Rock Your World With Live Music Cedar Rapids A Must See Guide

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Hello there, music lovers of Cedar Rapids! If you’re someone who thinks life is incomplete without live music, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about live music in Cedar Rapids. From the best venues to the hottest acts, we’ll give you a complete overview of what’s happening in the city’s music scene.

By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the live music culture in Cedar Rapids. You can expect to discover new sounds, new artists, and new venues that you never knew existed. Whether you’re a fan of rock, hip-hop, jazz, or bluegrass, there is something for everyone. In this vibrant city, the live music scene is brimming with local talent, and we’re here to help you explore it.

If you’re tired of listening to music on your headphones and craving for the real thing, then fear not! We have the solution, and it’s a simple one – just get out there and experience live music in Cedar Rapids for yourself. There is no better way to soothe your soul and invigorate your senses than by immersing yourself in the city’s lively music scene. So, sit back and read on, as we take you on a musical journey through Cedar Rapids that you won’t forget anytime soon.

The History of Live Music in Cedar Rapids

Music has played a central role in Cedar Rapids since its establishment in 1838. Over the years, the city has developed a thriving live music scene that caters to all genres and ages. In this section, we’ll dive into the city’s rich musical history, tracing the evolution of live music in Cedar Rapids from its early beginnings to the present.

Cedar Rapids in the Early Days

Back in the early days, Cedar Rapids was a small settlement located on the banks of the Cedar River. The city was founded in 1838, and it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that live music started to be performed in Cedar Rapids. During this period, musical entertainment was primarily limited to performances by marching bands that would play at public events such as parades and picnics.

The Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties marked a turning point in the history of live music in Cedar Rapids. During this time, the city experienced an explosion in the number of dance bands, jazz ensembles, and orchestras that played at dance halls, theaters, and nightclubs. One of the most popular venues during this period was The Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which opened in 1927 and hosted several big-name touring acts, including Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

The 1950s and 60s

The 1950s and 60s saw a shift in the musical preferences of Cedar Rapids residents. The emergence of rock and roll led to the establishment of several nightclubs, and dancehalls that catered to this new genre. One of the most iconic establishments during this period was the Surf Ballroom, located in nearby Clear Lake, Iowa. The Surf Ballroom gained national prominence in 1959 when it hosted the last performance of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper, who died in a plane crash soon after.

The Modern Era

The modern era of live music in Cedar Rapids began in the 1980s when a group of music enthusiasts opened a small club called Gabe’s Oasis. Gabe’s Oasis quickly became a mecca for local musicians and fans, offering a platform for musicians from all genres to perform. Since then, the city’s live music scene has continued to grow in many ways, with several new venues opening up, and the range of music genres expanding to include hip hop, indie, and electronic music.

The Future of Live Music in Cedar Rapids

The future of live music in Cedar Rapids looks promising. The city has continued to support local musicians and venues, and in recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of live music events, with several major festivals being held throughout the year. The city’s diverse and evolving music scene has contributed to its cultural vibrancy, attracting both national and international acts to perform in the city.

  • Interesting facts about Cedar Rapids music history:
    • The Veterans Memorial Coliseum is now known as the U.S. Cellular Center and continues to be one of the largest venues in the city, hosting several concerts and events annually.
    • The historic Paramount Theatre, which opened in 1928, has been beautifully restored and is now a popular destination for live theater performances and concerts.
    • The city’s first jazz festival was held in 1969 and featured performances by Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Mann, among others.
  • Real-world examples:
    • The Hancher Auditorium located on the campus of the University of Iowa hosts several live performances throughout the year, including Broadway shows, music concerts, and dance performances.
    • The Cedar Rapids Music Scene Facebook group is an active online community that connects local musicians, venue owners, and fans.
  • Case studies:
    • Gabe’s Oasis has been a significant player in the city’s music scene for over 40 years. The club has hosted several established musicians, including The White Stripes, The Roots, and Bon Iver, during their early years.
    • The Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, held annually, is a week-long event that brings together the community through several activities, including music concerts, food festivals, and parades.
  • Table:
  • Pros Cons Comparisons
    – Growing local music scene – Limited venues for larger shows – Compared to other cities in the Midwest, Cedar Rapids has a smaller music scene.
    – Several music festivals throughout the year – Lack of national acts visiting frequently – Compared to Iowa City, Cedar Rapids has a more diverse music scene.
    – Supportive community for local musicians – Club closures due to COVID-19 – Compared to Des Moines, Cedar Rapids has a smaller music scene but has several venues that cater to niche genres, such as electronic music.
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In conclusion, the history of live music in Cedar Rapids is rich and diverse, with several notable landmarks and events that have shaped the city’s unique musical identity. The city’s supportive community, growing number of venues, and expanding music scene point to a bright future for live performance and music in Cedar Rapids.

