Celebrating 20 Years Of JamBase

New Concert Venues

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of JamBase. Part of the yearlong celebration includes the 20 For 20 series featuring 20 lists focusing on 20 notable topics and events of the JamBase era. The lists were compiled by current and former JamBase staff members and contributors, music industry professionals and other experts. Stay tuned for more, as the series continues throughout the year and we look back at two decades of encouraging fans to Go See Live Music!

Previous 20 For 20 Lists include Standout Debut Albums By Jam Acts, Pranks & Gags Played By Jam Acts, Festivals We’ve Lost, Memorable Reunions, Farewells Of The Past 2 Decades, Longest Jams & Standout Improvisations, Fan Sites, Memorable Halloween Concerts, Bands Covering Phish, Post-Grateful Dead Bands, Holiday Songs, Supergroups, Memorable Live Collaborations and Jam Acts Covering Jam Acts from the past 20 years. Next up is a look at 20 New Concert Venues.

For two decades JamBase has encouraged people to go see live music. In order to see live music, there must be a place where live music is welcomed. That’s where the concert venue becomes essential to the live music landscape.

With all due respect to D.I.Y. spaces and living room tours, without proper concert venues located around the globe the opportunities to watch musicians express their talents in person would be significantly — if not completely — diminished. From the massive scale of a stadium to a tiny makeshift coffee house stage, the experience being in the same space where music is made has changed countless lives.

The below list presents 20 venues where live music is regularly welcomed and supported. The essential spaces have opened their doors in the past 20 years and were limited to venues located in the United States.

Terrapin Crossroads | San Rafael, CA

[Video Credit: John Mayer, Phil Lesh, Ross James, Alex Koford – “He’s Gone” – June 13, 2015 via Deadheadland]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: March 8, 2012

Capacity: 419

Other Notes: Opening up in early 2012, Phil Lesh modeled Terrapin Crossroads after Levon Helm’s legendary barn space at the latter’s home near Woodstock, New York that played host to the famed “Midnight Ramble” musical events where musicians from across genres and the world would pop in to jam. Phil has certainly achieved the desired effect as Terrapin Crossroads offers music seven nights a week in a number of different musical spaces including the Terrapin Crossroads Bar And Restaurant which offers free shows, “The Backyard”/”Beach Park” outdoor waterfront area and the indoor “Grate Room.” Also like the Midnight Rambles, Lesh and various musical luminaries are known to randomly drop by TxR to jam or just hang out.

Sweetwater Music Hall | Mill Valley, CA

[Video Credit: Bob Weir, Joe Russo, Josh Kaufman, Kevin Morby, Sam Cohen, Eric D. Johnson – “Only A River” – Alone & Together – March 2, 2017]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: January 27, 2012

Capacity: 435

Other Notes: The original Sweetwater venue opened in 1972 and was a major hangout for Mill Valley’s vibrant music scene. The venue shut its doors in 2007. But like his Grateful Dead bandmate Phil Lesh with Terrapin Crossroads, Bob Weir also wanted to help rejuvenate the Marin County music scene. The guitarist and his partners resurrected the beloved venue as Sweetwater Music Hall just down the road from the landmark’s old location with state of the art sound and video capabilities. Sweetwater Music Hall also offers local organic food that is seasonal and sustainable.

Higher Ground | South Burlington, VT

[Video Credit: Twiddle – “Unplugged In Burlington” – April 11, 2019]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: Late 2004

Capacity: 700 (Ballroom), 300 (Showcase)

Other Notes: Higher Ground has actualy been a Burlington, Vermont area institution for more than 20 years. Originally located in nearby Winooski, a downtown redevelopment project forced Higher Ground to pick up and move to South Burlington where a new location oepened in 2004. The venue has a long history with the jam scene as one of its original founders and owners, Kevin Statesir, is Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio’s brother-in-law. Higher Ground’s current space in South Burlington boasts two music areas, the larger “Ballroom” and a more intimate “Showcase” room. Higher Ground also offers food beginning at doors and continuing late night depending on demand.

The Sinclair | Boston, MA

[Video Credit: Aqueous – “Good Enough” – October 26, 2018 via Infinite Vibrations]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: December 19, 2012

Capacity: 525

Other Notes: The Sinclair — located in Cambridge, Massachusetts near Boston — is a live music venue as well as a restaurant. Run by Bowery Presents: Boston, the club features roughly 200 shows a year in the intimate live music space, which boasts balconies and unrestricted sightlines. The restaurant also features performances and seats around 100 people. The Sinclair serves dinner seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. An interesting note: The Metermen with Page McConnell were scheduled to open The Sinclair on October 30, 2012, according to the Boston Globe, but had to move because of construction delays with the venue.

