Where are the best places to hear live music in Washington D.C.?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Even if you’re in town on business (or for political lobbying, for that matter), there’s no shame in getting out for live music in Washington, D.C. The 9:30 Club is a staple of the city’s live music scene; the two-level hall packs a rowdier crowd downstairs, while those more interested in the music than the dancing camp out upstairs. The venue hosts both national and local acts, as well as regular DJ dance nights.

The nearby Black Cat offers a smaller, more intimate venue that draws lesser-known — though equally talented — performers. The Mainstage, upstairs, hosts most concerts at the venue, while the downstairs Red Room bar serves a good beer selection in a laid-back dive, and the Backstage, offers wildly popular dance nights.

The Rock & Roll Hotel, a 400-capacity venue and one of the newest on the scene, caters to a more in-the-know crowd. Headliners include unsigned local bands and out-of-town groups signed on tiny indie labels. Bands perform downstairs, while regular dance nights and private parties are hosted in the bar upstairs.

Are you a jazz fan? You might want to make a stop at Bohemian Caverns, a 1926 jazz club that’s steeped in African-American history. Among its long list of past performers are jazz greats Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. On Mondays, the bar’s resident big-band orchestra plays at 8 p.m.; other shows are generally Wednesday through Saturday.

The best places to hear live music in Washington D.C., are the Blues Alley in Georgetown or Twin Jazz on U Street.

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