Top Live Music Venues in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids houses a lively music scene that boasts various venues suitable for different genres and preferences. From intimate bars to open-air amphitheaters, Cedar Rapids has something for every music lover. Here are the top live music venues in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Theatre Cedar Rapids

Theatre Cedar Rapids is a non-profit arts organization that features a 300-seat theater venue. The venue showcases an assortment of entertainment events, including plays, live musical performances, and other special events. Theatre Cedar Rapids has a rich history that dates back to 1925, and since then, it has continued to offer quality productions that have attracted both local and national talents.

  • Location: 102 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
  • Capacity: 300
  • Pros:
  1. The venue has a long-standing history and is a prominent artistic institution in Cedar Rapid
  2. It offers quality productions and performances that attract a diverse audience
  3. The theater venue has comfortable seating and state-of-the-art audiovisual systems
  • Cons:
    1. The theater’s strict policies on food and drink may limit the audience’s ability to enjoy the entertainment fully
    2. Tickets for performances can be quite expensive

    Theatre Cedar Rapids is a popular destination for both locals and visitors, thanks to its rich artistic history and exceptional performances. If you are a lover of music and the arts, then Theatre Cedar Rapids should be at the top of your list.

    The Blue Moose Tap House

    The Blue Moose Tap House is a lively music venue located in the New Bo district of Cedar Rapids. The venue has a rustic feel and features an outdoor patio area that adds to its charm. It is famous for hosting live music performances that cut across various genres, including rock, pop, hip hop, and country.

    • Location: 211 Iowa Ave Iowa City, IA 52240
    • Capacity: 500
    • Pros:
    1. The venue has an outdoor patio area where guests can enjoy the live music performances in a relaxed setting
    2. The venue has good acoustics and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment
    3. The venue has a friendly and knowledgeable staff that ensures guests have an enjoyable experience
  • Cons:
    1. The venue can get crowded during peak periods, making it difficult to find seating
    2. The noise levels can be quite high, making it challenging to hold conversations during performances

    The Blue Moose Tap House is a popular destination for locals and visitors to Cedar Rapids. The venue not only has excellent live music performances but also offers a relaxed atmosphere that makes it ideal for hanging out with friends.

    McGrath Amphitheatre

    The McGrath Amphitheatre is an open-air venue located in downtown Cedar Rapids. It is owned and operated by the City of Cedar Rapids and can accommodate up to 5,000 people. The venue is known for hosting various musical events, including concerts, festivals, and outdoor performances.

    • Location: 475 1st St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
    • Capacity: 5,000
    • Pros:
    1. The venue has a large seating capacity, allowing guests to enjoy live music performances in a spacious setting
    2. The venue is situated in a picturesque location, providing a delightful view of Cedar River
    3. The venue has ample parking space for guests, making it convenient to attend events
  • Cons:
    1. The weather can be unpredictable, and outdoor performances may be affected by weather conditions
    2. The seating arrangement is not ideal for people with mobility or accessibility issues

    The McGrath Amphitheatre is a popular destination for both music lovers and event organizers. Thanks to its ample space and scenic location, it is ideal for hosting large musical events like festivals and concerts.


    Cedar Rapids has a fantastic live music scene, and the city boasts some of the best venues in the region. Whether you are a local or a visitor, these venues offer something for everyone, from intimate theater experiences to high-energy outdoor festivals. The next time you’re in Cedar Rapids, be sure to check out these top live music venues and catch some of the best musicians in the region.

    Best Places to Experience Live Music in Cedar Rapids

    Cedar Rapids is an exciting city that boasts of numerous places to enjoy live music events. Local residents and visitors have several options to choose from depending on their music preferences, budget, and style. Hence, in this article, we will explore the three top spots to experience live music in Cedar Rapids.

