425 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003
Hours: Mon-Sun 6p-2a
Subway: 6 to Astor Pl or N,R to 8th St
Written by: Emily Niewendorp
Joe’s Pub is a gift to New York City. An off-shoot of The Public Theater, which is rented from the City of New York for $1 a year, this upscale music venue has become an important outlet for live music shows, and a jumping-off point for new theatrical performances that might then run at The Public.
The music program at Joe’s Pub represents NYC’s diverse citizenry. The mix of genres in the club’s repertoire includes: classical, singer-songwriter, jazz, avant-garde, world music, hip hop and one-person shows. An impressive array of musicians have played Joe’s Pub, including David Byrne, Bono, Elvis Costello, Mos Def, Alicia Keys, Emmylou Harris, David Gray, Amy Winehouse and Fiest—just to name a few.
The Public Theater used to be one of the City’s first libraries: Astor Library, built in 1854. In the mid-1960s, New York Shakespeare Festival founder Joseph Papp discovered the building. It had fallen into disrepair and was close to demolition, when it was preserved under the NYC’s new landmark law. It was the first building saved under the ruling and the City entrusted the renovated building to Papp for the low-priced rental. Papp dedicated the beautiful structure to the people of New York City and all aspects of the theater community. The theater is known for specializing in unconventional performances, which reflect the social and political concerns of the times.
In 1998, Joe’s Pub was converted from office space attached to the side of the main theater building. Initially, the new space was used for musical and play workshops, but it was after these evening events—when the space was turned over to the bar—that it quickly became a hot NYC night club. In 1998, Joe’s Pub offered 200 shows; today, it produces more than 800 shows per year, attended by over 100,000 people annually.
Joe’s Pub is nonprofit organization supported by donor/partner programs rooted from The Public’s first days. The club’s current director Shanta Thake states, “Anyone who has an artistic sensibility can immediately connect to the space. As an artist you walk in and realize this is part of something much bigger.”