Williamsburg’s Zebulon Closing

12/05/2012 10:26 AM |


Zebulon, which has for the last ten years been a small and comfy bastion for music untied to any newfangled buzzy sub-genre, will be putting on its last shows this weekend before closing for good. Opened by French brothers Joce and Jef Soubiran with co-founder Guillaume Blestel, when the neighborhood had more abandoned industrial spaces than swanky hotels, Zebulon became a Williamsburg hotspot by doggedly sticking to a mission of offering free nightly shows from accomplished jazz players, eclectic world music stylists, and folky locals. The club’s last week of operation will feature appearances by Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld and experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson, among others. Longtime club staple Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio plays the room’s final show this Sunday the 9th.

In a press release concerning the closing, venue owners cited harsh realities for live venues who don’t factor in to the dominant scenes and trends of an increasingly expensive neighborhood and an increasingly monetized live music environment:

Williamsburg has changed significantly since we opened, and unfortunately it is no longer possible today to continue the business in the manner in which it was conceived. Nevertheless, it’s been a great run. We are proud to have given many celebrated artists a chance to play in an intimate setting or develop their sound in readiness for a larger audience. Zebulon has employed and supported struggling artists and their families, connected them to a wider musical community in New York and given them a stage on which to experiment.

As proof of their success in that goal, we dug up a spellbinding set from local star Sharon Van Etten. Five years to the day before what we now know will be Zebulon’s last day of business, she played this gentle half-hour on her way to wider acclaim. Van Etten, who has previously attributed her rise in the intimidating New York City music world at least in part to early support she received from the club, was just announced as the supporting act for rock legends Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on their 2013 North American tour.

Sharon Van Etten @ Zebulon, Dec. 9, 2007

14 Comment

  • I cannot begin to say how much this bothers me. Creators of the music scene in what was once the hippest neighborhood in NYC are forced out because of gentrification. I mean I guess it always has worked this way, but when I heard that neighbors were complaining about noise…like what exactly did they expect? But thanks to Zebulon for all the great music over the years…

  • I long for the days when the breeders moved back to Ohio to raise their kids. Never thought this awesome city would turn into such a prissy-parents-baby-mecca. Yuk.

  • Yeah, since all the french hipsters who ran this place grew up in Williamsburg and didn’t move in during the past 10 yrs, you dumb dike (Childless by Choice)…

  • It was a beautiful spot, but really bad sounds system.. with all the money we gave them over the years they could have bought something better..

  • funny that you say the breeders should move back to ohio – because kim and kelley deal of the breeders, are from ohio.hah. i don’t think they have kids though.

  • They’ve only been in the neighborhood 10 years, there was a “music scene” before anyone ever heard of this place.

    Childless by choice, you sound bitter. Maybe you’d prefer the older version of Williamsburg, you know where you couldn’t walk anywhere in the vicinity of Zebulon without being propositioned for sex from carloads of “customers” where almost every store was a bulletproof bodega, because the guns were out.

    There is hardly anything more tedious than waves upon waves of gentrifiers arguing over authenticity.

  • Please amend to include Guillaume Blestel as one of the founders & owners. He was not present every evening but his contribution is not to be underestimated. Thanks!

  • Amended. Thanks guys, good luck with your next move.

  • One of the wonderful things about this neighborhood for my generation of gentrifiers was that at some point, a few years after we’d all done our Cokies runs and Stinger nights and treks up to the Verb to be served a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by the aforementioned Kyp, some of us actually started having kids. And Zebulon was the place we took our kids. Besides being a period “hotspot” for music and art, it was a community center for many of us. A place to watch the World Cup, the Euros, the French Open… a place we could have a child’s birthday party or a baby shower that was thankfully a good-time-for-the-parents as well. Joce, Jef and Guillaume helped alchemize our own changing dynamic. And now as the dynamic changes around us again we can only hope against the odds we find a place with as much soul and culture to help us teach our kids how to enjoy themselves through music and community which can span the generations. A magical place run by people with love.


  • Je n’ai pas tout compris. Mon vocabulaire s’est un peu apauvri après 28 ans de non pratique. Je vous souhaite bon vent et tous mes voeux vous accompagnent pour la suite.
    Philippe Pignon

  • It’s sad though, no, that this place has to close b/c high rents and noise complaints? Knowing that, you must admit it was a different time when Zebulon opened – and wasn’t that great? Change is inevitable, I know, but I sometimes feel sad it comes around so very quickly in New York.

  • Funny, when Zebulon opened (a block from my home/studio) I thought, “there goes the neighborhood.” Who would’ve ever thought it would be cooler than all the subsequent trash that moved in there! Not me! But then again, I was evicted so 80 Metropolitan could be built. Good riddance Williamsburg. You were good while you lasted.

  • I used to live in that space.