Author: Brian Allen
Published: May 30, 2019
So you’re new in town and music is an important part of your life. You’re the kind of person who gets sad if you’re not able to experience live music up close and personal on the regular. I know your type; I’m a lot like you, which is why I’m taking this opportunity to bird dog just a few of the best places to enjoy live music in Augusta,Georgia. There are large venues like The Miller Theater and The Bell Auditorium, both of which are offering an increasing variety of live experiences with equally increasing frequency. However, for our purposes here, we’ll stick to the bars and pubs that offer live music presented to you in no particular order.
Stillwater Taproom located at 974 Broad Street is a craft beer lover’s special place. With an ever-changing variety of micro-brews, you’re bound to find something that suits you. Featuring “The Little Stage That Could”, owners Matt Flynn and Barry Blackston regularly feature touring bluegrass bands on weekends. However, there are also frequent appearances by local bands of many stripes. This is a moderate volume sorta scene. You will never be confronted with a metal band at Stillwater.
The Soul Bar
Just doors down from Stillwater at 984 Broad Street is the venerable Soul Bar. Established in 1995 and named in honor of the late, great Augusta legend James Brown, The Soul Bar is a downtown cornerstone. They’ve been incredibly supportive of local bands and live music in general from the start. Mostly recently, co-owner Jayson Rubio has been featuring a healthy mix of touring and local bands(with an ear towards alternative and punk-ish groups) during the week and sticking to DJ’s on weekends. It’s a fun and funky place to be sure.
Across the 13th Street Bridge and located at 133 Georgia Ave (literally the first building on the right coming into North Augusta) is The Highlander, a quaint British pub. Established by the Drakeley family in 1979, it may be the only place in the greater Augusta area that you’ll find both Scotch Eggs and Shepherd’s Pie on the menu. The basement tavern has featured a broad spectrum of live music over its long history. However, it’s a small space relatively speaking, and this often led to owner David sitting at the end of the bar chiding bands in his thick British accent for being “too Goddamn Loud”(trust me, it was adorable and to be expected). Now under new ownership, The Highlander features an open mic on Wednesdays and live music on Fridays.
Located at 631 Ellis Street in an unassuming brick building which once housed a dry cleaning business is The Epicenter. The Epicenter is Augusta’s only all-ages nightclub,catering primarily to the under 21 crowd. The spot in the middle of downtown(see what I did there) hosts a variety of touring and local bands most weekends. The place itself is bare bones and no nonsense and features genres ranging from metal to punk to noise to whatever descriptive you can put in front of the term “core”. If you go, you can expect a high probability of a mosh pit breaking out, youthful exuberance being what it is… and well you know, kids being kids. It’s worth a taste for fans of heavier genres, even if you end up being the old guy in the room(trust me, there’s one at most every show).
Metro A Coffeehouse & Pub
Known as “Augusta’s Living Room”, Metro has been serving up hot cups, cold pints and live music since 1999. Over the course of those 20 years, the music has gradually evolved away from full bands to more acoustic-centric music. Most recently, Joe Stevenson, a local promoter began hosting The Southeastern Songwriter Series monthly. On the first Monday of each month, singer-songwriters sign up to perform in the round. Typically starting at 7:30pm and consisting of two sets of 3 or 4 performers, it’s an interesting experience that is relatively unique to Augusta, but ubiquitous elsewhere. Songwriters take turns telling the stories behind each song before or after performing it, thus instantly dissolving that invisible wall between artist and audience. Metro hosts music at other times as well, but their schedule can be erratic, so call the venue before assuming there will be live entertainment on any given night. Metro is located at 1054 Broad Street and they’ve been “Saving your soul one pint at a time” for 2 decades.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’ll get you started...later on you can track down places like Joe’s Underground and The Fox’s Lair and Chevy’s and the list goes on and on. Get out there and take a cue from The Doobie Brothers…listen to the music.