    The Paramount Theatre

    The Paramount Theatre is a beautiful and iconic venue in Cedar Rapids that was built in 1928. Over the years, it has hosted numerous high-profile musicians, comedians, performers, and other artists. The theater can accommodate about 1,700 audience members, and it has excellent sound and lighting systems, making it a favorite spot for many performers.

    Some of the famous musicians who have graced the stage at the Paramount Theatre include Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, and many more. In addition, the theater hosts other events such as plays, ballets, and musicals, making it a versatile venue. The Paramount Theatre is an ideal location for music lovers who enjoy acoustics, intimacy, and a touch of history.


    1. Has excellent acoustics and lighting systems.
    2. The size is perfect for intimate concerts.
    3. The theater has a rich historical significance.


    1. Tickets can be expensive for some music concerts.
    2. It may be difficult to find parking spaces in the downtown area.
    Comparison Table: Paramount Theatre and Other Venues
    Criteria Paramount Theatre Xtream Arena U.S. Celluar Center
    Size 1,700 capacity 6,600 capacity 9,000 capacity
    Acoustics Excellent Good Good
    Historical significance High Low Low
    Lights and Sound systems Excellent Good Good
    Parking space Low High High

    The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena

    The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena is a unique event center in Cedar Rapids that has expanded its services outside of ice hockey games to entertainment, concerts, and other events. This venue can hold up to 6,000 people, making it one of the largest indoor facilities in the city. The arena is spacious, and the seats are arranged such that everyone can enjoy excellent views of the performance.

    The purpose of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena is to connect Cedar Rapids City with professional teams and top-notch talent shows that other major towns enjoy. The facility has designated loading docks, locker rooms, and key amenities required in the entertainment and sports industry.


    1. It is a large and spacious venue that can accommodate many people.
    2. It has excellent sound and lighting systems.
    3. The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena attracts a broad range of performers and events.


    1. It is primarily designed for ice hockey events, which may feel strange for non-hockey fans.
    2. The arena can be too large for some performances.

    The Greene Square Park Band Stand

    If you’re looking for a free musical experience in Cedar Rapids, the Greene Square Park Band Stand is a perfect choice. The park is located downtown and features a beautiful bandstand, which hosts free musical events during the summer months. The bandstand can accommodate around 1,000 audience members, and guests are encouraged to bring their own seating.

    The Greene Square Park Band Stand provides an intimate atmosphere that is ideal for enjoying music under the stars. Some of the events held in the park have included Jazz concerts, Bluegrass, Latin, among others. The small popcorn and treats vendors are also available to satisfy your hunger while enjoying the music.

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    1. The Greene Square Park Band Stand is free of charge.
    2. It is an intimate space for music lovers who enjoy open-air concerts.
    3. The park has a good location in the downtown area.


    1. The park may not be an excellent choice for individuals who do not want to sit on the grass.
    2. The season of the live concert is limited to the summer months.

    In conclusion, Cedar Rapids has many places to experience live music, and the three venues explored above are just a small selection. The Paramount Theatre provides a touch of history, the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena has a large seating capacity for big events, while The Greene Square Park Band Stand provides a unique free open-air musical experience in the summer season. All three offer different experiences, so find the venue that best suits your music taste, budget, and style.

    Why You Should Attend Live Music Events in Cedar Rapids

    If you are looking for a fun night out, with great music and a lively atmosphere, then you should definitely attend live music events in Cedar Rapids. Not only can you enjoy the talents of local musicians, but you can enhance your social life by making new friends and connections. In this article, we will discuss four main reasons why you should attend live music events in Cedar Rapids and why these events are an essential part of the city’s entertainment scene.

    1. Local Music Talent

    Cedar Rapids has a thriving music scene with plenty of talented local musicians, who are eager to share their talents with the community. These musicians infuse their music with the culture and experiences of the city, which makes it unique and diverse. By attending live music events, you can support these artists and help keep the music culture alive.

    – Local musicians can add a personal touch to their music by sharing stories and experiences that are relatable to the audience.
    – You can discover new genres of music that you might not have known existed.
    – Local artists can bring a sense of community, and attending their events can be a great way of connecting with people from the same locality.