The Orange Peel | Asheville, NC

[Video Credit: Warren Haynes, Dave Grohl & Friends – “All Apologies” – December 9, 2018 via Vitamin J]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: October 25, 2002

Capacity: 1,050

Other Notes: Located in the North Carolina music mecca of Asheville, The Orange Peel was once a rollerskating rink before becoming an R&B club in the 1960s and ‘70s. While the venue had to subsequently close its doors, it reopened in 2002 and has since welcomed some of the biggest names in music including jam luminaries Umphrey’s McGee, Medeski Martin & Wood, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and many more. The Orange Peel has also played host to Warren Haynes’ all-star Christmas Jam and Pre-Jam. In 2008, Rolling Stone named The Orange Peel one of the top five music venues in America. In 2009, the venue opened a downstairs liquor bar called Pulp that also features live music and comedy.

The Anthem | Washington D.C.

[Video Credit: Jack White – “Connected by Love”]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: October 12, 2017

Capacity: 2,500 – 6,000

Other Notes: The Anthem is the centerpiece of Washington D.C.’s revamped Wharf district. Legendary D.C. concert promoter Seth Hurwitz’s company I.M.P. oversees The Anthem as well as the renowned 9:30 Club and Maryland’s famed Merriweather Post Pavillion. At 57,000-square-feet, the large general admission venue still has a club feel with balconies closer to the stage than other similar venues. The stage is also mobile allowing The Anthem to host even more intimate shows. But perhaps the most interesting visual feature is that the ceiling serves as the bottom of the swimming pool for the apartment above. On May 30, 2018, The Anthem played host to the filming of Jack White‘s first concert film as a solo artist, Jack White: Kneeling At The Anthem D.C.

The Pageant | St. Louis, MO

[Video Credit: Chuck Berry – “Nadine” – March 27, 2010 via usbomb99]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: October 19, 2000

Capacity: 750 – 2,300

Other Notes: Part of St. Louis’ Delmar Loop district, The Pageant’s neon sign and marquee evoke the golden era of movie palaces. But The Pageant is definitely a rock venue. The man who practically invented rock ‘n’ roll and hometown hero Chuck Berry played the first show at The Pageant in October 2000 along with fellow rock pioneer Little Richard. The venue boasts a main concert hall as well as a smaller performance space called the Halo Bar. Umphrey’s McGee has held both Halloween and New Year’s run as the Midwestern venue. The Pageant has consistently ranked in the top 10 of Pollstar’s top clubs worldwide.

Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater | Austin, TX

[Video Credit: Bonnie Raitt & John Prine – “Angel From Montgomery” via ACL]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: February 10, 2011

Capacity: 2,750

Other Notes: Other than being the latest home of “the longest running music series in American television history,” Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater (ACL Live) also hosts approximately 100 other concerts a year. The 2,750-capacity state-of-the-art theater is fittingly located on Willie Nelson Boulevard in the heart of downtown Austin’s Second Street district as part of the Block 21 development. Besides hosting ACL as well as other music and comedy acts, The Moody Theater also offers tours to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the legendary music TV show is made as well as a look at the work of renowned music photographers Scott Newton and Jim Marshall.


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Rams Head Live! | Baltimore, MD

[Video Credit: Turkuaz – “20 Dollar Bill” > “Auld Lang Syne” > “King Computer” – December 31, 2017 via Zak Radick]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: December 15, 2004

Capacity: 1,500

Other Notes: Rams Head Live! sits in the thick of downtown Baltimore’s Power Plant Live! entertainment district. Run by AEG Presents, the 26,000-square-foot space counts several bars and three different stage viewing levels among its features. Rams Head Live! offers concerts from a wide-ranging list of artists in a number of genres including electronic, rock, hip hop and country. Turkuaz has held their The Ball Drop New Year’s Eve concert at Rams Head and Keller Williams has also played there on December 31.

