Let Them Hear Cake: Music Venue “Cake Shop” Struggles To Survive

“Someone left a cake out in the rain.  I don’t think that I can take it, ’cause it took so long to bake it.  And I’ll never have that recipe again.”  MacArthur Park, Richard Harris.

Once known for push cart vendors and pickle mongers, the Lower East Side of Manhattan has become quite the hipster haven.  And what’s a hipster haven without music venues?  A stroll down Ludlow Street won’t disappoint.  There’s The Living Room, which hosts a full roster of folk, punk, Americana, rock, and avant-garde music.  And there’s also Cake Shop, which according to the New York Times, has served as the incubator for major acts like Vampire Weekend, but whose bread and butter are performers on the fringes, who eschew conventional appeal in favor of genuine, heartfelt artistic expression.  www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/arts/music/cake-shop-a-club-for-new-music-is-looking-for-financing.html

The music at Cake Shop has never been stale, with its owners priding themselves in presenting innovative and provocative artists regardless of their mainstream appeal.  But Cake Shop’s  formula for nurturing art and talent hasn’t exactly been a formula for commercial success.  The Times reports that Cake Shop will have to pull its own plug unless it can scrounge up tens of thousands of dollars to pay back taxes and fines.  And for a small venue like Cake Shop, that’s a tall order.

Cake Shop is counting on its audience to lend a hand.  It’s launched a campaign on the web site Pledge Music, normally used by bands hoping to fund their next project by pre-selling records and offering give-aways such as signed posters, dinner with the band, and even bespoke songs written just for high rolling donors.

Whether Cake Shop’s fund drive succeeds will depend on how strongly its patrons respond, and how deeply they care about keeping the  underground music scene intact in the Lower East Side.

Losing Cake Shop would be a blow to that avant garde-ish musical sub genre that once flourished all around Manhattan, but now seems to be eroding.  A sign of these troubled economic times, perhaps.

But hope should not be abandoned yet.  With the spotlight shining of Cake Shop’s plight, and the Pledge Music fund drive in full force,  “Cake” may just  rise again.


“Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.”  Patti Smith

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