By Deborah S. Greenhut
New York City likely has more free music venues than many cities — if you count the subway ledges — but it takes a special environment of violet candlelight, the right potions, locally sourced food, and intimate tables to keep an audience in the mood.
Enter Club Bonafide on “The Street” (East 52nd Street), where Charlie Parker once played every night. Bonafide was launched in 2015 by global musician Richard Bona and restaurateur partner Laurent Dantonio with a mission to help jazz artists thrive by keeping the costs down for musicians and the quality up for listeners.
When you arrive on the block, look up for a wrought iron gate reminiscent of New Orleans — unusual in this trendy East Side midtown location. Walk up the one flight from the street, pass through the gate into a tiny hallway, and take the elevator to the third floor. Arrive at a red-lit smoky-mirrored bar for a happy hour where friendly staff get you in the mood before a 90-minute set in the acoustically satisfying club room.
Club Bonafide’s calendar showcases eclectic musical styles, so you can witness the ground floor of a career or celebrate an emerging standout. During a recent visit, for example, Chicago-based Kenya, a Billboard #1 Sensation in the U.K. who scored a Grammy consideration, ruled the stage powered by an energetic ensemble of outstanding New York musicians.
The club’s menu features a selection of small bites, such as seasonal panini and locally sourced cheese boards. Beverage specials include internationally-inspired caipirinhas at $10 each and global wines at $11 per glass plus a decent selection of local and export beers. Two drink minimum. Club Bonafide features reasonably priced online ticketing (many shows at $10 to $15 plus a modest service charge) through Eventbrite.
You can’t take the “A” Train to Club Bonafide, but you can use the E/M/6 trains to the nearby Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street Station. Closed on Monday.
212 East 52nd Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10022
Box Office hours: 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday
No phone orders. Tickets available through the website or via Eventbrite.com.
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