Parking in downtown often comes at a premium, but notsuoH and Dean's -- located at 314 Main and 316 Main, respectively -- make the hunt worthwhile. Weekly poetry open-mikes every Wednesday night offer fledgling writers an opportunity to share their feelings onstage, while and lounge piano music is performed every Thursday until 8 p.m.
Both rooms will book just about anyone, so the lineup is hit or miss, but the catchy, raw indie-rockers Darwin's Finches love the place, as do more experimental-minded artists such as laptop genius FLCON FCKER. Don't be confused by the neon sign reading "CLARK'S" above notsuoH, though. They just keep that around for historical purposes, since this hole in the wall used to be a jewelry store in the 1930s.
9. MCGONIGEL'S MUCKY DUCK This cozy, dimly lit venue, tucked just out of sight of the bustling Kirby/Westheimer corridor, is a favorite of local music lovers and beer connoisseurs alike. Smiling servers keep your drinks coming while patrons sit back and enjoy the tunes. Mondays are host to open mike nights, and the rest of the week's varied lineup is available on the pub's Web site. Next Thursday, get a double dose of local music as Tyagaraja and Benjamin Wesley share the bill. Although local artists perform often, acts traveling through town, make frequent appearances as well.
2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5999, www.mcgonigels.com
8. WALTERS Walters is home to some of Houston's local best hardcore, punk, indie and metal shows From Bury the Crown and Skeleton Dick to Indian Jewelry and Cavernous, the former Washington Avenue venue is thriving in its new location. The venue's calendar is usually chock full of heavy, hard-hitting local acts that will satisfy your musical palette as you down a few cheap drinks.
1120 Naylor, 713-222-2679, waltersdowntown.com
Locals love Rudyard's, and for good reason. There's a little something for everyone in "Montrose's Living Room." The music is great, the burgers are fantastic, and they even play sports on the television. Patrons make their way upstairs for local and regional musical and comedy acts. The venue is so eclectic, you might just have to make a few visits to decide what you like best about it.
2010 Waugh, 713-521-0521, www.rudyardspub.com
6. DAN ELECTRO'S GUITAR BAR Blues, rock and roots music abound at this diverse dive way up in the Heights. The lineup is so mixed that, even if you absolutely love the place on your first visit, you might not get the same vibe from the crowd next time around. Check the concert calendar before you make your way inside. Unsung local guitar hero Teri Greene is a linchpin of Dan's Thursday-night jam, and Galveston County's pan-Southern Mama Tried will keep your weekend going strong Saturday night. Only beer and wine are for sale, but you can bring your own liquor if you really want it that badly.
1031 E. 24th St, 713-862-8707, Facebook page
5. THE BIG EASY SOCIAL & PLEASURE CLUB Big, it ain't. Easy and relaxed, it is. But The Big Easy can also be one hell of a party, and it's always well worth the cover. The James Reese Band, Luther and the Healers and The Mighty Orq are just a few of the local heavy hitters who regularly perform at this venue. Little Joe Washington makes recurring visits as well, and the Houston Blues Society hosts monthly parties on site. You may even spot a few roller-skaters cutting it up on the dance floor.
5731 Kirby, 713-523-9999, www.thebigeasyblues.com
Local acts including Beatles cover band Beetle, Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man, Paul Ramirez Band, Glover Gill and Little Joe Washington make recurring appearances, keeping the Continental Club and its little brother two doors down, the Big Top, rockin' most every night. Open to most any local act in town that can draw a crowd, the two offer affordable drinks and a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of local charm, turned up a notch on themed-party nights such as the '80s Prom and "Discoween." There's plenty of seating out back for you to rest your feet, and occasional patio shows, but it's the main hall that keeps music lovers coming back again and again.
3700 Main, 713-529-9899, www.continentalclub.com/houston.html
3. CACTUS MUSIC Not only is Cactus Music one of the last true record stores left in our city, it is also home to plenty of live music. Local acts perform regularly, and touring bands often stop in for a brief performance before their headlining shows around town. Members of local acts like Buxton and Wild Moccasins even work there. See Houston's theatrics-heavy, mysterious Manichean on Friday (today), and catchy, Britpop-influenced trio Castle Lights Saturday. While you're there, sift through their records and CDs. Not only does the venue showcase live acts, Cactus gladly sells local music as well. Lots of it.
2110 Portsmouth, 713-526-9272, www.cactusmusictx.com
2. FITZGERALD'S Fitzgerald's has undergone a lot of changes since its shift in management two years ago, and almost all of them have been for the better. This historic site has become the premier venue for smaller artists, both local and otherwise. From hard-hitting rap acts, such as B L A C K I E, Fat Tony and Bun B, to indie and folk-rock artists like the Second Lovers, Wheel Workers, A Sea Es, Ton Tons and Young Mammals, Fitz's upgraded sound system blares some of the best local music our city has to offer. Weekly open-mikes still offer unknowns a chance to perform, also. Even newcomers get their chance at the spotlight at open-mike night every Wednesday.
2706 White Oak, 713-862-3838, fitzlivemusic.com
1. MANGO'S Best of Houston Winner, 2012:
Head down to the little house at Westheimer and Taft any night of the week and you'll likely hear live music by a local band, ranging from a new ensemble that's playing for the first time to an established outfit honing its set. The venue never discriminates against genres, meaning that in a span of a few days (and sometimes even a few hours), you'll be exposed to anarchist punk, sludge metal, fragmentary singer-songwriter and high-on-the-decibels bizarro. Bring cash if you want to purchase some merch from the dark alcove, and earplugs if you want to keep your hearing.
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403 Westheimer, 713-522-8903, www.mangoscafehouston.com