Your guide to Atlanta's live music scene

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Your guide to Atlanta's live music scene

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Akili-Casundria Ramsess
Steel guitarist AJ Ghent and his band had the joint jumping with its eclectic mix of funk, soul, as the opener for Rebirth Brass Band at Smith's Olde Bar. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

With digital music at our fingertips and a concert performance just a YouTube click away, some of us may be craving the old-fashioned interactivity of live tunes. Want to put down the ear buds and kick it naturally? Consider the following spots for an Atlanta live music experience.

Smith's Olde Bar. A modern take on a turn-of-the-century-style restaurant and watering hole, Smith's offers live tunes both upstairs and down.
Music: National, regional and local acts; everything from rock and country to metal and hip-hop.
Food & drink: Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q dishes make guest appearances; $5 well drinks on Wednesdays.
Crowd: Casually dressed mix of rockers, spiffy post-collegians and barhoppers.
Parking: Limited free parking in the rear. More parking in nearby Ansley Mall lot.
Bathrooms: Located upstairs and down.
Smoke factor: Smoking in restaurant and bar only; no smoking in music rooms.
Acoustics: "The quieter the music is, the better the acoustics are, " frequent performer Col. Bruce Hampton said. "It's one of the best rooms in the country."
Cover charge: Usually between $10 and $20. Some free and $5 events.


 Apache Cafe. It's an intimate room without a bad seat in the house. Table seating is choice, but you can even soak up all the sights and sounds from a bar stool. Back patio often offers a DJ retreat.
Music: Hip-hop, jazz, R&B, reggae, spoken word.
Food & drink: Don't miss the jerk wings; the Long Island iced tea is a staple.
Crowd: Hip, stylish and relaxed, usually spanning ages 21 to 40-something.
Parking: Street parking is free after 6 p.m. $5 lot parking.
Bathrooms: Smallish. Check out sticker collection on men's room door.
Smoke factor: Patio only.
Acoustics: Solid sound system with powerful push.Cover charge: Approximately $7 - 10.


 Wild Bill's. This massive party palace and dance club began as a haven for touring contemporary country acts. Today you'll find rappers, classic rockers, tribute bands and pop acts sharing the stage and scantily clad waitresses dancing along.
Music: Country, rock, hip-hop and pop.
Food & drink: It's easy to just grab a beer from a beer tub girl; expect bar food such as chicken fingers and turkey wraps.
Crowd: Some dress to impress; others simply rock the T-shirt/jeans combo.
Parking: Lot parking.
Bathrooms: Tidy and spacious.
Smoke factor: In smoking area only.
Acoustics: Admirable, booming system. Bring plugs for sensitive ears.
Cover charge: $10-$20.


 Loca Luna. It's South Beach in the city. Look for the massive structure with the giant windows and cloud mural. Pulsing lights and dancing add to a celebratory vibe.
Music: High-energy Latin-like samba, rumba and salsa.
Food & drink: Tapas are great, but spring for the paella; the high-octane mojitos and caipirinhas are legendary.
Crowd: International expatriates mingle with Yanks, many with fashion sense that's sexy and stylishly chill.
Parking: Lot parking.
Bathrooms: Sparkling spots to primp before dancing to the band.
Smoke factor: Patio only.
Acoustics: Killer sound often inspires audience sing-alongs and complaints from neighbors.
Cover charge: Free-$10.

 529 Music Venue. An East Atlanta nook that typically has a line snaking out the door. It's home to raucous rock in various forms.
Music: Rock, hip-hop, indie.
Food & drink: $2 Black Label and Stroh's beer. No food.
Crowd: Mostly young hipster drinkers ready to bounce to the beat.
Parking: Lot parking in rear.
Bathrooms: Clean bathrooms sans graffiti and stickers; purse shelf in ladies' room.
Smoke factor: Yes.
Acoustics: Loud and proud.
Cover charge: $3-$10.


 Kavarna. This self-proclaimed coffee pub nestles itself in the middle of Oakhurst. The catty-cornered stage doubles as a seating area during the day. Table and bar seating offer good visibility of stage. Get there early for high-traffic gigs.
Music: Singer-songwriter, indie rock, electronica.
Food & drink: Sandwiches and snacks rule (pretzel bread, BBQ tempeh); Schlitz 16-ounce cans $3.25; Twisted cabernet sauvignon $4.95 per glass.
Crowd: Tap into your inner Bohemian.
Parking: Street parking.
Bathrooms: Small, clean unisex with tiny movie posters on the wall.
Smoke factor: Patio only.
Acoustics: Fills the room nicely.
Cover charge: Free-$5.

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Tiffany Stevens contributed to this story.

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