Jacksonville is the birthplace of many a famous band, from Southern Rock heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and 38 Special to modern acts like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Limp Bizkit, Yellowcard & Shinedown. Other notable musicians have roots here, too, like country superstar Tim McGraw and blues legend Ray Charles.
Thanks to a broad musical history and a curiously talented population, the live music scene in Jacksonville continues to gain momentum and produce new artists. It helps that there are dozens of dark dive bars, open-air establishments, cute cafés and monthly events like Downtown’s ArtWalk to support every imaginable genre of musical talent. On any given night, Jacksonville’s venues teem with both recognizable national acts and current local favourites like rock outfit Master Radical and ska powerhouse Chieforia. Take a listen to our Jacksonville playlist and peruse our pick of the city’s best live music venues for a taste of what to expect.
1904 Music Hall
The building that houses 1904 Music Hall is more than 100 years old, with restored columns and industrial-looking wood-beamed ceilings accompanying an impressive, modern sound system. A graffiti-covered courtyard offers a view of the skyline, and the line-up is always memorable. It’s one of Downtown’s best bets for live jams.
19 Ocean Street
Just up the street from 1904 is the smoky dive, Burro Bar. Skinny jeans and handlebar moustache aren’t required for entry, though there is a decidedly hipster feel to the joint. A rotating craft beer selection with a hopping happy hour, combined with pool tables, a few arcade games and an interesting Mexican vibe make this Downtown dive a fun place to catch a touring band.
100 East Adams Street
Situated in historic and diverse Five Points in the Riverside neighbourhood, Rain Dogs would be right at home in New York’s West Village. You’re likely to experience a wide variety of music at this bar-slash-café-slash-library, from funk to soul to spoken word. Folks flock to Rain Dogs for its laidback and welcoming “living room” vibe, and the owners’ focus on art – both musical and visual – has cemented this relatively new spot as a Jacksonville favourite.
1045 Park Street
This quirky venue attracts an eclectic, indie clientele and all manner of artists, from jazz musicians to bluegrass strummers to fire dancers. Homey furniture, exposed beams and a tasty menu of small bites complete the experience at Underbelly. Like the majority of Jax’s best music hotspots, the beer selection is notable.
113 East Bay Street
Though it’s one of Jacksonville’s most intimate (read: tiny) music halls, it’s a favourite of local bands and their dedicated fans. The recently updated bar offers a decent variety of beers and ciders, both on tap and by the bottle. Seating is quite limited, so arrive early or plan to rock out in the pit. On a packed night, Jack Rabbit’s offers a contagious energy you can’t find at a larger venue.
1528 Hendricks Avenue
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Have you visited any of these Jacksonville music spots? Where do you go to listen to live music when you’re in town? Share your thoughts with us below.
Written by Angie Orth