Discovering The Best Dubuque Live Music Where To Find Your Next Favorite Local Artist

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Hello music lovers! Are you tired of the same old mainstream music? Are you looking for something different and unique that can make your soul dance? If yes, then this article is for you. Today, we’re going to talk about Dubuque Live Music – the city’s thriving music scene that is attracting music enthusiasts from all around the world.

By the end of this article, you’ll discover the hidden gems of Dubuque’s live music scene that you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in a world of music that will take you on a journey of emotions and raw energy. Get ready to experience the thrill of live music that is hard to find anywhere else.

So, what’s the secret behind Dubuque’s live music scene? We’ll explore it in-depth and show you how it has become a hub for music aficionados. With the help of local artists, venue owners, and music enthusiasts, we’ll take a closer look at how they’re keeping the spirit of live music alive in the city. You’ll see for yourself why Dubuque Live Music is the best way to experience the heart and soul of music.

Best Music Venues in Dubuque

Dubuque is a picturesque town with a bustling music scene that attracts performers and music enthusiasts from all around. The city has several venues that cater to different styles of music and preferences, providing a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talent. Whether you’re a fan of Jazz or Rock, Dubuque has got you covered. In this article, we round up the best music venues in Dubuque, along with the reasons why they stand out.

1. Mississippi Moon Bar

Mississippi Moon Bar is located within the Diamond Jo Casino and is among the most popular music venues in Dubuque. The bar has established itself as a prime destination for rock music in Dubuque, organizing shows featuring some of the biggest acts in the genre. Some of the popular bands that have performed at the Mississippi Moon Bar include Tesla, Warrant, and Great White.

  • Club Type: Casino-Based-Small Entertainment Venue

The venue boasts state-of-the-art sound systems and stage lighting, making it an ideal setting for immersive musical and entertainment experiences. What sets Mississippi Moon Bar apart is its focus on providing a special experience, giving the audience a chance to get up close and personal with the performers.

  • Pros:
    • Great acoustics
    • Excellent sound and lighting equipment
    • Wide variety of music styles available
    • Special experience with front-row seat tickets
  • Cons:
    • Schedule can be unpredictable, with no set monthly calendar available
    • Small capacity venue, with max capacity of around 1,000

The Mississippi Moon Bar is an excellent pick when it comes to enjoying live music in Dubuque. With a relaxed atmosphere and state-of-the-art facilities, it offers an immersive experience, making it the perfect place for a night out on the town.

The History of Live Music in Dubuque

Dubuque, Iowa, one of the oldest cities in the state, has a rich history that spans over centuries. The vibrant music scene in the city has been one of the most significant cultural attractions for years. It has attracted both local and national music artists who perform a wide variety of genres, from jazz to rock, and pop music. This article delves into the evolution of live music in Dubuque and how it has continued to shape the entertainment industry of the city.

Early Beginnings of Live Music in Dubuque

The live music scene in Dubuque started in the early 1800s when the city was founded. The first live music performances were held in pubs and taverns, and it was mostly local musicians who performed. Music was an essential part of life during this era, and it helped to create a sense of community and belonging.

One of the earliest records of a live music performance in Dubuque was recorded in 1858 when the Gilman Opera House was opened. It was a grand theater that seated over 2,000 people and hosted a wide range of musical acts, including opera, classical music, and vaudeville shows.

Rise of Jazz Music

Jazz music rose to prominence in Dubuque in the 1920s and 1930s. The city had several popular jazz clubs, including the Paradise Ballroom and the Club Madrid. These clubs regularly hosted famous jazz artists, such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie.

The popularity of jazz music in Dubuque came from the city’s riverboat industry. Riverboats traveling along the Mississippi River would often stop in Dubuque, bringing with them jazz music and other forms of entertainment. The riverboat era was a golden age of live music in Dubuque, and it shaped the city’s music scene for years to come.

Rock and Roll Takes Over

In the 1950s and the 1960s, rock and roll music became increasingly popular in Dubuque. The city had several rock clubs, including the Regis Ballroom, where several famous artists performed, such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Chuck Berry.

