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Where the Music Is: 12 Great Live Venues

The Music Issue


There are dozens of live music venues in WNY. Some clubs, however, have gone beyond simply having bands play. We’re talking about the clubs who have made a serious investment in a house PA system, lighting and a building stage that is well placed for everyone in the room to enjoy the music. Artvoice selected a few of these clubs to highlight. We confess there are some very good venues missing from this list that we didn’t include, like The Cove, CPG, Babeville, the 9th Ward, Macaroon’s and a couple more. We simply ran out of time and space. That’s one of the handicaps of newspaper publishing. Nevertheless, our goal is to familiarize our readers with any live venue they may not have been to and entice them to go give it a try. Happy nightclubbing!

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Maple Entertainment Complex 4224 Maple Rd, Amherst 716-831-3271 | mapleentertainment.com

Maple Entertainment Complex includes three rooms: The Forum, a large room featuring national and very good local acts; Iris for more intimate shows; the Library, where you’ll find trivia nights, karaoke and open mic nights. The Library also has a great selection of about 50 beers. You can order food in any of the Maple’s clubs.

Nietzsche’s 248 Allen St, Buffalo 716-886-8539 | nietzsches.com

Nietzsche’s is hands down the Buffalo’s most interesting music club. Located in Allentown, it’s the quintessential neighborhood bar loaded with the city’s most colorful characters. It also the most dedicated music club in the city with close to 30 years of live music seven days a week. The bands that grace the Nietzsche’s stage feature national touring acts and hundreds of local bands and the music could be anything from Americana to rock, reggae, jazz, experimental, punk and so on. If you haven’t experienced Nietzsche’s you can’t say you really know what Buffalo’s about.

DBGB’s 253 Allen St, Buffalo 716-240-9359 | dukesbohemiangrovebar.com

Duke’s is loosely inspired by Wetlands Preserve, a nightclub that provided a home for nightlife in the Tribeca neighborhood of NYC for jam bands like Phish, Dave Matthews, and Spin Doctors. Like Wetlands, Duke’s maintains a perfect balance between live music and deejays and programs seven days a week. The music at Duke’s is far more varied then Wetlands, with rock, jazz, reggae, hip hop, Americana and of course jam bands. The one thing Duke’s has that Wetlands never did is some of the most delicious food in the city. At dinner hour, a quietly kept secret is that Duke’s is one of the city’s most unlikely but one of the best gourmet dining establishments in town. They also have a late night menu until available till 3am.

Howdy’s 8166 Main St, Williamsville 716-907-1559 | howdysbuffalo.com

If you’ve ever been to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry or if you’re a fan of John Travolta’s movie Urban Cowboy, you will love Howdy’s “Buffalo’s original Honky Tonk” nightclub. The club brings in bands that kick-ass the way only country musicians can. To make the point of where they’re coming from the stage is a good replica of the Grand Ole Opry’s stage. They also feature blues on Wednesdays and on Thursdays you’ll find a club full of gals (and a few men) in cowboy boots line dancing to a live band and/or deejay.

Town Ballroom 681 Main St, Buffalo 716-852-3900 | townballroom.com

When veteran promoter Artie Kwitchoff decided to open a music club he wasn’t going to be small about it. Having just left Live Nation, as well as years as a partner in Funtime Presents, Kwitchoff had all the connections to bring in the big acts and the knowledge to pick the ones everybody was buzzing about. The room is by far the largest in Buffalo and has stage, lights and sound that would probably satisfy Led Zepplin. You won’t find a better concert room in New York state in terms of sight lines, sound, ambience and programming unless you go all the way to NYC to see a show…and even then, the Town is still better.

