A rather all encompassing subject perhaps; I was wondering whether to call this post “Music & Entertainment” or just Entertainment. What I mean is : where can you go to hear music, what different types of music you can hear and what about other music on Kauai?
Let’s see. Music. Some people who come to Kauai are certain they want to hear some Slack Key Guitar and we have some great players on island. Some want to make sure they go to a Luau or see some kind of tropical show that encompasses dancing, perhaps hula and Ukelele. Still others just want to find out what the locals listen to and the cool places to hear some talent at open mic nights or maybe there’s a Kauai Music Festival going on.
Photo above courtesy of Duke’s Kauai – Live entertainment nightly at the Barefoot Bar.
I remember being extra busy at the beginning of December last year when Graham Nash announced he was going to do that New Year’s Eve Concert on Kauai. There were only a certain number of tickets available and some people bought tickets before checking whether they could book a place to stay. So if that ever happens again…. check on the accommodation if it’s around the holidays first!
Nightly Live Music
The “Nui” is an institution on the North Shore in Hanalei. It’s been there since 1963… that’s a long time! Aunty Louise was from Tahiti and Bruce Marston was in the Air Force. Aunty Louise was a great character on the North Shore and their son Christian now runs the place.
What can you say about “da Nui?” You just have to go. The drinks are amazing and the food is very good too. Added to that the live entertainment every night, it’s an absolute must if enjoy a place with an authentic island vibe of music in a relaxed, truly cool atmosphere. Some of the best music on Kauai. It’s also the best Luau which happens every Wednesday night.
Their website has the calendar of who is playing every night. Of course can’t not mention that the Nui was featured in the movie The Descendants with George Clooney. Yep, that was the Nui! Photos courtesy of “da Nui”.
Happy Talk Lounge at the Hanalei Bay Resort
Happy Talk is the only other place apart from the Nui which has nightly music from 6 – 9pm. Hanalei Bay Resort (or HBR as the locals call it) is in Princeville and has a gorgeous view of the bay. Aloha Fridays with Michael Ruff is back which is popular .
Nanea Restaurant & Bar at the Westin has live jazz on Saturdays
The Bar at Princeville Resort (St. Regis) has piano music every night.
Hukilau Lanai/Wally’s Bar at the Kauai Coast Resort
The Hukilau Lanai has live music every night from 6 – 9pm ranging from easy listening jazz to slack key. Artists include Mike Keale, Dennis Chun and Pancho Graham who also play up north at the Nui and Happy Talk and also Billy Paul who plays blues, rock, bluegrass & country. Check out their calendar to see who’s on when you are here.
The food is excellent here. “Hukilau” is the ancient practice of harvesting fish that would involve the whole Ohana (community). The Kahunas would “travel” with their spirits out to where the fish would be and the fish would be guided into the shoreline where the Ohana would literally just walk out and scoop them up. A Sacred practice which still sometimes happens today.
Trees has live entertainment most nights and features more contemporary music. Tuesday is Salsa night but they also have rock, reggae, blues, you name it. Open Mic nights also happen regularly. Check out their calendar to see who’s playing. Trees is located close to the Coconut Market Place on Aleka Loup.
Lava Lava Beach Club
I have to say I love this place. It is literally right on the sand.. the only restaurant that can claim this on Kauai. It’s open all day offering coffee, chai, pastries and breakfasts, lunch and then dinner in the evening too.
You can sit in one of the comfy chairs with your feet in the sand. Now that’s Kauai. They have live entertainment from 6.80 – 8.30 every night, mostly island style but encompassing anything more relaxed & harmonious. Wonderful place to hear music on Kauai.
Duke’s Barefoot Bar
The Barefoot Bar has live entertainment every day from 4 – 6, Hawaiian style. Great ocean views and a vibe and atmosphere which many people find better than Duke’s main restaurant upstairs.
Rob’s Good Times Grill
Rob’s has been going for 20 years plus and has live music every night except Sunday. The live music is usually 4 – 6 pm except on Fridays and Saturdays when it’s all night. Other things happen after 6 – Tuesday night is Swing Dancing night! Karaoke happens Monday, Wednesday and Sundays. It’s a fun place.
Keoki’s is one of my favorite casual restaurants, certainly on the South Shore. The ambience is lovely featuring a lot of green and you don’t feel as though you are in a shopping center (which you kinda are!) .
Also the food is consistently good. Live music every night from 5.30 – 7.30 featuring local Hawaiian style music mostly. Photo courtesy of Keoki’s Paradise.
Merriman’s is an outstanding restaurant featuring Peter Merriman’s extraordinary food. Gorgeous ocean view and they have live music every night from 6 -8 pm – style in keeping with the restaurant. I had wanted to include Merriman’s in the list of most romantic Sunset spots but space was limited. It is still one of the most romantic restaurants to dine on Kauai.
Seaside Terrace at the Hyatt
Seaside Terrace has nightly Hawaiian music. Relaxed atmosphere with views. 5 – 7pm . “Island Entertainment’ from 7 – 9pm, so more varied. Still relaxed style though.
Brenneke’s Beach Broiler
Brenneke’s has live music Thursday – Saturday and offers classic rock, R & B, Reggae, Pop and ‘Pau Hana” nights were the focus is more Hawaiian. Great location opposite the beach in Poipu.
Slack Key Guitar & Ukelele
I’m including a whole section on this as Slack Key is so popular on Kauai. Slack Key Guitar is a style of playing that was invented in the 1700s by the Hawaiian “Paniolos”. It’s a style of guitar playing that is quintessentially and immediately recognizable as Hawaiian. As Sandy McMaster says, it’s always played Nahe nahe “soft & sweet” played from the heart and with great Aloha. Doug has been playing guitar since he was 6 and plays “old style” like the Native Hawaiians.
On Kauai, we are lucky to have Doug & Sandy McMaster who offer concerts every week. They are always relaxed, informal and quite lovely. Whilst Doug plays the guitar, Sandy plays Ukelele, so you hear Ukelele too. They have won numerous awards and accolades including First place in the Reader’s Choice Awards. Photos courtesy of Doug & Sandy McMaster.
Friday at 4pm and Sundays at 3pm at the Hanalei Community Center. Wednesdays at 6pm at All Saints Church Kapa’a and Princeville Community Center Tuesdays at 6pm.
Resources for checking what’s On
Kauai Music Scene which lists what’s happening on a weekly basis. Some of the links to artists and bands don’t appear to function as I write, but the what’s on is up to date.
Useful blog by Linda on Hawaiian music happenings . KKRC and KONG Radio have updates about events happening as does the Garden Isle newspaper. Then just check the community boards at shops around the island, they often have flyers of music events happening in the following few days.
I’ll be doing a full post on Music Festivals on Kauai soon. In the meantime you might check out whether any of the following are happening during your stay. There’s the ones that have become Kauai standards like the yearly Kauai Mokihana Festival (September) where you can hear a lot of Hawaiian music and Hula and The Eo E Emmalani I Alakai Festival in October which is held up in Koke’e State Park and which is held in honor of Queen Emmalani. It begins with “Queen Emmalani” riding in on a horse (a different lady plays her every year).
Dove Presents brings Kauai the Home Grown Festival every year. This is the biggest music festival and features “home grown ” Hawaii artists – first time Nahko & the Medicine People were on Kauai for example. Dove also presents smaller performances throughout the year. There’s a Kauai Folk Festival happening in September this year.
Enjoy the Kauai Music Scene!