The Beat Goes On
SWFL’s live music scene from jazz to rock to country to blues
There’s nothing like jamming to rock ’n’ roll, kicking back with some blues, or toe-tapping with bluegrass. When it’s live, it’s even better. Southwest Florida has a number of live music venues that fit anyone’s musical tastes. Here’s a selection.
The Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers has several Sunday afternoon bluegrass concerts on its schedule: December 16, January 6 and January 13. Music lovers can enjoy three hours, 2-5 p.m., of great live music by bluegrass bands, many from Southwest Florida. The events are presented in partnership with the Acoustic Music Society of SWFL (palmgrass.org). Tickets are available online or via phone from the Alliance for the Arts.
If you’re a blues lover, then you probably already know about Buckingham Blues Bar in Fort Myers. The bar offers drinks, food and plenty of fun. “We have a number of events, all of which can be found on our online calendar,” says Kent Turner of Buckingham Blues Bar. The bar will host the Backyard Bluesfest on December 8, with a variety of bands, including Tommy Lee Cook & The Heathens with Panache. (Cook is the founder of Buckingham Blues Bar.) The band is known for its Southern-tinged Chicago blues sound. Want to check out other great places to hear live blues from musicians such as Mike Imbasciani & his Bluez Rockerz? Try Bert’s Bar & Grill in Matlacha, as well as Big Blue Brewing and the Tiki Hut Bar & Grill at the Dolphin Key Resort—both in Cape Coral.
Outside on the deck of Bert’s Bar & Grill in Matlacha, where patrons enjoy a million-dollar view of Matlacha Pass, Calypso Magic plays the steel drum every afternoon, except Monday. “Patrons love to sit back, listen to the Caribbean music and enjoy their lunch and liquid refreshments while seeing dolphins, manatees and beautiful birds,” says proprietor Bernard Johnson.
The local venues for country music are magnets for fans who love to sing and dance along. At Cowboy Up Saloon, located in downtown Fort Myers, the atmosphere takes patrons back to days gone by and they always have a good time. Red-
bone’s Bar & Grill and the Ranch Concert Hall & Saloon, both in Fort Myers, are also popular spots for live country music.
History has it that jazz began in New Orleans in the late 1800s, when the times were joyous ones. While New Orleans is the First City of Jazz, lovers of the genre don’t have to travel that far to enjoy the sound. A few great spots in the area invite you to kick back and listen to the music. One is the Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro in Fort Myers—which also hosts a jazz brunch every Sunday. Slate’s Sidedoor Jazz Club in Cape Coral presents jazz musicians throughout the week, and the Roadhouse Café in Fort Myers pairs a fine dining experience with jazz.
Rock ’n’ Roll
Rock lovers head to the Buddha for some rousing music. The venue hosts events throughout the week, and its house band, A200, plays every Sunday. Another choice is Bubba’s Roadhouse & Saloon in Cape Coral. It presents bands such as the HipNauticals, playing 1950s-style rock.
For those who want to grab a mic and perform, many local spots offer karaoke nights. Bubba’s Roadhouse & Saloon, Anthony’s on the BLVD in Cape Coral and Sharky’s Pizza Pub in Bonita Springs are all good places to try your luck with the crowd. Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and regular contributor to TOTI Media.
Bert’s Bar & Grill (two left photos and far right) hosts live music ever y week, from calypso to blues acts such as Mike Imbascani; Buckingham Blues Bar features the Rex Bongo Band (second from right).
Blues artist Tommy Lee Cook is the owner of Buckingham Blues Bar.