Live Music In Nassau: The Best Spots For Hearing Local Tunes On The Island
There’s nothing quite like a night on the town, sipping cool cocktails and listening to a live band croon to the melodies of the island. Here in The Bahamas, live music is a sought after source of entertainment, and remains an important traditional medium of storytelling and cultural expression. For such a small country, The Bahamas has produced a noteworthy repertoire of music amid a deep pool of Caribbean talent- including regional legends and global contemporary stars such as: BahaMen, Sweet Emily, Ronnie Butler, Julien Believe, and even Lenny Kravitz.
Traditional Bahamian music is rhythmic and playful, utilizing percussion (especially the goatskin drum), string, and free reed instruments such as the accordion and harmonica. By and large, there are three major genres- Goombay, Rake n’ Scrape, and our world famous Junkanoo that form the foundation of Bahamian musical roots- each one borrowing elements from the other to create a distinct sound that is uniquely true to our islands. These days though, you’re most likely to experience an impromptu jam session involving these patented sounds outside of New Providence, while visiting one of our many Bahamian family islands– particularly during lively summer festivals and sailing regattas.
Nassau’s live music scene here in the capital is more eclectic and offers a wide range of musical styles: from foot-stomping rake n’ scrape, to sultry jazz, R&B covers, local reggae rhythms, and even mini-Junkanoo rushout performances. In the summer months, weekend music festivals such as Junkanoo in July and Goombay Summer Festival every Friday in August are popular among locals and visitors alike. Expect cultural displays of music and dance, craft vendors, and traditional Bahamian food and drink!
Today, Nassau’s performer circuit is buzzing with talented local artists, many of whom are young in age and eager to show off their original songs and instrumental skills as they launch their musical careers at events, hotel bars, clubs and restaurants across the island.
Whatever your musical predilections are, we insist that you dedicate an evening (at least!) to hearing local tunes during your stay on the island. To start you on your musical journey, we’ve put together all you need to know about where to find the top places to experience Bahamian live music in Nassau.
Green Parrot Bar & Grill
Credit: Green Parrot Bar & Grill
This harbourfront bar is an excellent choice for the goombay, soca, and rake n’ scrape enthusiast. Live bands like The Long Island Connection, Judah Tha Lion, I-Rate, and Da Rhythm Band play often, alongside a well-stocked bar majoring in Bahamian cocktails and beers, so it’s the perfect place to experience good ol’Bahamian culture!
Best Bet For Live Music: Fri-Sat: 9:00pm – 11:00pm / Sun: 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Ambiance: Chill outdoor atmosphere, lively bar next to a buzzing marina
Food & Drink: Bahamian and American classics including conch salad, burgers, and beers
Cover Charge: None, easy listening for bar and restaurant customers
Location: East Bay Street, Harbourfront
Contact: Website, Facebook, Phone: (242) 328-8382
Pirate Republic Brewing Company
A recent addition to the Woodes Rodgers Walk in Nassau, Pirate Republic has quickly become downtown’s bar of choice, especially since it makes its own craft beer! Along with those cold IPAs comes live Bahamian music from entertainers like Kamilah, Tim & Dave, Tebby, and Drew Harmony. This awesome spot, convenient for cruise ship passengers and downtown explorers alike, promises even more local entertainment as their microbrewery continues to grow.
Best Bet For Live Music: Fri-Sat: 8:00pm – 12:00am
Ambiance: Modern alehouse and biergarten, crafted wooden finishes and pubby atmosphere
Food & Drink: Beer battered chicken wings, German sausage, pretzels and mustard, in-house selection of IPA microbrews
Cover Charge: Free to enjoy unless otherwise stated for a special event
Location: Woodes Rodgers Walk, Downtown Nassau
Contact: Website, Facebook, Phone: (242) 328-0612
The Plantation Bar & Grill
Credit: The Plantation Bar & Grill
Plantation Bar is another down-home bar with strong drinks and authentic Bahamian food served under the canopy of silver top branches and creaky wooden shacks. It’s simplistic style and great service attracts hard working business professionals on their way home to the suburbs of western New Providence, as well as live musicians like Tony Seymour and Loose Crew, playing calypso, reggae, and rock all weekend long!
Best Bet For Live Music: Thurs-Sun: 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Ambiance: Low key island-y vibes, set in a wooden bar protected by a canopy of native trees
Food & Drink: Bahamian bar foods: tamarind ribs, conch burgers, fish sandwiches, and cold beverages
Cover Charge: Kick off your shoes and relax, there’s no charge here
Location: West Bay Street, Western New Providence
Contact: Facebook, Phone: (242) 359-1963
Lukka Kairi Restaurant
Credit: Lukka Kairi Restaurant
Nassau Cruisers will love the convenience of this location (directly on the wharf 3 minutes away from the Port) and all guests of the restaurant and bar will enjoy its live music offerings. Performances ranging from lone percussionists on steel pan drums, trendy artist performances like that of Wendi, to 12 piece bands such as Ting ‘Um Dem make Lukka Kairi’s stage one of the most exhilarating on the island. The restaurant’s menu featuring fresh Bahamian flavours with a contemporary twist further enhances the evening entertainment.
