Discover The Best Kept Secrets Of Live Music In Madison

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Hello music lovers in Madison! Are you tired of scrolling through social media posts, desperately searching for a live music show to attend? Well, search no more! In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the live music scene in Madison, where to find the best artists, and how to experience the full potential of a live performance.

By reading this article, you’ll learn about the trending genres of music played in Madison, as well as the locations where you can find weekly live events. Additionally, we’ll share top tips on how you can fully immerse yourself in the live music experience and make the most of your time while supporting local artists. You can expect to leave with a newfound appreciation for the Madison music scene and the means to stay in the loop on must-see shows and hidden gems.

Don’t believe us? Just this past year, Madison was named as one of the “10 Best Cities for Live Music” by Livability Magazine. With countless venues and musical festivals, Madison’s reputation for live music is well-earned. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of live music in Madison!

Best Venues for Live Music in Madison

Madison, Wisconsin, may not be the first place that comes to mind when we think about live music scenes, but this vibrant city offers plenty of fantastic venues for live music lovers. From intimate clubs to large arenas, Madison’s music venues have something for every musical taste. In this article, we’ll explore the best venues for live music in Madison.

Club LaMark

Club LaMark is one of the most popular music venues in Madison, and there are many reasons why. This intimate club offers a cozy atmosphere that makes patrons feel like they are part of the show. Club LaMark provides a platform for upcoming artists in the city and hosts live music shows from local talents.

  • Location and capacity: Club LaMark is located at 117 MLK Jr Boulevard and has a capacity of 150 people.
  • Music genres: The club features a range of music genres, including blues, jazz, and rock.
  • Sound System: The sound system at Club LaMark is top-notch, providing clear and crisp sound quality.
  • Atmosphere: The cozy ambiance of Club LaMark sets the perfect stage for a night of music, drinks, and dancing.
  • Drinks: The venue has an excellent selection of drinks, including a wide variety of beers, spirits, and cocktails.

Club LaMark is an excellent option for live music enthusiasts looking for a cozy place to enjoy talented local musicians. The club’s small size means that every show feels intimate and personal, and patrons can enjoy drinks while listening to some fantastic music.

The Sylvee

For those looking for a larger music venue, The Sylvee is Madison’s newest and largest music venue. Opened in 2018, this state-of-the-art venue is located just blocks from the State Capitol building and has already hosted many famous musicians.

  • Location and capacity: The Sylvee is located at 25 S Livingston St and has a capacity of 2,500 people.
  • Music genres: The Sylvee hosts concerts across a wide range of genres and has featured top musicians like Lizzo, Vampire Weekend, and Childish Gambino.
  • Sound System: The venue boasts a top-of-the-line sound system that provides outstanding sound quality.
  • Atmosphere: The Sylvee has a modern and spacious interior, providing a unique and unforgettable concert experience.
  • Food and drinks: The venue has a full-service restaurant and bar, offering a wide variety of food and drinks to patrons.

The Sylvee is a must-visit for music lovers looking for a world-class concert experience. With its state-of-the-art sound system and spacious interior, The Sylvee can host some of the most prominent names in the music industry, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

The Orpheum Theater

Built-in the 1920s, the Orpheum Theater is a historic venue that has become an integral part of Madison’s live music scene. The theater has undergone several renovations and is now a beautiful and modern venue that continues to host big names in music.

  • Location and capacity: The Orpheum Theater is located at 216 State Street and has a capacity of 1,600 people.
  • Music genres: The theater features a wide range of music genres, including rock, pop, country, and hip hop.
  • Sound System: The Orpheum Theater boasts an impressive sound system that provides an unforgettable concert experience.
  • Atmosphere: The theater’s historic charm and elegant interior create a beautiful setting for live music shows.
  • Accessibility: The Orpheum Theater is handicap accessible, with accessible seating options and an elevator available for patrons with disabilities.

The Orpheum Theater is a beautiful and historic venue that offers an unforgettable concert experience. From the impressive sound system to the theater’s elegant interior, everything about this venue creates a memorable experience for music lovers.

The High Noon Saloon

The High Noon Saloon is a favorite among Madison’s music fans, thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent selection of musical acts. This venue has been around since 2004 and has become a staple of the city’s music scene.

