Best Bars: Tune In

Great rooms for live music
Live Music All-Stars
The Parkview Nite Club // Like an M&M: Hard on the outside and sweet (to your ears and taste buds) on the inside. 1261 W. 58th St., Cleveland, 216-961-1341,

Grog Shop // Late nights, loud amps, and the best national indie-rock acts. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588,

Beachland Ballroom & Tavern // Two rooms, a retro-cool tavern and retro-Croatian ballroom, fit all moods, from garage rock to singer-songwriter twang. 15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland, 216-383-1124,

Nighttown // A sophisticated jazz and supper club with poster art hung salon-style. For the Dublin gentleman in you. 12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-795-0550,

Fat Fish Blue // The Crescent City’s Cleveland embassy: Creole cooking and Louisiana brews. But the music is electrified-via-Chicago blues. 21 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, 216-875-6000,
Brothers Lounge
Enter through the pub. Keep walking. Let the regulars have their bar — the real appeal of Brothers Lounge is the pair of stages that host musicians on a nightly basis. The roster relies less on rock and pop than on showcasing great music, period. A 16-piece jazz orchestra owns the Music Hall stage every Monday while inside the Wine Bar local favorites including Betsy Marshall and Moss Stanley play regular gigs on the grand piano. Rockers get their time in the spotlight too, of course. The venue stays true to its ’60s heyday when stars such as B.B. King and Robert Lockwood took the stage before it was shuttered in 2002. “[It] was a Cleveland legend that was beaten into the ground,” says owner Christian Riemenschneider. “I thought that we could resurrect it.” With memories of watching shows (and drumming in a few himself) at Brothers in decades past, it only took a sheriff’s auction to pique his interest. The dilapidated building languished under a crumbling roof, a foot of water and swooping birds that had nested in the rafters. Four years, a willing partner and a million-dollar renovation later, Brothers Lounge is back, offering musical nostalgia to returning fans and a venue for a new generation of Clevelanders to jam on.
   = $3  = $4.50

House of Swing
You might have to dodge a trombone and a stand-up bass to get to the bathroom at the House of Swing. The bar’s so small, and the bands that play there so big, that the trombonist’s slide might poke you on the low notes. Whatever you do, don’t knock Lou Kallie’s ashes off the wall. That’s the bar’s founder, a jazz drummer who died in 1995 at age 67, in the cherry urn. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kallie’s son, Harry, steps in as the DJ, choosing from his dad’s vinyl collection: 15,000 albums in the back room, mostly early jazz, big band and bebop. History covers every inch of wall and ceiling with memorabilia including vintage bumper stickers above the bar (“Exciting Barons hockey action,” “Metzenbaum, Democrat”) and framed sketches of swing-era band leaders Gene Krupa and Tommy Dorsey. The Reid Project hosts a Thursday open musicians’ jam, ranging from funk to jazz to blues to (if you’re lucky) sometime-singer Butterscotch’s saucy vocals. Regular Friday and Saturday bands include Blue Lunch, an eight-piece blues and swing band that can warm up a cold North Coast night with their swoony, boozy, New Orleans-y number, “Cleveland, Ohio Blues.” 4490 Mayfield Road, South Euclid, 216-382-2771, 
 = $3  = $4

You’ll probably have a tough time finding Musica the first time you visit. Tucked away at the end of an alley, the live music club is a tiny part of the arts district spanning 16 historic buildings at the intersection of Akron’s Market and Main streets. But the way owner Tony Troppe talks about it, the 500-capacity club has been one of the block’s biggest draws since opening in 2006. “The idea was: let’s create a little music venue a la Austin, [Texas,] with a big glass garage door that opens up into a cool indoor/outdoor space,” Troppe recalls. “It was the one element that was the spark.” And though concert clubs are often synonymous with grit and decay, Musica is different. Troppe’s Historic District Management owns most of the properties in the neighborhood, and he’s taken care to create a clean, inviting and “acoustically correct” space. The intimate club, which hosts up to 200 local and national acts a year, erases the line between band and fan. There’s no curtain in front of the stage and no backstage area of which to speak. Everyone’s packed together in one big live-music sandwich, and Troppe, the club’s self-proclaimed impresario, has been known to hop on stage at the start of some nights to remind his captive audience that the arts district his club calls home is something special. “I want to impress on people that something significant here is happening around the arts,” he says. “This isn’t your grandma’s Akron.” 51 E. Market St., Akron, 330-374-1114,
 = $3  = $4

House of Blues

The House of Blues is Cleveland’s Daddy Warbucks: It’s smart, loaded and it just wants us to be happy. One of 13 Houses throughout the country fanatically focused on the partnership of music and art, Cleveland’s outpost features terrazzo floors salvaged from the building before it was renovated. Outsider art (created by untrained folk artists) jumbles across the walls and every available surface — think of it as the loudest, hippest museum you’ve ever visited. But it’s all a beautiful background to the piece de resistance: the musical acts, almost 200 of them each year that mainly feature the season’s hottest national tours. A sound system custom-built for the rehabbed space cocoons the music into the concert hall while the open main floor and plenty of reserved mezzanine seating in the balcony indulge concertgoers with nary a bad viewing spot in the house. So whether it’s a national act, such as B.B. King or David Cook, or one with a Cleveland connection, from Kid Cudi to Michael Stanley and Chimaira, the show you hear will feature the best sound you could imagine. And in a venue that does it all for our love of music. 308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-523-2583,
   = $4  = $6.50 

Going Out Guide

 serves food; kitchen closes before midnight
 serves food; kitchen open after midnight
 singles spot
 live music regularly
  average cost of a beer
 average cost of a cocktail
Share this story: