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On most nights of the week, you’ll find great live music options in Arlington’s neighborhoods, whether you want to hear indie rock in an intimate setting or sing along to Irish tunes in a lively pub.
Want to take in live music after a day of sightseeing around the nation’s capital? Check out sounds from an eclectic array of local, regional and international musicians in Arlington! From the popular Clarendon neighborhood (on Metro’s Orange/Silver Line) to off-the-beaten-path Westover, a number of Arlington bars and restaurants stage live music featuring strains of bluegrass, blues, rock, world music and more.
Crowning Arlington’s live music offerings are burgeoning annual events like the renowned Columbia Pike Blues Festival (June) and the Rosslyn Jazz Fest (September) showcasing national and international touring artists. Arlington also has a variety of summer live music events, highlighted by the Lubber Run Summer Concert Series. Held under the stars in Arlington’s Lubber Run Amphitheater, the series features dozens of free performances from genres including big band, blues, soul and orchestral music – even cabaret!
You’ll hear local and national indie-rock bands most Sunday and Monday nights at Galaxy Hut. Washingtonian Senior Editor Andrew Beaujon, who follows the region’s live music scene, says it’s his favorite Arlington venue because “the food is good, the beer selection is excellent, and you're so close to the performers you may have to duck if they swing their guitars.” This cozy bar offers ample vegan and vegetarian-friendly sandwiches plus craft beer you can carry to a table.
O’Sullivan’s promises some of the best musicians that the D.C. area offers on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Performers have included indie pop artist Jon Cresswell, vocalist Willem Dicke, plus live rock bands Practically Einstein and Twenty Dollar Prophet. You can enjoy diversions like darts and sports games on big-screen TVs at this classic Irish pub with a fully stocked bar when you’re not dancing to your favorite classic rock.
Voted Virginia’s Most Popular Bar on Buzzfeed in 2014, Whitlow’s On Wilson is a go-to spot for live music most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Bands like Flowers for Taco, The All Star Band, Under the Covers and Light Up the Moon take the stage, drawing crowds to one of Clarendon’s most longstanding and beloved establishments. When you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, head upstairs to the rooftop Tiki Bar!
Café Sazon has a true neighborhood café feel while owning a solid reputation for live music. Hear folk-rock and soul-infused acoustic ballads, featuring artists like Jeff Smith & The Human Wilderness String Band, local singer and songwriter Nicole Belanus and Austin native Kevin Dudley. At this Latin American bakery and restaurant, you can savor specialties like braised short rib with cilantro sauce during the show.
Enter this classic pub in an old-school setting for traditional Irish tunes like performances by Siobhan O’Brien and Malarkey Irish Jig Band every Friday and Saturday night. Celtic House’s music itinerary also features jazzy blues and soul from The Curbfeelers and other local bands.
Courthaus Social features rock bands on the last Saturday of every month. The popular spot with an outdoor beer garden offers craft brews, German food and specialty cocktails.
Rock bands, cover artists and alternative rock groups fill the air at Ragtime on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Performers include rock vocalist Bradley Rhodes, local guitarist James Helle and indie rocker Drew Stevyns.
On Saturday nights, live bands like The Vandelays and Braddock Station Garrison rock the house at long-time neighborhood favorite Rhodeside Grill. Live acoustics accompany happy hour upstairs every Friday with artists like Mike Olcott performing new songs and ‘90s covers.
The Amazing Selamino, known as “The Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia,” performs live most Friday evenings at Ethiopian restaurant Enjera. A legend in R&B and African music, Selam Seyoum Woldemariam has created 250 albums as guitarist, writer and arranger, combining keys, conga, guitar and saxophone for a sultry blues sound.
Wednesday night means great jazz and blues tunes by local artists while you enjoy wine, craft beers and sushi at Zen Bistro Wine Bar. Located in the heart of Pentagon Row shopping plaza, Zen Bistro Wine Bar presents local artists in a stylish atmosphere with an exquisite selection of wines from all over the world plus Asian tapas, noodles and sweets.
Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastropub offers live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights featuring local and Irish bands. Get a true sound and taste of Ireland in the heart of Arlington at this pub with traditional Irish décor and cuisine.
Join Arlington neighbors at the Westover Beer Garden for open-air live music as the sun sets on a summer evening. Hear amplified local light-rock bands on Fridays and Saturdays and acoustic sounds on Wednesdays at this entertainment-focused venue offering barbeque and craft beer. Westover Beer Garden is also known throughout the capital area for its “Great Wall of Beer,” a who’s who of craft beers on its shelves.
Author: Kathleen Murphy