Wild Birds, a popular Crown Heights music venue geared toward both up-and-coming and known local talent, will close after one final show on Sept. 5, its owners announced last week.
The news comes as small businesses across the borough shutter for different reasons — be it financial loss carried over by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, gentrification, landlord-tenant disputes, or a little bit of each.
Now, with the precise reason unknown, the typically buzzing Dean Street space is the latest in the borough to announce its closure — and while owners are billing it as a relocation, there is no set date for Wild Birds’ reopening.
“While this is undoubtedly sad news, this is not the end,” read a post by Julian Klepper, the venue’s founder, on Wild Birds’ Instagram account. “While it’s true that Wild Birds is a brick-and-mortar location, it is—more than that—an idea that will rise again, like the phoenix. We don’t know how yet, and we don’t know when, but we promise to update everyone, on Instagram, as we figure out our next migration.”
Klepper’s post came as a shock to locals who found in Wild Birds a carefully curated live music line-up of mostly New York talent.
“It is the perfect place to go to because it has something for any mood you are in,” said 28 year-old Crown Heights resident Mallory Jenkins. “If you wanted to dance, sit and have a signature drink, listen to music you had never heard before or step outside to have tacos and go back in, it was there. They have it all and it is good quality.”
Though the 200-square foot bar and music venue was far from the only nightlife around, Wild Birds offered an array of performances throughout each week — from jazz and disco to Kumbia and Afro Beats. Always packed with customers, it was rated second on Secret NYC’s list of best bars and restaurants to enjoy live music at across the five boroughs.
“I’m a little bit of a music historian and I would say, currently in NYC, there is possibly the largest concentration and amount of incredible bands in the world,” Klepper said. “So many incredibly talented artists and so many different genres, somewhat niche styles of music from around the world, I just do not know any other city that could beat it right now. Wild Birds’ success was just a pure reflection of that.”
Until news of Wild Birds’ second-coming is announced, owners have jam-packed the music hub’s lineup for its last week — and the venue won’t be keeping things quiet on its way out. Wild Birds’ last week at the corner of Dean and Classon will be full of recognized musicians.
Tuesday, Aug. 30
Kazemde George is an African American jazz saxophonist and composer. He has been playing piano, saxophone, and percussion from an early age. He plays Jazz as well as electronic music inspired by Hip-Hop producers and Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian, and African-American beats.
Kazemde has performed with Solange Knowles and Saint Heron, David Murray, Román Filiú, and Jason Moran, at venues and festivals such as Irving Plaza, The Jazz Gallery, Black Cat, The David Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Panama Jazz Festival, Made In America Festival, AfroPunk and Panorama NYC Music Festival.
Friday, Sept. 2
Fred Thomas occupies a very special niche in the history R&B. As James Brown’s principal bassist since 1971, he participated in one the most prolific periods in the Godfather of Soul’s incredible career as a member of Brown’s band, the J.B.’s.
Fred can be heard on hits such as: “Hot Pants,” “Papa Don’t Take No Mess,” “Make it Funky,” “Stoned to the Bone,” and instrumental classics like “Pass the Peas” and “Gimme Some More.” He’s on the seminal “Live at the Apollo Vol. 3 Revolution of the Mind” and can be seen in the 2008 documenrary “Soul Power,” spotlighting Brown’s 1974 concert in Zaire, and in Brown’s many “Soul Train” appearances.
Saturday, Sept. 3
Classical pianist Emile Blondel has been part of the Richmond Symphony, the Durham Symphony and the Heritage Chamber Orchestra. A frequent collaborator in theater, Emile created music for Marcel and Man Ray. Emile is currently a faculty member of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and staff pianist at the Dalton School.
Sunday, Sept. 4
Danny Fox, called a “pianist of diverse accomplishment” by the New York Times, co-founded the New Orleans rock and roll group Tubby, playing around Brooklyn roots and bluegrass scene, performing on Broadway, and collaborating with video artist Meghan Allynn Johnson. He has performed with Bruce Springsteen, Cassandra Wilson, Michael Blake, and Kermit Driscoll.
For the venue’s grand finale, its founders are planning an “all-star jam” on Sept. 5, the last day Wild Birds will be open to the public.
“Everyone who’s played in many occasions, has been invited,” Keppler said. “People are gonna share stories, they’ll have time to play some of the favorite songs, everyone’s gonna come.”