Live Music Venues: The Clubs

Concert venues come in all sizes – OtisReddingfrom the intimate coffee shop performances to the most elaborate stadium shows – they’re all here for us to enjoy live music in one way or another.  Pennsylvania and specifically the Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Lebanon region boasts a myriad of these venues, and so we thought it’d be nice for us to showcase some of these, both near and far, that fall into the different venue types. For this installment, let’s focus on one of the most storied places for bands to play: clubs.

A “club” can come in many sizes – ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand. If they’re referred to as “nightclubs” or “discos” that usually fits more if they play recorded music via a DJ, whereas those dubbed “rock” clubs have a devoted following in the live music world. Clubs have been invaluable in helping to break new artists for decades. Bands as large as The Beatles owe a great deal to their early days at the Cavern Club, and artists like Bruce Springsteen thank Asbury Park’s The Stone Pony for help in their career.

The Copacabana was the penultimate nightclub in its heyday. With performances from Sam Cooke, The Temptations, The Supremes, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Jerry Lewis, and Henry Belafonte (and the list goes on), it was the place to be for those in the R&B, big band, and comedy worlds. However, the most popular east coast rock club was probably CBGB – the place that hosted punk and new wave bands such as The B-52’s, Blondie, The Talking Heads and more.  CBGB, short for “Country BlueGrass Blues” opened in 1973 and within a few short years, became one of the places to play in New York until it closed in 2006. Though closed, the spirit of CBGB lives in on a festival, which occurred in early July of this year.

Across the country, some other clubs were bringing great music to the masses, such as the legendary Hollywood-based live music venue The Whiskey a Go Go. “The Whiskey” featured rock legends Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Van Halen in their prime. Both Johnny Rivers and Otis Redding (one of my favorite live albums) have recorded albums there, too. Some performers who’ve graced AMT’s stage have even performed at the legendary venue, such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and Alice Cooper.

Some nearby clubs such as Lancaster’s own The Chameleon Club, The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, and The Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg, all bring diverse, top-quality live music to the surrounding area. Without these venues able to serve both small and large crowds, live music wouldn’t be able to touch as many folks as it can today.




– Mike

Mike Rathfon is a member of American Music Theatre’s Marketing department. He can be reached on Twitter @MikeRathfon.