    2. Lively Atmosphere

    Live music events can create a lively atmosphere, with the energy of the music pulsating through the crowd. This atmosphere can be felt in the crowd, the performers, and even the venue itself. You will find that everyone is there to have a great time, and the lively atmosphere can make it very easy to get involved with the festivities.

    – Live music events can create a sense of belonging for people who may be new to the area.
    – You can meet new people who share your passion for music by talking to fellow attendees.
    – The positive energy of live music can lift your spirits and make you feel happier and relaxed.

    3. Value for Money

    Live music events are often inexpensive, and it’s a great way to get value for your money. You can experience high-quality entertainment with a great atmosphere, without having to spend too much. There are also plenty of free events that you can attend, so you can appreciate live music without having to break your bank.

    – You can attend music festivals, which can have multiple artists performing for a single admission price.
    – Many live music events are held in public parks, which means they are free to attend.
    – Tickets for live music events can be purchased in advance, which can save you money compared to buying a ticket at the door.

    4. Good Food and Drinks

    Good food and drink are an essential part of any live music event, and Cedar Rapids has plenty of options to choose from. Food and drink vendors usually set up stalls around the venue or have a dedicated area, so you can enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink while enjoying great music.

    – Most live music events have food trucks, beer gardens, and other eateries, so you can enjoy a variety of culinary options.
    – You can purchase alcoholic drinks at the venue, which can enhance the party atmosphere.
    – Good food and drinks can make the experience even more enjoyable, adding another layer of entertainment to the event.

    Pros Cons
    Local musicians can create a personal touch to their music. Not all live music events are free.
    You can discover new genres of music. Some events could be canceled at the last minute due to weather conditions.
    You can meet new people who share your passion for music. Not all venues have good acoustics, which could affect the quality of the music.
    You can enjoy high-quality entertainment without breaking the bank. Some events can be overcrowded, which could lead to an unpleasant experience.
    Good food and drinks can make the experience even more enjoyable. Some venues could be far from your location.

    In conclusion, attending live music events in Cedar Rapids will not only enhance your social life but can also help you support the local communities entertainment scene. You can experience great music, make new connections, and enjoy the overall entertainment that the city has to offer.

    How Live Music in Cedar Rapids Impacts the Local Community

    Live music has become an important aspect of the Cedar Rapids community. The city’s various musical events bring people together and create a sense of community. In this article, we will explore the impact of live music on the Cedar Rapids community. We will discuss its positive effects on the economy, social life, and cultural scene.

    The Economic Impact of Live Music

    Live music events bring a significant economic boost to the Cedar Rapids area. A study conducted by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs showed that in 2018 alone, music and other cultural activities brought in $829 million in revenue to the state. In Cedar Rapids, live music has a significant impact on the local economy, as it attracts visitors from other cities and states, increasing tourism and generating more revenue for local businesses.

    Some of the key economic benefits of live music in Cedar Rapids are:

    • Increased tourism: Live music events attract visitors from other cities and states, who come to enjoy the city’s musical scene. This increases the number of tourists, which in turn generates more revenue for local businesses.
    • Job creation: The music industry provides jobs for musicians, sound engineers, promoters, and other related professions. The increased demand for live music events leads to job creation in these areas.
    • Business growth: Live music events drive foot traffic to local bars, restaurants, and other businesses. This increased business activity generates more revenue for these establishments, thereby contributing to the local economy.

    The Social Impact of Live Music

    Live music events create a sense of community and social connectedness in Cedar Rapids. They provide an opportunity for people to come together and enjoy shared experiences. Some of the primary social benefits of live music in the Cedar Rapids community are:

    • Fostering social connections: Live music events bring people together and create a sense of community. They provide a shared experience that promotes social connectedness and shared values, which are vital to building a strong community.
    • Promoting diversity: Live music events attract people from different cultural backgrounds, promoting diversity and cultural exchange. This exchange of ideas and traditions helps to break down barriers and promote understanding between different groups
    • Encouraging participation: Live music events encourage people to participate actively in the cultural life of the community. This participation can lead to a stronger sense of community identity and increase civic engagement.
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    The Cultural Impact of Live Music

    Live music events are an essential part of the cultural scene in Cedar Rapids. They contribute to the city’s artistic and cultural landscape, making it a more vibrant and dynamic place to live. Some of the key cultural benefits of live music in Cedar Rapids are:

    • Preserving cultural traditions: Live music events provide a platform for the preservation of cultural traditions. They help to keep these traditions alive, passing them down from one generation to the next.
    • Supporting creativity: Live music events provide a platform for local artists to showcase their creativity, thereby supporting artistic expression and innovation in the community.
    • Attracting talent: Live music events help to attract talented musicians and artists to the area, making Cedar Rapids a more attractive place to live and work.

