Goodbye Blue Monday needs money, but it won’t change its open mic-style policy

Open mic fight: Despite financial woes, offbeat venue will let anyone take the stage

The Brooklyn Paper
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Times are tough at the quirky Bushwick music venue Goodbye Blue Monday, but the staff at the struggling performance hall refuses to say hello to a tried-and-true method of making money at a concert hall: booking bands that people want to see.

Workers at the quickly dilapidating venue are willing to try anything to fix the eight-year-old space — anything, that is, except altering the free-for-all booking policy, which keeps Goodbye Blue Monday bohemian and experimental, but not necessarily in the black.

Refusing to sell out — and, in turn, failing to sell out the venue — is better than caving to the citywide trend of only booking market-tested bands that are sure to bring in the bucks, says manager Kate Vandever.

“We’re a free-form music venue and we want to keep it like that,” she said.

Goodbye Blue Monday’s open mic policy, which went out of favor around the time Dylan went electric, allows anyone who wants to put on a show to call ahead and snag a time slot on any night of the week.

The staff doesn’t ask performers what kind of shows they are planning, if they can draw a crowd, or even if they know how to play their instruments.

“We don’t turn people away,” said Vandever. “If you need a stage to play on in New York, we offer that.”

Susan Hwang, the founder of the Bushwick Book Club, said it was Goodbye Blue Monday’s openness that allowed her experimental literary and music series — in which musicians read a book and then write songs relating to the text — to get off the ground.

“I don’t know if it would have come into existence in another venue,” said Hwang. “Other places want something that is already proven. When we started, I didn’t know if anyone would come out to see it.”

The club opened on Broadway in the heart of Bushwick back when the neighborhood was a cultural ghost town, and its liberal curatorial approach has given numerous acts a first chance, including preppy indie rockers Vampire Weekend.

But turning a profit has never been easy — especially because staffers refuse to charge a cover, instead allowing bands to pass a hat and play for tips.

“There was one weird summer where we tried to charge at the door for bigger names, but we didn’t take a dime from that. All the money went to the bands,” said Vandever. “But then we stopped. It compromises the integrity of what we are trying to do.”

Instead, the venue makes money on drink sales. Staffers are planning an online fund-raising drive and a series of benefit shows to shore up finances, and there’s a push to expand the kitchen and food offerings. That revenue will go to long-overdue repairs including the installation of a new roll gate that actually opens (replacing one that is perpetually closed) and a new window (fixing a pane that has had a hole in it for years). After that comes the installation of air conditioning and a second bathroom.

“Right now, we only have one bathroom and the lines get really long,” said Vandever, whose venue hosts live shows seven nights per week, and often in the afternoons as well. “And it gets really hot in here in the summer.”

Goodbye Blue Monday [1087 Broadway between Lawton and Dodworth streets in Bushwick, (718) 453–6343].

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

diehipster from Brooklyn's real and better half. says:
Well that picture sums it up: Bushwick, vinyl, coffee, and thick frames and meaningless tattoo on androgynous space wasting hipster.

Love how the 'staffers' don't need to turn a profit. LOL. Of course not! Their existence here in Nieuw Breukelen is completely paid for by the Ohio Board of Enabling Parents. Like yaaah! Let's not charge anybody and invite the sh*ttiest never to be known gentrification bands on earth to play. Let's pretend it's another decade and be quirky!

These hipster articles are ALL THE SAME. It's just a matter of replacing a Brent with a Molly or a Josh with a Mason - but the rest is always about coffee booze crafts bikes or pseudo-activism. Very bland and homogenized - just like all the 'nabes' the hipsters and yupsters have ruined.
Feb. 21, 2013, 6:29 am
Andy from Brooklyn says:
Yup, Steve Trimboli is fresh off the boat from Ohio.
Love your lazy ignorance.
Feb. 21, 2013, 8:02 am
hannah from brooklyn says:
You (diehipster from brooklyn) obviously have no idea what your talking about and have never been to this venue, or perhaps this neighborhood. If you had, you wouldn't be spouting such stupid —— out of your dick face. As someone who has been here long enough to seethe neighborhood change quite a bit, changed with it, and who entirely pays their own way through this city on a job they got by their big old capable self, and always has, i can say that you are so off point that this might be some larger issue that's not about hating hipsters at all but perhaps about mommy, daddy or maybe that one girl that never loved you back. Direct your anger where it belongs and leave the people who care about this neighborhood out of it. Hater.
Feb. 21, 2013, 9:48 am
diehipster from non-zany Brooklyn says:
I don't care if Steve's great great grandfather's snot is holding the Brooklyn Bridge together; this place is just a haven for lazy fauxhemian transients. You mean to tell me that none of those 'staffers' over the last 6 years has been a parentally subsidized attention starved hipster just giving Brooklyn a test run before they head back to Minnetucky? 