Ascend Amphitheater | Nashville, TN

[Video Credit: Phish with Bob Weir – “Playin In The Band” – October 18, 2016 via LazyLightning55a]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: July 30, 2015

Capacity: 6,800

Other Notes: The land Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater now sits on was originally supposed to house the stadium for a minor league baseball team. But, perhaps more fittingly for Music City, it became an outdoor concert amphitheater. Opening its doors in 2015, Ascend has already played host to a number of memorable shows in the jam world. Phish helped to open up the venue in its first week. But perhaps most notable, the Phish show at Ascend during fall tour the following year was where Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir joined the Vermont quartet during their second set for a couple of Dead classics and some Phish songs as well. The outdoor amphitheater boasts an interesting art deco design and features both seated and lawn areas.


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Mission Ballroom | Denver

[Video Credit: Trey Anastasio Band – “Spin” – August 8, 2019 via Gregory Marcus]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: August 7, 2019

Capacity: 3,950

Other Notes: Once again, Trey Anastasio had a hand in opening this new but already beloved Denver venue. While The Lumineers opened up the Mission Ballroom on August 7, 2019, Trey Anastasio Band would play the second and third shows there on August 9 and 10. Trey and legendary Colorado concert promoter Chuck Morris of AEG, the company that operates the Mission, have a history that stretches back to Phish’s early days in Colorado. The venue is already receiving rave reviews from artists and concertgoers for its unimpeded sightlines and variety of viewing areas including the floor, balcony and risers. But perhaps most notable is the venue’s stellar sound system and acoustics.

Lincoln Hall | Chicago, IL

[Video Credit: Umphrey’s McGee – “The Weight Around” – UMBowl 2010 via mattcastaway]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: October 16, 2009

Capacity: 507

Other Notes: The building that houses Lincoln Hall has a rich and storied history befitting of a Chicago landmark. It began as a nickelodeon in 1912 but soon became an auto garage. In 1934, FBI agents observed John Dillinger from the roof of the Lincoln building as he exited the adjacent Biograph Theater and was subsequently killed by agents in a nearby alley. In the 1960s the Lincoln building returned to a theater format called the 3-Penny Cinema, albeit a somewhat scandalous one showing “midnight movies.” While the building shuttered its doors briefly in 2006, local club owners Chris and Mike Schuba would reopen the place as Lincoln Hall in 2009. Singer-songwriter Mike Doughty played the first show there in the fall of that year. The new local venue for Umphrey’s McGee was the site of the band’s first UMBowl in 2010.

Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY & Las Vegas, NV

[Video Credit: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire On The Mountain” – October 3, 2015]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: July 7, 2009 (NYC)/March 2014 (Las Vegas)

Capacity: 600 (NYC)/2,000 (Las Vegas)

Other Notes: New York City’s Brooklyn Bowl also has an interesting history. The building, located in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, originally functioned as an iron foundry that provided much of the steel that built Manhattan’s famous skyscrapers. Impresario Peter Shapiro, who helped organize the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well concerts and ran the famed Wetlands Preserve in NYC, discovered the building while walking around Williamsburg looking for a venue space after the Wetlands sadly closed in 2001. From that, in 2009, Brooklyn Bowl was born as a partnership between Shapiro and Charley Ryan. The venue/bowling alley touts state of the art sound and video capabilities and is LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified green. Brooklyn Bowl expanded to a Las Vegas location in 2014 and will open a Nashville locale in 2020.


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City Winery | New York City, NY

[Video Credit: Robert Hunter – “Mountains Of The Moon” – July 21, 2014]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: 2008

Capacity: 350 (Main Stage), 150 (The Loft)

Other Notes: Impresario Michael Dorf combined the worlds of wine and live music by opening the intimate City Winery in New York City’s Soho neighborhood in 2008. The venue hosted an eclectic mix of music and included a fully operational winery. City Winery expanded beyond its flagship location to open outposts in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. While the original NYC City Winery closed earlier this year, a 32,000 square-foot space at Pier 57 in Hudson River Park will soon open near Chelsea Market.

Cervantes’ | Denver, CO

[Video Credit: 9News]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: January 2003

Capacity: 900

Other Notes: Located in the heart of Denver’s 5 Points neighborhood, Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom occupies the same space as the famed Casino Cabaret — the old sign still hangs outside. In the 1930s, the club saw performances from legendary jazz artists like Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. In the 1960s, the Casino Cabaret played host to James Brown, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner and more. Since re-opening as Cervantes’ in 2003, the venue has championed an eclectic group of artists including Derek Trucks, Dr. John, Chris Robinson, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Big Boi, Nas, STS9, Sam Bush, Page McConnell, Warren Haynes and contemporary jazz great Branford Marsalis, among others. Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom has a 500-capacity sister club called Cervantes’ Otherside that boasts an outdoor patio area. Both rooms feature top-notch sound.

