Best Live Music Venue in every state! #7 is our favorite

Ever since the first caveman beat a bone against a rock during dinner, people have loved music. Thankfully, it's evolved. Somewhat.

Before vinyl, CD's or digital downloads, music was performed LIVE: it was the only way to experience it. Live performances are organic, shifting in mood and tone.

Back in the day, those performances were thrilling: women fainted when Franz Liszt or Beethoven played. Fast-forward to the "Ed Sullivan Show" and kids losing their minds over the Beatles. Moments in live music have never -and will never - be heard the same way.

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin said that, one of the reasons the band didn't continue after the death of drummer John Bonham, was that the songs had evolved over their live shows. The group never played their epic hits exactly the same way from concert to concert. That's what made them so legendary. Bonham knew how to respond to those changes; a new guy wouldn't just be able to slot in. Their music wasn't a widget.

That's the secret of a live performance: it's unexpected, ever-changing. Tonight, somewhere near you, there's a place hosting an up-and-coming band, a talented singer-songwriter or a world-famous artist busting out their greatest hits in a fresh new way.

While there are thousands of places around America - from dive bars with sticky floors, to auditoriums serving champagne -these are some of the coolest live music venues, state by state.

1. ALABAMA: Lulu's, Gulf Shores

Owned by Lucy Buffett (Jimmy's sister), this beach style place attracts music fans who want to chill, "Parrot Head" style. Live music every night, and great food.

2. ALASKA: The Marlin, Fairbanks

It's got kind of a hippie-vibe, is small and gives lots of Alaska bands a stepping stone to bigger things in the "lower 48." The space is cozy, attracting locals and students from the nearby University of Alaska who come for good music and to get in from the cold!

3. ARIZONA: Valley Bar, Phoenix

Its unmarked alleyway entrance is off-putting to some, but locals consider it a well-kept secret. Hang in the cozy music venue for either live shows or the city's most cutting-edge DJ's. Great food, and even a "reading room."

4. ARKANSAS: Maxine's Pub, Hot Springs

It's located in what once was a brothel! Live music is only Thursday thru Saturday, but you're likely to hear a bunch of upcoming bands for a modest (or no) cover charge.

5. CALIFORNIA: El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles

Built in 1936, this art deco building was a movie theater for half a century. The chandelier and neon signs are still there - but now you're likely to catch an artist right before they break out in a big, big way.

6. COLORADO: Ogden Theatre, Denver

A former movie theater, it kept the balcony seating; there are no bad spots from which to view the band. Audio geeks appreciate the excellent sound system; everyone else appreciates the intimate vibe.

7. CONNECTICUT: Toad's Place, New Haven

Kind of a legend among music venues: the Stones played a surprise set here, as did U2. Billy Joel, Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan have also graced its stage. You'll find performances from rap to smooth jazz and more.

8. DELAWARE: World Café' Live at the Queen, Wilmington

They offer acts both upstairs and down. Take your pick from up and coming singer/songwriters, all kinds of local and "tribute" bands (Springsteen to Whitney Houston) or name acts passing through town.

9. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U Street Corridor

For decades, it's been the "go to" place for live music. Esquire magazine once named it the best venue in the country! You can catch anything from a big name to a rising star, and the floor plan gives you a great vantage point, no matter where you are.

10. FLORIDA: The Green Parrot Bar, Key West

This iconic little place perfectly captures the funky vibe of Key West. You can take in jam or funk bands, or head there the first Wednesday of the month for the Green Parrot Ukelele Society.

11. GEORGIA: The Fox Theatre, Atlanta

Housed in an elaborate former movie palace (built in 1929), it presents performances of all kinds. On the music side, you can enjoy Broadway tributes or hot pop performers like Sam Smith. While you're waiting for the show to start, check out the ceiling, complete with moving clouds and stars.

12. HAWAII: The Republik, Honolulu

The great small venue allows you to get up close to whoever's playing, from a reggae band to screeching metal and anything else you might be into. People also love the fact that you don't have to wait forever to get a drink.

13. IDAHO: Knitting Factory, Boise

KF first opened in New York City, as the place to catch "the next thing." It's since opened clubs in other cities, including Boise. This 1,000 seat venue hosts edgy new acts, but you can also catch a wide range of artists performing everything from blues to pop to salsa.

14. ILLINOIS: Metro, Chicago

The Windy City is home to a ton of live music joints, but Metro holds a special spot. Since opening in 1982, it's hosted Prince, Nirvana, REM, James Brown, Bob Dylan and many more. The owner is devoted to presenting local and national talent that "breaks boundaries."

15. INDIANA: The Vogue, Indianapolis

Forty years after it opened as a movie theater (1938), the Vogue transformed itself into one of the great music venue of the Midwest. It's hosted Johnny Cash, Blondie, The Ramones, The Dave Matthews Band and many more big names. It's regularly gets "best" votes as a concert venue.

