Performer FAQ

The New Deal Cafe is a member-owned, not-for-profit, community cooperative in the heart Old Geenbelt, Maryland. We have live performances six nights a week. In 2012 we were voted Best Local Music Venue in The D.C. Area by WTOP listeners and in 2017 we were selected as one of The Best 35 Folk Music Venues in the U.S.

How do I get a gig at The New Deal Cafe?

You can get a gig at The New Deal Cafe in the following ways:

  • Fill out our web form.
  • Email web links of your music to .
  • Sign-up to play at an open-mic (every Thursday) and let the hosts know of your interest when you sign up.

If your music is a good fit for The New Deal Cafe, you’ll be contacted with potential dates to play. A follow-up email is encouraged if you haven’t received a response. We get hundreds of requests to play the cafe every year. Please don’t be offended if you don’t get a response right away.

How are musicians compensated for their work?

Musicians play for tips, two free drinks from the bar and a complementary meal. We are a not-for-profit cooperative cafe that is committed to accessible music (hence, no cover charge). Our custom is to place tip buckets on each table. Our community is known to be generous tippers — thanking and praising your audience for their reputation of generosity is an effective method for encouraging tips.

How can I promote my gig?

  • Five copies of posters/flyers promoting your show are required to be sent in at least three weeks beforehand. If possible, please include a brief description of your music on the poster. Please mail them to the following address: The New Deal Cafe, 113 Centerway, Greenbelt, MD 20770. You are also welcome to drop them off at the cafe.
  • We have an online event calendar on our web site that is kept up-to-date. We also have a Facebook group and regularly publish in The Greenbelt News Review. There are also frequent articles written about upcoming performances in The Washington Post and P.G. County Gazette.
  • Please email with the following:
    • a short description (~40 words or less) of the style/genre of your music (see our calendar for typical descriptions)
    • an image to be used on our web calendar, preferably 150-300 pixels wide
    • optional: a banner image, 1920 pixels wide and at least 750 pixels tall

What time do gigs start?

Sunday evening gigs are from 7 to 9pm. We are closed on Monday nights. Tuesday and Wednesday evening gigs are from 7:30 to 9:30pm. Every Thursday we host a community Open Mic from 7 to 10pm. Friday and Saturday evening gigs start at 8:30pm and go until 11:30pm. Sound check usually happens 30 minutes before show time. Please be aware that on Fridays and Saturdays we have a jazz pianist play from 6:30 to 8pm. The piano is off stage so you are welcome to set up while he is playing.

What is the capacity?

The cafe has a front room and back room. The back room is where the performances take place and it typically seats 70.

What is the audience like or what type of music is allowed?

The audience is very tolerant and supportive of a variety of musical styles. Volume level is the critical issue, so please keep this in mind throughout the evening. This has been an issue in the past and so we ask that it be kept at a reasonable level.

Do you have a piano?

Yes. Our upright piano is tuned regularly and is kept properly humidified via an automatic internal humidifier.

The piano is not on the stage so your setup will not interfere with the earlier performer (unless you’re integrating the piano into your act). For Friday and Saturday night gigs, setting up the stage while the piano player is playing is a fact of life. Please afford the piano player every courtesy you’d expect during your set-up.

Do you have a sound system?

Yes. A house PA is provided and we strive to always have a sound person there for every show.
We have a digital mixer, the QSC Touchmix 16. This mixer does it all, in a small, light cabinet. Only 17 knobs on the entire mixer, and no faders. It has a built in screen to control all functions. 16 microphone preamps and two stereo input channels. It can be controlled via an iPad over a WiFi connection. It has a “simple” mode, and a full function mode. View the QSC Touchmix 16 Manual.

We also have an old analog mixer, the Peavey PV14 with enough inputs (10 XLR / instrument + extra CD/MP3 inputs) for just about any act that will fit on stage. View the Peavey PV14 Manual.

We have four Shure professional microphones — two SM58s and two SM57s. We also provide two channels of clean, passive DI. We also provide a small CD player that can tie into the board, should the performer need that support. We have cables to connect just about any portable music player (i.e., iPod, Zune, etc.) to the system through the earphone jack on the player.

We have mic stands with booms which are located on or under the stage. The mics, DI and cables are located in the sound cabinet on stage left. There should be no equipment “surprises” here, as we monitor the hardware, cables and electronics for signs of potential failure, and replace/repair as needed.

The sound system was set up with the guest act in mind — ease of use without the need of cafe personnel to set it up (though we do have a sound person scheduled for each performance). Two switches power it all up, and the system has been pre-tuned carefully to the room — little to no EQ is needed at the mixer to achieve accurate reinforcement of your voice and/or music, with more than enough volume for the room. Just plug in, set levels, and go.

Speaking of volume, we aim to keep it at a reasonable level. In practical terms, we want to have conversations at the bar without shouting. In measured terms, we aim for about 85dB(C) at the bar. We mix to the un-amplified equipment in use – usually the drums. Please respect our house and be sure that the group as a whole knows how to play to a small room (drummers – consider HotRods or light sticks). The barkeep has the final say. The soundperson will work with the band to get good balance and to help keep the band’s volume within these very reasonable limits.

Some bands bring some of their own sound equipment to integrate with the cafe system. Feel free to bring a favorite, or a specialty mic, or an extra monitor. If you do plan to bring additional sound gear beyond a mic and a monitor, please let the music committee know so we can have someone there to assist you.