to get some and was visibly relieved as the bartender poured the precious cargo into a bin behind the bar. When someone said that having no ice didn't seem terribly significant, Cranston smiled as much as his splintered attention would allow. In this business, that's a big crisis.
Arthur's features music every night until 3 am. The renowned Grove Street Stompers, a fixture at the club for 35 years, plays on Mondays until 11 pm, followed by the Jay Sweeney Blues Experience. Frankie Paris & Cold Sweat plays on Tuesdays. Arthur's Traveling Road Show opens things up on Wednedays; Basic Blue with Curtis Dean, or trumpeter Johnny Parker, or guitarist/vocalist Raul Midon might each take it home. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays feature Eri Yamamoto and her trio splitting time with Frankie Paris (Midon joins Cold Sweat for the Saturday gig). Sundays belong to the Creole Cooking Jazz Band and Basic Blue. There's no cover charge but there is a one-drink minimum per set. No credit cards are accepted.
One moment, you will be redirected shortly.
|New Haven||New Orleans||New York City|
|San Francisco||San Jose||Santa Rosa|
Share your ideas on how we can improve our website and service.