- Jim Ingram
Let’s suppose you’re new to the Dayton area and looking to catch some live local music. Or perhaps you’ve lived here all your life, but have been otherwise unaware of the existence of certain venues.
Here is a list of places to catch local music in the Dayton area. Shows, genres and times will vary, so call ahead or research lineups and times.
Bob’s, remodeled and reconceived from the old Nite Owl jazz and blues club, is a bar in Dayton’s Oregon District with a strong sense of community. Not only do local musicians perform and hang out here, but many are employees. So they take their venue seriously. Regionally touring bands make Bob’s a must on their itinerary. There’s a nice gated patio to cool off on between sets, and the kitchen cranks out great food.
Once known as McGuffy’s House of Draft, Oddbody’s took the old ownership’s model and ran it their way. Well-known national and regionally touring acts who are either on their way up of hanging on otherwise often headline with several local acts supporting the bill. Rock, metal, blues, funk, punk and other genres will be featured on the stage at any given time.
A relatively newer venue in Dayton is Rock Star Pro Arena, which has been very good at attracting major names over the last few years, while giving local acts a place to show what they can do. Located in an unassuming industrial part of town, it may not look like a place to rock out from the outside, but trust me on this. The venue is unique in that it also doubles as a local pro wrestling arena.
Another newcomer to the list is this quaint bar and grill in Vandalia. Management has put in a lot of time and effort over the last year or so to turn Oscar’s from a dive bar that once had no stage to a favored place to perform and see shows. The menu and beer selection are great and local musicians have nothing but rave reviews for the place.
Rebuilt from an old firehouse dating back to 1892, Jimmie’s welcomes bands of all genres. This club also has artist residencies from time to time, so if you see a group you really like on a Monday, you can see them all week if you wish. A good craft beer selection and solid menu add to the listening experience.
Peach’s Grill is a bit off the beaten path, but musicians seem to love playing there. Music fans seem to love going there as well. It helps that they are well known for their great food, too. It’s worth the drive to Yellow Springs.
For more than 40 years, Jazz Central has been just that to many music lovers. On any given night you could see a soloist on up to a big band performing. This is about as pure a jazz club as you’ll find anywhere. Their website is not always up to date, so it’s best to call ahead.
Also primarily known for giving jazz and blues acts a great stage over the years, Gilly’s has opened up its programming more to allow artists from different genres to perform in recent years. Owned and operated by the beloved Jerry Gillotti, the downtown Dayton club has been bringing some of the biggest names in music to town since 1972.
This bar and restaurant has been operating in Dayton’s Oregon District since 1976 and shows no signs of slowing down. Every Friday and Saturday night you can find great local acts playing on the diminutive O.E. stage. Somehow, both the bands and the club make it work, so people keep coming out for the shows. While there, you HAVE to try the pizza.
What once was an abandoned old cab garage has become one of Dayton’s best success stories. Years of hard work, sweat and fundraising have transformed this one-time eyesore into a venue that tries its best to be all things to everyone. As such, the music shows are a little more sporadic. So it’s best to check the venue’s website before heading out.
Though you’d never know it from the street, One Eyed Jack’s is more than just a bar and restaurant. The venue has been host to live rock, dance bands and open mic nights in the past. However, they seem to be moving in a mostly jam band area these days.
Another gem of the Oregon District, you can hear everything from rock to zydeco and everything in between at Trolley Stop. The patio is arguably the best in the Dayton area when the weather’s right and their food is the bomb.
Local bands praise the large stage, concert lights and sound system of this sports bar, which has been operation since 1989. W.O. Wrights, located within the shadow of Wright State University, boasts a menu almost as big as its stage.
Possibly the unlikeliest of spots on the list to host live music, Hank’s Pub is the current home of the nomadic Brown Street Breakdown Blues Jam. But the modest no-frills bar known for cheap drinks will seemingly host just about any show despite not having a stage. Metal, folk, country, jam and cover bands all have a place to play at Hank’s as long as they have a PA on a pole.
Founded in 1998, this sports bar doubles as a place to see live acts, both indoors and outdoors during the warm months. The outdoor stage is part of a 7500-square foot patio that is a shrine to relaxation. Indoors is more intimate, but with three full-service bars.
Some venues focus on original acts while others seem to prefer hiring cover bands. Katz Lounge in Kettering offers both, so it’s best to call ahead or go to their Facebook site when planning a night out for live music.View full experience