    Pros and Cons of Live Music in Cedar Rapids

    While live music has numerous positive impacts on the Cedar Rapids community, it also has its downsides. To illustrate this point, we will examine the pros and cons of live music in Cedar Rapids using the following table:

    Pros Cons
    Increases tourism Noise pollution
    Generates revenue for local businesses Can be disruptive to local residents
    Promotes cultural exchange and diversity Increase in crime
    Provides a platform for artistic expression Risk of overcrowding

    There are both positives and negatives to live music events in Cedar Rapids. While they contribute significantly to the local economy and social connectedness, they can also have negative impacts on local residents if not managed correctly. It is important to balance the benefits of live music with the potential drawbacks to ensure that these events continue to be a positive force in our community.

    In conclusion, Live music events play a vital role in the Cedar Rapids community. They bring economic benefits, promote social connectedness and cultural exchange, and contribute significantly to the artistic and cultural landscape of the area. It is essential to recognize both the positive and negative impacts of these events to ensure that they continue to be a source of pride and enjoyment for the community.

    FAQs: Live Music Cedar Rapids

    What are some live music venues in Cedar Rapids?

    Cedar Rapids has a number of live music venues, including the Paramount Theatre, the U.S. Cellular Center, and CSPS Hall. These venues host local and national acts throughout the year, so it’s always worth checking their schedules to see what’s coming up.

    What types of music can I expect to find in Cedar Rapids?

    Cedar Rapids has a vibrant music scene that covers a range of genres, including rock, country, blues, jazz, and more. You’re likely to find live music that suits your taste, no matter what you’re into.

    Are there any outdoor live music events in Cedar Rapids?

    Yes! Cedar Rapids hosts several outdoor live music events throughout the year, such as the Freedom Festival and the Great Jones County Fair. These events are a great way to enjoy some live music while taking in the beautiful Iowa scenery.

    What are some of the upcoming live music events in Cedar Rapids?

    The best way to keep track of upcoming live music events in Cedar Rapids is to check out local event calendars or follow your favorite venues on social media. Some upcoming events include the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival Concerts and the Bluesmore Festival at Brucemore.

    Can I find live music in Cedar Rapids every night of the week?

    While live music is available on most nights in Cedar Rapids, it’s always a good idea to check venue schedules ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

    Do I need to buy tickets in advance?

    Whether or not you need to buy tickets in advance depends on the event and venue. Some events sell out quickly, while others may have plenty of tickets available at the door. It’s always a good idea to check in advance to make sure you understand the ticket situation.

    What’s the best way to get to live music venues in Cedar Rapids?

    Many live music venues in Cedar Rapids are located downtown, so there are plenty of parking options available. If you prefer not to drive, there are also public transportation options such as buses and taxis.

    Can I find free live music in Cedar Rapids?

    Yes, free live music can often be found at community events, street festivals, and parks throughout Cedar Rapids. Keep an eye on local event calendars to find out what’s happening around town.

    What are some tips for enjoying live music in Cedar Rapids?

    Arrive early to get the best seats, be respectful to other attendees, and support the local music scene by purchasing merchandise or tipping the performers. And of course, have fun!

    Can I bring my kids to live music events in Cedar Rapids?

    It depends on the event and the venue. Some events may be 21+ only or have age restrictions, while others may be family friendly. Check the event details ahead of time to make sure the event is appropriate for your family.


    Cedar Rapids is a great place to enjoy live music, with a range of venues and events to suit all tastes. From outdoor festivals to cozy clubs, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you. To make the most of your live music experience, be sure to check venue schedules ahead of time and arrive early to get the best seats. And don’t forget to support the local music scene and have fun!

    After reading this article, you may also be interested in checking out our guide to the best restaurants in Cedar Rapids, or our list of the top attractions in the area. Whatever your interests may be, we hope you enjoy exploring all that Cedar Rapids has to offer.