Seattle’s sweet sounds

September 19, 2014 Culture, Music, North America, Seattle
Photo by Seth Sawyers

Photo by Seth Sawyers

Seattle is one of today’s top music cities. Music plays such a big role here it’s even received the nickname the City of Music.

The Pacific Northwest has been home to music makers for thousands of years, dating back to the area’s first Native American settlements. Seattle has influenced various genres of music since its beginning, including rock, jazz, classical and folk.

Some famous Seattleites who made it big in the music industry are Jimi Hendrix, Bing Crosby, Bonnie Guitar and Sir Mix-A-Lot, as well as bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Many believe Seattle has produced and helped lift the careers of several musicians because the rainy winters keep people inside. While some go stir crazy, others — like those mentioned above — get focused and create the songs and music people love.

Besides producing some of the biggest names in the music industry, with the help of quality studios and recording companies, Seattle also has numerous live music venues and annual music events where locals and tourists can listen and enjoy Seattle’s sweet music scene. So, book your Seattle hotel room and get to it!

Live music venues

Benaroya Hall

Photo by Andrew Smith

Photo by Andrew Smith

You’ll notice Benaroya Hall right away as it takes up an entire city block in downtown Seattle. It holds two acoustically perfect performance halls and hosts musical events year-round, most notably shows by the Seattle Symphony. The Seattle Symphony, which has received 12 Grammy nominations, two Emmys and various other awards, performs more than 200 concerts annually in Benaroya Hall. Founded in 1903, the orchestra is now in its 112th season and has been an integral part of Seattle’s music history and culture.

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

Photo by brewbooks

Photo by brewbooks

A premier performance venue in the Pacific Northwest is Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. Inside you’ll find the Susan Brotman Auditorium, seating 2,900 people; the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall, seating 380 people; the Prelude Café; the Kreielsheimer Promenade; and other rooms and lobbies. The Seattle Opera puts on nearly 100 performances here every year. McCaw Hall also hosts shows by the Seattle Men’s Chorus and other musicians throughout the year.

The Showbox

Photo by Joe Szilagyi

Photo by Joe Szilagyi

Even after being in business for 75 years, this place still knows how to rock. The Showbox, sitting across the street from Pike Place Market, always has an impressive list of live music shows. National touring musical acts of every genre play here when passing through Seattle. What makes The Showbox so popular is its huge dance floor, great acoustics, three bars and a crowd that never stops rocking.

Columbia City Theater

The Columbia City Theater has played a role in Washington music during nearly every decade since opening. It was built in 1917, making it the oldest vaudeville theater in the state. This theater was there for the Jazz boom during the 1940s, the rock era of the 1960s and the punk movement during the early 1980s. It’s hosted the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Jimi Hendrix. The Columbia City Theater was renovated and reopened in 2010 and is now a more elegant theater that hosts mostly local bands and artists ranging from hip-hop to acoustic Americana music. This place is so cool SPIN Magazine even named it “the city’s finest sounding room.”

Tractor Tavern

If you see yourself as half country and half rock ’n’ roll, then Tractor Tavern is your kind of music joint. You’ll see cowboy boots hung from the ceiling and a cow skull hung as stage decoration. It’s Seattle’s center for blues, rockabilly and alt-country scenes, although it hosts concerts for every genre and for local, national and international music acts. Choose the right night and you can learn some new moves during a square dancing lesson.

The Crocodile

This music club is one of the very best in Seattle. The Crocodile, formerly called The Crocodile Café, closed in 2007 but reopened in 2009, which many locals were grateful for. This music club hosts lots of hip-hop artists, as well as many up-and-coming local and national talents of every genre. To show how special The Crocodile is to Seattle and musicians, here are some acts they’ve hosted: Nirvana, R.E.M., Cheap Trick, the Beastie Boys and Macklemore.

Annual music events


When staying in Seattle during the summer months, try and check out ZooTunes at Woodland Park Zoo. For the past 30 years, ZooTunes has had a full slate of musicians who perform outdoor summer concerts for locals and visitors. With the picturesque background of North Meadow and live performances by talented blues, bluegrass, folk and jazz musicians, attending one of these concerts is a must when in town.

Columbia City BeatWalk

During the second Sunday of every month from June through October, Columbia City BeatWalk puts live musicians on the streets and in neighborhood businesses. It’s where you go during the spring and summer months to hear the city’s best live music. The music can be heard from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. While the musicians range in talent and the genre of music they play, one thing always remains the same — it’s a one-of-a-kind musical experience for everyone in attendance.

Music helps make Seattle the dynamic city it is and guarantees your trip will be filled with the rockin’, smooth and sweet sounds of Seattle.