Finding live music in a small town and beyond

by Brooke Landers-

In Blacksburg, Virginia, live music permeates every nook and cranny of the small college town atmosphere. It’s not hard to find a band playing in a small apartment or a downtown bar on the weekends; there is always an opportunity to find live music.

In the heart of downtown, the Milk Parlor offers food and drink with a stage that is occupied nightly by local or small touring musicians. These acts include student-led bands or larger touring bands like Short and Company. Tickets can be acquired in advance or at the door if there is still availability. Milk Parlor never fails to attract a diverse crowd of music lovers, no matter what level of experience the performer offers.

Photo by Brooke Landers taken on Feb. 1, 2022. Short and Co. perform to a crowd at the Milk Parlor.

On a smaller scale, younger bands will play in local apartments or houses with just a cover fee for entrance. These shows often include multiple bands that are student-led and perform at an amateur level. Finding out about these house shows happens through word of mouth or flyers posted around town and on social media. 

If one is looking to watch their favorite artist perform or view a popular international touring act, it will take a short road trip, as Blacksburg is out of the way from any city listed on a tour schedule of a big musician. For sought-after artists like Paramore, the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina is about the closest they will get to Blacksburg. For even bigger artists like Taylor Swift, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be the next closest place to witness her performance. Blacksburg is in a hole when it comes to being within reach of seeing artists of a high caliber, as these artists need populous cities with venues big enough for them to perform in. Southwest Virginia as a whole remains far away from such cities. 

Yet, for a Blacksburg resident, good music is never that far. There is always a chance of stumbling upon an open mic on Henderson Lawn or a guitarist playing at the local Rising Silos Brewery. These acts are free and open to the public. 

When it comes to finding live music, one just has to keep an open mind and open ear. Find a show to attend at the Milk Parlor and learn more about local acts or just look out for flyers advertising smaller local shows. Though Blacksburg may not host Taylor Swift, it still has a lot to offer in terms of good live music.

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