Mapping out downtown's vibe

Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.

Between West Third Street and East Second Street is the core of downtown Gainesville. Within those few blocks, music clubs and venues showcase countless musicians on multiple nights every week for crowds of all ages. Chris Hillman, drummer of hometown heroes Morningbell, says that for a college town, downtown Gainesville contains a cornucopia of culture. “You can catch good live music any night of the week, which is rare for a city the size of Gainesville,” he says.


Restaurants and a piano bar:

A handful of downtown restaurants and a specialty piano bar regularly feature live music as well.

The Jones B-Side: Often brings musicians out to their veranda. In addition to various DJs, acoustic artists like Ricky Kendall and Michael Claytor have played to The Jones' patrons.
Info: The Jones B-Side, 203 SW Second Ave., 371-7999.

101 Downtown Restaurant and Martini Lounge: Features live jazz at 8 p.m. every Wednesday as part of their “Wine Down Wednesdays.” Jazz trumpeter Scott Wilson and band regularly appear.
Info: 101 Downtown, 201 SE Second Ave., 376-4177.

Emiliano's Café: Hosts a jazz and tapas night every Wednesday. Artists like jazz guitarist Karl Weismantel and bassist Ali Che'Ree perform regularly. The café also hosts live shows on select other nights including Mondays and Tuesdays.
Info: Emiliano's Cafe, 7 SE First Ave., 375-7381.

The Lunchbox: Offers outdoor seating on a terrace overlooking Bo Diddley Community Plaza and features live music on Thursdays. Singer/guitarist H.R. Gertner performs with a musical guest each week from 6 to 8 p.m.
Info: The Lunchbox, 104 SE First Ave., 505-6341,

Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar: Features dueling piano shows on Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, with music starting at 8 p.m.
Info: Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar, 112 S. Main St., 505-0042,

Local musician and downtown aficionado Ryan Backman says there is a distinct community contained within. “From a pragmatic end, it's a very densely packed area, so you have a lot of places that want to promote local culture, and all those places are a walk away from each other. It's much easier to organize a sense of local community when you have such a small area with a good amount of people all interested in similar things.”

Here's a look at the clubs and music venues that feature local and touring musical acts on multiple nights of the week:

The Atlantic: Gainesville's premier little club contains more variety in one week than any other venue in town. One night, it's a hip-hop benefit with local group MSRNA, and the next, Denmark punk band Iceage hits the stage. The kitschy art behind the stage and the often bizarre movie playing on mute behind the bar attracts a college-age-and-beyond crowd. As of late, The Atlantic, along with the Backyard and Mars Pub, has become a haven for punk shows. The best nights to visit are Fridays and Saturdays.

Info: The Atlantic, 15 N. Main St.,

Coming up: Saturday at 9 p.m., live hip-hop from PSD, Clif W.E.R.D., The Levitations, False Flag and High Bohemians.

The Backyard at Boca Fiesta: The stage may be painted with pretty red flowers, but the music gracing the stage is hard core. Punk acts like Black Lips, Hunx and His Punx, and locals Post Teens have played this venue, which is owned by former Against Me! drummer Warren Oakes. The crowd here is diverse in age, but many are united by the bonds of big beards and black T-shirts. A new addition, The Funky Dope Hip Hop Revival, which begins at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, features live music from local hip-hop rappers, DJs, breakdancers and freestylers.

Info: Boca Fiesta, 232 SE First St., 336-8226. The best nights to visit are Fridays and Saturdays, though they host shows on select weekdays as well.

Coming up: Saturday at 9 p.m., Sounds of Science, a Beastie Boys tribute, will play a wide range of the latter's catalog; with Young Hookers.

Loosey's: The club put in a new stage last year and since then, the neighborhood pub has become a hub for local music. (And great cheeseburgers.) Acts like Morningbell, Pseudo Kids, The Ones To Blame, The Slims and Whiskey & CO. play to listeners who have passed their ENC 1101 exams long ago. Assistant Manager Marshal Patrick says, “It's a different mindset from the typical Midtown bars or clubs. It's more mature, as lame as that sounds.”

Info: Loosey's, 120 SW First Ave., 672-6465, Folk and bluegrass trio The Adult Boys Thunderband play songs about outer space and LGBT barbecues every Wednesday night.

Coming up: Saturday at 9 p.m., Brewster Baker reunion show with Flatland, and Benny Cannon and Friends

High Dive: Formerly Double Down Live, formerly Common Grounds, this club is where college kids go to rock. Local big shots The Shoddy Beatles play several shows a year here. Because of its large capacity of 400, national touring acts from Gainesville's Less Than Jake to Baltimore's Dan Deacon often visit, and music is featured nearly every night of the week.

