Live music and the bars and restaurants that feature the musicians come in all styles and sizes. There’s the piano bar, the large building that can handle a few hundred; there are jazz clubs and blues joints—the list is endless.
And then there are those small bars where there’s just enough room between you and the person next to you to raise an arm and get a drink. The energy is high, the music is great and the memories wonderful.
There are a few of them on the Outer Banks. They’re worth a visit. Most of the smaller venues do not have music every night, so check the listing to see what’s happening.
Late night at Poor Richards, on the waterfront in Manteo, should be on every music lover’s must experience list.
They get some great local talent to perform, but what makes Poor Richard’s so memorable is somehow, in what looks like maybe 500 square feet, so many people can gather and when everything is all said and done, everyone has a great time.
The music is almost always acoustic, or maybe two performers. That’s a good thing too. In that small space with so many people on hand, rock n’ roll would be a challenge.
During daytime hours, Poor Richard’s is a great place to get a sandwich.
Beach Road, South Nags Head
There’s something magical about live music over the Atlantic Ocean…and that’s what Fish Heads offers.
Fish Heads is the restaurant and bar that is part of the Outer Banks Fishing Pier in South Nags Head.
Dinner is served until 9:00 p,m. Music usually starts a little bit earlier, around 8:00. A lot of it is just good old fashion rock n’ roll and blues. Some of it is acoustic. But it’s always good and the setting is pure Outer Banks.
It’s a little larger than some of the other tight venues, but we had to include this one somewhere, so here it is.
Beach Road, Kitty Hawk
Daytime, Art’s Place is the Outer Banks iconic burger joint and they serve a great breakfast and belly-busting brunch.
It doesn’t happen all the time, but usually on Wednesday, there is an open mic night. The skill level generally goes from just experimenting to amazing, but it’s a great time. The beer is cheap, the crowd encouraging.
Then there’s Jazz Night. Usually Mondays. There are some amazing musicians on the Outer Banks. They play in every style, but Jazz Night has a tendency to turn into Jazz Jam Night a lot of times. Pure joy.
Be aware, it is small. In fact, when someone like Joe Mapp, who is one finest of the Outer Banks jazz guitarists, is holding court, the crowd at Art’s Place will spill out onto the front porch.
And it’s all worth it.
Honorable Mention #1—Jack Brown’s
Beach Road, Kill Devil Hills
We already wrote about Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint and how they have really upped their game for outdoor music. But sometimes being outside is not practical…so they move the show inside.
As long as the music is happening outside, there is plenty of room at the inside bar and tables. Bring people a band and people in from outside and everything changes.
Things can get pretty tight. There’s a small area that functions as a dance floor right in front of where the band plays. But mostly it’s still a great time if a little bit tight.
Honorable Mention #2—The Outer Banks Brewing Station
Bypass, Kill Devil Hills—look for the Wind Turbine
Like Jack Brown’s, we already wrote about the Brewing Station and what they have done to upgrade the outdoor music experience.
However, the Brewing Station also has one of the largest indoor capacities of any bar on the Outer Banks. Because of that, about once a week during the summer, national touring bands will stop in for an evening of music, usually beginning around 9:30 or 10.
The acoustics and sound system have been improved making it a great place to catch some up and coming bands. They brew their own beer and it’s really good.
What else is needed for a great time?