VENUES IN THE MID-ATLANTIC
Boathouse A venue right on the Norfolk harbor, sharing a parking lot with the local minor league team's baseball stadium next door. The boathouse is just what its name says it is: an old boat storage house turned concert hall, holding a couple thousand concert-goers. This was the perfect sized venue to attract acts such as Dinosaur Jr*, The Bodeans*, The Wailers, Matthew Sweet, and Rusted Root among others. Only problem is if you're under 21 and have a precocious taste in music, then you might have to suffer outside the beer cage, which is too often affixed directly in front of the stage. Still a nifty venue.
TRAX Charlottesville, VA - TRAX used to be one of a handful of Charlottesville's gems that could help you escape UVA prep-town. Appropriately named because of its proximity to the city's train tracks (and of course, the musical connotations), TRAX hosted the gamut of artists. Local and regional acts such as Earth to Andy, Pat McGee Band, Agents of Good Roots, and Fighting Gravity make regular stops at TRAX when on the road, and some larger acts such as Pietasters, G Love & Special Sauce, Guster, and Cowboy Mouth appear more infrequently. Occasionally, TRAX would announce a Surprise Show, in which the headliner is announced and tickets go on sale the day before the show. Past Surprise Shows have included Blues Traveler, LIVE, and Smashing Pumpkins. Unfortunately, TRAX, is no more, and was recently demolished.
The Norva Norfolk, VA - The Norva is Norfolk's newest and neatest little venue. Just completed in April of 2000, the venue has stolen some thunder from the legendary Boathouse. Still, the Norva, which holds only about 1,500, has a lot to offer. The place has state-of-the-art acoustics, and Pollstar nominated the Norva for "Best New Venue" of 2000. Since its opening, the Norva's stage has seen acts ranging from James Brown to Bad Brains* to John Scofield... and everything in between! At the very least, the diversity of acts the place draws to the area is certainly refreshing.
Cat's Cradle Carrboro, NC - Like TRAX, the Cat's Cradle is a small concert venues in a southern college town. Yet, somehow Cat's Cradle had more of a magical atmosphere. I'm not sure whether Far Too Jones or the venue is mostly responsible, but the concert-goers seemed to have a unique passion for the music. Other acts that have graced the stage at Cat's Cradle include Patty Griffin, Dillon Fence, Lake Trout, The Mayflies USA, and Alkaline Trio.
Tokyo Rose Charlottesville, VA - Wins the award for the most unusual venue in Charlottesville. Tokyo Rose has the reputation for being the city's main indie underground/ counter-culture music night spot, but when you walk in, you see a bunch of middle-class families eating sushi. Go downstairs to where the music stage is located, and you enter an entirely different world, where mohawks and loud music abound. Many great local bands frequent Tokyo Rose including punk acts The Counselors and Excitebike, goth band Bella Morte, and rock band Clare Quilty.
Prism Coffeehouse Charlottesville, VA - This cozy, quaint venue has quite a history in Charlottesville. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Emmy Lou Harris were all rumored to have stopped in the coffee house at some point in its 25-year existence. Currently the venue hosts mostly folk and bluegrass acts such as Gillian Welch, Corey Harris, and Allison Krauss. Richmond, VA rising star Regan has held recording sessions at Prism Coffeehouse.
The Jewish Mother Virginia Beach, VA - The above link to the Jewish Mother website currently contains no information on the live music that is played there nightly. The venue has been included here anyway because some very talented acts have played there in the past. Plus it's a neat little place with great food and a huge beer selection. Acts such as Mile Post Nine, Agents of Good Roots, and Gibb Droll have played the venue's stage, and there's even been one or two impromptu appearances by Dave Matthews. The Jewish Mother also hosts karaoke night once a week.
Starr Hill Charlottesville, VA - Starr Hill is a restaurant, a brewery, and a music hall, all in one! A perfect combination for a college town. Starr Hill's music hall is one of the newer music venues in Central Virginia, having opened in 2000. It has enjoyed early success, partially due to TRAX's recent closing but mostly because it is a nice atmosphere for musicians to play and audiences to enjoy shows. It's location in the city's cultural peak, the Downtown Mall, also helps its popularity. The Starr Hill concert hall has seen such local acts as Corey Harris and the Hogwaller Ramblers as well as artists from around the country, such as John Scofield, Robert Earl Keen, and John Mayer.
9:30 Club Washington D.C. - This venue, located in the heart of the nation's capital, first opened its doors in 1996. The original 9:30 Club only held a few hundred people, whereas the newer venue can host up to 1,200. While this makes the shows less intimate than in the venue's golden days, it draws bigger acts from around the country in addition to acts from the local and regional scenes. Also, the newer venue has state-of-the-art acoustics, which have attracted everyone from the Smashing Pumpkins to Tony Bennett. Past shows have included the Charlatans UK, the Stereophonics, Fighting Gravity, Kasey Chambers, Dismemberment Plan, and the Gorillaz.
Alley Katz Richmond, VA - One of Richmond's coolest places to see a show, Alley Katz has been in operation for over six years. The venue is intimate, holding crowds no larger than 400. Almost all Central Virginia bands stop at Alley Katz when touring, including Sparklehorse, Eddy From Ohio, and the Pat McGee Band. Many local bands, such as Agents of Good Roots, have planned weekly gigs in the past. Alley Katz has also seen larger acts such as Sister Hazel, Mike Watt, and The Call.
