Performer FAQ

Note to all interested applicants: at this time, the cafe is not accepting new applications to play at the cafe. This is simply so the music coordinator can honor the extensive backlog of applications already currently submitted.

The application process will reopen this fall or winter, 2023. Those who have an upcoming show or are interested in learning about what it’s like to play at the cafe can read more below.

The New Deal Cafe is a multiple award-winning, not-for-profit, community-owned cooperative in the heart Old Greenbelt, Maryland. We have live performances six nights a week. Musicians play for tips, two free drinks from the bar and a complimentary meal (soup and a side).

Due to the volume of performer applications, the time it takes to thoroughly vet each application, and the advanced nature of scheduling, the music coordinator may not have show times to offer for weeks or months once the application is received. Applying does not guarantee a show at New Deal Cafe (although I wish we had space on the schedule for everyone!). Please do not call the cafe regarding booking requests. To follow up on an application, please reach out to .


**2023 – Finalist in The Wammie Music Awards Category, “Best Music Venue”

**2022 – Voted 1st Place in The Washington City Paper’s “Reader’s Choice – Best Place to Experience Local Music“, 1st Place in The Washington City Paper’s “Reader’s Choice – Best Place to Have Dinner with Live Music, Third Place in The Washington City Paper’s “Reader’s Choice – Best Jazz/Blues Venue, Third Place in The Washington City Paper’s “Reader’s Choice – Best Music Venue”

**2020 – Voted 1st Place in The Washington City Paper’s “Best of DC” in the category of “Best Place To Experience Local Music”; voted Runner Up in The Washington City Paper’s “Best of DC” in the category of “Best Music Venue“; voted Runner Up in The Washington City Paper’s “Best of DC” in the category of “Best Place To Have Dinner With Live Music”.

**2019 – Voted Runner Up in The Washington City Paper’s “Best of DC” in the category of “Best Place To Experience Local Music”

**2017 – Selected as one of The Best 35 Folk Music Venues in the U.S.

**2012 – Voted Best Local Music Venue in The D.C. Area by WTOP listeners


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:

Only bands that can provide audio or video recordings, from a live performance or recording session, can be booked at New Deal. We need to hear ya first, so we can learn more about your band!

If your music is a good fit for The New Deal Cafe, you’ll be contacted with potential dates to play. 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 complimentary meal. We are a not-for-profit cooperative cafe that is committed to accessible music for the entire Community. Our custom is to place tip buckets on each table. The New Deal has a culture of tipping the band an equivalent of a cover charge and are known to be generous tippers — thanking and praising your audience for their reputation of generosity is an effective method for encouraging this.

Note on volume

Speaking of volume: in practical terms, we want to have conversations at the bar without shouting. In measured terms, we ask that performers play at no higher than 95dB(A) throughout the majority of their show. There is a visible decibel meter. We mix to the unamplified equipment in use – usually the drums. Please respect our house and be sure that the group as a whole knows how to play in a small room (drummers – consider HotRods or light sticks). Occasional musical swells will be understood, and the sound person will work with the band to get good balance and to help keep the band’s volume within these very reasonable limits. The sound tech has the final say.

How can I promote my gig?

  • Four physical copies of posters/flyers promoting your show are required to be mailed 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:
    • Attn: Caitlin Gompf/The New Deal Cafe/113 Centerway/Greenbelt, MD 20770.

Performance Times?

Sunday – 6pm to 8pm

Tuesday Community Open Mic – 7pm to 9:30pm

Wednesday & Thursday – 7pm to 9pm

Friday & Saturday – 8pm to 11pm.

***Sound check usually happens 30 minutes before show time.

What is the capacity?

The cafe has a front room and back room. Total capacity is 117. 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?

A New Deal audience is almost always very friendly, encouraging 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.

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 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 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.

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 Coordinator know so we can have someone there to assist you.