Local spots to jam on a budget

As a struggling college student, there are two things I enjoy immensely: free stuff and live music. Combine these and you can get great entertainment that costs you nothing at all – except for the obvious, like transportation, food and drink. If you’re looking for a musical escape that won’t break the bank, read on for some local spots to hear free, live music in the SoFlo area.

Be the spectacle on karaoke night

If karaoke is your scene, there are a number of places in the area that are either karaoke bars or host karaoke nights. These venues are perfect if you enjoy getting up on stage – regardless of whether you sound like the next Beyonce or some species of wailing animal – or if you prefer sitting back and listening to the amateur talent on stage.

Restaurants like ROK, a Korean-fusion restaurant in Lauderhill, offer both delicious food and karaoke daily. Other venues, like The Inn-Field Bar and Grill and Smarty Pants Bar, both on Oakland Park Blvd. in offer karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights. Smarty Pants also has matinee karaoke on Sundays, for those that prefer daytime entertainment. Even Ye Olde Falcon Pub on University Drive, mere minutes from NSU’s Davie/Fort Lauderdale campus, offers karaoke on Monday nights.

Park yourself at free concerts

If live concerts are more your speed, Gulfstream Park, Flamingo Gardens, Sunrise Civic Center Amphitheater, Mickel Park in Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk all offer live music and art events every month. These events are perfect for nighttime picnics with friends or trying out various food options as you listen to live music.

Gulfstream Park offers live music of varying genres every Saturday night, and features recurring artists Benji Rafaeli and Travis Bridges every Tuesday and Sunday night, respectively. Flamingo Gardens hosts First Friday Food Trucks every month, featuring spinning DJ Anarchy and South Florida Bluegrass Association bands. The City of Sunrise will also its Tunes ‘N Trucks concert series on the second Friday of every month until May, featuring varying genres of music each Friday. Mickel Park will be continuing its third annual Music at Mickel Concert series, featuring a different genre of live music  on every third Friday of each month until April. For a daytime equivalent, visit Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk’s Sunday Jazz Brunch, which features live music on three different stages on the first Sunday of every month.

Enjoy a meal and a song

Sometimes lounging in the grass or walking around for your food doesn’t sound too appealing – but never fear, there are plenty of sit-down spots that offer both standard service and live entertainment.

Rock Bar in Fort Lauderdale beach features a live DJ every Thursday through Sunday night, as well as an oceanfront dining experience – though admittedly, the menu can be a bit of a splurge for the college student on a budget. For a more affordable meal-and-music combo for any time of day, try Nick’s Bar & Grill on Hollywood beach, which features delicious seafood and local musicians, as well as the occasional karaoke scene.

No matter what your musical or atmospheric preference, South Florida’s got an abundance of options to choose from in the way of free, live entertainment. Don’t hesitate to get to know the area more and browse some of its musical and artistic offerings; you’re bound to find something that suits you.

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