Tudor Lounge 335 Franklin St, Buffalo 716-855-9643

We always thought that after nearly 30 years in business that Nietzsche’s was the longest running club in Buffalo. It turns out the Tudor Lounge has been running for 60 years. Wow! The current owner, Frank Pandolfino, is the third generation of his family to run the club that was opened by his grandfather in the 1950s. This is great funky nightclub with a stage close to the bar that creates an intimacy not found elsewhere. They feature some awesome blues and a variety of other music and have one of the city’s most popular karaoke nights every Friday. There is a review and Yelp.com that sums up the Tudor Lounge perfectly “leathered locals and working class blues…exactly perfect for Buffalo. This is the most real bar in downtown…it’s rusty.”

The Tralf 622 Main St, Buffalo 716-852-2860 | tralfmusichall.com

The Tralf, which began as a little jazz club on Main & Fillmore in 1975 and moved in 1982 to its present location, has evolved into a premier concert club with fabulous stage, sound and lighting. A number of people have run the club over the years and it is now owned by promoter Tom Barone of E.S.I. Artists. Each successive owner made improvements to enhance the music audience experience and after 32 years at its downtown location Barone has finally brought it to perfection. You’ll find a wide variety of excellent indie bands, R&B, rock and other music on the Tralf calendar. They also serve decent food and with plenty of table seating you can enjoy the music and nourish yourself, too.

Sportsmen’s Tavern 326 Amherst St, Buffalo 716-874-7734 | sportsmenstavern.com

What began as an unassuming neighborhood bar in Black Rock featuring live music on a cramped stage, has exploded into one of the most exciting music venues in all of western New York. By removing half of the second floor and reconfiguring the layout to include an upstairs bar and wrap-around balcony with excellent sight lines and sound system and a bigger stage, the Sportsmen’s features live music seven days a week. The best local bands and big name national acts can be enjoyed in an intimate atmosphere, while enjoying great food and friendly hospitality. Be sure to check out their lunchtime shows on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for a unique weekday live music experience.

Buffalo Iron works 49 Illinois St, Buffalo 716-200-1893 | buffaloironworks.com

Located in the Cobblestone District directly behind First Niagara Arena, the newly opened Buffalo Iron Works set out to be more than simply a place to grab a beer on a Sabres hockey night. They built a good size stage, installed a kick-ass house PA system and started an aggressive live music adventure. They began with local bands but with the help of promoter Dave Taylor, they’re now bringing a load of national acts, most recently English Beat, Rusted Root and the legendary Leon Russell. There’s a lot more to come. You can also grab some food there…and, of course, you can still enjoy a beer on a Sabres hockey night.

Dinosaur BBQ 301 Franklin St, Buffalo 716-880-1677 | dinosaurbarbque.com

Dinosaur BBQ may be the new kid on the block but they’re proving to be very serious about live music. Shortly after opening they began live music on Fridays and Saturdays with a BOSE in-house PA system, lights and a stage right at the end of the bar. But weekends only music proved to be not enough for the hungry Dinosaur. They now have music every Wed., Thurs., Fri. & Sat. The sound is great and the line up is a busy mix of the best local music available, plus out-of-town acts. Dinosaur also offers the best BBQ you’ll find anywhere. We highly recommend BBQ Brisket and the ribs, good beer selection, too.

Broadway Joe’s 3051 Main St, Buffalo 716-837-3650

Broadway Joe’s on Main Street near UB’s south campus has been hosting live music for years, however, gone are the days of endless jam bands playing to underage kids. Broadway Joe’s under the ownership of Brian Parker, the club is a serious rock club now and features high-energy bands that will blow the froth off your beer if you get too close. Excitement is the key word to the music the club wants on its stage.

Armor Inn Tap Room 5381 Abbott Rd, Hamburg 716-202-1315 | armorinn.com

Located on Abbott Rd. in Hamburg, the Armor Inn is one of the largest and homiest live music venues in the area. With a stage perfectly located for seeing music either from the bar or the dining tables, the Armor Inn offers a great mix of the area’s best blues bands, like Mick Hayes and Tommy Z, country bands and a variety of rock bands. The menu is extensive and ambiance can’t be beat.

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