Live Music

Mother of the MP3

Suzanne Vega, one of the most brilliant songwriters and performers of folk music, takes the stage at Café Carlyle.

Photo by George Holz

Pop producer and performer Suzanne Vega will be forever linked to a pair of memorable international hits from 1987: the melancholy “Luka” and the a capella slice-of-life classic “Tom’s Diner.” The latter gained greater notoriety through a massively popular 1990 remix by DNA, which spawned the odd-for-its-time rarity of an LP of “Tom’s Diner” remixes titled Tom’s Album. Vega’s original version proved bewitching enough that the man who created the MP3 (Karlheinz Brandenburg, for those of you looking to impress your friends) used “Tom’s Diner” as the test song to finesse listener-friendly audio compression, leading to Vega being known colloquially as the “mother of the MP3.” (Even Britney Spears has covered the song, signifying complete cultural cannibalism.)

The $75 food-and-drink minimum for seated tickets running up to $160 per person should tip you off that Café Carlyle will never be mistaken for a diner. But the Carlyle delivers what you pay for; the room seats under a hundred in plush and intimate elegance, close enough to the raised stage that you could reach out and share your $235-an-ounce private reserve caviar with the performers. (But not Vega; she’s a vegetarian.) Go sing along—just not too loudly—to her classic hits as well as songs from her newest album, Lover, Beloved, a collection of collaborations with Tony Award–winning songwriter Duncan Sheik.

Suzanne Vega
Café Carlyle
35 East 76th Street (between Madison and Park Avenues)
March 14–25, Tuesday–Saturday, 8:45 p.m.

General Seating, $75 per person
Bar Seating, $55 plus $25 drink minimum
Premium Seating, $125

Friday and Saturday
General Seating, $90 per person
Bar Seating $70 plus $25 drink minimum
Premium Seating $130

Food and beverage minimum at 8:45 p.m. shows for General and Premium Seating, $75

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