The Armory | Minneapolis, MN

[Video Credit: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – June 14, 2019 via The Current]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: Dcember 15, 2017

Capacity: 8,400

Other Notes: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Minneapolis music venue The Armory used to be just that. The building, at one time the most expensive built in Minnesota, served as the Minnesota National Guard’s armory in the 1930s. It was also the home of the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team from 1947 to 1960 before they moved to Los Angeles. In 1982, hometown hero Prince used the space to film the video for “1999” and Aerosmith utilized the building on their video for “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” in 1998. Also used as a parking facility, the space received renovation and opened as a music venue in late 2017 just in time to host musical events around Super Bowl LII.


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The NorVa | Norfolk, VA

[Video Credit: TAUK – “Collateral” – Februaray 13, 2015]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: April 28, 2000

Capacity: 1,450

Other Notes: Like Baltimore’s Rams Head Live! (see above), Norfolk, Virginia’s The NorVa is operated by AEG Presents. Before being remodeled into its current incarnation, the building served as the Downtown Athletic Club from 1980 to 1998. Prior to that, it was originally the 2,000 seat NorVa Theatre that opened in 1917 during the Vaudville era, later converting to a movie where films where shown into the late-1970s. Local music promoters Rick Mersel and Bill Reid, whose resumes include involvment in developing the nearby Union Bank & Trust Pavilion and Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach, spearheaded the effots to reopen the space in 2000 as a premier concert venue.

Doug Fir Lounge | Portland, OR

[Video Credit: Hot Buttered Rum – “You Can Tell” – April 19, 2019]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: October 9, 2004

Capacity: 200 – 299

Other Notes: Co-founders Mike Quinn and John Plummer got the idea for Doug Fir Lounge after visiting “rock ‘n’ roll hotels like the Phoenix in San Francisco.” Located in Portland, Oregon’s East Burnside neighborhood, Doug Fir provides what those “rock” hotels lacked: a live music space. The intimate, log cabin decorated performance venue and restaurant shares a space with the Jupiter Hotel and is now connected to the Jupiter NEXT boutique hotel. Doug Fir’s memorable design was done by architect Jeff Kovel, with its interior said to bring “to mind a ‘Twin Peaks‘ meets ‘The Jetsons‘ urban ski lodge, with outside walls clad in logs and an interior beautifully overlaid with textured woodwork and glass.” In an effort to support the community, a local artist is selected to design a poster for every show put on at Doug Fir. The first concert held at the club featured Quasi, The Joggers and DJ Gregarious on the bill.

The Caverns | Pelham, TN

[Video Credit: Billy Strings – “Dust In A Baggie” via Bluegrass Underground]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: March 24, 2018

Capacity: 750 – 1,000

Other Notes: Rivaling places like Red Rocks in Colorado and The Gorge in Washington, The Caverns in Tennesssee is now counted among the most majestic outdoor concert venues in the U.S. “The Greatest Show Under Earth” takes place in Pelham, which is located about 90 miles south of Nashville in Grundy County, Tennessee. The Caverns is part of an over 8,000 linear foot connected underground cave system near the base of Monteagle Mountain. Soon after it opened, the modernized concert facility became the new home to PBS’ live performance television program Bluegrass Underground. The first season of BGUG taped at The Caverns featured Brandi Carlile, Billy Strings, Lettuce, Sam Bush Band, Tim O’Brien, Aaron Lee Tasjan and more.

Union Transfer | Philadelphia, PA

[Video Credit: Lotus – April 14, 2018]

Venue Vitals & Highlights

Date Opened: September 21, 2011

Capacity: 1,200

Other Notes: A building in Philadelphia that dates back to 1889 which was originally the Spring Garden Farmer’s Market and then was the Union Transfer Baggage Express Co. before stints as a tire shop, trust company and a Spaghetti Warehouse opened in 2011 as the Union Transfer music venue. Union Transfer is operated by AEG Live’s The Bowery Presents in partnership with the independently-owned local production company R5 Productions. Bookers have put the focus on indie-rock but have also hosted acts from the folk, jam, hip-hop and punk worlds, among others., Hiss Golden Messenger, Kamasi Washington, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, St. Vincent, The War On Drugs, Mike Gordon and The National are just a few of the acts who have performed at Union Transfer since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah opened the venue on September 21, 2011.