If this place was smart they would create a business plan exactly opposite of what they have in place now and maybe they wouldnt have to go on "indie gogo" to beg for money and keep that "image" they think they have. 
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:08 am
jjm from ch says:
I personally would love to see this & other similar spots shut down. I want the old bushwick back & i mean 90s & early 2000s bushwick. Run these f--kin douchebag hipsters & yuppies outta here.
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:48 am
jjm from ch says:
And YES i used to live in bushwick, jefferson & irving in the 90s so i know what im talkin about
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:54 am
jjm from ch says:
And YES I lived in bushwick in the 90s, jefferson & irving so i know whats up. the old bushwick is pretty much still there but u can clearly see the changes & im not too fond of it.
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:59 am
jo from Bushwick says:
JJM if you want crack whores, slum lords, and gangsters move to frickin East side Detroit. It will never change and you can stay there forever and not worry about gentrification at all. PERFECT for you.
Feb. 21, 2013, 12:30 pm
jjm from ch says:
@Jo i take it that ur even not from there so u wouldnt understand y i feel this way. ur probably not even from the tri-state area so u honestly dont know what ur getting into living there. The long time locals HATE ur type & they show it by robbing u guys n breaking in ur apts.
Feb. 21, 2013, 12:40 pm
jjm from ch says:
Im not in any way saying people can't live wherever they want but u have to learn to recognize n respect the residents that were there way long b4 u moved in. Stop trying to change the area with things that are out of character with the neighborhood.
Feb. 21, 2013, 12:45 pm
jjm from ch says:
Quit walking around being arrogant with ur iphones n all that other stuff in sight of people that dont have much becuz lets not 4get that bushwick has alot of poor people that are ready to catch u slippin.
Feb. 21, 2013, 12:52 pm
JAZ from smashing mason jars says:
If you go on the Bushwick Daily's site and go to 'events/culture/music' you will find a listing for Goodbye Blue Monday's 'Tuesday Teacup Open Mic' nights, brought to you by.....and I'm not making this up..... "Kale Records".

When you go to Kale Records' website, you get hit with the banner at the top of their site that says "BROOKLYN BASED FAIR TRADE MUSIC".

You just can't make this nonsense up. Guess diehipster wasn't barking up the wrong tree after all.
Feb. 21, 2013, 1:07 pm
diehipster from smashing Mason's mason jars says:
LoL JAZ!!! It's incredible. You can think of the most far fetched hipster crap and it really will exist in their pseudo zany world of leisure. Good find brother!

Feb. 21, 2013, 1:30 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I hate to be the one to say this, but I rather enjoy steamed kale, with plenty of garlic, of course. Pardon the interuption, but I wouldn't consider myself a "hipper". I sell tractors for a living, and I hope you don't mind my saying so.
Feb. 21, 2013, 1:52 pm
steve from dare i say bushwick? says:
for the record;
steve trimboli was born and raised in brooklyn
worked in bars and clubs since the early '70
owned scrap bar in the village and '80's and 90's
is fast approaching 60 years of age (next month)
has been in this neighborhood since 1998
opened this place because it reminded me of places i went to in the village when i was a kid.

sorry i inflamed such negative passions and pissing contests with some "real brooklyners"
by the way - what's a hipster?
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:23 pm
BunnynSunny from The Hill says:
steve from dare i say bushwick?

I look forward to stopping by and meeting all the over-60s!

Bunny &
Feb. 22, 2013, 9:33 am
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
diehipster, JAZ and jjm - Please let us know when you guys are done tonging each other's balloon knots. We'll be over here improving the neighborhood and continuing to be productive members of society. I'm sure that you all have plenty of time to talk amongst yourselves about how much you hate the "yuppies and hipsters" during your 3 hour union mandated lunch break or while you wait on customers at the Post Office.

Also, jjm your point on the robberies and break ins is totally uncalled for. I personally have not been the victim of a violent crime in the neighborhood, but I know people who have and it's not a laughing matter. To exhibit this kind of schadenfreude leads me to believe that you're either a criminal yourself or just a miserable person in general. In the end though, you don't matter. Eventually the scumbags like you will either be priced out or move out of sheer discontent with what actual progress and development the business owners and newer residents have brought to Brooklyn. People like you are a complete joke.
Feb. 22, 2013, 4 pm
jjm from ch says: me the area is gonna go back down & pretty soon because bloomy is outta here next yr so all the pricing out & gentrifying is gonna slow down dramatically. As fas the break-ins & robberies go, its gonna get worse because those in the area thats been there since the 80s & 90s know people like u have money so u'll be a vctim of a mugger in due time. U'll see what i mean when u get ur iphone snatched & ur $2500/month apt gets raided by REAL BROOKLYNITES. Go ahead & keep thinking everything is all gravy.
Feb. 22, 2013, 5:35 pm
jjm from ch says:
@Interloper...Whether u think im a criminal or not u know im right because i mustve struck a nerve with my previous comment.
Feb. 22, 2013, 5:59 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
jjm - I'm hesitant to respond here because you obviously cannot spell and possess the IQ of a 12 year old but here it goes...(this extends to diehipster, JAZ SwampYankee and all you other frauds out there as well).