The mainstream popularity of rock and roll music in America led to its growing popularity in Dubuque. Many local bands started to emerge in Dubuque during this time, and the city’s music scene became even more diverse.

Dubuque’s Modern Music Scene

Today, Dubuque has a bustling live music scene that incorporates a wide range of styles and genres. The music industry has grown exponentially in recent years, with more venues and music festivals being introduced in the city. The resurgence of vinyl records have led to the opening of several record stores, such as River Lights, and Moondog Music, each with its unique collection of records.

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Among the most significant live music events hosted in Dubuque today is the DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival, held annually in Washington Park. The festival celebrates the city’s rich culture and history, and it hosts a diverse range of local and national music artists, and art displays.


Dubuque’s live music scene has evolved significantly over the years, reflecting the city’s cultural evolution. From humble beginnings in pubs and taverns, the industry has expanded into a vibrant and diverse scene that caters to a wide variety of interests. Through its dynamic history, Dubuque has managed to retain its identity as one of the most significant cultural hubs in the state, and a must-visit destination for live music enthusiasts.

The Benefits of Dubuque’s Live Music Scene

Dubuque’s local music scene is known to be lively and diverse, featuring talented musicians from various genres. As a tourist, exploring the live music venues in Dubuque can be a great way to experience its cultural and entertainment offerings. Here are the benefits of experiencing Dubuque’s local music scene:

1. Experience the Local Culture

Dubuque’s local music scene reflects the city’s vibrant and diverse culture. Dubuque is known for its distinctive brand of Midwest hospitality and charm. While the local music scene is rooted in traditional genres like blues, country, and jazz, it also showcases other genres like rock, pop, and hip-hop. By attending live music events, tourists can experience the spirit of the city and explore its local culture.

  • Live music is an integral part of Dubuque’s cultural identity. It highlights the city’s unique charm and hospitality.
  • The local music scene features a great mix of both traditional and contemporary music genres. Visitors are bound to find something that resonates with their taste.

2. Discover Emerging Musicians

Some of the most talented musicians in the country have started their careers in small towns like Dubuque. Attending live music events in Dubuque can be a great opportunity to discover new talent and emerging artists. These artists often perform at intimate venues and provide audiences with a unique and raw musical experience.

  • Dubuque’s local music scene attracts both seasoned and emerging musicians.
  • Many of the local musicians have launched successful careers and gained national recognition. For example, famous country music singer/songwriter Rodney Atkins spent his early years performing at local venues in Dubuque.

3. Support the Arts Industry

Attending live music events in Dubuque can also help support the arts industry. Dubuque’s local music scene is a vital part of the city’s economy, and many of the local venues are run by small business owners. By attending live music events and buying merchandise, tourists can help support local musicians and local businesses.

  • Supporting the arts industry is crucial for the local economy. It generates job opportunities, brings in tourism revenue and fosters creativity and innovation.
  • Attending live music events is a great way to support the local arts industry and help it thrive.
Pros Cons Comparisons
Live music events help preserve the cultural identity of Dubuque and reflects its distinctive charm and hospitality. Not all live music events in Dubuque cater to all types of music genres. Compared to larger cities, Dubuque’s local music scene provides a unique and intimate experience for tourists.
Discovering emerging musicians can provide tourists with a unique and raw musical experience, and it can also provide exposure to future Grammy Award-winners. Not all emerging musicians cater to all types of music genres. Compared to larger cities, discovering emerging musicians in Dubuque’s local music scene can provide a more personal and interactive experience for tourists.
Supporting Dubuque’s local arts industry can generate job opportunities, bring in tourism revenue, and help foster creativity and innovation. There can be higher costs associated with attending live music events in popular venues. Compared to larger cities, supporting Dubuque’s local arts industry can help tourists connect with the community better and feel more invested in the local scene.

