Good Places to See Shows

One of the best things—to me, at least—about being a music fan is getting to see the bands I like live. It’s getting easier as I have more access to a car (or a ride). I try to go to McGuire’s whenever they have somebody on stage, because it’s usually my type of music, and anyway, I like it there. They always have the information up on their website.

Sometimes they’ll have somebody cool playing at the Vinyl Music Club. The Vinyl is nice but the sound is intense, so I try to at least bring cotton to stuff in my ears. Also, it’s usually a standing-room-only situation, so keep that in mind if you go. Some of the shows can get…well, rowdy, and can get uncomfortable–especially for small girls like me. Anyway, there are some pretty surprising bands who play there, and because it is small, it is pretty awesome to see them there. I got to see the Old 97s there once, and that was really amazing. Their website is pretty informative, so check it out if you’re in the area!

Then there’s Seville Quarter, which I tend to avoid. Nothing against that place, I have friends who love it there, but I just feel like it tries to appeal to waaaay too many people. There’s a hip-hop room, and there’s dueling pianos and all kinds of other stuff. Think of the biggest bar and dance club you can possibly imagine, and it is kind of like that. It’s great for people who aren’t really sure what they feel like doing that night, so you can kind of try everything. The crowd has a LOT of lower-enlisted sailors, so if that’s something you’re into…well, the ratio is pretty good for us girls anyway. However, they do cool events sometimes, like the Frank Brown Songwriter’s Festival. I highly recommend finding out what is going on before you head over there.

And then there is Bands on the Beach.Lucky for me, because we live on the Gulf Coast of Florida, summer concert season runs on Tuesdays (I don’t know why) from April through October.I actually really like seeing shows here, and they have a decent variety of groups. I look on the Pensacola Beach website a couple of times each season and pick what I’d like to see. I get to sit on a lawn chair, and it is just a really cool atmosphere. I mean, how bad can life be when you’re watching waves crash on the beach and listening to some great music? Especially in April, when you can see on the news that some places are still getting SNOW. No thanks!

Occasionally you have to go to Mobile—which isn’t too far—to see somebody. If it’s a really big name, though, you may have to go all the way to New Orleans—I am trying to convince a friend to go with me in the spring so I can catch Mumford and Sons. They are fairly mainstream but still folksy, and that’s what I like.

Where to Find Good Celtic Music

If you’re interested in Celtic or Irish music, there are some things you need to figure out. First of all, there’s some weird terms involved. For example, it took me forever to figure out that Bainseo means banjo. And Cruit (pronounced as krit) means harp. If you’re really interested, you can use this website for some of the terms.

The big problem for me as a Celtic music fan (who doesn’t live in a major city, at least) is that it isn’t always easy to get access to great music. However, as long as I have an internet connection, I’m set. I can stream music straight from Glasgow from a UK streaming service. It’s a pretty cool site. I especially like their Album of the Week, where they feature a CD and do an interview with the group. I can really get a feel for the music that way.

There’s also a live365 app I can listen to on my phone. They have—get this—49!!!! different Celtic stations for you to pick from. They’ve got everything from dance to traditional pub style music to Celtic rock. Some of the stations are free, and some aren’t. My favorite is the Celt Rock station. Aside from the great music, they also have a fairly active forums site that can be found here. I especially like their music forum and the video library. I can find a lot of music there and if you’ve got some time, I definitely recommend it. To be honest, it’s kind of a black hole of atime suck, though, so consider yourself warned.

The absolute best place to find good music, though, is by seeing it live. Bands are usually pretty good about posting tour dates and ticket information but what if you don’t know enough groups, or if you’re inhibited by geography like I am? I can’t imagine what it’d be like to have a huge amount of venues near me like in London or LA or something. I have to actively look for stuff if it isn’t playing right at McGuire’s. So aside from getting in with the people who know at an Irish pub type place that has live music, the best thing I’ve found is searching fora Celtic, Scottish, or Highland Festival that’s nearby. You’ll get to see more bands at once that way, which is always fine by me! I’ve been to the Panama City Scottish Festival and Highland Games before, and it is a pretty good time. I haven’t been able to find much info on it for this coming year, so I’ve made other plans. If you’re interested in that, you can go on the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals and search by your state. If you don’t see your state listed, don’t worry. There’s also an angelfire site where you can look up Irish/Celt festivals, so there are even more opportunities. My last suggestion is to find a really good St. Patrick’s Day parade near you. They usually have pipe and drum bands marching, but if it is a big enough parade, they might have a show or two. I used to make my parents take me to Santa Rosa Beach to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and I got to listen to some music that way, too.

It takes a little work, but it’s sooo worth it!