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Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie: Checking Out Atlanta’s Music Scene

29th Mar 2013

Nashville and country music. Memphis and blues. New Orleans and jazz. Some cities are synonymous with a particular style of music, not only serving as the birthplace of that style but as the place to find the genre’s best established and up-and-coming artists.

Atlanta is no different. Once the capital of country music, thanks to artists like Fiddlin’ John Carson who brought their Appalachian-style music when they came to the city to work in the cotton mills, today Atlanta is the center of hip-hop and R & B music in the U.S.

That doesn’t mean you’ll only find those styles of music in the venues and clubs of Hotlanta. After all, a city that’s brought the world such diverse acts as TLC, Jermaine Dupree, Cee Lo Green, the Indigo Girls, Alan Jackson, the Zac Brown Band, Collective Soul and Third Day is bound to have a varied and vibrant music scene. Atlanta doesn’t disappoint. On any given night, you can catch a performance by anyone from a major marquee name (like Pink recently) to a local garage band.

The Venue Is as Important as the Act

There’s definitely great music in Atlanta, but where you see your favorite acts perform is almost as important as who you see. The city is home to dozens of clubs and music venues, making it not hard to find things to do in Atlanta — especially when you’re in the mood for live music. Whether your taste runs to the latest pop hits or something more eclectic, you’ll find it at one of these clubs:

The Tabernacle. Housed in a former church, The Tabernacle is by all accounts Atlanta’s favourite performance venue. Complete with stained glass windows and soaring ceilings, the acoustics in this historic building make it the ideal spot for seeing new and exciting bands as well as old favorites. The Tabernacle is the place to see rock acts; recent performances at this venue include the Black Crowes and Soundgarden.

The Masquerade. With three levels called Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, this club housed in a former mill is where you’ll find hard rock and alternative bands raising the rafters every night. Opened in 1989, the Masquerade has built a reputation as the place in Atlanta to hear exciting new acts.

Peachtree Tavern. Voted one of the best places to see live music in Atlanta, the Peachtree Tavern hosts local music acts most nights of the week, mostly rock or country bands, although you’ll find the occasional hip-hop, R & B or dance act on the roster. The atmosphere is casual and laidback.

Apache Café. For an eclectic mix of acts ranging from hip-hop and soul to funk and jazz, the Apache Café is where it’s at. On any given night, you’ll find an up-and-coming local act performing on the stage of this funky club, where you’ll enjoy Latin and Caribbean fusion fare, and local artwork. The Apache Café has been rated as one of the best places in Atlanta to hear urban and local music, as well as spoken word poetry.

Blind Willie’s. Blues aficionados will appreciate Blind Willie’s, one of the most legendary blues clubs in the country. Six nights a week, Atlantans head to this dark and crowded club to enjoy food inspired by Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans while hearing some of the best blues music.

These are some of the dozens of clubs and venues you’ll find in Atlanta. You never know when the act you’re seeing on a small stage will be the next big thing, so keep an open mind when checking out Atlanta’s music scene — that group of scruffy college kids or rapper with swagger could produce the song blaring from your speakers next summer or takes home a Grammy. Then, you can say you were there from the start.

Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons

About the Author: A diehard country music fan, Liz Culberson tries to catch a live performance every weekend in her hometown of Atlanta. She covers the music scene for a local blog.

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