  • Location and capacity: The High Noon Saloon is located at 701 E Washington Avenue and has a capacity of 300 people.
  • Music genres: The High Noon Saloon’s music lineup is diverse, featuring everything from indie rock and country to punk and hip hop.
  • Sound System: The venue has a high-quality sound system that provides clear and vibrant sound.
  • Atmosphere: The High Noon Saloon’s laid-back atmosphere and cozy interior create a perfect setting for enjoying live music.
  • Food and drinks: The venue has a full bar and offers a variety of food options, including vegan and gluten-free options.

The High Noon Saloon is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy live music in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. With its diverse music lineup, top-notch sound system, and cozy ambiance, it’s no surprise that this venue has become a staple of Madison’s music scene.

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Table Comparison

To help you compare and contrast the best venues for live music in Madison, we’ve created a table that summarizes key aspects of each venue.

Venue Location Capacity Music Genres Sound System Atmosphere Food and Drinks
Club LaMark 117 MLK Jr Boulevard 150 Blues, Jazz, Rock Top-Notch Cozy Excellent Selection
The Sylvee 25 S Livingston St 2,500 Multi-Genre Top-of-the-line Modern and Spacious Full-Service
The Orpheum Theater 216 State Street 1,600 Multi-Genre Impressive Elegant and Historic N/A
The High Noon Saloon 701 E Washington Avenue 300 Multi-Genre High-Quality Laid-Back and Cozy Full Bar and Food Options

In conclusion, Madison’s live music scene offers something for everyone, with excellent venues like Club LaMark, The Sylvee, The Orpheum Theater, and The High Noon Saloon. Each venue has its unique charm, atmosphere, and culture, offering a one-of-a-kind music experience for patrons. So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets, grab your friends, and enjoy a night of fantastic live music in Madison!

The History of Live Music in Madison

Madison, Wisconsin is well known for its vibrant music scene. The city has always been a hub for live music, embracing diverse genres ranging from classical to jazz, rock, bluegrass, and more. The following section outlines the timeline and significant events that shaped the history of live music in Madison.

Early Years

Madison’s live music industry dates back to the early 1900s. In 1908, the University of Wisconsin-Madison founded the Union Theater, which became a significant cultural epicenter in the city. It hosted performances by the nationally-acclaimed performers, including jazz pianist Duke Ellington and composer Igor Stravinsky.

Soon after, Madison’s downtown area became a center for live music. Local restaurants and bars such as the Essen Haus and McGrath’s Irish Pub began hosting live shows. These venues featured local and national musicians, starting a trend that continues to this day.

The Seventies and Eighties

In the 1970s and 1980s, the punk and new wave movements took hold in Madison. The influence of college radio spurred the demand for local music. Various bands in a variety of genres began performing in the city’s smaller venues.

The city’s expanding music scene led to the establishment of several record labels, including Kitchen Sync Records and Crustacean Records. These labels helped to launch the careers of notable local musicians, such as Fire Town, Spooner, and Tar Babies.

Recent Years

Since the 1990s, the live music scene in Madison has continued to grow at an exponential rate. It is now vast and diverse, with performances spanning different genres across multiple venues.

A crucial turning point, the opening of the Orpheum Theater in 1996, brought the Madison music scene to the next level. The venue transformed from a burlesque house to one of the city’s most popular entertainment spaces. Orpheum Theater has hosted various big names such as Jack White, Jason Isbell, and The National.

There are now hundreds of regular events and live shows, ranging from festivals like the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest, to outdoor concerts hosted by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, among others.


In conclusion, the live music scene of Madison has a long and storied history. Over time, the city’s love for live music grew, and it now enjoys a thriving and diverse music industry that has influenced local and national musicians alike. Madison’s music scene is continually evolving, and it promises an exciting future for music enthusiasts in the city and beyond.

Pros Cons
Provides entertainment to residents and visitors of Madison Some residents may experience noise pollution from concerts
Stimulates the local economy Increases traffic congestion in downtown areas
Supports local artists and musicians Many venues are expensive and not accessible to everyone
  1. Bands and musicians from Madison have influenced the national music scene, such as Bon Iver, Garbage, and PHOX.
  2. The total revenue generated by the city’s music industry is about $140 million per year.
  3. The world’s first-ever female guitar store owner, Laura Kaeppeler-Brocious, began her career in Madison and still owns her music store, the Brown Bag String Shop, in Verona, a suburb of Madison.

Indeed, the history of live music in Madison demonstrates how the music industry has contributed to the city’s economic growth and cultural identity. Its long history continues to inspire not only Madison’s local musicians but also people worldwide.

