By Vanessa Caceres
Visitors to Naples usually think about the city’s sophisticated, ritzy vibe—but it’s a town that can also rock. And play jazz and blues.
At a variety of bars and restaurants around both Naples and Fort Myers, live music adds dimension to the experience.
Take for instance D’Amico’s The Continental American Provisions and Craft Bar, smack dab in the middle of downtown Naples. The steakhouse has live music about five nights a week, said general manager Irena Wigley.
And take for instance a recent Saturday night when couples and small groups took their time drinking glasses of wine after finishing their meals or desserts and enjoyed cover tunes from the Rick Howard Trio, including K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight,” Prince’s “Cream,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”
A half-dozen guests danced without a lick of self-consciousness. One man among the group, a Robin Williams look-a-like, made exaggerated dance moves and apparently wanted to groove to every song. “We can’t take him anywhere,” a friend of his jokingly lamented.
The music mix includes rock, oldies, Motown, blues, and covers of popular music from the Beatles and the Eagles, Wigley said.
On Sundays, The Continental has music for its brunch. “Sundays in Naples are very locally based, and what we play is different from Saturday nights,” Wigley said. Guests enjoy jazz while sipping bloody Marys or mimosas; the place is usually packed.
The restaurant decided to feature live music because its owner loves music. So, he created the restaurant to include a setup for bands as well as a small dance area, Wigley said. Visiting guests can sit inside or in the outside area where the live music is typically featured.
As residents who live in Florida during the fall and winter return to Naples, The Continental’s music shows get particularly popular, Wigley said. “They know our style,” Wigley said. “The locals know the music and bands that play, and they say it creates a good vibe.”
Visitors to the restaurant enjoy fresh fish, meat, and sides, include grilled shrimp cocktail, roasted chicken, New York strip and rib eye steak, and pommes frites. There’s also an extensive wine list. The restaurant bills itself as a New York steakhouse meets a 1920s Parisian bistro. The Continental also has a craft cocktail bar.
D’Amico’s The Continental is a newer addition to the Naples restaurant and music scene; it opened its doors in December 2014.
Here are a few other live music venues to visit in the Fort Myers and Naples area.
Agave Bar & Grill, Naples
In Naples’s busier fall and winter season, the Mexican restaurant Agave Bar & Grill features live music more often, often from local acts. Music acts range from Latin jazz to Jay Ortiz’s guitar covers of 1960s and 1970s hits. Don’t miss the food at Agave, including the tortilla chips and cheese enchiladas. For a dessert-meets-alcoholic-drink, try the coconut margarita.
Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Fort Myers
For larger-scale acts (like Bob Dylan and Joe Bonamassa) the Barbara B. Mann on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College features popular musicians, symphonies, and other live events.
7th Avenue Social, Naples
This downtown Naples restaurant attracts a younger crowd to eat and listen to live bands and musicians on Thursday through Saturday nights. The restaurant’s drinks and food feature local ingredients. Good Bad Kids, Railhead, and Joey’s Rockin Piano are among the featured acts. The menu is Southern and farm-fresh meets Latin, with dishes like ceviche, shrimp and grits, chili verde pork, and Florida rock shrimp with cilantro and poblano crema.
Space 39 Martini Bar and Lounge, Fort Myers
Local singer and songwriter Sarah Hadeka raves about Space 39, an eclectic art gallery that also has a bar. “I love playing there,” said Hadeka, who finds herself perusing the art work while she performs. The setting sparks her creativity, and the crowd is always very receptive. The music mix at Space 39 includes jazz, Motown, funk, and blues. The bar is also in what Hadeka considers a great location, with other music venues nearby. “You get your ears filled with music,” she said.
The 86 Room Speakeasy, Fort Myers
If you like retro-style live music, swing by The 86 Room Speakeasy, located right across from Space 39 Martini Bar. The music you’ll find includes jazz as well as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash-type bands, Hadeka said.
The Roadhouse Café, Fort Myers
Jazz aficionados will want to make their next live music stop to The Roadhouse Café, often considered a hidden gem in the area. The restaurant features jazz six nights a week. Visitors enjoy the well-respected jazz performers while dining on lobster bisque, roasted beet salad, and a variety of Italian-themed pasta and seafood dishes. The owners also operate a Roadhouse Café in Hyannis, Mass., on Cape Cod.
The World Famous Buckingham Blues Bar, Fort Myers
Buckingham Blues Bar is a little rough around the edges. But if you’re a serious blues fan, you’ll trek out to Fort Myers’ historic Buckingham neighborhood to hear some blues. Bikers and blues lovers unite at Buckingham to hear acts that get the party started fairly early on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Sports on TV and a couple of beers round out the party at the bar.
Whiskey Park, Naples
Located in a shopping plaza, you may not expect all that Whiskey Park delivers—including a wide selection of draft beers in addition to a wide range of music genres three nights a week, from country to folk and jazz. Whiskey Park also has a karaoke night. On the menu: shrimp and crawfish gnocchi, red beans and rice, shrimp po’ boy, and an array of burgers.
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