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10 Live Music Venues in Downtown Akron

Category Arts & Entertainment

Akron has a rich musical heritage, particularly when it comes to jazz. In the middle of the last century, Howard Street, the main business thoroughfare at the time, was a national destination for jazz musicians. Clubs such as the Silver Leaf, Rhythm Bar, and Green Turtle Hotel attracted the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and other legendary artists, and attracted audiences in a way that transcended racial segregation.

The city's jazz scene may not be what it once was, but believe us: it's still alive. Thanks to venues like BLU Jazz+ (you'll read about it below) and the the annual Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival, Akron's jazz scene is experiencing a crescendo. 

Between that, the Akron Sound (did you know Akron was once considered the punk capital of the Midwest?), a new generation of independent artists, and longstanding performance venues that welcome regional and national acts year round, there's always something new to experience with Akron's music scene. 

Read on to discover downtown's best music venues, then check them out for yourself.

1. Musica

Nestled under a glowing red neon “Dance” sign on a brick alley in the Historic Arts District, Musica is a music venue that hosts national artists, local bands, DJs, comedians, and private events. They also put on other unique events like themed dance parties and Vinyl Nite, an opportunity to bring your favorite record to be played along with other attendees’ choices. When there isn’t entertainment on stage, Musica is also a tavern that offers drinks and activities such as cornhole, darts, and board games. Exposed brick walls, a shining disco ball, and mid-century modern lampshades hanging above the bar give this venue an eclectic, welcoming vibe. View upcoming events on Musica’s website

2. Jilly's Music Room

Since 2013, Jilly’s Music Room has been hosting local, regional, and national bands from just about every genre from indie to rock to singer/songwriter. Located in the Northside District, Jilly’s also hosts comedy and other live entertainment. Better come hungry—the venue boasts a full bar, a full-service kitchen that is 100% gluten-free, and table service. They also offer brunch on most weekends from 11 am to 2 pm, often spiced up with live music to boot. With entertainment four nights a week, there’s always fun to be had at Jilly’s Music Room. Check out the events calendar for upcoming shows.

3. Ingy's Piano Bar

Ingy’s Piano Bar is attached to Tear-EZ, downtown’s oldest gay bar, at 360 S. Main St., and is exclusively open from 6 to 10 pm on Sunday evenings, when it is filled with laughter, love, and song. For more than 20 years, friends old and new have been coming together from near and far to sing during live piano karaoke night. The concept originated with Deborah “Ingy” Ingersoll, who could be found behind the piano every Sunday, creating a welcoming and safe space for those who needed it until she passed away in 2017. Now, her legacy lives on as the community continues to come together every weekend to sing fun tunes in good company. Whether you’d like to sing for yourself or simply want to sit back and enjoy the music, Ingy’s is a lovely place to spend a Sunday night.

4. Akron Civic Theatre

Built in 1929, the Akron Civic Theatre is a stunning performance art theater and live music venue designed after a Moorish castle. The downtown theater features Mediterranean décor, medieval carvings, authentic European antiques, and Italian alabaster sculptures, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere. But perhaps the most captivating feature of this one-of-a-kind theater is the twinkling star-lit sky and moving projected clouds that blanket the auditorium ceiling, making theatergoers feel like they are watching a show under the stars. This experience is truly unique, as the Civic Theatre is one of only five remaining atmospheric theaters in the country. 

Over the years, Akron Civic Theatre has hosted a wide variety of entertainment, everything from musicals to ballets to children’s shows to concerts. The Civic’s stage has been graced by artists like John Mellencamp, Alice Cooper, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chrissie Hynde, and The Black Keys, to name a few. Visit the Akron Civic Theatre’s website to view upcoming shows and experience the magic of the theater for yourself.

5. Knight Stage

Next to the Civic Theatre in the historic Whitelaw building is the Knight Stage, a more intimate venue that has traditional rows of chairs as well as high-top tables in the back and on the balcony level. The performance and event space has a 220+ audience capacity and provides space for even more entertainment, including local musicians, comedians, musicals, and immersive events. The Knight Stage is also home to the Millennial Theatre Project, which has staged productions like The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray, and more. Stay up to date on future performances by checking out the Akron Civic Theatre’s Facebook.

6. BLU Jazz+

Located in the Hermes building in the Akron Historic Arts District, BLU Jazz+ is a beautiful live music venue and photo gallery that was designed specifically for the presentation of live jazz performances. The space is intimate and reminiscent of a New York City jazz club but has its own distinctive character and relaxing, cozy atmosphere aided by its exposed brick walls and atmospheric lighting. Visit BLU Jazz+ and enjoy a full-service bar with signature cocktails, jazz photography and memorabilia, and of course, top-notch jazz musicians. View their upcoming shows on their website.

7. Baxter's Speakeasy

Baxter’s Speakeasy originated in Los Angeles and is now a downtown Akron staple, serving as a multi-use collaborative space for artists, musicians, activists, and patrons to explore their passions, spend time in good company, sip on quality cocktails that look and taste like works of art, and experience live entertainment. Baxter’s hosts a wide array of events—monthly Zodiac parties, art exhibitions, drag shows, burlesque, comedy confessionals, salsa nights, and of course, live performances by local bands. They even host the occasional open mic night.

The speakeasy opened in 2021 and is affectionately referred to as the kitschiest place in town, and a queer disco-tech for all. Stop into Baxter’s Tuesday through Sunday to experience it yourself.

8. Lock 3

Every summer, the park at Lock 3 is home to a dynamic variety of outdoor entertainment for Akronites of all ages (yes, even now, while it undergoes renovations). Bring a lawn chair and grab a drink for a concert under the stars by tribute bands, rappers, jazz musicians, and more. Or bring the family for themed movie nights and enjoy snacks from the concession stand. Check out their calendar to see upcoming shows and events.

9. EarthQuaker Devices Busking Station

The EarthQuaker Devices Busking Station is a pop-up outdoor performance kit that includes a custom-made cabinet on wheels, a stool, chalkboard sign, and a rechargeable, battery-powered amplifier complete with four EarthQuaker Devices effects pedals. Musicians of any genre can borrow the busking setup for free Tuesday through Sunday at the Northside Green to play for shoppers, restaurant-goers, and anyone who wants to listen to great music and enjoy the fresh air. Watch a musician’s whole set on one of the beautiful wood benches nearby. Interested in borrowing the busking station? Visit the shared checkout desk at the entrance of the Northside Marketplace.

10. Interbelt Nite Club

Located in the former Ritz Theatre, which operated from 1949 to 1955, the Interbelt has been around since 1988, providing people a place to express themselves, dance, enjoy a variety of shows, and simply exist. While live bands may be rare, DJs perform plentifully. The Interbelt is also home to live drag shows, hip-hop nights, ladies nights, and Latin nights every week. Visit for yourself at 70 N. Howard St.

See our updated traffic advisories and parking information to navigate and park downtown with ease.

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