Inside the Music of New York City

The center of the American music industry, the dream location of every young musician looking to find their big break, the pot of gold at the end of the musical rainbow…New York City. The small island along the Hudson River is the Shangri-La for every music hopeful! What are reasons for this highly sought after refuge for the creative? It’s because the deep roots of so many genres, bands and iconic music locations start here in the city where musical dreams come true!

Blues and Jazz

Billie Holiday New York CityThe jazz musicians traveling north from New Orleans for shows in the big city gave it its nickname, “The Big Apple” since these gigs paid more than other places that paid “little apples.” A heavily influenced Jazz music movement was surrounding the city in the early 20th century thanks to Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Big band jazz could be heard everywhere allowing star vocalists to emerge like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz music’s popularity began growing with innovators like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis behind the sound allowing “cool jazz” to spread across the nation.

New York blues, like all other great musical cities of this time, was unique in the type of blues it produced. With strong undertones of jazz and a modern, the urban-sounding blues music rivaled its country blues cousin of the time. New York blues led by Lionel Hampton and Joe Turner quickly took its modern sound into the rural areas helping to create the blues sound we all have come to know and love.



The 1940’s Greenwich Village became the center of a roots revival in American folk music. A few artists from the area went mainstream; Pete Seeger was big locally and in small venues, Joan Baez was big around the college scene and Bob Dylan was well, Bob Dylan. The youth of the city flocked to this neighborhood causing it to become a hub for the music and political activism. This NYC neighborhood started a lifestyle during the early 60’s that was all about living a life filled with different tastes in music, fashion, art and literature called “Bohemian.” Today we can closely relate the Bohemian scene of the 60’s in Greenwich to the “hipster” scene of today in the same neighborhood. The parallels are uncanny; the popular “Espresso Bar” filled with today’s youth is right next door to where a young icon of the Village, Bob Dylan, first performed “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.


This short lived genre was an up-tempo dance style of music in the early 1970’s and New York became its United States center. The music was usually played in discothèques that grew in popularity allowing the famous Studio 54 to become its glamorous self. The dance floor and balconies of this hot spot were filled with stars like Madonna, Cher, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Frank Sinatra, and Donna Summer. Everyday club goers had the chance to be among the rich and famous every night at Studio 54 if they could just make it past the velvet ropes. A journalist who covered Studio 54 during its height said that the owners wanted a mix of people that had high energy, if you had a costume or ridiculous outfit your chances of dancing among the stars were high.

Punk Rock

New York City is essentially the home of punk rock with the club CBGB at the center. After the “folk” movement left Greenwich Village traces of punk developed in this formally peaceful musical neighborhood during the very early 70’s. Patti Smith came to CBGB in 1974 to perform “Hey Joe/”Piss Factory” and had it recorded which has been cited as the first punk rock record. The term punk is more about the attitude and scene of the artists and fans rather than the sound of the music. Punk bands like Patti Smith, Blondie and the Ramones got their starts in the New York clubs before becoming worldwide stars. “Alternative” forms of rock music have been calling New York home since the punk movement came through in the 80’s.

– Tribut Apparel

What is your favorite New York infused genre?  Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook or send us a Tweet @tributapparel.

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