Downtown Willoughby: The Live Music Destination of Lake County

Downtown Willoughby has been home to many venues over the years who have promoted live music and hosted some of the areas most talented acts. Willoughby Brewing Company and Mullarkey’s have consistently featured live performances, but recently others have joined in on the fun. DJ’s are not in as high of demand as they have been in the past and live musical acts are beginning to flock to Downtown Willoughby. Whether you are looking to hear blues, rock, country or the latest pop hits, you can be assured to find an act to appeal to your specific tastes.

The Venues

1899, Ballantine, The Morehouse, Mullarkey’s, Nickelby’s, Olivor Twist, Sol and Willoughby Brewing Company are all hosting live music on both weeknights and weekends.
For instance, on any given Friday night you can check out bands and musicians on the patios of 1899 and The Morehouse, the main stage of Willoughby Brewing Company, Olivor Twist, Mullarkey’s, Nickelby’s or Ballantine. But live music isn’t only confined to the weekends, open mics for budding musicians take place at Taco Local and Mullarkey’s during the week.
Steve McAdams, general manager of Willoughby Brewing Company, says “Willoughby Brewing Co. has a long tradition of live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. It brings such a great energy and a fun environment to the brewery. There’s nothing better than a live band and a great brew.”
Each venue has its own ambiance. Whether you are in Willoughby Brewing Company’s large bar, with professional sound system and stage, or on the patio of The Morehouse listening to acoustic blues or pop hits, there is a decibel level fitting to any ear. The patios of Olivor Twist and 1899 regularly host acoustic singer songwriters and even the occasional full band.

The Musicians


“Any gig in Downtown Willoughby guarantees a good crowd and a good time,” says Mike Miller of local indie-rock band Bro Dylan . They’ve played many times at Mullarkey’s, as well as 1899 and most recently the Willoughby Brewing Company. “We love playing here and the venues are always helpful.”  Bands such as Bro Dylan have been attracted to Downtown Willoughby because of the busy bars and exposure. New Moon Rising, another local indie-rock act, has also been performing around the area including the Willoughby ArtsFest and at 1899.
Downtown Willoughby favorite acoustic guitarist and singer, Nick Zuber , has been professionally performing for almost a decade and has played all over the state. He says, “I like that there is basically a built in crowd wherever you play, full of people ready to have a good time. It gives me a chance to turn my sound system up a little louder than I normally would. It also gives me an opportunity to reach a much younger audience than a normally would be playing for during the week.” Nick always looks forward to shows and says, “There is a special energy that Downtown Willoughby possess and as a musician, it’s very addictive. I’m always excited for a show downtown.

The Crowd

It is generally well known among bar owners that live music keeps crowds in their locations for longer periods of time . Sam Bodjiak, a frequenter of Downtown Willoughby for live performances says, “I would never have come unless [Bro Dylan] were playing. I’ve grown to really like it down here, though. I’ll be back again.” Sam lives in Olmstead Falls, but was brought into Downtown Willoughby simply because there was live music. He continues to say, “What I love about the music scene in Downtown Willoughby is the passion from both the musicians and the crowd. It really is a great place to see local music and meet people who are passionate about it.”
He isn’t the only one, as many more people see the area as a growing music destination. This is an important indicator of the success having live music has on the area. People are coming from all over Northeast Ohio to hear their favorite bands and enjoy the many restaurants and bars.
Live music in Lake County is growing, but in areas such as Ohio City, Tremont, Cleveland Heights and Euclid, this has been the case for several years. Live music is helping change the perception of Downtown Willoughby from outside residents of simply a place to grab beer and late night food, to a place to hear quality entertainment as well. Although there are certain places for musicians to perform in other parts of Lake County, no other destination is as widely visited as Downtown Willoughby.

Let the Good Times Roll

It’s becoming clear that audiences and bar goers out for the evening are becoming less content with DJ’s. Live music has been engaging customers and bringing people into the area for generations and is now coming back in full force. Willoughby Brewing Company and Mullarkey’s, the two most consistent and longest booking live music venues, aren’t the only locations boasting an array of talented musicians anymore. So if you want to hear music, Downtown Willoughby is the live music destination of Lake County.