In conclusion, Dubuque’s local music scene offers tourists an opportunity to explore the city’s unique cultural identity and charm, discover new talent, and support the arts economy. By attending live music events, tourists can immerse themselves in a vibrant and dynamic environment while supporting the local community.

The Future of Dubuque’s Live Music Industry

Dubuque has a diverse and lively music scene, and it has been an important part of the community for years. With the changing times and technological advancements, the future of live music has become a topic of discussion. With that in mind, let us delve into the future of Dubuque’s live music industry.

Streaming and Live Music Revenue

Streaming may have revolutionized the way we consume music, but it has dealt a severe blow to the live music industry. With the pandemic making it difficult to organize live shows, streaming has been the go-to solution for musicians to maintain their income streams. However, it has made it difficult for smaller musicians and venues to make ends meet.

  • Streaming is a double-edged sword to the music industry, and more specifically, to live music. On the one hand, streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora provide an affordable way for musicians to promote their music and gain new listeners. On the other hand, it has massively impacted the way consumers pay for music, making it difficult for smaller musicians and venues to make ends meet.
  • Many music venues have had to rely on crowdfunding and donations to keep their businesses afloat, and some have gone out of business due to the pandemic. Streaming has contributed to this, as musicians cannot rely on live music performances to maintain their income streams.
  • The pandemic has further exasperated the issue, as many performers have had to turn to live streaming to bring in revenue. While this has provided an opportunity for venues to explore new avenues for revenue, it has also raised questions about the future of live music where technology is being used in a way to provide live entertainment experiences.

Therefore, a significant concern for the future of Dubuque’s live music industry is how to reconcile the role of streaming in live music revenue.

The Rise of Virtual Concerts

Virtual events have become the new norm for venues like the Mississippi Moon Bar, and they offer tremendous advantages. Consumers can log onto their computers or mobile devices at the designated time and start enjoying the show. This has allowed venues to continue bringing musicians to their audiences during the pandemic.

  • Virtual concerts have been a saving grace for Dubuque’s live music industry in the wake of the pandemic. For example, the Mississippi Moon Bar has been one of the venues that have been quick to embrace virtual concerts. These shows allow them to bring in new artists to a wider audience.
  • Many virtual concert platforms have begun emerging over the last year, catering to the demand for these performances. Actors such as Amazon and Tidal have been quick to partner with artists and provide custom virtual settings for their shows. Musicians like Alicia Keys, whose concert garnered an audience of up to 50,000 fans, have utilized these platforms and taken full advantage of virtual concerts.
  • The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital media and technology, leveraging this to help bring live music experiences to more people, anywhere at any time.
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Technology in Dubuque’s Live Music Scene

With the world quickly digitizing, technology has made a tremendous impact on the live music scene. From the introduction of sound equipment, lighting, video streaming to social media platforms, these developments have transformed the way we enjoy live performances.

  • The role of technology in Dubuque’s live music scene has constantly evolved, with venues always looking for ways to improve the audience experience. By introducing HD video screens, lighting, and sound equipment, music venues can create immersive stages that can bring the entire performance to life for the audience.
  • Social media also serves as an important element in Dubuque’s live music scene. It has allowed musicians and venues to connect with fans, create awareness around events and promote their music.
  • Technology has leveled the playing field for musicians, allowing them to market their music to a broader audience, regardless of their genre or location. This means that even smaller performers can potentially connect with a global audience and achieve success.

The Importance of Diversification

One of the critical takeaways from the pandemic has been the importance of diversification in the live music industry. Music venues and musicians have had to get creative and explore new revenue streams to reach new audiences.

  • Music venues should focus on exploring new avenues of revenue such as merchandise sales, ticket sales or “pay what you like” and charge patrons to view content. It could allow for more performers coming to Dubuque and in turn, help create more revenue for venues and the city as a whole.
  • Collaborations between musicians are becoming more common, particularly in light of the pandemic’s restrictions. Artists have been using technology to create performances and collaborate with other musicians, broadening the scope of their music while providing a unique experience for audiences.
  • Musicians should diversify their income streams by exploring other areas outside of live shows, like collaborations, soundtracks, and merchandise sales. It reduces the risk of dependence on one specific area of revenue.


