From nearly 100-year-old theaters to hip bar settings and standing-room-only viewing, Tucson offers a wide array of live music venues. Plus, find new, used and vintage instruments to tune, or shop the racks for classic records, folk oldies, reggae hits and a favorite teenage-era album at local shops.
Setting the Stage: Tucson’s Historical Concert Venues
On the National Register of Historical Places are three Tucson music venues that continue to fill rooms with eager listeners and stages with well-known names, funky bands and up-and-comer voices. Built in conjunction in 1919, Hotel Congress and the Rialto Theatre (318 E. Congress St.) sit across the street from one another.
Rialto Theatre transformed throughout the years from showing vaudeville performances to silent films and major motion pictures, and in the mid-’90s became a concert venue that has since earned right as one of Tucson’s biggest music stages.
It wasn’t until 1985 that Hotel Congress opened its music venue Club Congress (311 E. Congress St.), but today the casual live-music environment is often host to multiple nightly performers inside four distinct club bars.
A quarter mile down the street, doors to Fox Tucson Theatre (17 W. Congress St) first opened in 1930 as a theatrical stage and movie house. Though the theater closed for a couple decades, it has since been renovated and reopened in 2006. The 1,164-seat theater hosts national and international talent and holds tradition projecting classic 35mm films on the big screen.
Where to See Live Music in Tucson
Instrumental, cultural and classical concerts are performed at Tucson Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center. (260 S. Church Ave.)
AVA Amphitheatre at Casino del Sol sees big names like Toby Keith and Gwen Stefani take stage at the outdoor, 5,000-seat performance venue. (5655 W. Valencia Rd.)
Easy-listening and lively bands are regularly scheduled to play at the outdoor Monterey Court—a small arts-gallery complex that was formerly a motel—Tuesday through Sunday evenings. (505 W. Miracle Mile)
The Flycatcher’s live music stage is set within a nightclub with a full bar and hosts local and touring performers several times weekly—some free of charge and others requiring tickets. (340 E. 6th St.)
The Rock has seen thousands of bands play on its stage since opening in the ’70s and continues to host performances almost nightly. Bands tend to be heavy metal and, despite the full bar, all ages are welcome to attend the shows. (136 N. Park Ave.)
Grab a locally crafted beer and settle in to listen to a live band at Borderlands Brewing Company on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. (119 E. Toole Ave.)
Just off of Fourth Avenue, The Sea of Glass Center for the Arts is operated by an organization supporting artistic expression for global change, and music performances of varying talents are often scheduled. (330 E. 7th St.)
Art gallery Solar Culture often hosts national and international performing artists inside its cozy space. (31 E. Toole Ave.)
Strum & Drum: Instrument Shops
Rainbow Guitars: Don’t be fooled by the unassuming storefront of Rainbow Guitars—this 15,000-square-foot showroom and repair facility holds collections of new and vintage electric and acoustic guitars in every color and style a player could dream. Find drum sets, amps and accessories, and get acquainted with a potential new instrument in the test room. (2550 N. Campbell)
Chicago Music Store: Warehouse-size Chicago Music Store traces its opening day back to 1919. The original location on Congress Street sells, buys, trades, rents and repairs all types of musical instruments, while the newer location on Speedway Boulevard sells primarily new electric and acoustic guitars, drums, violins, flutes, amps and sheet music. (130 E. Congress St.; 5646 E. Speedway Blvd.)
The Folk Shop: A music players’ paradise, The Folk Shop sells, trades, buys and consigns music makers of every kind. Vintage and wood instruments are found here along with nearly 250 banjos, plus guitars, fiddles, mandolins and more. (201 N. Court Ave.)
Tunes to Take Home: Record Stores
Old Paint Records: Set inside the antique and vintage shop Gypsy Emporium in downtown’s Old Town Artisans complex is Old Paint Records. Find reasonably priced vintage vinyl spanning genres and decades along with some new releases, including tunes from local bands.
Zia Records: With locations in Las Vegas, the Valley of the Sun and Tucson, Zia Records is a used and new CD, DVD and record emporium. Browse the alphabetized and genre-organized racks for new- and old-loved tunes. (3370 E. Speedway Blvd.; 3655 N. Oracle Rd.)
PDQ Records: After a several-year closing, well-known PDQ Records reopened before the end of 2014 by the original owner who started the shop 30 years ago. Tapes and CDs are sold here, but the spotlight is on the hundreds of thousands of 12-inch and seven-inch vinyl records. (2342 N. Dodge Blvd.)