While many visitors to Central Florida have nothing but visions of theme parks in their minds, those who love original music will be smart to check out the thriving Orlando live music scene. Adding an evening out to one of the local music venues will greatly enrich a vacation for music lovers of all sorts.
Let’s start with jazz. From DeLand (the casual Café Da Vinci) to the theme park district (the fancy Eddie V’s), and several spots in between (Jazz Tastings in Maitland and Winter Park Brewing Company in, well, Winter Park), great jazz can be found almost every night of the week. At Café Da Vinci, you’ll find New Orleans-style jazz in the courtyard every Tuesday. For more cerebral musical stylings to go with that steak or seafood meal, Eddie V’s offers live jazz just about every evening they are open.
For those who like the energetic pounding of punk and/or garage music, Orlando has a deep well of local bands who are gaining renown, not just locally, but all over the country, for their fun and frenetic live shows. And there are several clubs these bands call home. On the Mills corridor, just north of downtown Orlando, are Will’s Pub/Lil Indie’s, Uncle Lou’s and St. Matt’s Tavern. Live music by local bands such as the Woolly Bushmen, The Wildtones, Golden Pelicans, The Welzeins, Wet Nurse and Zap Dragon can be found at one or all of these clubs most every night of the week.
Want some soul in your life? Then look up the schedule for Eugene Snowden, Orlando’s unofficial king of struttin’ soul and frenetic funk. Eugene and a talented stable of revolving musicians can be found playing clubs all over town. And don’t miss The Sh-Booms, an up-and-coming group of young talents, led by the sultry voice of Brenda Radney, who play old-time favorites and toe-tapping originals.
For straight up rock n’ roll, don’t miss Orlando’s own Janis Joplin doppelgänger Kaleigh Baker. Baker played Joplin in a highly regarded Fringe Festival show last year and was mesmerizing as the doomed blues singer. But as herself, Baker is just as captivating with a smoky voice and commanding stage presence. Find her at any of several area clubs including The Social in downtown Orlando. Thomas Wynn and the Believers play Southern Rock with passion and a fierce loyalty to their predecessors. Add Wynn’s wife and sister to the mix and you’ve got a group of crowd-pleasing family and friends who play frequently at most of the above mentioned clubs.
If you're more into the dance/DJ scene, the city's Milk District (Named for the nearby T.G. Lee Dairy), is home to both Space Bar and Sandwich Bar, which feature a mix of live acts and DJ's that keep the crowds on the small dance floors till the wee morning hours.
Get more information on these acts and more on the Orlando live music scene by checking out The Orlando Weekly and the artists’ websites and Facebook pages.