Neighborhood Dining Guide: Live Music

Great tunes meet great food at these Bay area eateries.

click to enlarge SHINING BRIGHT: Introduction to Sunshine played Antiwarpt II at the Local 662 in St. Petersburg. - Phil Bardi
Phil Bardi
SHINING BRIGHT: Introduction to Sunshine played Antiwarpt II at the Local 662 in St. Petersburg.

Tampa Bay has a rich musical legacy. Jazz greats Nat and Cannonball Adderly called Tampa home; the Manhattan Casino was host to jazz and soul acts like James Brown and Dizzy Gillespie; singer-songwriter John Prine still resides somewhere in Gulfport; Jim Morrison attended classes at St. Petersburg College in his early years; and, finally, Tampa was the birthplace and capital of death metal in the 1980s. The local music scene continues to be written seven days a week at these area locations, where you can listen to the latest while enjoying a sip or a nosh.

ALE AND THE WITCH 111 Second Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-821-2533, Ale and the Witch is a relatively recent home to a diverse offering of live music. Monday nights, local music mistress Jun Bustamante hosts a variety of musicians from experimental to acoustic-couture. The artists are handpicked by Jun, meaning they are the crème de la crème of the local scene. Music is offered other nights as well, depending on the schedule. Sunday often features jazz and blues music.

THE BLUEBERRY PATCH 4923 20th Ave. S, Gulfport, 727-327-4224, The “patch” is Florida’s oldest artist retreat/mecca for all things alternative. There are literally generations of regulars, young and old, that commune at the private/public backyard space. First and Seventh of the month are open-mic nights. The 11th of every month is an open jam session, and a band plays live on the 22nd.

BRASS MUG 14811 N Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-972-8152. Metal called the Brass Mug’s original location home for nearly 30 years. Now that tradition continues in its new home on Florida Avenue. The concert venue and delicious-dingy bar has hosted Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and numerous others. Other notable performances included Green Day and No Doubt, back in the day.

EMERALD BAR 550 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-898-6054. The Emerald is a favorite venue for local shows that crowd the bar’s narrow, hallway-like construction. From filthy punk to soul records, Emerald has seen it all. Last year, Antiwarpt held performances late into the evening at Emerald, including a sizzling shakedown from Le Blorr.

FUBAR 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-424-1809. Dingy, dirty, and fabulous. Fubar is a beautiful dive for debauchery and loud music. Dub-step, hardcore, and loud local licks are Fubar’s main game.

THE GARDEN 217 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-896-3800, Buster Cooper grew up in St. Petersburg, learning jazz music from Gibbs teacher and Jazz great Al Downing. Cooper left town and traveled the world, playing with the likes of Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. The Buster Cooper Trio has played on Friday nights at the Garden since 1995. Cooper, his music, and the Garden form a hunk of delightful local music history that’s not to be missed.

THE HANGAR RESTAURANT AND FLIGHT LOUNGE 540 First St. SE, St. Petersburg, 727-823-7767, Listen to some of the best in local music and gaze over the waterfront airport where the first commercial flight took place. The Hangar features live jazz music Monday-Saturday from 6-9 p.m. and Sunday from 5-8 p.m. Tampa’s The Al Downing Jazz Society calls the Hangar home on the first Monday of every month, sharing their passion for the history and music of jazz.

HIDEAWAY CAFÉ 1756 Central Ave., St Petersburg, 727-644-7895, Tired of people yakking at the bar while you’re trying to hear the band? The Hideaway is an oasis for listeners. No talking, just music and a bar with great beer, wine, and food. Live music Thursday through Sunday.

KA’TIKI 8803 W. Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 727-360-2272, Florida’s saltiest dogs have played regularly for 30 years. There’s live music daily at the classic Florida beach bar. Bluegrass, blues, jam bands, and more all call upon Ka’Tiki as a second home for local music. You won’t find more musically inclined locals at any other location at sunset.

LOCAL 662 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Located on St. Pete's 600 Block, the Local 662 plays host to every genre of music. From electronica to Antiwarpt, the venue focuses on creating a space to hear and see great music.

MANDARIN HIDE 231 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-231-4007, Wednesday night jazz jam runs from 7ish to 11ish. Bassist Glenn Stevenson and pianist Ray Biscoglia hold down the fort with cameos by musicians like Nate Najar and Andrew Foertsch. Mandarin Hide rocks an ultra-classy but casual atmosphere that is unlike anything else downtown. Sundays they also feature live music from local bands like the Beauvilles.

ORPHEUM 1915 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City, 813-248-9500, From metal to indie to hip-hop, the Orpheum has it all. Local and national acts regularly stop by the Orpheum to play a show for adoring crowds. The heavy pour and updated bar make for a great musical experience.

RINGSIDE CAFÉ 2742 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-894-8465, The former boxing ring turned eatery and live music venue offers seven nights a week of live music. Everything from blues, jazz, rock, and bluegrass takes the stage at the historic St. Petersburg venue. The full liquor bar and solid menu aren’t too shabby either.

RUBY’S ELIXIR 15 Third St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-898-7829, The speakeasy and live music bar is open seven days a week with live music almost every night. Wednesday night’s they host Le Jazz Trio from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Plenty of local jazz known and unknowns make appearances at the jam as well.

SKIPPER’S SMOKEHOUSE 910 Skipper Road, Tampa, 813-971-0666, If you’ve never danced to Uncle John’s Band on Thursday nights or eaten Skipper's grouper reuben, you are missing out on some serious Florida-centric fun. Uncle John’s Band has provided jam-bandy goodness every Thursday at 8 p.m. since 1998. Skipper’s has played host to countless concerts over the years, and is the best backyardish venue in town.

VENTURE COMPOUND 2621 Fairfield Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The Venture Compound is as underground as underground gets without being completely off the radar. The warehouse/record store/concert venue features touring artists every Wednesday night.

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