B.B. King’s Blues Club
9101 International Drive, 407-370-4550, bbkingclubs.com
Live music nightly is the hallmark of this massive blues club, which is part of the B.B. King’s chain that has locations in Nashville, Memphis, Las Vegas and West Palm Beach.
Horsepower Bar and Grill
171 S. Orange Ave., 407-985-5814, horsepower-bar-orlando.com
This brand-new to the scene bar located in the heart of downtown offers a menu of soups, sandwiches, wings and salads, as well as a satisfying mix of both craft and macrobrew beers. Thirsty Thursdays feature live acoustic music drink specials, and the space is actively recruiting new bands who want to play a new downtown bar/venue.
Howl at the Moon Saloon
8815 International Drive, 407-354-5999, howlatthemoon.com
Seriously they had us at “Rock N’ Roll Dueling Piano Bar”. This place is custom made for a high-energy, head rocking, drunken free-for-all, and is a nostalgic substitute for the good ol’ days of Pleasure Island binge drinking. If pounding your fist in the air and accidentally knocking an 86-ounce bucket onto a sorority girl’s belly-cropped chambray is your idea of a good time, then grab some friends and carpool your butts on out to I-Drive. Keep your eyes peeled for all of the fresh-faced Disney International program kids out for a good time.
2101 N. Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 407-560-8770, jellyrolls.us
Jellyrolls is not just Howl at the Moon’s dumpier, harder-to-get-at little sister, it also happens to be a great place to retreat to after watching the Epcot fireworks for free at the Boardwalk bridge. The $12 cover charge is a bit much, but for those few who brave the tumbleweeds and buzzards out front, you will find a hidden oasis from the hectic pace of the parks. The drinks are cold, the staff is attentive and the performances are stellar.
CityWalk at Universal Orlando, 407-224-2100, citywalk.com
CityWalk is generally a good place to be on summer weeknights, with plenty of outdoor seating, misting fans and waterspouts built into the pavement for an easy run-through if you’re sweltering. Pat O’Brien’s has arguably the strongest drinks at CityWalk, and the outdoor patio is walled up but open to the night sky, and quiet enough for conversation.
54 N. Orange Ave., 407-246-1419, thesocial.org
Local bands strive to perform on this stage, the one shared with most of the Pitchfork-worthy bands that come through Orlando. It’s a smaller room, which means nine times out of 10, you’re shouting the lyrics shoulder-to-shoulder with similarly impassioned fans. Get there early and snag a table in front of the pit.
Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road, 407-623-3393, stardustie.com
The Stardust main room provides a den that welcomes all the weird ideas its devoted community cooks up in terms of live music performances, original plays, performance art and the Audubon Park Market, where you can catch outdoor shows every Monday.
100 S. Orange Ave. , 407-649-8540
One of the few bars downtown you can depend on for live music every night of the week, Tanqueray’s provides all the funk, jazz and blues you can handle, including a talented crop of locals like Thomas Wynn and the Believers or RJ Harman and Company performing regularly.
Uncle Lou’s Entertainment Hall
1016 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/lous.lmga
There is perhaps no private business in the city that has become a DIY community venue so organically and authentically. Besides the street culture that its barflies provide, the fringe edges of the music scene have also adopted this joint as their clubhouse/incubator. Although known for its punk shows, its day-to-day offerings can be disorientingly diverse. Truly the strangest, most raw cross-section of Orlando’s music underground.
1042 N. Mills Ave., willspub.org
If you are a fan of punk, metal, garage, Americana or all of the above, you need to get down to Will’s Pub. This smoky, grizzled venue is an Orlando tradition and provides stacked lineups, stocks a huge beer selection and is home to the much-loved Southern Fried Sundays.