Sarasota Rocks! 10 ways to enjoy live music in a uniquely Sarasota location

Whether it’s moonlight concerts in a state park, island vibes under a tiki hut, blues at the bar or concerts in a theater, there’s always something live in Sarasota County. 

Experiencing live music is not only about listening to the music itself, but also enjoying the venue and its vibe. For ten uniquely Sarasota live music locations, from jazz to folk, troprock to classical, read on to rock on!

  1. Moon over Myakka.
    This lunar-based experience brings the music to the outdoors in one of Sarasota’s most stunning locations, Myakka River State Park. Enjoy the tunes under the branches of the native Florida fauna, the night air highlighting the freshness of the music-filled air around you and the full moon overhead. This year, May’s full moon corresponds with the Myakka River Blues Festival, as well.
  2. Phillippi Estate Park
    The stunning grounds of Phillippi Estate Park, located on Phillippi Creek, feature a nature trail, rose garden, playground, and historic mansion. But on Wednesdays it serves as home of the Farmhouse Farmer’s Market, where fresh fruit, fragrant flowers, and friendly faces find themselves framed by live music, varying weekly, October through April. On Thursdays from Noon-1pm in February and March, the Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series takes over the grounds, where music lovers enjoy their goodies from home to the beat of free music that fluctuates weekly. Bring a chair, a lunch, and a foot to tap. March brings their big annual event, the Party in the Park, for music loving in a nighttime setting.
  3. Jazz Club of Sarasota
    Jazz fans will appreciate that the first time I heard – and saw – Trombone Shorty was in Sarasota. While typically known for it’s Margaritaville vibe, Florida has a bluesy side. Delve into the Jazz Club of Sarasota, for some southern soul and experience some true musical talent. Their Jazz Festival runs from March 7-10 and features not only soulful live music, but also a trolley pub crawl.
  4. O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill
    A visit to Florida usually rouses daydreams of fruity tropical drinks, sandy toes, and guitar serenades on the waterfront. Make the dreams a reality at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill on the Bayfront of Downtown Sarasota. Their cool cocktails are accompanied with troprock tunage afternoons and evenings to drift you into flip flop tranquility.
  5. Blue Rooster
    It’s easy to forget that Florida is in the south as it’s more tropical than its neighbors to the north. And while we joke that you need to go north to get to The South, a visit to the downtown’s Blue Rooster, with a plate of catfish and collards on your plate, y’all will be begging for a mint julep and a song with soul. With nightly music of the Southern persuasion as well as their epic Sunday Gospel Brunch, you’ll feel that southern comfort to the depths of your being.
  6. Van Wezel Friday Fest
    The Van Wezel, the large purple venue on Tamiami Trail, serves as home to concerts, ballets, comedians, and performers year-round. But come summertime, it takes its talent outdoors for the Friday Fest Free Outdoor Concert Series. Select Fridays in June through September, they open their grounds to fun- and music-loving guests for live local music overlooking Sarasota Bay. As the sun goes down, the beats go up and all is well in Florida.
  7. Owen’s Fish Camp
    Universally popular amongst locals for its outstanding seafood creations, Owen’s Fish Camp is equally celebrated for its tucked-away backyard. Beyond the banyan tree and front patio of the Camp, you’ll find an oasis of fun, full of yard games, a tire swing, oysters on the BBQ, and uber-cool live music. Fiddles, banjos, and spoons are at home here, as you will be. The schedule is not posted – they keep it simple - but the talent is there, waiting to be enjoyed as you sit under the stars and pines. Find a seat, grab a drink, and prepare for backyard bliss.
  8. Live Music in the Park
    Friday nights – and some bonus Saturdays – means it’s time for Live Music in the Park at Payne Park in downtown Sarasota. Outside of Café in the Park, the grassy, tiered open expanse fills with the sounds of guitars and songs from various artists from folk to blues, country to psychedelic. Free to the public, the experience runs from 7:00-9:30pm (ish). Feel free to pop in anytime as this concert in the park oozes free spiritedness.
  9. Music in the Gardens
    It’s not often you can listen to live music under a 100-year-old banyan tree, surrounded by bromeliads and Warhol-inspired living art. But at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, their Garden Music Series makes just that happen. Grab a chair and enjoy various talents at this monthly event, showcasing traditional and nontraditional styles. The series runs February through June, select Sundays from 1-3pm.
  10. The Beach Club
    Did you order some dancing to go with your live music? With a side of beach? Your order is ready at The Beach Club Siesta Key. Sundays feature reggae, Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for grinding the night away. When you need a break, take a few steps to the sands of Siesta Key Beach, enjoy some of that salty air, and head on back to the dance floor for the next jam session.
  11. Bonus Venue: Ringling on the Bay
    The massive terrace of the mansion owned by circus magnate John Ringling overlooks Sarasota Bay and oozes Italian wealth and sophistication…and during Ringling on the Bay, it also abounds with music, dancing, food, drink, and fun. Not often can those of us who don’t own a world-renown circus attend an event at a venue such as this, their home and location of Ringling Art Museum. Moving inward to the courtyard of the Art Museum itself, Ringling Underground incorporates music with local art on display for a uniquely Sarasota experience.