Boston’s best live music venues

by Alan Maltzman on March 17, 2010

Boston's House of Blues

Boston is a great live music town. Even in the dead of winter, music can be found permeating throughout the city. Here are some of the larger venues that normally have live musicians throughout the year.

Boston’s House of Blues (15 Lansdowne Street) recently reopened after a long absence. Of course, the specialty is blues, but you can also hear rock, gospel, and other musical genres as well. Lots of big-name entertainers star here, so you’ll want to book tickets in advance. The one downside is that most of the venue is standing only.

Club Passim (47 Palmer Street, Cambridge), known as Club 47 in the 1960’s and ’70’s, is well known for its folk music affiliation. The small club has intimate seating,  vegetarian fare, coffee, and beer.

Johnnie D’s (17 Holland Street, Somerville) serves up a wide variety of musical genres, but most lean towards rock and blues. It’s one of the more eclectic venues in the exciting Davis Square Area.

For Jazz, there are two larger clubs. Ryles Jazz Club’s second floor houses Ryles Dance Hall, where you can experience dancing ranging from “hot” salsa and meringue to sophisticated ballroom to upbeat swing (212 Hampshire Street, Cambridge). Scullers Jazz Club has presented the biggest names in straight ahead, Latin, and contemporary jazz, as well as blues, soul, R&B, cabaret, and world music. It was voted “Boston’s #1 Jazz Club” by Boston Magazine (400 Soldiers Field Road).

The most interesting venue from an architectural standpoint is Harvard University’s Sanders Theater, which presents a wide variety of musical styles in one of Boston’s (or should I say one of Cambridge’s) most memorable buildings (45 Quincy Street, Cambridge).

Finally, the largest venue is TD Garden, where the Boston Bruins and Celtics play. When the parquet floor or ice is not in place, this is where the biggest name stars perform to a rocking house of 19,600 seats. (Causeway Street)

Bear in mind that there are many other great music venues in the city as well, ranging from small Irish pubs to dance clubs hosting the latest local groups. To check specifics, look through one of the many fine free entertainment newspapers available in dispensers on the streets of Boston.

- Alan Maltzman of BostonCityWalks.com

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