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Storied Village Music Venue to Close


The exterior of Kenny's Castaways at 157 Bleecker Street.
The exterior of Kenny’s Castaways at 157 Bleecker Street.

Kenny’s Castaways, the music venue which has been located on Bleecker Street near Thompson Street since 1976, will stage its last performance tonight. Citing rising rents and a decreased audience, the storefront at 157 Bleecker will become a gastro pub that will also feature music, according to the New York Times.

Kenny’s Castaway’s was opened in 1967 by Patrick Kenny. Kenny opened it as a supper club on the Upper East Side before moving to Bleecker Street in 1976. A music lover, Kenny’s club was meant to showcase all types of music, from both new and established performers.   Kenny’s daughter Maria—one of the club’s owners—recalled that her dad thought of “his favorite undiscovered local musicians as ‘castaways,’ hence the name.” The club has featured such performers as Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, the New York Dolls, and the Fugees.

An early picture of Kenny's Castaways. Image coutesty of the Kenny's Castaway's website.
An early picture of Kenny’s Castaways. Image coutesty of the Kenny’s Castaway’s website.

Kenny’s Castaways was a later addition within a much larger music scene located in the South Village of the post-World War II era. Nearby clubs such as the Village Gate, Gerde’s Folk City, the Gaslight, and the Bitter End (which is still open for business today), all served as important venues for musicians such as Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Odetta, among many others.  Local jazz clubs also made their home in the neighborhood, including the Blue Note and Village Vangaurd (both still in business today). You can check out a full history of this neighborhood and a proposal for landmarking of the historic area on GVSHP’s website.

We here at Off the Grid offer our thanks to Kenny’s Castaways and the Kenny family, who brought us much music and history from their time on Bleecker Street.

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