Top Performers in Madison’s Live Music Scene

Madison’s live music scene offers a variety of genres, from blues and jazz to indie and rock. The city has a diverse pool of talented artists, both up-and-coming and well-established performers. In this section, we will take a look at the top performers in Madison’s live music scene.

Local Legends: The Must-See Artists in Madison

The following artists are considered to be local legends in Madison’s live music scene:

  • Clyde Stubblefield
  • Beth Kille
  • Paul Cebar

These artists have drawn crowds for decades with their unique and diverse styles. They embody the essence of Madison’s live music scene, and their performances are must-see events for music lovers.

Clyde Stubblefield, also known as the “Funky Drummer,” was a prominent figure in the funk and soul music scene. He played drums for James Brown and was a major influence on countless artists. Stubblefield passed away in 2017, but his legacy lives on in Madison.

Beth Kille is a singer and guitarist known for her soulful voice and rock and roll style. She has won numerous awards for her music, including Madison Area Music Awards and a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award. Kille is also the founder of the Musicnotes Fund, which provides grants for music education in public schools.

Paul Cebar is a multi-talented musician who plays a variety of instruments, including guitar, mandolin, and percussion. He has been playing music in Madison for over 30 years and has released several albums. Cebar’s unique blend of African, Caribbean, and American music styles has garnered him a loyal fan base and critical acclaim.

Up-and-Coming Artists to Watch Out For

Madison’s live music scene is constantly evolving, and there are always new artists on the rise. The following artists are some of the up-and-coming performers to watch out for:

  • Stalgic
  • Wurk
  • Lex Allen

Stalgic is a musical duo consisting of musicians Ben Ziebarth and Ben Jaeger. They blend indie and soul music with electronic beats to create a unique sound that has gained them a following in Madison.

Wurk is a funk and soul band that draws inspiration from the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. They are known for their high-energy performances and have opened for acts such as The Commodores and Morris Day & The Time.

Lex Allen is a singer and songwriter who has been called the “Milwaukee Prince.” His music combines elements of pop, soul, and funk, and he has been recognized as one of the top artists to watch in Milwaukee and beyond.

Comparison Table: Established vs. Up-and-Coming Artists

Established Artists Up-and-Coming Artists
Recognition Well-known in Madison and beyond Gaining recognition in Madison and beyond
Experience Decades of experience performing in Madison Fewer years of experience performing in Madison
Genre Wide range of genres, from funk and soul to indie and rock Emerging genres, such as indie-soul and funk
Legacy Established their place in Madison’s music history Building their legacy in Madison’s music scene

The table above highlights the main differences between established and up-and-coming artists in Madison’s live music scene. While the established artists have decades of experience and recognition, up-and-coming artists are gaining momentum and recognition in Madison and beyond. Additionally, while the established artists have a wide range of genres, up-and-coming artists tend to fall under emerging genres.

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Madison’s live music scene is vibrant and ever-changing, with a diverse pool of talented artists. From local legends such as Clyde Stubblefield and Beth Kille to up-and-coming performers like Stalgic and Lex Allen, there is no shortage of musical talent in Madison. Whether you prefer funk and soul or indie and rock, the live music scene in Madison has something for everyone.

How to Discover New Live Music in Madison

Madison, Wisconsin is known for its vibrant music scene, with numerous live music venues throughout the city. Discovering new live music in Madison can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, but it can also be overwhelming with so many options to consider. In this section, we will explore some tips and tricks to help you navigate the live music scene in Madison.

1. Check the Local Music Calendar

One of the easiest ways to discover new live music in Madison is to check the local music calendar. Many music venues, including the Majestic Theatre, High Noon Saloon, and the Orpheum Theater, as well as local radio stations like WORT FM, maintain calendars of upcoming shows. These calendars are a great resource to find out about new bands and artists in town, as well as shows by established acts.

2. Attend Local Festivals

Madison hosts numerous music festivals throughout the year, including the infamous Summerfest each June. These festivals bring together a diverse selection of local and national artists, as well as up-and-coming names in the music scene. Attending music festivals is a great way to get a taste of different genres and discover new artists that you may not have heard of before.

3. Explore Music Venues

Madison has a plethora of music venues, from the intimate Winnebago to the historic Barrymore Theatre. Exploring these venues is not only a great way to enjoy live music but also a way to discover new artists. Many up-and-coming bands and artists perform at local music venues, so attending shows at these venues can lead to exciting discoveries.

