Cincinnati has a vibrant local music scene as well as some great bars. Here is a list of five of the best places in Cincinnati (and one in Northern Kentucky) to hear live music.
MOTR Pub, as in "Main Street, Over-the-Rhine," is a relatively new bar that serves food and a great Sunday brunch. The owners have a history of promoting local music, having produced shows at the now-defunct Sudsy Malone's in Corryville and later at the Southgate House. They're committed to showcasing local acts and encourage promoters and artists to bring their "creative events" to MOTR. They also feature a movie night and a writer's night every week.
There's no stage at MOTR and on the weekend nights especially, things can get tight. But then, that's part of the fun.
1345 Main Street
Arnold's is Cincinnati's oldest tavern. Established in 1861 by Simon Arnold, the tavern converted to a cafe during the Prohibition and legend has it that Simon - who lived on the third floor - kept gin in the second-floor bathtub. You'll spot the bathtub outside of Arnold's today.
Arnold's features live local music most nights of the week in the courtyard and, in keeping with its history, most of the acts play Roots and Americana music. The stage was made to look like a front porch and sits back from the tables, so patrons can enjoy conversation over a good meal without having to compete with the music.
210 East Eighth Street
The Northside Tavern underwent a renovation a few years back and added a back bar area, complete with a stage. Although an occasional national act may grace the Tavern, most of the music is homegrown. It's located in the heart of one of Cincinnati's most diverse neighborhoods, where many of the city's musicians live, work, and play. The Tavern features music most nights of the week and the lineup is varied - you'll hear anything from bluegrass to punk.
Acts play in the front room, too, usually during the week. The Tavern also features a great selection of microbrews, including some made locally.
4163 Hamilton Avenue
The Southgate House in Newport is a huge historic home that features three music areas. Juney's Lounge on the first floor offers an open mic night, as well as local acts most nights of the week. The Parlour on the second floor is another smaller space that features more intimate and relaxed performances.
The Ballroom at the Southgate House is used for larger performances by local, regional, and national acts. It features a full-service bar on the first floor, a smaller bar on the second floor, and two levels with horseshoe style seating in the balcony.
24 East Third Street, Newport