Live Music

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


Houston's jazz connoisseurs frequent this intimate, 40-seat venue. An impressive roster of local and nationally-recognized acts packs the house on weekends, and a cozy setting means that every seat is a good one. A full bar is available, along with the same appetizers and desserts you'll find at sister-pub The Black Labrador, located downstairs. A perfect choice for a first date!

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Red Cat Jazz Café

A N'awlins sensibility colors this enticing jazz haunt, which occupies a historic brick building near Market Square. The appealing structure is a beautiful complement to the strains of jazz and blues that give it life. Along with incredible bands, patrons discover scrumptious bayou fare, from po' boys to etouffee, not to mention exhibits of original art. For a real treat, take in one of Red Cat's toe-tappingly delicious Sunday brunches.

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Acoustic artists are the focus at this venue, which has been a local presence since the '60s. They typically play in a black-box setting so that musicianship and songwriting skills are prominently highlighted. Solo performers and groups come from all over the country as well as the Houston area. Beer, wine, and light fare are available, and tickets can be booked online for convenience.

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River Oaks

For an authentic Houston experience, head to Blanco's and see what a real Texas honky-tonk is made of. The place isn't large, but it's packed with character, and you'll find some of the area's best bands playing country tunes to appreciative audiences. If your skills are up to par, show off your two-stepping on the dance floor; otherwise, you might just want to knock off a Lone Star on the patio or sample barbecue and chicken-fried chicken. Lots of regulars hang out here – a sure sign there's something good to be had.

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Sleek, shimmering, funky Sambuca is a haven for the city's elite and is a shining venue for top jazz performers (and those who master other genres). An accomplished menu is at hand, perfect for enjoying in conjunction with the sensational music. If you'd rather hang out at the bar, that's perfectly acceptable too – and comes without the time limit of a table. Best of all, the music complements both dining and conversation, never intruding on a special evening out.

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A legend in these parts for live music, The Big Easy has earned its reputation on terrific blues with a generous helping of zydeco for good measure. Musicians are customarily local, and regulars can't get enough of them or of the nationally-known folks who occasionally make an appearance. Blue-collar patrons sit side-by-side with professionals, and all are welcome. Best of all, there's rarely a cover charge, and drinks are reasonably priced – a boon all the way around.

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Spun off from the Austin original, Houston's Continental Club has a similar sensibility regarding music – it prefers it independent, a little quirky, and with a slightly unpolished edge. That's not to say that performers are unpracticed; rather, they're at the top of their game, whether they specialize in blues, alternative rock, or country. Sometimes, acoustics aren't perfect in the former general store – metal ceilings and all – but the incredible talents and the pleasure of first-hand experience offset the slight imperfections. An outdoor patio and pool tables offer distraction during breaks in the music lineup.

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Numbers has gained a reputation as being the place in Houston to catch new bands before they've had a chance to make it big. Featured performers range in genre from Goth to New Wave to rock-rap, but you can always count on great crowds and one of the area's hippest (and hottest) dance scenes. Past acts have included Hole, Type-O Negative, Ben Folds Five, Coolio, Gravity Kills, and Sevendust.

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Warehouse District

This re-purposed 1920s warehouse is one of Houston's signature event facilities. Composed of two spaces, the Studio and the Ballroom, Warehouse Live is perfect for small locals bands or large national acts. Talib Kweli, Passion Pit, Saving Abel, Keane and Bowling for Soup have been among the talented artists to have performed here.

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For folks craving low-key acoustic jam sessions and hearty Mexican food, Last Concert Cafe is the place to go. Appetizers like crab-stuffed jalapenos let patrons nibble as they listen, and enchiladas and tostadas prove satisfying for hungrier guests. There's live music (R&B, rock, jazz) every night between Tuesday and Saturday, so be sure to come and check out the local talent.

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