Fellow Okies and fans of live music, it’s been a while since we’ve been able to enjoy the sounds of our talented local artists. We wanted to highlight 10 venues in Oklahoma that are regularly having live music, and tell you a little bit about each one. If you haven’t had the chance to visit the places on this list, I’d highly recommend taking your Friday/Saturday night crew for a visit, unless you’re worried about having too much fun…
The self-proclaimed “Millenium Falcon” of bars, 51st Street Speakeasy is a favorite of both bands and bar-goers alike. After almost closing in 2015, “The Speak” has established itself as one of the premier live music destinations in the state with plenty of shows on a regular basis, sometimes hosting 10 bands in the same week.
Located in a historic, turn-of-the-century house inconspicuously nestled off Western Avenue, The Speak has a welcoming and friendly feel for all who come to hang. In addition to hosting undiscovered local acts, album release parties, and regional touring bands, The Speak also offers pool, foosball, shuffleboard, and a separate bar, complete with a dance floor and DJ, hidden from plain sight. With a balcony, patio, and plenty of inside seating, it’s easy to get lost in the maze of entertainment at The Speak
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing evening with friends or a high-energy night with loud music and dancing, 51st Street Speakeasy in OKC is definitely a spot to check out.
The Deli is one of Norman’s last true dive bars, and the only bar in town that plays live music seven days a week. In the 1950s, the building where the Deli is today had a donut and coffee shop that would have artists playing live music occasionally. In 1972, “Deli City” was opened, and 19-year-old Charlie Rayl, a local and resident musician, graced the crowd with James Taylor and Bob Dylan covers.
As the popularity of the live music increased over the first years, the owners made the decision to change the name to the Deli, and convert the sandwich shop to a full-time bar and live music venue.
In 2019, the Deli celebrated “at least” 40 years of live music, with the local legend claiming that bar time is 15 minutes ahead of normal time, so 40 years of live music seems like a safe bet.
Today, the Deli hosts local resident artists, touring bands, and some of the highest-quality karaoke on this side of the Mississippi every Tuesday night.
Although the bar has only been open for a few years, Ponyboy has already cemented its place among the prime live music-viewing venues in Oklahoma. Connected to the Tower Theater, a large venue on NW 23rd Street in OKC, Ponyboy allows smaller touring acts from the area to find a space where they can entertain crowds in an intimate setting
Named after a character in “The Outsiders,” the bar pays tribute to Oklahoma by the courtesy of a bright neon OKLAHOMA sign above the stage. Apart from the sign though, its sleek black and gold theme adds a classy, modern twist to the classic novel-inspired bar.
The connection to the Tower Theater allows the intimate upstairs stage to benefit from a world-class sound system and crew, so it’s easy to mistake the local bands making waves in OKC with one of the regional touring acts that Ponyboy regularly books
Books Industry nights, hosted on a monthly basis by the Ponyboy staff, allows all members of the local music industry to hang out, make new friends, and stay plugged in to the latest happenings in the ever-vibrant Oklahoma music scene
Another Norman staple, The Opolis has established itself as a longtime concert spot, celebrating its 20th birthday next year.
After spending the last few months renovating the venue to improve ventilation and ease social distancing, the Opolis just recently opened up on September 10th for its first show in over a year. When not hosting live music, the Opolis doubles as a vegan restaurant, serving up organic dishes Thursday-Saturday every week.
A self-dubbed micro venue, the Opolis is the perfect spot for fans of live music and intimate shows.
When the Marquee was taken over in 2012, a specific goal was set forth for the space: the creation of an all-ages venue. Separating itself from other restaurants and bars that host live music, the Vanguard only stays open when they have shows, “because they’re a music venue, nothing else.”
Drawing inspiration from Merriam-Webster, the Vanguard is at the forefront of today’s music scene. Even further playing on the venue’s name, concert goers at the Vanguard are right at the front of the action. Whether you’re up front at an arm’s length from the artist, by the bar in the back, or upstairs on the balcony, the 500-capacity venue preserves an intimate feel.
The Vanguard is a place where both first-time local performers and national acts have called home for a night, and it’s definitely a mainstay of the Tulsa music scene. Located in the Tulsa Arts District, just a few blocks from the famous Cain’s Ballroom and Tulsa Theatre, the Vanguard continues to grace the Oklahoma air with the talented sound of the bands that visit.