4. Utilize Social Media

In today’s social media-dominated world, musicians and venues use platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to promote upcoming shows and share new music. By following artists and venues on social media, you can stay up-to-date on their latest shows and discover new music before anyone else.

  • Follow local music venues like the High Noon Saloon and the Majestic Theatre on social media.
  • Follow local music publications like Tone Madison and Isthmus.
  • Use hashtags like #MadisonMusic and #LiveMusicMadison to discover new artists and shows in Madison.

5. Ask Around

Finally, one of the simplest ways to discover new live music in Madison is to ask around. Talk to your local record store clerks, bartenders, and other music-loving friends about their favorite shows and artists. Not only can this lead to discovering new music, but it can also help you learn about the Madison music scene and its history.

Method Pros Cons
Checking local music calendars Easy and convenient, great for finding established acts May not include lesser-known artists or under-the-radar shows
Attending music festivals Wide range of genres, opportunity to discover new artists Can be expensive, may be crowded or overwhelming
Exploring music venues Intimate settings, opportunity to discover up-and-coming artists May require some experimentation to find the venue or artist that suits your taste
Utilizing social media Stay up-to-date on new shows and artists, wide range of platforms to choose from May require some effort to sift through posts and hashtags to find what you’re looking for
Asking around Easy and personal, can lead to discovering new music and learning about the Madison music scene May not lead to discovering as much new music as other methods

In conclusion, discovering new live music in Madison can be a fun and rewarding experience with so many resources available. Checking local music calendars, attending music festivals, exploring music venues, utilizing social media, and asking around are all great ways to find new music and artists. So get out there and discover the vibrant music scene in Madison!

The Future of Live Music in Madison: Trends to Watch Out For

Madison, Wisconsin is home to a thriving live music scene, attracting both local and international acts. As we look to the future of live music in Madison, there are several trends to watch out for that could shape the industry in the years to come. In this article, we will explore these trends and their potential impact on the live music scene in Madison.

1. The Rise of Online Concerts

The COVID-19 pandemic brought much of the live music industry to a standstill, forcing artists and venues to adapt to new ways of performing and engaging with fans. One trend that emerged during this time was the rise of online concerts, where artists would perform live shows via streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.


  • Provides additional revenue streams for artists, even when touring is not possible or viable.
  • Allows artists to perform for fans across the globe, expanding their audience reach.


  • Cannot fully replicate the concert experience of live shows.
  • May not generate the same level of revenue as live shows, due to limitations on ticket sales and merchandise.

Even as live shows return, online concerts are likely to remain a popular option for artists, especially those looking to promote new music or engage with fans in different ways.

2. The Continued Importance of Outdoor Venues

Madison is home to several outdoor venues, such as Breese Stevens Field and the Live on King Street series, which have become popular destinations for fans and artists alike. Outdoor venues offer a unique experience for fans, with the opportunity to enjoy live music in an open-air setting.


  • Allows for larger crowds compared to indoor venues, while still maintaining appropriate social distancing.
  • Provides a unique experience for fans, offering a change of scenery from traditional venues.


  • Weather can be unpredictable, leading to cancelled shows and unhappy fans.
  • Sound quality can be affected by outdoor acoustics and surrounding noises.

As the demand for outdoor concerts continues to grow, we can expect to see more venues and events taking advantage of Madison’s beautiful scenery and parks.

3. Incorporating Technology into Live Shows

Technology has always played a role in live music, from advanced lighting and sound systems to live streaming and virtual reality. However, as technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more creative uses in live shows.


  • Allows for more immersive experiences for fans, such as virtual reality concert experiences.
  • Can enhance the overall production value of live shows, making them more engaging and visually appealing.


  • Can be costly to implement, especially for smaller venues and artists.
  • May not be accessible to all fans, especially those who cannot afford high-tech equipment or do not have access to high-speed internet.

As technology becomes more affordable and accessible, we can expect to see more artists and venues incorporating it into their live shows, creating new and exciting experiences for fans.

4. The Emergence of Virtual Reality Concerts

Virtual reality (VR) technology has been gaining popularity in recent years, allowing users to immerse themselves in virtual environments. As VR technology continues to improve, we can expect to see more artists and venues experimenting with virtual reality concerts.


