The music is live and kicking at these awesome Orlando venues

What’s that Triumph sang about – the “magic power” of the music? Whether you've heard of Triumph of not, the sentiment holds true; and Orlando's certainly an ideal city when it comes to magic! Most people aren’t steadfast in their musical tastes. Jazz, blues, hip hop, soul, rock, country…. It just depends on the mood, really. So, what’s yours? Looking for a Disney-based haven where you can feed your tummy, sate your liver and enjoy live tunes with the kids? Check out Raglan Road, where two stages offer up two different live-music vibes and Irish dancers stomp nightly.

Feel like unearthing something special that many locals aren’t hip to just yet? Head over to Maitland for cool jazz, smooth wines and tasty tapas at Jazz Tastings, an unexpected oasis in an unassuming shopping plaza. Touring acts of all stripes hit Disney Springs’ House of Blues, a beautiful venue with great sound and multiple bars – but then, they also visit The Social and Will's Pub, two stellar venues held dear in the hearts of local music lovers. From the smoky “underground” jazz vault of downtown’s Tanqueray’s to the truly unique space of the Timucua Arts Foundation's White House, there are enough live music haunts in town to please everyone, whether your love of music was born of the Victrola, the Discman or the MP3.




Small, smoky and, if you like intimate spaces and great music sans pretention and expensive decor, kinda dive-bar sexy, Tanqueray's is an "underground" music venue where the drinks are cold and the horns blow hot. Wind your way downstairs and there's that feeling of immersion into music that's pure and free and primal. The place has big-city, film-noir essence, friendly staffers, inexpensive beverages and a devoting following. For some, it's the ideal appetizer for a night exploring Orlando's downtown. For others, it's a nightcap. Or perhaps a way to extend the revelry into the wee hours in the company of some spectacular local musicians.

Disney Springs ®

With live music on two different stages and Irish dancers every night of the week, Raglan Road really packs in the entertainment. And there's plenty of good food and cold drinks with which to enjoy it. Monday through Sunday you can stomp, clomp and kick up your heels (or, you know, just watch) with Raglan's talented dance troupe from 5 -10 p.m. Performances run every hour on the hour. On Sundays, the Rollicking Raglan Brunch Irish Dance Show fills in the morning/midday slot (noon to 4 p.m.) and the Celtic revelry continues through to 10. A number of bands grace the main and patio stages â€" the latter is a lovely place for an al fresco pint â€" between 7:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. For brunch, the music starts up at noon.

The Alley

Smoking-hot blues acts, both local and national, grace the stage of this long-standing Sanford standby virtually every night of the week to the delight of regulars and those still stumbling in to discover its welcoming and unpretentious vibe. Hungry folks enjoy it twice as much since the Alley is connected to town favorite, Fuel BBQ. Jam nights welcome walk-in musicians to the stage; reasonable drinks welcome everyone else. Motorcycle enthusiasts can be on the lookout for bike nights, as well. Dance and party with old and new friends or just sit yourself down with a beer and enjoy the dive-bar atmosphere and quality musicianship.


This unassuming but amazing little venue in the Milk District is a favorite among the arts community in Orlando, and lovers of live music in general. Its size ensures that no seat is a bad one. At Plaza Live, artists from Intergalactic to the Irish Rovers, Citizen Cope to Yngwie Malmsteen, Bruce Hornsby to Judy Collins to Travis Tritt, pack the place regularly, along with comedy shows and other events, including occasional food-truck gatherings in its parking lot. An on-site bar ensures all whistles stay wet on performance nights. Its undergone some renovations in recent years; those of you who haven't seen it in a while may be impressed by the upgrades.

Disney Springs ®

The acts that perform at Orlando's House of Blues run the gamut from metal to folk, rock to pop, country to â€" of course â€" blues and everything in between (and let's not even talk about its Sunday Gospel Brunch). HOB is an all-around incredible venue â€" wonderful sound, great atmosphere and home to the largest musical folk art collection in the world. Balcony seats afford birds-eye views but reasonable design â€" there are higher and lower portions on the first floor for better vantage points if you're not one for the proper "floor section" fray â€" are easily staked out. The sound is solid, as are the pours at the bar.

It's a common occurrence in the City Beautiful: you're minding your own business in some unassuming little shopping plaza and BOOM! (or in this case, the noise is a bit smoother, maybe with a little piano, some sax and some subtle, sultry vocal acrobatics) you unearth a small treasure you never knew existed. Such could be the case with Jazz Tastings, an intimate and cosmopolitan little hang tucked into the Village Plaza in Maitland. Live music six nights a week seduces customers, many of whom say they feel like regulars on their first night thanks to gracious staffers and owners who oversee the operation from end to end. A small menu of interesting tapas and rich desserts rounds out the experience, but the music and ambiance â€" and maybe a nice bottle of bubbly â€" would surely be enough to keep you in your seat for the evening.

What's black and gold and red all over? If you're in downtown Orlando and don't know the answer, the joke is on you, because you're missing out on the Bosendorfer Lounge, one of the city's sultriest locales for cool martinis and even cooler live jazz and soul. It's a sleek, stylish hotel haunt. And whether it's the soothing tinkle of the piano for which it is named (a gorgeous instrument, one of only a handful in the world) or the strains of Latin or acid jazz serving as the aural accompaniment to your wine or cocktail, it's certainly one of the toniest bars in downtown to catch some live music. Friday and Saturday nights, from roughly 7:30 p.m. to midnight, give or take, you can do just that.

The Social

Consistently voted a favorite live-music venue by critics and locals alike, the Social's laid-back vibe, efficient barkeeps and relatively intimate space draw an eclectic crowd of music lovers, be it blues, folk, rock, metal, reggae... Really, anything goes. With quality sound and an unpretentious atmosphere, the Social hosts big-name acts along with local and regional favorites, making it an ideal venue not only to catch your favorite acts but discover new ones on the nights your live music craving won't go unsated. The Social also features regular and semi-regular genre-driven nights. Salsa Sundays, for example, feature DJ Frankie spinning salsa, merengue and bachata with an open premium bar for a flat cover. Salud!

Mills 50

Serving up drinks and live music to Orlando locals thirsty for both for 15-plus years, Will's is something of a petri dish for indie music, a come-as-you-are joint if ever there was that has played host to burgeoning acts of all stripes. Recent improvements to the joint have only bolstered its ability to musically baptize all comers. Bands love playing here. People love seeing them. And if you're looking for reasons to come by before showtime, how do pool, drink specials, 16 taps flowing with microbrews and free WiFi sound? Important to note: Will's Pub isn't just about touring acts; they also host open-mics, hip-hop nights, poetry slams and more.

Timucua Arts White House

What happens when a world-class musician converts his beautiful downtown Orlando home into an amazingly intimate performance space Find out at the Timucua Arts White House, a beautiful, intimate venue that hosts musicians and artists from all over the world in, well, a living room. Yes, really. What's more, often these exhibits and performances come free of charge. This is a special venue, an exceptionally unique performance space that really showcases the incredible artistic reach of the Orlando community. Bring a covered dish or a bottle of wine to share and spend the evening amid the intimacy and warmth of this arts-driven city.


Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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