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Culture club: Fans flock to concert series in cheese cave - Brooklyn Paper

Culture club: Fans flock to concert series in cheese cave

Cave music: Taylor Ashton performs in the vaults of the Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

The Crown Heights underground music scene is tight!

A monthly concert series located inside a century-old subterranean tunnel has become so popular among Kings County music fans that its operators have chosen to ditch their first-come, first-served ticket policy in favor of a lottery system. They hope the new system will even the playing field between quick-clicking cyber-jockeys and more casual attendees.

“The last three concerts sold out less than a minute after tickets went on sale,” said property owner Benton Brown. “People were furious.”

The tunnel was originally built by 19th century beer-maker Nassau Brewery to hold barrels of lager as it aged. Brown and his wife Susan Boyle use one of the three sprawling, 1850s-era vaults beneath their Bergen Street property as a cheese-aging facility, under the moniker Crown Finish Caves. The grotto holds upwards of 30,000 pounds of curdled dairy, which can spend up to a year fermenting in the cool darkness 30 feet below ground.

But once a month or so, the couple hosts some of the city’s most intimate musical performances in one of the vacant vaults. The 70 tickets they sell online evaporate almost instantly, consigning hundreds of would-be show-goers to hopelessly massive wait lists, according to Brown. A recent show featuring jazz vocalist Queen Esther left 860 people on the stand-by list feeling bleu.

The music is great, said the Crown Heights cheese maker, but the show’s unique and exclusive venue provides an undeniable draw.

“It’s an experience,” said Brown. “You’re going to a kind of space you’ve never really been to before.”

The cheese cave’s next show, featuring fiddlers Sammy Lind and Nadine Landry on May 2, will feature the first audience chosen by lottery. Would-be attendees can start signing up at Crown Finish Cave’s website on April 15.

The cheese makers will also raffle off chances to buy five pairs of tickets to the next show to customers who buy cheese at their monthly pop-up sales event, held at their Bergen Street dairy business. Brown described the raffle as “the easy way” of getting into the shows. Interested cheese-eaters can keep an eye on the business’s Instagram page to hear about the next pop-up sale.

Catch a show at Crown Finish Caves [925 Bergen St. between Classon and Franklin avenues in Crown Heights, (718) 857–2717, www.crownfinishcaves.com]. May 2 at 8 pm. $32.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Underground music: People pack tightly into the Crown Heights cheese caves.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

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