Live Music

The power of live music to make folks feel good is on full display at a host of Atlanta night clubs. If listening to bands and vocalists show off their skills is how you like to spend an evening, you'll find that Atlanta does things right. Multiple options let you tap into the venues that 10Best readers favor, like Café 290, or you can get a taste of the city's offerings by visiting places like Star Community Bar, which is known for its Blues music. While many venues on the local music scene are clustered in the Midtown area, know that terrific places to hear live music can be found throughout Atlanta.



This club is named for Georgia's own "Blind" Willie McTell, a legendary songwriter born in Thomson who is credited with inking tunes such as "Statesboro Blues" and "Broke Down Engine Blues." A neon alligator in the window beckons you to catch the best blues acts around. Longtime regulars Sandra Hall and the Shadows and House Rocker Johnson perform here weekly, and other well-known local and national acts are prone to plug in their amps as well. Among the historic blues performers to have performed here are Taj Mahal, Rufus Thomas and Charles Brown. The place is filled Monday through Saturday, so arrive early. Reservations are not accepted.

Local Expert tip: ATL's most famous blues bar features regional and national acts each week; namesake Willie McTell penned "Statesboro Blues."

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One of the top jazz clubs in Atlanta, Cafe 290 features live music (jazz or blues) nightly. A full menu including seafood, steaks, pasta, and vegetarian specialties is available. A separate section houses a sports bar.

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Hosting an ensemble of regional and national acoustic acts, Eddie's Act is an ideal place to chill out over a few brews and good live music. A favorite of Decatur's youngish professionals, Eddie's has showcased the likes of Ani Difranco, Shawn Mullins, and Dave Sutherland. In the warmer months, Eddie's deck is a great place to get a little fresh air. Those wanting to take a break from the music can head across the hall to the pool room. Cover charges vary depending on who's playing.

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From the hokey Elvis shrine across from the main stage to the retro-style Little Vinyl Lounge, this Little Five Points classic is 100% rock-n-roll. Fun bands, loud music, and cheap beer are hot commodities at the Star, and it's not uncommon to find a few yuppies interspersed among the more rustic regulars. If you feel like taking a break from the deafening Southern rock or blues acts onstage, head downstairs to the seedy LVL, a self-described "bucket of sin with a stain-resistant skin," where the scene is laid back and the jukebox is the stuff of legends.

Local Expert tip: Quirky venue combines retro decor, cheap beer and live Southern rock.

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Devotees of live music, particularly jazz and reggae, find much to like about this cool, funky Midtowner. Apache has the look and feel of the avant-garde music clubs you'd find hidden away on West Village side-streets. In fact, it's not uncommon for the venue to host some of the neighborhood's more cutting edge events like think-tanks, debates, poetry slams, film screenings and even performance art. Due homage is paid to the local visual arts scene, and many local artists are allowed to display their work along the weathered brick walls.

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Dark Horse Tavern & 10 High Club

Atlanta hipsters converge on this Virginia Highlands nightspot each week and for good reason. Upstairs, you'll find a great pub-style watering hole that's always packed with stylish 20- and 30-somethings. In the cellar, 10 High hosts some of Atlanta's top up-and-coming bands – acts specializing in everything from good old fashioned rock-n-roll to hard and heavy punk. Great pub grub is served upstairs, and the place offers an enviable selection of domestic and international brews.

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Smith's Olde Bar
Photo courtesy of flickr/erokCom

You'll love this SOB – that's Smith's Olde Bar, of course. Though DJ dance parties are common, you'll also frequently find live music presented on the circular stage. Special songwriters' nights often showcase up-and-coming talents on the cabaret-style stage. If you aren't in the mood to dance or if the live show isn't your style, head downstairs for free jazz, or get into a game of pool. The relaxed vibe and broad array of entertainment options make this venue a favorite.

Local Expert tip: Versatile Midtown bar boasts pool tables, live music and dance parties.

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Located off the beaten path, this country music concert hall offers an enormous dance floor with cowboy dancing, two-stepping and live bands or DJs.

Local Expert tip: Spacious country-western bar in Kennesaw popular with two-steppers and live music fans.

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Friday nights sizzle at Fernbank Museum during their Martinis and Imax event. It is one of the most fun things to do in the Emory neighborhood. Each Friday, Fernbank is transformed into a fun environment of playful cocktails and soothing live music. Guests can sip on a cocktail while wondering around under the watchful eye of the dinosaurs that call Fernbank home. Then take in an Imax movie to end the night.

Local Expert tip: Eat dinner after at one of the nearby restaurants.

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