Local Music Sounds Off Across the Valley
Nothing beats live music, but finding a place that does it right can sometimes be a challenge. Fear not, however, as the list below shows, whether your vibe is rock, R&B, jazz or even a touch of country, when a night out on the town calls for a bit of live music, the toughest decision might just be deciding where to go.
BLK Live and The Aqua Lounge
7301 East Butherus Drive, Scottsdale
BLK offers a diverse schedule of live bands and DJs, from classic rock and country to Top 40, hip-hop and rap. On Wednesday evenings, they host live band karaoke, where guests can join the fun by fronting the band.
BLK’s concert hall is spacious enough to accommodate 1,000 guests, yet intimate enough that there is never a bad seat in the house. From inside the hall, a bar opening out onto the sparkling pool with a waterfall reveals the Aqua Lounge, which features a poolside stage for live entertainment and custom cabanas adorned with commissioned paintings of music icons.
Three Valley locations in Scottsdale, central Phoenix and Tempe
Named one of Open Table’s “Top 100 Hot Spots in America for 2017,” this gastropub is known as the “rebel child” of famed local restaurateur Sam Fox’s arsenal of concepts. With three venues currently in the Valley, (with others in Las Vegas and Austin and a sixth slated to open in Tucson this fall), Culinary Dropout is the perfect place to settle into oversized chairs and leather banquettes, order a round of cocktails and pretzel bites, and just hang out as local musicians create the soundtrack for the evening at hand.
The Rebel Lounge
2303 East Indian School Road, Phoenix
Founded as the Mason Jar in 1979, this rock venue has a history that includes legendary acts such as Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Jane’s Addiction, Green Day, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World, Avenged Sevenfold and more.
In 2015, local music promoter Stephen “Psyko Steve” Chilton took over the building and turned it into The Rebel Lounge, with the promise that “the club’s musical heritage will continue to inspire the musical tone of the club, hosting tomorrow’s best musical acts before anyone else.”
Handle Bar J
7116 E. Becker Lane, Scottsdale
A Scottsdale landmark since 1966, the Handlebar J has long been one of the area’s most popular authentically Western destinations. The Handlebar J’s house band for more than 20 years, The Herndon Brothers perform starting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, while live music on the patio begins at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. Tuesdays and Sundays offer a rotating selection of music and entertainment.
The Handlebar J also offers free Arizona two-step lessons at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday. Line dance lessons start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and are $5 per person, which goes directly to the instructor.
6895 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
The Corral Bar first opened back in 1935 as a place to serve workers after a long day building nearby Bartlett Dam. When resident, and character, Harold Gavagan bought the bar and inserted his name into the title in 1950, his marketing vision included stunts like caged lions and tigers, a makeshift swimming pool, Wild West shows and other attractions to try and entice residents up north to Cave Creek.
Today, Harold’s is still a destination for live country music and dancing. They rotate popular local bands such as Mogollon, Crown Kings and Young Country throughout the month, with dance lessons on Fridays before the band takes the stage. Harold’s also hosts the Arizona Blues Project every Thursday as well as an acoustic set from various artists on Sundays.
Desert Ridge Marketplace
21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix
With a $15 million renovation taking place over the summer, Desert Ridge Marketplace in north Phoenix is solidifying itself as the perfect place to bring the entire family for a day of fun and live music throughout the year. With free live music almost every Friday and Saturday, kids can navigate the splash pad while adults grab a bite or even a craft cocktail at one of the many restaurant hot spots throughout the shopping center. It is truly a great place for everyone to relax and enjoy an evening outside in the desert.
The Van Buren
401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix
Perhaps the most exciting news to hit the Valley’s live music scene recently is the announcement of a new venue in downtown Phoenix, The Van Buren. Housed in a building built in 1939 on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Van Buren as the original home of the Phoenix Motor Company auto dealership, the 21,000-square-foot building will be able to accommodate 1,800 concertgoers looking to see some of the best nationally touring artists, as well as a variety of community-focused events.
The Van Buren is scheduled to open its doors by hosting a sold-out concert by Cold War Kids that will benefit Rosie’s House, a local organization that provides free after-school music education.