The idea for Cabin Boys Brewery was born in Catoosa, Oklahoma, as a plan to build a log cabin for people to gather, build relationships, and escape the routine of daily life. Drawing inspiration from European beer culture and a newfound love for brewing, the founders of Cabin Boys followed through with their plan and created a space and product that brings people together
The massive 9,000 sq foot taproom is not only home to great beer but also to live music every Friday night. Gracing the open space with seemingly endless sound of local talent, artists continue to entertain the crowd, showcasing Tulsa’s sound and home-brewed beer.
Among many other hit brewery creations, Cabin Boys recently partnered with FC Tulsa, an influential piece of the Tulsa community, to create a “cerveza-style” beer, another example of their commitment to building community. Whether you’re visiting for their Oktoberfest celebration, an anniversary party, or a good old-fashioned Friday night with some live music, the Cabin Boys community is ready to welcome you with open arms.
“We are a bar! We are a bike team! We are an athletic club! We are fashion! We are Soundpony!”
That’s the greeting you’ll get from Google when you type in Soundpony. And that’s basically the greeting you’ll get when you visit in person as well.
The high-energy and seemingly hodge-podge vibe is a careful curation to cement the Soundpony as Tulsa’s most unique bar and live music spot. The Soundpony is located just a few doors down from Cain’s Ballroom in downtown Tulsa and is well known for its almost nightly live music, as well as its connection to cycling. For almost 20 years, the Soundpony has been a staple of Tulsa’s live music scene, nightlife, Arts District, and cycling culture, hosting a wild party every June for the city’s annual Tulsa Tough race.
The back patio offers beautiful views of the Tulsa skyline, while the inside offers beautiful sounds of Tulsa musicians. Swing by the Soundpony soon to hear some folk, jazz, rap, rock, or at the very least just to see how they put a bike handle on a bathroom door.
Right across the street from the historic Kendall Whittier square, the Whittier Bar mixes dive bar vibes with a carefully curated lineup of musical talent. A newer addition to the Tulsa music scene, the Whittier sits right outside of downtown and brings bands from across the country to Tulsa on a weekly basis
Home to both local and national touring bands, the Whittier is the perfect place to see an artist before they go mainstream. Specializing in punk and rock music, the Whittier is the place for you if you’re looking for a loud show with a fun crowd.
Usually staying away from cover charges, the small space (fits just over 100 people) is equipped with a full sound system and stage for bands to put on a memorable show for patrons. With the goal of hosting live music 3-4 nights a week, sometimes with multiple bands on a show, the Whittier Bar is a guarantee for a good time.
Located at a renovated gas station on the corner of 18th & Boston, the Mercury Lounge, or the “Merc” to locals, is a self-proclaimed “American dive bar with a focus on roots music and the communities that form around it.”
For years, the Mercury Lounge has sold out shows for the best local talent and rising regional acts. The focus on roots music, or music with shared experience and a common denominator, allows for connections to flourish inside the intimate bar. Nobody stays a stranger at the bar for too long.
The laundry list of awards that the Merc has received can be found on their website, but I think their commitment to original music is the highest honor they’ve received. And the focus on original music is very evident. Above the stage is a sign that reads “If you play more than 3 covers, your set is over.” The Mercury Lounge is a must-visit venue in Tulsa for fans of music across all genres, and the drinks aren’t bad either.
Four. Seven. Three (also styled 473) is the youngest music venue on this list, but they’ve established themselves firmly as a supporter of the Tulsa arts community. Bar owners converted the historic Phillips 66 gas station #473 in the Kendall-Whittier district and have dedicated the space to serving local beer, hosting live music, and bringing people to their backyard.
473 is committed to providing a venue for local acts, but they also showcase touring musicians who come to participate in Tulsa’s ever-growing music scene. In addition to hosting live musicians, the bar showcases a different local artist every month, supporting local artists by providing them a space to display and sell their art to the public.
The large backyard is dog friendly, music friendly, and allows people to socialize with each other in a comfortable, stylish environment. Next time you’re in Kendall-Whittier, swing by 473 to listen to some dope DJ’s, inspired singer/songwriters, or a little something in between and get the latest pulse of what’s happening in Tulsa.
Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about some of the best spots to find live music in Oklahoma! Did we miss a venue? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your thoughts!