16. IOWA: The Mill, Iowa City

It's been around since 1962, and is considered a "favorite haunt" of local music fans. The food isn't that impressive, but the craft beers and mix of local and national acts make up for the cold fries.

17. KANSAS: The Cotillion, Wichita

On Opening Night in 1960, people showed up in evening gowns and tuxedos; in coming years, the club got a lot looser. Pat Benatar, the Yardbirds, the Ohio Players, Tim McGraw and Merle Haggard have all played here, showing the diversity of acts you can expect.

18. KENTUCKY: The Louisville Palace, Louisville

It retains its gorgeous 1920's décor, complete with carved heads on the ceiling lobby. Great acoustics and seating give everyone a good experience. You'll find everyone from Tony Bennett and Bonnie Raitt, to Smashing Pumpkins and Widespread Panic, hitting its stage.

19. LOUISIANA: The Maple Leaf, New Orleans

In a city jam-packed with great music venues, the Maple Leaf is legendary. Pressed-tin walls and ceilings make it feel a bit like a dive bar, but the air-conditioning and incredible sound system are welcome upgrades. Tuesday nights are the regular slot for the Rebirth Brass Band. On weekends, hear incredible funk bands.

20. MAINE: Asylum, Portland

It features several floors of music. The first floor hosts top name acts, while the ground floor is a hot dance club. Always gets points for the acoustics, and the great views of the performers.

21. MARYLAND: Ram's Head On Stage, Annapolis

Since it opened in 1997, it's been the destination for artists performing everything from jazz to pop to rock, blues and Latin. An intimate venue, you can enjoy the shows up close - all while being served your food and drinks at a reserved table.

22. MASSACHUSETTS: Toad, Cambridge

It's a tiny, crowded dive bar that attracts true music lovers (partly, because there's no cover). Bands range from blues and roots music, to singer-songwriters and the occasional tribute band. Locals love it for the great atmosphere -- you can practically share a beer with the guy on stage.

23. MICHIGAN: Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo

Yes, it's a real live brewery - that plays a broad spectrum of real live music in its Back Room, outfitted as a small concert space. In another part of the building is their Eccentric Café, which also hosts live music a few days a week.

24. MINNESOTA: First Avenue, Minneapolis

Prince made it famous when it was featured in "Purple Rain." This legendary club (1970) has great acoustics and sight lines; a must-visit for anyone who's into live music.

25. MISSISSIPPI: Duling Hall, Jackson

An elementary school was converted to make this complex, which houses both the music venue and two great restaurants. The concert portion is split into two levels (the upper level features tables and chairs, the lower is standing room). Great lights and sound, and a stage low enough to get a good look at the performers.

26. MISSOURI: The Midland, Kansas City

One of the best performing spaces in the Midwest. It was built in 1927 and retains much of the glamour of that era (over 500,000 feet of gold leaf!). Expect to see big name acts, as well as local favorites.

27. MONTANA: Top Hat, Missoula

They serve up tapas and "small plates" for dinner and lunch. They serve awesome music after that. You'll be treated to cutting-edge electronic artists, solo acoustic performers, great tribute bands and more. Fans rave over the atmosphere and sound system.

28. NEBRASKA: The Slowdown, Omaha

The owners felt that Omaha was lacking a really great music venue - so they renovated a space in historic downtown and opened in 2007. It's since won numerous awards as a leading performance space, and attracts a really interesting mix of artists.

29. NEVADA: The Joint at the Hard Rock, Las Vegas

Even at three levels and a 4,000-head capacity, you still get great views. That's because the farthest seat is 155 feet from the stage and giant motorized screens project all the action. Names like the Stones and Coldplay have performed here, and it's the site of "mini residencies" with 3-month stints by KISS, Rascal Flatts and more.

30. NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Stone Church Meeting House, Newmarket

This legendary pub has showcased everyone from Aerosmith to Bonnie Raitt. You'll always find something different, from bluegrass to Irish music, an open mic night and the big national names on weekends.

31. NEW JERSEY: The Stone Pony, Asbury Park

Since it opened in 1974, it's become simply the most storied venue in the Garden State. Bruce Springsteen has a special place in his heart for it, and has been known to show up and jam with whoever's performing. Huge stage, lots of room to listen, drink and dance.

32. NEW MEXICO: Launchpad Night Club, Albuquerque

The variety of music available here is impressive, from rockabilly to indie rock, metal to hip-hop. Has a bit of a dive bar feel, and under-21s are allowed in via a seperate entrance (nowhere near the bar). But locals comment that this is a great place to hang out and hear what's good.

