N orth Carolina is known for a rich musical history, having birthed world renowned musicians such as Nina Simone, Earl Scruggs, John Coltrane and – more recently – Charlotte’s Anthony Hamilton and Concord’s the Avett Brothers.
No matter what your taste, you can usually find live music to suit you. Here are our suggestions for the best small to mid-sized venues for various genres.
Snug Harbor’s weekly Monday night Knocturnal series is where you’ll find the best in critically acclaimed, underground hip-hop, from buzzing up-and-comers and established veterans. The night starts with b boys and girls breakdancing as host Justin Aswell spins an eclectic mix. Past performers have included Oddisee, Homeboy Sandman and Supastition. 1228 Gordon St., www.snugrock.com.
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There’s no dedicated jazz club, but fans have made the Jazz Room monthly concert series at Stage Door Theater and Ziad Quartet’s first Friday concert series at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art both so popular that a second show was added each night. Stage Door: Fifth and College streets, www.blumenthalarts.org; Bechtler: 420 S. Tryon St., www.bechtler.org.
Also: September’s annual Sunset Jazz Festival is at SouthPark’s Symphony Park ( www.sunsetjazzfest.prideawards.net).
Metal and its close-knit cousins – punk, hardcore, industrial and stoner rock – have long called Tremont Music Hall home. Although the South End venue branches out into other genres, its bread and butter is owner John Hayes’ favored hard rock and heavy metal, from veterans such as Accept and Anthrax and juggalo-friendly Twitztid, and homegrown events such as the Punk Rock Picnic. 400 W. Tremont Ave., www.tremontmusichall.com.
Charlotte’s 45-year-old Milestone Club, which famously hosted R.E.M. and Nirvana before they were stars, is still the place to find up-and-comers. It specializes in local and national fringe folk, experimental, electronic and punk and metal acts. Dum Dum Girls, Lee Bains & the Glory Fires, V.V. Brown, and Hunter Valentine have all been on the Milestone stage. 3400 Tuckaseegee Road, www.themilestoneclub.com.
If you’re looking for the straight-ahead, all-American rock of Hinder and Chevelle, mainstream modern rock like Cage the Elephant and Neon Trees or big acts Jack White and Smashing Pumpkins doing club tours, Amos’ Southend (capacity: 1,200) and the Fillmore Charlotte (2,000) rarely disappoint. Amos’: 1423 S. Tryon St., www.amossouthend.com; Fillmore: 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., www.livenation.com.
The Double Door Inn near CPCC has been Charlotte’s home of the blues for 41 years – it says so right on the sign. Stevie Ray Vaughan played there. Eric Clapton dropped by once. Although the venue often hosts buzzing Americana acts, funk and jam, it’s artists like Daniela Cotton, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Chris Duarte that have made this spot a haven for blues (and R&B and soul). 1218 Charlottetown Ave. www.doubledoorinn.com.
If you really want to listen to the words, there’s no better room than NoDa’s intimate Evening Muse, which hosts local and national folk artists and established songwriters nightly. It takes little more than 100 people to fill the space when Nicole Atkins, Eliot Bronson or Nora Jane Struthers are in town, but it offers listeners a chance to see acts at their most raw and intimate. 3227 N. Davidson St., www.eveningmuse.com.
In an area with rich roots in bluegrass, country and blues, it’s a cinch to find Americana. The Double Door and Evening Muse host their share, but the diverse and cozy Visulite Theatre is a slightly larger, three-tiered space with vintage style that hosts national acts that frequent the jam and festival circuit, locals that draw well, and famous frontmen like the Pixies’ Black Francis and the Melvins’ Buzz Osborne going solo. 1615 Elizabeth Ave., www.visulite.com.
For bigger acts – like Todd Rundgren, Steve Earle and Todd Snider, as well as buzz bands St. Paul and the Broken Bones – check out Neighborhood Theatre. 511 E. 36th St., www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.
Also of note is the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s seasonal concert series and numerous festivals. The River Jam series features live music for free every Thursday and Saturday from May to September, while its festivals boast big names like Bruce Hornsby and moe. 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, www.usnwc.org.
Coyote Joe’s – basically a massive line-dance bar – is the Double Deuce from “Roadhouse” come to life. (There’s even a mechanical bull.) House band Out of the Blue pumps country and Top 40 before Nashville’s next big things take the stage. Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley played there on the way to headlining arenas, and Kip Moore and the Eli Young Band will do so later in 2014. 4621 Wilkinson Blvd., www.coyote-joes.com.
The grab bag
The Chop Shop in NoDa hasn’t really established a stylistic identity, but hosts a number of small festivals and name artists in various genres. The schedule runs the gamut from metal to R&B to country to reggae. It also hosts touring DJs and theme nights. Whatever the focus, there’s always a willingness to experiment and take risks with style as the venue establishes its niche. 399 E. 35th St., www.chopshopnoda.com.