Once upon a time, Greenville's downtown had a "roll up the sidewalks at sundown" reputation, but those days are long gone. Today, Main Street in Greenville is a bustling hub for dining, shopping - and second to none, a lively and varied live music scene.
From rocking shows at Bon Secours Wellness Arena and nationally acclaimed musicals and more at the Peace Center to small and intimate sanctuaries for local and regional musicians, if it's got a beat, you'll find it in Greenville. And not just in the historic downtown, but all around this vibrant community.
Here are some of the top hot spots to satisfy music lovers of all stripes.
Blue Ridge Brewing
308 Trade St.; 864.232.4677
Formerly located in downtown Greenville's Main Street, this popular brewpub is worth the drive to Greer to enjoy its rooftop bar and restaurant (space for 70 and 50, respectively) and a lineup of local and regional musicians.
Blues Boulevard Jazz
300 River St., Suite 203; 864.242.2583
Originally opened in Spartanburg, this five-year-old downtown venue, located across from the Peace Center, offers national and regional live jazz performances from 6-11 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with singer-songwriter "open mic" night on Wednesdays. Seating capacity is 100 inside with space for 25 more on the patio. Serving everything from appetizers up to a full menu.
Bon Secours Wellness Center
650 North Academy St.; 864.241.3800
The 14,000-seat arena plays host to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits ice hockey games, but also a wide variety of concerts, including the Greenville Blues Festival. Among recent visitors are country star Blake Shelton, the Breakers Tour featuring Little Big Town, legendary rockers Alice Cooper, REO Speedwagon and Styx, former Eagles member Dan Felder, James Taylor and Yanni.
608 B, South Main St.; 864.232.4100
Live music every Friday and Saturday and some Sundays with no cover charge; shows include funk two Thursdays a month and the Greenville Jazz Collective the first and third Wednesdays of the month, along with small groups, open mic and Big Band music. In business for more than 15 years, the Alley hosts local musicians, but also brings in big-name acts. It has a full food menu and two full-service bars with capacity upstairs and downstairs at 199.
200 Eisenhower Drive; 864.235.5519
If live rock music of all types is your thing, this is your place. With a capacity of 200 and a large stage, plus a full bar and an in-house chef preparing bar food plus local and organic items, the joint is jumping seven nights a week with music Tuesday-Saturday for patrons 21 and older. Minutes from town off I-385, the venue opened in 2000 and was updated in 2014. Acts include Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, The Hackensaw Body, Vassar Clements, New Riders of the Purple Sage and more.
Live @ Aloft
5 North Laurens St.; 864.297.6100
Located inside the boutique-style Aloft Hotel, the WXYZ bar brings in acoustic performances by some of the area's best emerging artists, from indie rock to DJ nights. The Aloft chain promotes a hip, young lifestyle and Live @ Aloft is part of that.
The Peace Center
300 South Main St.; 864.467.3000
A multifaceted venue, it offers everything from a Broadway Series to performances by artists like Willie Nelson & Family, Jason Mraz and Daughtry in its concert hall. The Greenville Symphony performs often in the smaller Gunter Theatre, while such local talents as the Greenville County Youth Orchestras and Greenville Chorale also call this home. The center also features a popular outdoor concert series covering music genres from country to rock to blues.
Radio Room Greenville
110 Poinsett Hwy.; 864.609.4441
Started by Upstate natives Geoff Cannada and David Raghib around 2010, this is an "intimate dive bar" that features local and regional bands "in a judgment-free, relaxed environment." It's a come-as-you-are place for people who love music and dive bars, a change of pace from some downtown places. Originally located on North Pleasantburg Drive, it moved to its present, larger location in 2017, and has 15-20 acts a month, from hard rock to folk music to punk, plus its popular all-request Metal Monday.
112 North Main St.; 864.241.7988
While it's primarily a college pub and sports bar, this national chain offers live music on weekends, including a number of locals and one-man bands, plus karaoke nights.
Smiley's Acoustic Cafe
111 Augusta St.; 864.282.8988
Owner Mike Fletcher bought the place in 2011 after his son, a musician, played there once. Open six nights a week (closed Sundays) with no cover, Smiley's offers two shows nightly at 6:30 and 10 p.m., plus "open mic" Mondays. With a fantastic sound system and a staff sound engineer, the venue is able to draw local talent as well as acts from Australia, Europe, New York and California. Up to 100 patrons standing or sitting at the club's guitar-shaped bar can hear jazz, blues or old rock ‘n' roll.
The Velo Fellow
1 Augusta St., No. 126; 864.242.9296
The owners describe the place as "an homage to the ongoing British publick house tradition (with) the art and music of today." The menu features plenty of bar food and house-brewed beers, including Publick House Porter, Penney Farthing Pale and Alobar Kudra IPA.
Wild Wing Cafe
1025 Woodruff Road, Suite K-04; 864.234.5202
Like Sharkey's, this is a national bar/restaurant-combination chain, offering nights of live music at both sites.