Written by Adam Spafford
Photography by Sally Ibarra Barceló
If live music strikes a chord with you, then the steady beat of Lakeland’s new venues is noteworthy.
Our city has long been able to boast remarkably talented musicians, some who have toured the world and some who the world still needs to hear. Fortunately, it sounds like Lakeland is on the cusp of a golden age of live music with so many ways to experience — and create it — right in the heart of downtown. It’s not just musicians and music lovers that benefit — a thriving arts community creates inspiration for the whole city, bringing people from all walks of life together. And these venues are attracting musical artists from outside of Lakeland, too, allowing broader exposure for both players and listeners. Musical events are simply great places to reconnect with one another as we emerge from a long, strange year. So, whether you love the traditional concert experience of crowd and stage or you prefer to listen while enjoying delicious food truck fare and craft beer, wine, and cocktails, there’s a Lakeland establishment that can set the right tone.
1023 S. Florida Avenue • www.unionhallevents.com
Union Hall opened in Dixieland in 2019 to attract both local and national artists to Lakeland and provide a cool place to hear them. Its founders include a professional musician, and it’s clear that creating a venue enjoyable to both performer and listener is the top priority. Hang out inside near the stage and bar or relax outside on the patio. Union Hall is also a wonderful place to hold private, corporate, and promotional events; and weddings and receptions.
What You’ll Hear: Live music at least three nights a week from blues guitar musicians such as Damon Fowler and Alex Lopez Express to country, as well as Open Mic Nights and themed nights.
What You’ll Eat: Lakeland’s own Good Thyme, a stone’s throw from Union Hall, provides some of its classic dishes as well as some Union Hall specials like pub burgers, pokey bowls, meatloaf wraps, and there’s always something new and delicious. Be on the lookout for Good Thyme’s brand-new food truck outside Union Hall soon!
What You’ll Drink: Craft beers, wine, full liquor, and non-alcoholic options from the 22-foot long bar and a slushie machine
For Musicians: Union Hall is equipped with professional sound and lighting systems and a large projector and screen. For music booking inquiries, email email@example.com
THE YARD ON MASS
802 N. Massachusetts Avenue • www.theyardonmass.com
Inspired by a successful craft beer establishment and food truck park in Colorado, The Yard on Mass provides live music, food, drinks, and family-friendly spaces (including the dog!) with a laid-back vibe. The Yard’s founders partnered with Lakeland’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to identify its location and the result was a beautifully revitalized area. An indoor space holds 85 people while the outside performance space accommodates about 250 listeners.
What You’ll Hear: Around 12 musical events per month — both indoors and outdoors — ranging from cover bands on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays, to original music once or twice a month. The outdoor space features an elevated platform that creates a natural amphitheater. Tables and chairs are provided but patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
What You’ll Eat: Food from a rotating lineup of great food trucks such as Mary Jane’s Burgers, Rockstar Lobster, Cuban B’s Burgers and Bakes, and many more
What You’ll Drink: Craft beer, cocktails, wine, and non-alcoholic options
For Musicians: Musicians generally supply their own gear, but The Yard can help if needed. One of its co-founders also being a part-time musician means The Yard knows it’s important to make it easy to play, ensure payment without trouble, and to provide a tab. Musicians give great feedback on the natural outdoor space and the reasonable performance hours of 7-10 in the evenings and Sunday afternoons.
202 N. Massachusetts Ave • www.lkldlive.com
Originally created as a video studio for a live audience, LKLDLive is now a non-profit theater with a mission to bring incredible live music and events to downtown Lakeland. Keep up to date with LKLDLive’s events by checking its website calendar and Facebook page, and consider becoming a donor to ensure local artists of all types continue to have this great place to perform.
What You’ll Hear: A wide variety of music from high school-aged bands and classically trained professionals to musical tribute bands such as Allman Brothers cover band Steeln’ Peaches and local artists
What You’ll Drink: Beer, wine, basic liquor, and non-alcoholic options
For Musicians: LKLDLive provides a sound system tuned to the room for optimal audio quality, a house sound mixer upstairs on the cat-walk, and a lighting system for the stage and room. Bands usually have such a good time that they play several encore songs, and musicians’ feedback is quite positive. For bookings, check out LKLDLive’s Facebook or Instagram pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
115 W. Pine Street • www.swanbrewing.com
Swan Brewing’s frequent music events augment the incredible beers crafted with the founders’ 40 years of combined brewing experience and the beautiful atmosphere of Lake Wire. This family- and pet-friendly gem is open seven days a week, so you’ll always have a fun place to hang out, eat, drink, and listen. If you can’t make it downtown, be sure to visit Swan Brewing – South at 2972 Lakeland Highlands Road.
What You’ll Hear: Live music nearly every night from the likes of Carly Tefft; classic rock from Sixx L Sixx; and the beachy, laid-back sounds of John Frinzi, among many others
What You’ll Eat: Food-truck deliciousness from Smokin’ Chanchos, Breezy Easy Bistro, La Palapa Time, and many more
What You’ll Drink: Swan Brewing can boast 30 taps and two dedicated Nitro lines as it brings its own brews such as Straight Outta Lakeland IPA and Lakeside Citrus Wheat as well as great beers from around the country to thirsty patrons.
For Musicians: Visit www.swanbrewing.com > Contact Us > Perform Music @ Swan