Info: High Dive, 210 SW Second Ave. 872-5949,

Coming up: Saturday features Devon Stuart and Big Shoals with Have Gun Will Travel and Company Man starting at 9 p.m.

The Bull: This is the perfect place to bring a date. On Tuesday nights a jazz house band plays, and on Wednesday nights local acoustic savant Ricky Kendall hosts an open mic night. Two Fridays a month, The Bull hosts a Latin music night. Regulars here are graduate students and professors, local musicians and artists.

Info: The Bull, 18 SW First Ave. 672-6266,

Coming up: Every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Jazzology plays live jazz.

Mars Pub: Used to host laser tag, but it reopened in October under new management who place an emphasis on live music. Manager James Barratt says hip-hop, metal, punk and pop-punk bands play in the glow-in-the-dark space of green and black. Future plans for the venue include the addition of workshop and practice space for local musicians. “We're trying to be a place where art happens,” he says.

Info: Mars Pub, 239 W. University Ave., 672-6440, The best nights to visit are Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays.

Coming up: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. features Binary Fest, a celebration of two-piece bands with 14 groups including Rat King and Ancient River playing over the two nights.

Lillian's Music Store: Lillian's opened in 1974, making it the oldest downtown venue. Bands like Fast Lane, Jamocracy and a blues house-band play to a crowd in their 30s and older. Bartender Cassandra Polcaro says, “You come here to just drink a beer and relax. You don't worry about having to be too fancy.” Plus, Lillian's offers free popcorn every day.

Info: Lillian's, 112 SE First St., 372-1010. The best nights to visit are Fridays and Saturdays.

Coming up: Today through Saturday at 9 p.m. Jamocracy performs classic rock and newer hits.

The Civic Media Center: The CMC is known for giving local bands their start, as well as hosting benefit shows for local radio stations, publications and non-profit groups. Nearby gallery space Display hosts shows by both touring acts and lesser-known local acts on a semi-regular basis. Tomis Aycock, caretaker for the space, says what makes shows at Display unique is that it is always BYOB, has no mandatory cover and the bathroom is dangerous. (It's like an art installation of a forest in there.)

Info: Civic Media Center, 433 S. Main St., 352-373-0010,; Display, 439 S. Main St.

Coming up: Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. is the Civic Media Center's 20th Anniversary Block Party

Tall Paul's Brew House: This place has live jazz every Wednesday night and live music every Friday and Saturday night. Jeff Hickey, managing partner at Tall Paul's says, “We do a little of everything — Motown, acoustic, funk, rock. And we get touring acts as often as possible.” He says Tall Paul's patrons are craft beer drinkers and home brewers in their early 20s to mid-30s.

Info: Tall Paul's, 10 SE Second Ave., 505-0990.

Coming up: On Friday and Saturday, the funk band Fast Lane performs at 9 p.m.

Durty Nelly's Irish Pub: Regularly features live music from traditional Irish groups, as well as punk, country and jam bands. With pints of Guinness in hand, patrons ages 25 to 50 sit at little wooden tables facing the raised stage. The antique light fixtures and dark wood interior add classic old-time charm to what manager Adam Wood calls Gainesville's “friendly neighborhood bar.”

Info: Durty Nelly's, 208 W. University Ave., 374-9567, The best nights to visit are Fridays and Saturdays.

Coming up: Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. the folk jam-band Slickwood will perform.

The Wooly: This is Gainesville's oldest and newest event space, according to its event director Gracy Castine. Housed in the Woolworth's Five and Dime building next to the Top, The Wooly (get the name?) opened in the spring of 2013 as a 700-capacity space, and so far it has hosted concerts by such performers as Ricky Kendall, Savants of Soul and Whiskey & CO. The Wooly boasts a custom stage and sound system and 4,400 square feet, making it the perfect space to host national acts this fall.

Info: The Wooly, 20 N. Main St. The best nights to visit are Fridays and Saturdays. Check out the venue's Facebook page,, for event listings.

Coming up: Oct. 11 at 9 p.m., local favorites The Shoddy Beatles perform, and Nov. 5 at 8 p.m., San Francisco garage punks Thee Oh Sees will play their first Gainesville date in years.

The Library: Is the perfect place to curl up in an overstuffed chair with a glass (or bottle) of wine and a date. Every Thursday and Saturday night, the Library hosts live jazz music, and on Friday nights, owner-operator Karry Kreiger books bands from all genres, including classic rock, reggae and punk.

Info: The Library, 112 SW First Ave. The best nights to visit are Thursdays through Saturdays.

Coming up: On Oct. 18, classic-rockers The Shambles perform at 8 p.m.

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