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The best places to enjoy live local music in Dayton

Published: Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
By: 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.

BLIND BOB’S BAR

430 E. Fifth St., Dayton

937-938-6405

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.

>> BURGER GUIDE: Blind Bob’s has one of the best burgers around town

ODDBODY’S

5418 Burkhardt Road, Riverside

937-813-4272

Once known as McGuffy’s House of DraftOddbody’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.

>> DAYTON MUSIC: Daytonian of the Week: Sharon Lane

ROCK STAR PRO ARENA

1106 E. Third St., Dayton

937-867-0183

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. 

>> DAYTON MUSIC: 5 Dayton rock bands who have gone international

OSCAR’S  BAR & GRILL

320 N. Dixie Drive, Vandalia

937-890-8655

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.

>> RELATED: Dayton Musicians Co-Op has a new home

>> MORE: Digging Dayton-area dive bars: Oscar's Bar & Grill

JIMMIE’S LADDER 11

936 Brown St., Dayton

937-424-1784

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.

>> RELATED: The one must-try sandwich at Jimmie’s Ladder 11

PEACH’S GRILL

104 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs

937-767-4850

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.

>> RELATED: 5 things to do in Yellow Springs

JAZZ CENTRAL

2931 E. Third St., Dayton

937-254-8130

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.

>> RELATED: Through the years: Canal Public House/Canal Street Tavern

GILLY’S

132 S. Jefferson St., Dayton

937-228-8414

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.

OREGON EXPRESS

336 E. Fifth St., Dayton

937-223-9205

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.

>> RELATED: A look at what this former music venue is morphing into now

YELLOW CAB TAVERN

700 E. Fourth St., Dayton

937-424-3870

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. 

>> MORE: It’s food truck season at the Yellow Cab

TROLLEY STOP

530 E. Fifth St., Dayton

937-461-1101

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. 

>> MORE: The BEST patios in Dayton

W.O. WRIGHTS GRILL & PUB

3979 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Beavercreek

937-427-0101

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. 

>> MORE: The best places to eat near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

HANK’S PUB

2529 Patterson Road, Kettering

937-254-7527

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. 

WINGS BAR & GRILLE

7902 N. Dixie Dr., Dayton

937-898-0280

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.

>> MORE: 9 places to go in Dayton’s beer epicenter

KATZ LOUNGE

1221 E. Stroop Rd., Kettering

937-294-9554

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.