  • Provides a unique and immersive concert experience for fans, even those unable to attend live shows.
  • Allows artists to experiment with new concert setups and designs.
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  • May not fully replicate the energy and experience of a real live concert.
  • Can be expensive to implement and may require specialized equipment not easily accessible to everyone.

While virtual reality concerts are still in their early stages, they hold great potential for creating new and exciting experiences for fans.

5. The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Live Music

Finally, as we look to the future of live music in Madison, it is important to acknowledge the need for diversity and inclusion in the industry. Across the country, many artists and industry professionals have been working to address long-standing issues of racism, sexism, and discrimination within the music industry.


According to a study by USC Annenberg:

  • Only 21.7% of all popular songs from 2012 to 2018 were performed by female artists.
  • Only 19.8% of top producers were female.
  • Only 9.9% of top producers were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

As Madison continues to grow as a music city, it is important to ensure that all voices are heard and represented in the industry.

Ways to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion:

  • Book a diverse range of artists across genres, ethnicities, genders, and sexual identities.
  • Hire a diverse range of staff and provide training on issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • Create safe spaces and zero tolerance policies for harassment and discrimination.

By prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the live music industry, we can create a more welcoming and empowering space for all fans and artists alike.

In conclusion, the future of live music in Madison is exciting and promising, with new trends and innovations shaping the industry in unique ways. By staying on top of these trends and prioritizing diversity and inclusivity, Madison can continue to grow as a thriving music city for years to come.

FAQs – Live Music in Madison

What are some popular live music venues in Madison?

There are many popular live music venues in Madison. Some of the most popular ones include the Majestic Theatre, Sylvee, High Noon Saloon, Orpheum Theatre, and Alliant Energy Center. These venues host a variety of live music events throughout the year, from local artists to big-ticket performers.

What type of music can I expect to find in Madison?

Madison has a diverse music scene, with something for everyone. You can find everything from indie rock to jazz, blues to country, and everything in between. Madison also has a strong local music scene, where you can find up-and-coming artists playing at smaller venues.

What is the best time to see live music in Madison?

The best time to see live music in Madison is during the summer months. Many outdoor festivals and concerts take place in Madison during this time, and the weather is ideal for outdoor events. However, there are live music events happening all year round in Madison, so you can always find something to see.

Are there any free live music events in Madison?

Yes, there are many free live music events in Madison. During the summer months, there are often free outdoor concerts and festivals taking place. Additionally, many bars and restaurants in Madison host live music events without a cover charge.

How can I find out about upcoming live music events in Madison?

There are many ways to find out about upcoming live music events in Madison. You can check local event calendars, such as those on the Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau website, or keep an eye on local music venues’ websites and social media accounts. There are also many music-related Facebook groups and pages relevant to Madison where people share events, photos, and upcoming concerts.

Can I bring my children to live music events in Madison?

It depends on the event and venue. Some events are family-friendly and welcome children, while others may be restricted to those over a certain age. It is always best to check with the venue or event organizer before bringing children to a live music event in Madison.

Do I need to buy tickets in advance for live music events in Madison?

It depends on the event and the venue. For larger events featuring popular artists, it is usually best to buy tickets in advance to ensure that you get a seat. For smaller events, it may be possible to buy tickets at the door. Check the venue or event website for more information on ticketing.

What is the dress code for live music events in Madison?

There is no strict dress code for live music events in Madison. Most people dress casually, but it is always a good idea to check the venue’s website or call ahead to see if there are any dress code restrictions.

Are there any live music events that happen weekly in Madison?

Yes, there are several live music events that happen weekly in Madison. For example, there is the ‘Jazz at Five on the Capital Square’ where free open-air jazz concerts take place every Wednesday evenings from August through September. The High Noon Saloon also hosts a weekly ‘Honky Tonk Tuesday’ with free live music.

Can I record live music events in Madison on my phone?

It depends on the event and the venue. Some venues prohibit recording, while others allow it as long as it is for personal use. It is always best to check with the venue or event organizer before recording any live music in Madison.


Madison’s live music scene is vibrant and diverse, with plenty of venues and events to suit every taste. From small local establishments to large outdoor festivals, there is always something happening. It is always best to plan ahead by checking the latest events, and don’t hesitate to give different kinds of music a try. Also, Madison is a fantastic city with plenty of opportunities to explore beyond music, such as outdoor activities, museums, and excellent food options. Thank you for reading, and we hope you find the perfect live music event to attend in Madison.