Dubuque’s live music scene has faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. In this changing landscape, venues and musicians alike must explore new and creative ways to connect with audiences and maintain their revenue streams. The future of live music is evolving, and only those that adapt and embrace technology will thrive. By doing this, Dubuque’s live music industry is sure to grow and prosper.

Key Concepts Pros Cons Comparisons
Streaming Cost-effective for musicians, increase listener base. Smaller venue and musicians are suffering due, it’s difficult to make a living as a musician. Positive: Musicians can promote themselves without a record deal.

Negative: It’s difficult for musicians to make a living without live shows.

Virtual Concerts Artists can perform to a much broader audience, can still be performed without covid restrictions. No Atmosphere Positive: The audience can see them whilst being safe, the performance is cheaper for the consumer.

Negative: Virtual concerts lack the atmosphere of a live show

Technology Improved audience experience, opens up to new musician audiences Most venues need to invest money in said technology Positive: provides immersive the audience with experience; Digitalization has leveraged smaller performers.

Negative: Most venues need money to invest in technology.

Diversification Creates more revenue and opportunities. May not be cost-effective in the short term. Positive: allows for a greater number of performers.

Negative: may not be cost-effective in the short term.

Dubuque’s Music Festivals and Events: Not to be Missed

Dubuque, Iowa offers a vibrant music scene that seamlessly blends different genres and styles. The city boasts of many music festivals and events that cater to the musical tastes of various audiences. These festivals and events not only entertain and educate, but also contribute to the city’s cultural heritage and economic growth. In this article, we highlight five of the must-see music festivals and events in Dubuque.

The DubuqueFest

The DubuqueFest is a three-day music festival that celebrates visual and performing arts. The festival takes place in May at Washington Park in downtown Dubuque. The DubuqueFest features more than 50 artists, crafters, and food vendors, as well as, non-stop live music from local and regional bands. The festival also presents storytelling, poetry, and dance performances in a family-friendly environment. Admission to the festival is free, and visitors can donate to help support the festival.

  • The DubuqueFest is an annual event that has been going on since 1979.
  • The festival showcases local talents and supports the local economy.
  • Visitors can explore the park and the nearby historic district while enjoying the festival.

The Irish Hooley

The Irish Hooley is a St. Patrick’s Day festival that honors Dubuque’s rich Irish heritage. The festival takes place in March at the Grand River Center in Port of Dubuque. The Irish Hooley features traditional Irish music, dance, food, and drink, as well as, Irish history and culture presentations. The festival also presents interactive activities such as genealogy research, sports demonstrations, and children’s crafts. The admission fee includes a commemorative souvenir.

  • The Irish Hooley is organized by the Irish Hooley Committee, a non-profit organization that promotes Irish culture in Dubuque.
  • The festival attracts visitors from across the Midwest and beyond.
  • The festival supports local businesses and charities through sponsorships and partnerships.

The Mississippi Moon Bar

The Mississippi Moon Bar is a concert venue located in Diamond Jo Casino in Port of Dubuque. The Mississippi Moon Bar features top touring acts of different genres, such as rock, pop, country, and comedy. The venue has a capacity of 1,000 seats and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. The Mississippi Moon Bar also offers VIP packages and private events. The admission fees vary depending on the artist and the event.

Pros Cons
-Offers a diverse entertainment experience -Not accessible to all ages and budgets
-Provides a high-quality production value -Depends on the artist’s popularity and availability
-Allows for an intimate setting and interaction with the performers -May not offer as much variety as larger venues

The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra

The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit organization that performs classical and pops music concerts. The orchestra consists of professional musicians from the region and beyond, as well as, guest conductors and soloists. The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra operates from September to May and performs in various venues, such as Five Flags Center, Heritage Center, and Clarke University. The orchestra also offers educational and community engagement programs. The admission fees vary depending on the venue and the program.