Best Bet For Live Music: Mon-Sun: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Ambiance: Lively and upbeat, local art murals, and large harbourfront balcony adds an open-air fresh feeling
Food & Drink: Modern Bahamian cuisine served tapas-style, signature cocktails
Cover Charge: Guests of the restaurant will enjoy live music included with their meal but after dinner events may have a charge
Location: Woodes Rodgers Walk, Downtown Nassau
Contact: Website, Facebook, Phone: (242) 326-5256
Credit: Bahamas Local
Wrap up your weekend with the melodies of Jazz at Jacaranda, which takes place on the first Sunday of each month. Once an old colonial home owned by the renowned Sir Harry Oakes,Jacaranda House has become a swinging cultural hub frequented by the searching souls of old-time elegance. The lush gardens and tranquil poolside venue sets the stage for jazz musicians likeAdrian D’Aguilar and the Jazz Etcetera group, and Anuschka Wright, whose rich voices and instrumentals will leave you swooning after each monthly performance.
Best Bet For Live Music: First Sunday of every month: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Ambiance: Colonial architecture, beautiful gardens, and poolside bars with a fantastic Old Nassau City view
Food & Drink: Bahamian and Caribbean fusion dishes like lionfish ceviche and guava gelato, with wine and spirits aplenty
Cover Charge: General admission on Sundays is $10, but expect to pay $15 during special events
Location: East Hill & Parliament Street, Downtown Nassau
Contact: Website, Facebook, Phone: (242) 322-2275
Compass Point Beach Resort
Credit: Compass Point Beach Resort
In addition to its beautiful location on the beach with the most amazing views of golden sunsets, Compass Point hosts a series of happy hour events, where live performances from some of The Bahamas’ most beloved bands and musicians come to entertain crowds of weekend revelers. Regular performers include: Ira Storr and The Spank Band, and Willis and The Illest.
Best Bet For Live Music: Tues: 6:00pm – 9:00pm / Fri-Sun: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Ambiance: Relaxed, outdoor scene overlooking the ocean and surrounded by inspiring island colours
Food & Drink: International fare from oven fired pizzas to quesadillas and Bahamian conch chowder
Cover Charge: General admission is free but beer and mojito buckets are expected
Location: West Bay Street, Western New Providence
Contact: Website, Facebook, Phone: (242) 327-4500
The British Colonial Hilton
Credit: The Nassau Guardian
As far as The Hilton is concerned, Fridays are “Fantastic Fridays” at their Bullion Bar, where drinks flow as profusely as they once did in the golden era of Prohibition. Infamous bands such as Visagebring down the house with high-energy musical performances! Those looking for something more low key will likely enjoy local powerhouse, Naomi Taylor, who is revered for her soulful jazz covers at the hotel’s bar during happy hour as well as Vice Versa Band with frequent vocal performances by Tru Bahamian Food Tours very own Italian-Bahamian guide, Sara Volponi!
Best Bet For Live Music: Tues+Thurs: 7:00pm – 10:00pm / Fri: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Ambiance: Upscale adult libations, easy listening, and all around good times
Food & Drink: Handcrafted signature cocktails, and gourmet small bites
Cover Charge: Happy hours in the lobby bar are free, $20 admission during Fantastic Fridays events
Location: Bay Street, Downtown Nassau
Contact: Website, Facebook, Phone: (242) 322-3301
Marina Village at Atlantis Resort
Credit: Nassau Paradise Island
For Atlantis guests, there are myriad opportunities for musical performances throughout this expansive property, making it easy for resort-goers to hear any number of live acts during their stay. Marina Village at Atlantis is unique since the open plan allows evening strollers to bounce from one performance to the next in an al fresco atmosphere. Groups such as Falcon Watson’s Traffic Band, Jazz Etcetera, and Ting ‘Um Dem offer varying tempos to suit any ear. Best of all, the property features a live hour-long Junkanoo rush out by the Marina Village Junkanoo Troupe every Wednesday and Friday night!
Best Bet For Live Music: Wed-Sun: 6:00pm – 8:00pm / Wed+Sat: 8:00pm – 9:00pm (Junkanoo)
Ambiance: Breezy, casual, and colourful pedestrian passage dotted with boutique shopping and international cuisines
Food & Drink: Many, many dining options from upscale celebrity chef menus to family favourite eateries
Cover Charge: Zero cover for guests of the hotel, diners, and foot traffic through the marina
Location: Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island