Don't tell anyone, but Cincinnati's best small-concert venue is actually in Kentucky. The Historic Southgate House is the stately-but-cool founding father of Newport night life, presiding on a hill just across the Taylor-Southgate Bridge from downtown Cincinnati. Built in 1814 as a home for a prominent lawyer and silk manufacturer, the mansion passed through many famous and infamous hands before becoming the unusual concert venue it is today.
As a homestead, the Southgate House played host to historical events and guests as notable as General Sherman and Abraham Lincoln, but it was probably best known as the home of the Tommy Gun. This is the rifle Chicago Mafia members carried around in violin cases, and it was invented by an army general born in the Southgate House in 1860.
Nowadays, any violin case that comes through the Southgate House doors holds only a violin. Or, more likely, a fiddle - every Thursday is Hillbilly Thursday, featuring bluegrass, folk, and country music from all over the country. This and other regular events, such as the Karaoke Vocal Social and a Singer-Songwriter Open Mic night, take place in Juney's Lounge and are always free. The Lounge on the second floor hosts smaller acts and local favorites in particular. The Ballroom is the largest space, with an open dance floor and a wraparound balcony above with tables and chairs for the less dancing inclined. These two spaces do have a cover, but it's almost never more than $30, even day-of-show, and is often under $20. Some shows are 21 years and up, so underage audience hopefuls should be sure to check the website.
Four bars, pool tables, and an art gallery round out the experience. The bands tend to skew to rock'n'roll, indie, and folk, except of course when they're punk, blues, electronic, country, jazz, hip-hop, or comedians. Which is to say: what are you waiting for? Go check the calendar already!
- On-street parking is available in the surrounding blocks, mostly metered. On weekend nights Newport on the Levee crowds mean it will be a little harder to find a spot.
- Location: 24 East Third Street, Newport, KY
- Phone: 859-431-2201
- Website: www.southgatehouse.com/about.php