  • The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra is the oldest symphony orchestra in Iowa, founded in 1954.
  • The orchestra has won multiple awards and grants for its artistic excellence and community service.
  • The orchestra collaborates with other arts organizations and schools to promote music education and cultural diversity.
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The Dubuque Farmers’ Market

The Dubuque Farmers’ Market is a weekly farmers’ market that features fresh produce, artisanal products, and live music. The market takes place from May to October in the heart of downtown Dubuque. The music acts range from solo performers to bands of different styles and instruments. The Dubuque Farmers’ Market attracts thousands of visitors each year and supports local farmers, artisans, and musicians. The admission to the market is free, but the purchases are encouraged to help sustain the market.

  • The Dubuque Farmers’ Market is one of the largest farmers’ markets in Iowa, with over 150 vendors and 30,000 visitors annually.
  • The market promotes sustainable agriculture, healthy eating, and community engagement.
  • The market offers a wide variety of products, such as fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meat, cheese, honey, and crafts.

In summary, Dubuque’s music festivals and events offer a range of experiences that cater to diverse tastes and interests. These festivals and events not only entertain and educate, but also promote local talents, cultures, and economies. Whether you are a Dubuque native or a first-time visitor, you should not miss the opportunity to experience the city’s vibrant music scene.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dubuque Live Music

What are some popular live music venues in Dubuque?

There are several popular venues where you can enjoy live music in Dubuque, including the Mississippi Moon Bar, Diamond Jo Casino, and the Five Flags Center. Other venues worth mentioning include The Lift, Q Casino, and the Voices Warehouse Gallery.

What types of music can I expect to hear in Dubuque?

Dubuque offers a variety of music genres to cater to everyone’s taste. You might hear anything from country, rock, blues, jazz, pop, to electronic dance music depending on the venue and event.

What is the best time to catch live music in Dubuque?

Dubuque hosts live music events year-round. However, you can expect to catch more events during the warmer months, between May and September when outdoor events take place.

Where can I find information about upcoming live music events in Dubuque?

You can find information about upcoming live music events in Dubuque on various websites such as the official Dubuque tourism website,, and even on social media pages of venues and artists.

Are there any free live music events in Dubuque?

Yes, there are free live music events in Dubuque that you can attend. For example, the Dubuque Farmers Market often hosts free live music events on Saturdays during the summer. You can also check out the free summer concert series events at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Can I bring my kids to live music events in Dubuque?

It depends on the event and venue. Some family-friendly events are open to all ages, while others may be restricted to those over 18 or 21 years old. Always check the details of the event before attending with children.

What are some tips for enjoying live music events in Dubuque?

Some tips for enjoying live music events in Dubuque include arriving early to secure a good spot, bringing cash for purchases, dressing appropriately for the weather and venue, and respecting the performers and other attendees by not talking loudly or using your phone during the show.

Can I dance at live music events in Dubuque?

Yes, you can dance at live music events in Dubuque. However, always be respectful of other attendees and ensure that you are not blocking the view of the stage or disrupting the show in any way.

Are there any live music festivals in Dubuque?

Yes, Dubuque hosts several live music festivals throughout the year, including the Dubuque Fine Arts Festival, the America’s River Festival, and the Dubuque County Fair. Other festivals feature live music as part of the entertainment lineup.

What is the atmosphere like at live music events in Dubuque?

The atmosphere at live music events in Dubuque can vary depending on the venue and event. However, most events promote a friendly and relaxed environment where attendees can enjoy great music, drinks and socialize with others.


In conclusion, Dubuque is a great place to enjoy live music, whether you’re a local or visitor. There are numerous venues that cater to different tastes and styles, and several events throughout the year that offer a range of genres. Be sure to check out the various information sources available to stay updated on upcoming events or concerts. Once you find an event that interests you, take advantage of some of the tips offered to enjoy a fantastic time.

After reading this article, you may want to check out other articles about entertainment or events in Dubuque. There’s always something fun to do in this vibrant city!