First of all, I would love to hear more about your thesis on real estate development and gentrification and it's correlation with Mayor Bloomberg term in office. You honestly think that a new mayor is going to have the ability or the desire to stymie economic growth and development in communities like Williamsburg and Bushwick? People like you that are going to be priced out don't matter anymore. You're not representative of what New York / Brooklyn is anymore. No mayor is ever going to look to hold you up on some sort of sentimental pedestal.

A little about myself...I actually bought in the neighborhood and my mortgage is not $2500 a month. I work hard and was able to afford a nice place. Mom and Dad didn't contribute anything to it, besides my education, despite what you would likely assume. I don't live in a ramshackle hipster-hovel walk-up. However, I do have friends who live in those and they seem to be just fine and plenty secure themselves. In terms of breaking in, you're going to have trouble sneaking past the cameras, guards and the doors that automatically lock when closed. Unless of course if you're somehow able to recruit Clooney and the whole Ocean's Eleven gang, I doubt that you and your crew of townie flunkies is up to the task.

Also, if you think I'm afraid of some degenerate like you shaking me down for my iPhone you're sadly mistaken. You're just some punk hiding behind his computer screen. I guarantee you don't have the balls to say or do the types of things you say on here to my face if we were in the street.

All of you "REAL BROOKLYNITES" think you're hard since you lived in this neighborhood when it was a mess. Some of us were lucky enough to grow up elsewhere. We have come here and made a nice life for ourselves and we have bettered our community through local investment. People like you are nothing but frauds, punks and a relics of a foregone time that is soon to be happily departed.

I know I used a lot of "big people" words there so after you're done looking up what they mean in the dictionary you can respond and once again prove how stupid and helpless you truly are.
Feb. 22, 2013, 6:43 pm
jjm from ch says:
@interlope...Trust me i dont gotta hide anywhere. Ill come to where u are n show my face with no problen. plus u gotta understand whoever the new mayor is, we'll take matters into our own hands regardless so the hell with what a real estate developer is trying to build. Its just more opportunity for crooks if u ask me.
Feb. 22, 2013, 8:32 pm
jjm from ch says:
Ill hop on that L train n meet u at bedford ave, that is where all of u weirdos be at anyway isnt it?
Feb. 22, 2013, 8:43 pm
jjm from ch says:
@Interlope...who cares about cameras, guards & locks?? Thats the whole point of a BREAK-IN!!
Feb. 22, 2013, 8:51 pm
JAY from NYC says:
I like the idea that they let people play rather than what a lot of so called clubs do where its a pay to play type of thing, but rather than letting any one just call up and play, they should make people submit a recording or video and screen out the "acts" that really need to not play anywhere but their moms house.
Feb. 22, 2013, 9:11 pm
ALi Oop from from downtown says:
this guy's obviously a crook himself.

talking about break ins and threatening people.

This guy is obviously saying that all the OG Brooklyns are basically all crooks and all those other people should just get out or becoming a victim, hey its their fault for coming in. I guess Hungry dog's got to eat too right? haha
Its people like him shuch as JJM JAY and others spreading the viral notion that a neighborhood should just stay bad. Ignorant dont realize that people move in and bring in business and opening business, creating jobs and opportunities for fools like them and they still complain about it? Then go AND complain about the system and take food stamps/ benefit cards that we pay with Our hard earned tax money! its people like them that drives out decent people that want to be the betterment of the community and they wonder why things are the way it is. If they dont think for themselves, at least think for their future generation that will continue to grow up in that community. You can tell how a community is by merely going to a store deli and if they have a bullet proof revolving window and locks the door up by midnight. You know what kind of neighborhood that is. People are scared to open up business there because of scums like them. Not to mention the good people that lives there, they have no way out because the scums are cutting off their opportunity.

Those idiots Talking about true Brooklyn people... thats ignorant talk. Brooklyn and NYC/ NY is not about who lives there or not. Brooklyn will still be Brooklyn whether those crooks stay there or not and better not I might add! it is about the Culture; of people from all walks of life, living among each other peacefully. Not paying much to have a great time. Its about art and not becoming like Manhattan, where it is exploited to a point of becoming/ became a place infested with posers, where 1 beer costs $10. Brooklyn is about setting up a community in the neighborhood where all can get along.

Ever heard of the line "Brooklyn is the last front line of True NYC"

doing crimes doesnt make you hard! its the characteristics of the individual that makes a person and of his/ her mind. Scumbags will just be scumbags and like trash bags. they should be thrown out.
March 14, 2014, 2:04 pm
ALi Oop from from downtown says:
I do apologize for the bad grammar. For I am at work and does not have time to check it. YES~ AT WORK! I GOT A J.O.B. not robbing people or making small talks. Threatening people that wants to improve a community/ neighborhood by giving something back and offer free events for the youngsters to stay off the streets - serves you right to be a crook and you can stay that way. you "true brooklynites". Big muscles and no brain. haha dont make me laugh.
March 14, 2014, 2:09 pm

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