How do you like your live music? Orchestrated inside a modern music hall? Played in the open-air? Presented in an intimate, maybe even historic, space? St. Pete/Clearwater offers concert venues like these – and more – to add a musical interlude to your visit. And that applies whether you’re into the symphony, Broadway productions, local bands or touring musicians.
Music Venues in Clearwater: Local Favorites Including Ruth Eckerd Hall
For a big night out, check who’s headlining at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall. The contemporary venue balances its formality with personality – just fewer than 2,200 seats create a polished setting to hear legends and modern musicians from Ringo Starr to Eddie Vedder up close.
For more intimacy – and history – head downtown Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre. Dating to 1921, the former movie house and Vaudeville venue retains its classic Hollywood ambience thanks to a thorough restoration. A cozy capacity of 475 ensures an intimate concert experience.
Continue toward the waterfront and Coachman Park, Clearwater’s go-to outdoor concert venue. The park hosts several music festivals year ’round, though it’s perhaps best known for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, scheduled annually in mid-October.
St. Petersburg Entertainment: Downtown Venue Redux
Makeovers have recently headlined two of St. Pete’s signature live music venues, starting with the 2010 revival of Jannus Landing as Jannus Live. All the venue’s best-loved features remain, including its genre-bending line-up and cozy courtyard location concealed within a block of buildings downtown. Some elements have improved – namely, bar service and a refurbished balcony. There’s nothing like seeing a local or touring act beneath the stars here.
Redux number two occurred just in time for the Duke Energy Center for the Arts - Mahaffey Theater’s 2011/2012 season. Relax on the remodeled theater’s outdoor plaza overlooking Tampa Bay and downtown’s new Dalí Museum before your show, which could be anything from a Broadway musical to the Florida Orchestra or a touring artist like Cee Lo Green.
Not everything has changed downtown, and that’s good news, too. You can still hear global sounds, the St. Petersburg Opera and styles including jazz and blues at the pocket-sized Palladium Theater (circa 1925), or watch local and national bands of all styles rock out at the historic State Theatre.
A more intimate, but still classic, St. Pete venue is the Ringside Cafe. Located about 10 minutes north of downtown in a historic 1912 building, once used as an apartment house and later as an amateur boxing center (hence the name), the Ringside Cafe serves up rock and blues acts seven nights a week in a laid-back atmosphere that promises "great food, great music and great drinks."
Intimate, Unexpected Venues in Dunedin and Tarpon Springs
Dunedin Brewery claims to be Florida’s oldest craft brewery. But pop in for a small-batch beer or a brewery tour, and you might get a musical bonus: Tuesdays bring a drum circle; Wednesdays, an open jam; Thursdays through Saturdays, concerts attract local, regional and national talent.
Along the Pinellas Trail in Tarpon Springs, cyclists coast into the Neptune Lounge & Cyclery – by day, for repairs or accessories; by night, for live music and a cold beer or glass of wine. When the Cyclery closes, the Lounge opens, featuring original music by local bands three to four nights a week.
Perk: In small-scale venues like these, of which there are many more throughout the St. Pete/Clearwater area, you can order a drink and grab a seat within a few feet of the stage.