The Metro Cafe Washington DC - Formerly the punk hangout Dante's, the Metro Cafe reopened as an all-ages, small to medium-sized entertainment venue on Halloween in 1997. The club continues to host live acts (local and national) as well as DJ dance nights, comedy acts, and plays. The varied roster and all-ages aspect bring a diverse crowd to the Metro Cafe on a regular basis. The club capacity is only 200 creating an intimate atmosphere.
Ziggy's & Ziggy's By The Sea Winston Salem, NC & Atlantic Beach, NC - In the beginning, there was just Ziggy's in Winston Salem owned by a string of different Wake Forrest Lambda Chi fraternity brothers throughout the 1980's. During that era of big arena acts, Ziggy's scraped by hosting "tiny" college band types, like The Replacements and REM. When alternative music boomed in the early 90's, Ziggy's moved into a new facility that included more features, for example, a roof and a public address system! Ziggy's now holds up to 750 people and is able to draw larger acts. It is uncertain when the offshoot Ziggy's By The Sea was opened in Atlantic Beach, but the newer venue has been described as "really long" with "tons of room and raised platforms at the sides" and as having "good sound and good lights."
The Attic Greenville, NC - The Attic opened its doors over thirty years ago in September of 1971 and serves the East Carolina University crowd by offering rock'n'roll, blues rock and funk, rhythm & blues, roots rock, and progressive jazz acts--both regional and national. The venue is medium-sized with a capacity of 650. About ten years ago, the Attic also began hosting "Comedy Zone" on Wednesday nights.
Marrz Theater Wilmington, NC - Wilmington's largest music venue, Marrz opened its doors in 2000. The club holds 800 concert-goers and also features a bar and game room. Acts that have played Marrz's stage include Burning Spear, Blessid Union of Souls, and Michael Rose.
The Black Cat Washington D.C. - The Black Cat is the D.C. venue favored by indie rock artists. Opening its doors in 1993, the venue's stage has seen local favorites such as the Dismemberment Plan and Fugazi, national acts such as Mazzy Star and Garbage, and international acts like Belle & Sebastian and Shane MacGowan. Even though the club's concert room capacity is a mere 600, the Black Cat also features the Red Room, a bar where you can hang out without paying a cover charge.
Galaxy Hut Arlington, VA - This small Northern Virginia bar features the best in outsider art, local and national music, food and drinks, and a monthly karaoke night. Artists that have performed at the Galaxy Hut include Sorry About Dresden, Audio Explorations, and Filed Machine.
Velvet Lounge Washington D.C. - Just around the corner from the larger Nightclub 9:30, the more intimate Velvet Lounge features a bar and a narrow performance space upstairs. Bands that have played the Velvet Lounge include Banana Fish Zero, Feckless Beast, & The Meat Joy.
Iota Club & Cafe Arlington, VA - For many, Iota is the favorite place to hear music in the DC Metro area. The club also features a weekly, free open mic night and a monthly poetry series. Acts that have played Iota's stage include Yuma House, Last Train Home, Robbie Fulks, and Jonasay.
Town Point Park Norfolk, VA - Norfolk Festevents, Ltd. is a private, not-for-profit organization contracted by the City of Norfolk to produce and promote special events and festivals on behalf of the City, including the events at Town Point Park. Although it doesn't have a roof, Town Point Park feature hundreds of local, regional and national artists every year. Now in its 20th season, Fest Events continues to provide the area with free or affordable entertainment.
The Evening Muse Charlotte, NC - The Evening Muse brings acoustic music and more to Charlotte's NoDa district: original artwork on the walls, a tapas menu, a great beer selection, and music from some of the finest local and regional talent. The venue also features theatre and poetry, and it partners with other music-related businesses to help grow the Charlotte music scene. The club is small with a capacity of about 100 - 120. Genres of music featured at the Evening Muse include acoustic, alternative, americana, blues, country, folk, jazz, pop, reggae, rock, r&b, singer-songwriter, ska, and more.
Goodfellas Hampton, VA - Goodfellas is primarily a blues bar which features the best in local, regional, and national talent. Past and upcoming performers include Get Big, Ki Theory, Joe Bonamassa, and Scott Varney.
Nation Washington, D.C. - Nation is a live music/club venue with an atmosphere that is as powerful and moving as the music that fills its rooms. Its size alone exceeds any club in the DC area with three levels indoors and the multi level outdoor patio.
Meridian Williamsburg, VA - Meridian coffeehouse is the student run coffeehouse of the College of William and Mary. Those who have two quarters to rub together can come have coffee, bum a cigarette, and share a punk rock conversation during their allotted social time.
The Birchmere Alexandria, VA - Many careers have been launched from this internationally recognized music hall. The Birchmere stage has seen acts such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt. The Birchmere is committed to the presentation of the highest quality music in a comfortable and intimate atmosphere. The Birchmere is a Music Hall, which differs from a regular nightclub in that it is completely seated (except Band Stand), i.e. no standing room or dancing. Also known as a Listening Room, The Birchmere is geared towards artists & fans who prefer a seated, attentive audience.
Jammin Java Vienna, VA - A premier music venue presenting the finest local, regional and nationally touring acts seven nights a week in an intimate, enjoyable setting. Audiences and performers alike enjoy the first-class sound system, lighting, and personal attention. An open-mic night is hosted each Monday.
*Cary Street Cafe Richmond, VA - small music venue that hosts live music seven nights a week, including artists such as The Grove and Abe Reid
All content © LEFT OFF THE DIAL 2001-2005. All rights reserved.