Tiffany Cordero

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Saturday night’s in Bushwick were all the rage before the pandemic. But for many, it often seems like the days where we could gather in one space for late night dinners and underground concerts are long behind us. However some musicians don’t think so and a non– profit called the Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary wants to bring music back to the neighborhood, safe and socially distanced.

It’s the project of Rie and her husband Mitchell Borden, founder of such West Village jazz clubs like Smalls and Fat Cat. The theaters, clubs, and bars that they had once called home were now closed due to the ever-changing regulations on indoor and outdoor dining and events.

“We wanted to propose the vision of thriving through this hard time by subsidizing these shows to help generate immediate jobs with respectable payment for artists while relieving the venue from the burden,” Rie Borden told Bushwick Daily when asked about the genesis of the project. 

Even amidst a pandemic, patrons can jam in a jazz band at the Bodeguita (Tiffany Cordero)

The Bordens say they felt obliged to do their part to help their community. The couple founded Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary as a response to the global pandemic and its impact on NYC’s jazz community. The non-profit subsidizes live shows that take place in restaurants, bars, art museums, food courts and hotels, immediate settings for jazz artists that support local businesses that are lucky enough to still be operating.

There is no telling when musicians can expect to find regular work and, aware of this, Gotham Yarbird Sanctuary wants to revive New York with the power of live jazz. Music can heal wounds that medicine can’t touch. 

“We want help rebuild the city into a haven not only for jazz musicians but for all aspiring entrepreneurs and artists,” said Borden.

The Yardbird Jam takes place on Saturdays from 6pm-9pm at the Bodeguita, a local bar notable for island vibes and cocktails. All performances are held upstairs on their outdoor patio.

The Bodeguita say they’re committed to following CDC guidelines and tell customers to wear masks indoors at all times. Food and drink are ordered and delivered completely contactless with the help of QR codes and table buzzers. In addition to this, there are heated lamps stationed at every table on the patio to ensure that those who come to enjoy don’t freeze while they’re doing so.

The series movies to Thursdays in February but the time stays the same and the upcoming Yardbird Jam lineup can be found here

To find out more about Gotham Yardbird Sanctuary and to donate visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Cover photo taken by Tiffany Cordero. 

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