Live Music Venues in Palm Beach County
By Jon O’Neill
Since it opened in 2011, the Funky Biscuit has built a reputation as the place in Palm Beach County to see national acts in an intimate setting.
With an impressive list of performers that have included Leon Russell, Gregg Allman and the Little River Band, among others, this Boca Raton-based venue offers up a blend of bands that run the spectrum from blues to funk to classic rock to New Orleans jazz.
In addition to the tunes, the Funky Biscuit also offers a full dinner menu aimed at complementing the live entertainment.
Owner Albert Poliak, a veteran of the entertainment and financial services businesses, fell in love with the acoustics of the room when he played there with a band.
“It was an incredible space,” he said. “But there wasn’t much being done with it.”
Poliak changed that by creating the Funky Biscuit and building it up over time, first with local bands and then with bigger-named national acts.
The Biscuit’s success is its variety. It’s open Monday through Saturday -- Sundays, too, if a big act is booked – and the space is set up differently depending on the performer.
“Some nights, it’s more like a dinner show,” Poliak said. “Other nights, we clear out some of the tables to give people room to move around.”
By the way, according to the Urban Dictionary, a Funky Biscuit is “a beat or bass line that rocks the membranes of your brain and brings about a feeling of hedonism and ecstasy and puts a smile on your face.”
“I had settled on the Funky Biscuit, and I hadn’t even heard of the Urban Dictionary,” Poliak said. “But when I saw that, I said ‘that makes sense.’ ”
The Biscuit has built a loyal local following, but also attracts tourists from around the country and around the world. Going forward, Poliak says the plan is to separate the dining room from the music room.
“We need to expand, and so we’re going to do that,” he said. “But our goal will be the same – to offer people the best musical experience they can get.”
The Funky Biscuit
303 SE Mizner Blvd., Royal Palm Place, Boca Raton
More live music venues...
It is somehow fitting that one of Palm Beach County’s top live music venues is named after one of its top characters. It’s also fitting that character isn’t a person – but a monkey.
Johnnie Brown was the name of a spider monkey that belonged to Addison Mizner, the eccentric and iconic architect who designed much of the county’s most famous places, including Worth Avenue, the Kennedy Compound and much of Boca Raton.
To honor Mizner and his monkey (who was rumored to enjoy good music), this rock and roll bar took the critter’s name when it opened in 2009 and does it justice by offering live music seven nights a week.
Although it’s not a “beach” bar – the water is about a half-mile away – its Florida roots show in the décor and the atmosphere.
“Everything about the place says Florida, that’s why we keep coming back,” said 52-year-old Valerie Chaney, who was enjoying the live music recently while on a trip to South Florida from Maryland.
At Johnnie Brown’s the food is simple and very tasty. The music is even more so. The genre is generally classic rock, and some highlights include an Elvis show every Monday night, along with a Rod Stewart tribute band on Tuesdays. Weekday shows usually start at 7:30 or 8 p.m., while Friday and Saturday shows run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
A word to the wise: Come ready to party. You already know the words!
Boston’s on the Beach
40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach
It was once a sleepy hotel in a sleepy town. But that was before two guys from Massachusetts decided to turn the Hotel Del Sol into a bar and live music spot called Boston’s on the Beach.
Today, after 36 years as an A1A mainstay, it is arguably one of the most iconic venues in South Florida. Now owned by Ocean Properties, Boston’s on the Beach offers live music five nights a week – except Wednesday and Thursday – and a beachfront location that oozes old Florida charm.
In addition to the famous bar – decked out in the kinds of sports memorabilia that will make Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics fans feel right at home – Boston’s also has a recently renovated upscale dining spot upstairs, dubbed 50 Ocean.
Next door, those same renovations helped create the SandBar, which features plenty of palm trees and a pool to go along with the beach just across A1A.
The music selection is mainly rock and blues, with some reggae thrown to add even more tropical flavor. For many locals, Boston’s is a go-to bar when visitors come to town. For many tourists, it’s the kind of beachfront bar that they can’t pass up.
They may be the new kid on the block but the folks at Lafayette’s are focused on creating a first-rate live music venue. Nestled upstairs at City Place in downtown West Palm Beach, Lafayette’s features both a music room and a dining room – which serves “Southern food with an attitude.”
While the dining room always has either live piano or acoustic guitar music going, the serious party is usually happening in the spacious music room, where some major national acts have already performed and more are booked.
Scotty McCreery, the country crooning “American Idol” winner, recently played two raucous sold out shows, and Henry Gross, one of the founding members of Sha-Na-Na, recently headlined two nights. Other national and local acts of just about every genre are also showcased, and Lafayette’s has live music seven nights a week.
“We want to keep the music flowing,” said general manager Ronnie Thornton. “We want to grab people’s eyes, and grab their ears. No one else is doing what we do here.”
Visitors will appreciate Lafayette’s layout, which has a relaxed “speakeasy” feel and seems roomy, even when crowded for a live event. Although the location is a bit hidden (upstairs, just across from the movie theater), it’s worth finding. Lafayette’s also offers the perfect end to a day of shopping at City Place.
“We have something special here,” said Thornton. “We are really looking to create a buzz.”
1111 Love Street, Jupiter
Located along the Jupiter Inlet, this bar opened in 2003 and features a true waterfront setting with a thatched Tiki bar to boot. The bar’s name comes from the slang term for the bales of marijuana that often washed up on the shores of the inlet and elsewhere in South Florida.
The Square Grouper has built quite a following over the years, and was even the site of the music video for Alan Jackson’s hit song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” (check out the bartenders – pretty amazing.) The video captures the laidback party vibe of the place.
The Square Grouper features live music of all types Tuesday through Sunday, and on weekends there usually is music during the afternoon and evenings.
Thanks to its history, its location and its consistent musical offerings, The Square
Grouper has the kind of tropical cred and ambience that will have visitors talking about it long after they get home.
Still haven’t had your fill? Here are a few more places worth checking out:
6 South J Street, Lake Worth
The perfect bar for the hardcore live music fan, Propaganda has top local and national acts on tap nearly every night of the week.
640-7 East Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach
Another Delray Beach staple, this favorite of locals features live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
25 South J Street, Lake Worth
This venue lives up to its name (really) and also features an eclectic blend of live shows, ranging from dance music to jazz to classic rock and more.
94 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach
Not a bar, but more like Delray’s arts showcase, the Arts Garage showcases artists that run the gamut from hip-hop to classical – all worth checking out.
9910 Florida A1A Alt., Palm Beach Gardens
Burgers. Beer. Booze. And lots of live music. Although there are not shows every night, the weekend offerings are diverse and fun, and sometimes feature three bands in one night.