Although recent venue closings have created a widespread panic about catching good local music in Miami, we have to say that finding live tunes is actually a lot less daunting a task than you may think. The music doesn’t stop at the traditional ‘nightlife’ image we usually see through loud clubs and packed dance halls. In fact, The Magic City has long-been home to some of the world’s great live musicians, flocking to our temperate backyard throughout the year. With this influx of talent has come some wonderful options for seeing them in their element so, we’ve gone ahead and listed some of our favorite spots for shows and concerts that you can catch music at every night of the week.
The speakeasy craze might be new to Miami, but impeccable music taste certainly isn’t. Just ask the fellows behind Le Chat Noir, one of Downtown’s most charming of gems and a destination for world-class talent. With a delicious local bistro on the ground floor, you pass vintage posters and fresh deli cases until you find the stairs leading you to the cellar where musical bliss awaits. A dark, romantic cocktail room serves as the slinky background to this jazz haven with great music filling the air almost nightly. Make sure to check the schedule before heading there.
Photo: Weather Underground
North Beach might be known to many as South Beach’s sleepier, more residential cousin but it’s also home to more local secrets than the whole island combined. Deep in the midst of Argentine feasts and Mediterranean eateries sits the North Beach Bandshell, preserved proudly in its classic MiMo style. The beachside amphitheater has been resurrected into a destination for world music thanks to entertainment partners and heavy-hitters like the Rhythm Foundation, who have brought some of the world’s most powerful acts from India to Spain, Peru and beyond.
Photo: Rhythm Foundation
For many local music fans, this Midtown affair is a usual destination for great performances and next-level musical education. Much of the nightly lineups at Lagniappe are frequented by local legends and GRAMMY winners now tenuring at the Frost School of Music, but you can catch young and emerging artists here too. Traveling acts are also a weekly happening, seeing musicians from all over the country and the world. Head there early to snag a spot inside and grab yourself a bottle of wine, build a charcuterie board, and tune out.
Photo: Time Out
At the edge of Coral Way lies a wonderful cluster of small businesses, local restaurants, and friendly spots to experience a city-like culture in Miami. One of the area’s newest additions, Neme Gastro Bar, has quickly become a local favorite with its creative menu of flavorful dishes, friendly ambiance, and of course, nightly jazz. With a heavy nod toward the genre’s foundations in New Orleans, the place already feels like a long-standing neighborhood locale. You can catch duos and trios swinging it up here while you sip on a Sazerac.
The wonderful thing about jazz is that it’s all encompassing, meaning many other sounds can compliment its free-form and improvisational foundations. It’s no surprise then that Miami’s Latin Jazz scene is some of the heaviest-hitting in the world. You can head to Little Havana on virtually any night of the week and catch its big names gracing the stages at Ball & Chain. Trumpets, percussion and a whole lot of dancing will ensue, but one thing’s for sure, it’s still very much jazz. Their weekly lineups lean more Latin, but if it’s straight tunes you’re looking for, their Pineapple Sundays are great family days too.
Photo: Miami New Times
Although we’ve said goodbye to our fair share of long-standing underground hotspots, Miami’s alternative music scene hasn’t necessarily wanted for much thanks to a recent trend of new locations throughout the years. Places like Las Rosas have been a golden light for all the night owls who miss their older homes of Grand Central and Vagabond. The Allapattah outpost is a nice ways away from the bustling throngs in Wynwood, but not too far for a night hop if that’s your thing. They are home to some great open mics, nightly indie bands, and a lot of local tunes. Everyone’s happy there, and not just because the drinks are cheap.
Photo: Choice Hotels
Wynwood’s own reputation has shifted greatly over the years, and is now a go-to for partying tourists and locals combined. Among the DJ-filled happy hours and low-key coffee shops, though, there are some surprising places to brag to your friends about. Mr. Wright’s Gold Digger Saloon is something out of Westworld and a fairytale combined. The intimate outdoor venue has been supporting Miami’s blues and singer-songwriter community with great duo and trio shows on the nightly. With late-night grub and a solid drink menu, this is one of those brand new Edgewater gems you can’t miss.
Photo: Miami Music Week
Another great Wynwood location we love to frequent is Gramps. Although it might be hard to believe that there are still hidden spots in Wynwood, the bar sits quietly on its own, surrounded by native trees and hand-painted decor. It has a colorful atmosphere that acts as a perfect setting for their top notch music choices day or night. In fact, it houses three different options for performance spaces: outside tiki stage, indoor DJ game room, or Shirley’s their dark, transformative back bar. Their cocktails are delicious and they always have something fun going on. From crate digging and flea markets to drag nights and cover bands, it’s a perfect spot.
While Miami Beach might be synonymous with club culture, there are a handful of essential organizations and music buffs who are keeping the live scene well, alive. The Betsy Hotel has been a long-time supporter of the arts, musical or otherwise. Their creative partnerships range from O, Miami Poetry and author residencies, to international galleries and classical symphonies — at The Betsy there truly is something for everyone. Whether it’s jazz in their lobby or speakeasy bar, or weekly performances, the hotel houses some of the city’s greatest artists and is home to more than just in-the-know travelers.
Not often does a place get to boast that it’s been open for more than 10 years in Miami, but why not try 40. Churchill’s Pub is an absolute staple when it comes to catching shows in this city, regardless of musical category or genre. While the space certainly shows the amount of mosh pits it has hosted through the years, it all adds to the general charm and nostalgia of the experience. From hip hop legends and local punk bands, to heavy metal heroes and emerging sonic artists, there is no discrimination toward music in this Little Haiti landmark. It seems only fitting that we’d end the list where Miami’s true underground scene got its start.
If you’re looking for the perfect mix of romantic atmosphere and authentic cuisine, look no further than Soya e Pomodoro. Located at the center of Downtown Miami, this charming Italian restaurant is adored by locals and touristis alike. It has taken over an architecturally historical galleria in between two buildings and transformed it into what looks exactly like the intimate bistro seating that could be found on those cramped streets and allies that only can be found in the furthest corners of the Old Country. They have live music by candlelight at least three nights a week, we suggest Saturdays are perfect for dates with a fine wine and homemade pasta to boot.
Photo: Miami Paradise Pass
Cover photo: South Beach Magazine.