33. NEW YORK: Rockwood Music Hall, New York City

Located on the Lower East Side, this venue offers three intimate stages and usually, no cover charge (there is a drink minimum, though - New York rents ain't cheap). With three stages, you're guaranteed to hear something interesting.

34. NORTH CAROLINA: The Fillmore, Charlotte

They took a textile mill, added a disco ball and chandeliers and turned this into a local landmark. You can check out local hip-hop or rock bands, or the bigger-name national acts that regularly make it a stop.

35. NORTH DAKOTA: The Windbreak, Fargo

A few contestants on "The Voice" (who hail from the state) list this place as one of their favorites to perform locally, both for the sound and the atmosphere. It regularly books great country, pop and rock acts.

36. OHIO: Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, Cleveland

The main building served as a Croatian Social Hall, a local landmark for years. Since 2000, it's been a landmark for great live music of all types. Still retains an old-school "ballroom" vibe, and delivers a nice mix of established and upcoming artists.

37. OKLAHOMA: The Blue Door, Oklahoma City

Former music journalist Greg Johnson started this club as a labor of love. He regularly books singer-songwriters of all stripes, whether they're known (Jimmy Webb, Tom Rush) or not. His goal is simply to share great music. Because of that, his small club has been named one of the best live music venues anywhere in the country.

38. OREGON: Doug Fir Lounge, Portland

It's an iconic spot, tricked out with quirky "log cabin" décor. The artists they book and the excellent acoustics make it one of the hippest places in the city for live music. In fact, people have come from around the world to check out the concerts that occur almost every night of the year.

39. PENNSYLVANIA: Union Transfer, Philadelphia

Located in an historic building, this place regularly packs 'em in for shows. Maybe it's the great sight lines, or the fact that the air-conditioning doesn't make you feel you're going to pass out after 3 songs. Or maybe it's because professional musicians note that the sound system - and caliber of artists -- is unbelievable. They should know.

40. RHODE ISLAND: Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, Providence

A fixture on the local live music scene, since opening in 1975 (although it moved locations in 1993). It's not too big, not too small and every seat in the house is a great one. It also gets a great mix of established and rising acts in country, blues, rock, jazz.

41. SOUTH CAROLINA: Music Farm, Charleston

It's considered a bit of a dive bar, but the surprise is in the quality of acts who hit their stage. Expect to hear a local reggae jam band, or an indie group on their way up north to play New York City.

42. SOUTH DAKOTA: Loud American Roadhouse, Sturgis

Sturgis is known for the annual motorcycle event, Bike Week, but even when the thousands of Harley's aren't in town, you'll be able to catch some (less noisy) live, local music acts. If you're feeling brave (and it's on a Wednesday), step up and croon into the Open Mic.

43. TENNESSEE: 12th and Porter, Nashville

For decades, this small stage has seen the likes of Vince Gill, Neil Young, Kenny Loggins, Jon Bon Jovi, Jewel and dozens more artists. Classic recordings (Townes Van Zandt) have been made here. Outside of the Ryman Auditorium, this is the most respected site for live tunes in Music City.

44. TEXAS: The Mohawk, Austin

Austin is known as the Live Music Capital - and this club has frequently nabbed the award as the best club for hearing it. There are multiple levels, featuring a great lineup of local and touring bands.

45. UTAH: The State Room, Salt Lake City

It's a cozy place to catch live music, with one of the best sound and lighting systems anywhere. They've repurposed some old church pews as part of the seating. "Let us play."

46. VERMONT: The Monkey House, Burlington

They regularly showcase the huge amount of musical talent in the Burlington neck of the woods - you might be surprised at what - and who - you hear. But this intimate venue is a regular stop for bigger acts in New England.

47. VIRGINIA: The Camel, Richmond

An entire half of the building is a great music venue, with top-of-the-line lights and sound. The other half is a bar and restaurant that serves craft beers and Southern "bites." It's a fun, unpretentious place to check out local bands of all stripes.

48. WASHINGTON: Tractor Town, Seattle

Seattle is known as a hip town, and this place is where the Next Big Things are showcased, whether in country, indie, folk, bluegrass - you name it. It's mostly standing room, but while waiting for the music to start check out the funky American décor dotting the historic brick walls.

49. WEST VIRGINIA: Mountain Stage, Charleston

It's the home of the famous NPR live music broadcast of the same name. Within the warm, intimate setting, you can hear rising stars across all genres as well as legends like Judy Collins and Buckwheat Zydeco.

50. WISCONSIN: The Rave/Eagles Club, Milwaukee

This historic space was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and opened in 1926. Within its space are eight separate "clubs" ranging in size and offering a variety of performances and artists.

51. WYOMING: Pink Garter Theatre, Jackson Hole

It's a 450-seat venue with one of the most eclectic lineups in the region. Music lovers appreciate the old-timey movie house architecture and the interesting mix of bands and artists who pass through.

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