Almost 30 years ago, Brazilian musician Eliane Delage arrived in NYC with no instrument, no money and not speaking the language. Now she lives in Hell’s Kitchen, and you’ll find her performing, teaching, and leading guitar events and workshops. This is Eliane’s West Side Story.

Eliane Delage at Amy's Bread
Originally from Brazil, Eliane moved to New York at 24. Photo: Naty Caez

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I was born in São Paulo, Brazil and moved to New York in the 90s when I was 24, almost 30 years ago! I came to NYC to follow my dreams of being a guitarist in Manhattan — and the irony is that I had to sell my beloved guitar in Brazil to afford a plane ticket to NYC, so I arrived with no instrument, no money and not speaking the language… but hey, I wanted it bad enough, I made it work! Today I can say I did alright, I have built a guitar community in NYC, and as a working musician, I have performed at all the main venues including Carnegie Hall. 

What was your first job? What do you do now?
Well, um… my very first job was in 1993 helping a friend at the coat checking station at the now extinct Clit Club, a legendary New York City punk and queer nightclub. However, as memorable as it was, I only did this job for one night! I’ve come a long way from that and thankfully have established my career as a working musician. Now and for a long time I’ve been performing in shows, teaching guitar, coaching bands and leading guitar events and workshops.

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
My favorite moment was definitely the night I played at Carnegie Hall for the first time in November of 2019. It was the most incredible experience, manifesting a dream come true. I was selected by ACMA (Association of Classical Musicians and Artists) to be featured in the Passion Through Music program, where I had the privilege of performing an original arrangement I made for Carmina Burana for two electric guitars (Jackie Forzano, Eliane Delage), violin (Ben Wu) and a soprano (Daisy Press). 

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love Hell’s Kitchen because it feels like home at this point. It is artistic, queer, has great cuisine and incredible venues. Hell’s Kitchen is now what Chelsea used to be 15 years ago in terms of vibrancy, expression and rapport.

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
My superpower is to play the guitar — it’s not really a “hidden” talent, because everyone knows about it! I also love making arrangements and have been fortunate to perform them at Carnegie Hall twice so far. I’m scheduled to play again for the third time in Spring of 2024! But, most recently I have been working with Eliane Amherd, a fantastic Hell’s Kitchen-based Swiss jazz artist on an Eurotrash project which has been mad fun!

Above all, I’m a connector at heart. I love bringing people together through music. I am constantly creating new groups and music jams for my students, I welcome guitar players from all walks of life and all levels in a very inclusive musical environment.

Eliane Delage and guitar.
Eliane’s superpower is playing guitar. Photo supplied.

What else should we know about you?
I’ve been performing and at the heart of the music education scene in NYC for over 25 years. As a guitar teacher, arranger and band coach, I have dedicated my career to helping aspiring musicians unlock their full potential. In 2013, I founded the Eliane Delage Guitar Ensemble in Hell’s Kitchen. Since then, the ensemble has flourished into a thriving community of hundreds of members, making a significant impact on the local music scene. We perform seasonal shows at NYC venues and have weekly blues jams in the neighborhood. If you play guitar in the city, you should definitely come jam with us.

Eliane’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places

Studios 353 and Studio 797 — 353 West 48th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave) and 797 8th Avenue
I’ve been bringing my group to rehearse there since 2013. They have great rehearsal rooms for our needs and the people are so friendly and professional. Andre, Olga, Giselle, Halina and Jean are like members of our musical family.

Eliane Delage in studio
Eliane at Studios 353. Photo: Naty Caez

Clinton Community Garden — 424 W48th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
This is the perfect spot to sit and take in the beautiful plants and flowers, read a book or close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes. It’s such a peaceful garden in the middle of the block, you feel like you’re in a magical break from it all.

Birdland — 315 W44th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Love to catch great jazz at Birdland. I love that I met one of my good friends there years ago at a Lisa Fischer show and also recently spent Valentine’s Day there on a special date watching great jazz. The service is excellent and the old fashioneds are absolutely delicious.

Scent Elate — 313 W48th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
I mean, this is the most magical little door in Hell’s Kitchen. The store has so many articles, wonderful crystals, bracelets, cards, soaps, incense, clothing, etc. All feel-good essentials. Moe is the nicest guy, so thoughtful and friendly, he’ll know exactly what crystal to suggest depending on what your energy needs and what’s going on in your life. The store is tiny but everything is so well arranged that you can spend a long time marveling on every artifact.

Terminal 5 — 610 W56th Street (bw 11th/12th St)
It’s such a dope venue to see big acts, with a lot of bars, multi levels and a rooftop. I saw Jacob Collier there and the sound was so pristine while also bass-heavy. The venue delivers a powerful mix. It was standing room only but there is enough ventilation through the room so it’s comfortable enough to enjoy the show. 

B-Side Pizza — 370 W51st Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
The first time I went there years ago was on a date. It was recommended to me by a friend and I absolutely loved it. B-Side has a super cozy ambiance and the firewood oven makes it so intimate. From the menu, the “Killer Bee” pizza and Roasted Brussels Sprouts accompanied with a glass of La Posada, Tempranillo does the trick for me. 

The Intrepid — Pier 86, W46th Street
I love walking by the water near the Intrepid, it is so enormous and incredible to see every time. I never get tired of photographing it.

Amy’s Bread — 672 9th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
Amy’s well crafted pastries make me so happy! They have amazing breads, sandwiches and coffee. I love how it’s so cozy in there too, it’s one of my favorite stops on a cold day. They just celebrated their 30th year anniversary too, how wonderful is that? Happy anniversary Amy’s Bread!

Green Room 42 — 570 10th Avenue (bw W41/42nd St)
I love this venue inside Yotel on 43rd and 10th. I just played a show there accompanying Amanda Andrews in her new one-woman show Not Quite Yet, and it was a great experience. The room is so beautiful with so much detail to admire. The sound quality blew my mind too. They also have an outdoor seating area that feels like a cozy backyard. I definitely recommend it!

Manhattan Community Boathouse — Pier 96 in Hudson River Park
Love, love, love kayaking on the Hudson. I’ve been doing it for many years. The Manhattan Community Boathouse is volunteer-based, they provide excellent service and are so nice. It makes me happy that they provide this wonderful service to the community.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Thank you for featuring my story, I feel honored! I love your publication and often talk about your posts with friends. I would love to meet more guitar enthusiasts in Hell’s Kitchen and have them join our guitar jams, they can find out more about what I do at or contact me at Thanks, W42ST!

You can follow Eliane on Instagram @Eliane_Delage. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

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