Tempe’s live music scene took a double hit last month with the closings of long-running venues Nita’s Hideaway and The Bash On Ash. Still, there are plenty of musicians plying their trade in the city and, just as importantly, other nightspots are stepping in to host performances by them.
One such venue is The Firehouse restaurant (1639 E. Apache Blvd.,  966-4531), which welcomes “Lava Lounge” at 10 p.m. Saturday nights featuring funky soul trio Calumet.
“They’re a great band — they rule so hard,” says Ian Stupar, 26, of Tempe. “And The Firehouse is a really cool place.”
The ambiance of the restaurant — lots of brick and wood with red vinyl booths — remains virtually unchanged since the ’60s and is what attracted DJ Jas Tynan, who spins records between band sets, and longtime local music impresario Charlie Levy to the room for their “Lava Lounge.”
“We wanted to do something in Tempe and we both felt of all the places that have a bar in Tempe this is one of the last places with character,” Levy says.
For those looking for a more subdued evening of entertainment, Xtreme Bean Coffee Company (1707 E. Southern Ave.,  820-0333) hosts mellow music performances at 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Jazzy pop band Seven Oceans will celebrate the release of their debut CD, “Perfect Day,” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We love playing there,” says Robert Lang, the band's singer/songwriter. “It's a really nice room that's very open and bright and it has great acoustics.”
Fans of the band enjoy seeing them play at Xtreme Bean.
“A coffeehouse is a more intimate setting, it's not like a bar where people might be drunk or loud,” says Tristan Booth, 42, of Gilbert. “It's quiet and comfortable and their music is conducive to that.”
Another intimate setting for local music is the hookah lounge Red Sea Cafe (827 S. Rural Road,  966-2401). The low-lit room with velvet booths holds about 50 people and, given the nature of the business, may be the only club in Tempe where patrons can smoke indoors and enjoy live tunes. Euriska, a band made up of ASU students, plays acoustically at 9 p.m. Friday.
“It's an out-of-the-way place and it's small and really casual,” singer Mark Darrow says. “At Red Sea, people just want to have a good time, sit and smoke a hookah and have something to drink. It's a really fun place to play.”
Bands can turn up their amps and rock with abandon at The Sets (93 E. Southern Ave.,  829-1822). The large club features several bars, more than 30 pool tables, a smoker-friendly atrium and a separate, 200-person capacity music room with two stages. The venue just began booking live bands last month and, by aligning itself with a pair of radio stations, is positioned to become a major player in the music scene.
“We've got live promos going with KUPD (97.9 FM) on Friday nights and The Edge (103.9 FM) on Saturday nights,” says owner Harry Hekmatian. “They both started last weekend and it's going to be an ongoing thing.”
The following Tempe clubs feature at least one night of live music per week with some offering many more. Please call for details.
Acme Roadhouse, 855 S. Rural Road, (480) 517-1818
Baja Tilly's, 1123 W. Broadway Road, (480) 968-4437
Big Fish Pub, 1954 E. University Drive, (480) 966-5010
The Clubhouse, 1320 E. Broadway Road, (480) 968-3238
Down the Hatch Bar & Grill, 3223 S. Mill Ave., (480) 377-8100
Last Exit Bar & Grill, 1425 W. Southern Ave., (480) 557-6656
Long Wong's, 701 S. Mill Ave., (480) 966-3147
Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Ave., (480) 827-0607
Minder Binder's, 715 S. McClintock Drive, (480) 966-1911
Priceless Inn, 5014 S. Price Road, (480) 897-1466
Rio Salado Brewing Co., 605 S. Mill Ave., (480) 829-6775
Rula Bula, 401 S. Mill Ave., (480) 929-9500
Sail Inn, 26 S. Farmer Ave., (480) 921-1775
Sixshooters, 705 S. Rural Road, (480) 557-6820
Yucca Tap Room, 29 W. Southern Ave., (480) 967-4777
Ziggy's, 414 S. Mill Ave., (480) 557-8087