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More than Marley: The Best Places to Groove to Jamaican Music

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“One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right”
Bob Marley, Peter Tosh

Jamaica has one love and it is music. Bob Marley may have made the world sit up and take notice of this lovely Caribbean island, but music showcased in today’s Jamaica offers up so much more than reggae. When you visit Jamaica you should definitely take some time to enjoy some of the island’s top music venues. From small clubs to large festivals, Jamaica is alive with all kinds of amazing music, check out these top five places to chill and listen to tunes on the island.

1. Jolly Boys and Bushbar Restaurant – Port Antonio Jamaica

Jolly Boys JamaicaPhoto Credit: Bryan Ledgard under Creative commons CC2.0

Nestled in the hills of a lush Jamaican rainforest of the San San Nature Preserve near Port Antonio, this lovely spot may be in the bushes but there isn’t anything bush league about the food, ambiance, or music produced in this cultural hot spot. Originally used to house a top of the line recording studio for international recording artists, the space gradually evolved into Geejam, a luxury hotel, and Bushbar, one of Jamaica’s best restaurants. The restaurant’s house band, the Jolly Boys, are one of Jamaica’s leading mento bands and they often make appearances when they are in town. Mento is drawn from Jamaican folk music and at times is also called calypso. This genre gained popularity, thanks to stars like Harry Belafonte, in the 1950’s.

The Jolly Boys are enjoying a resurgence of sorts with their album Great Expectations, which was recorded at Geejam and released in 2010. If you are lucky to be at the restaurant on a day that the Jolly Boys are playing you will be treated to an intimate performance with music mostly likely from the new album which features mento styled covers of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab and Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. If they aren’t in town you can still visit the recording studio, which has hosted stars like Drake, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, and the late Amy Winehouse.

Pro Tip: Take a day trip to Port Antonio and visit Frenchman’s Cove Beach in the afternoon and plan for dinner at the Bushbar in the evening. Frenchman’s Cove Beach is one of Jamaica’s top beaches and is a five-minute drive from Geejam Hotel.

2. Jamaican Jazz and Blues Festival – Trelawny, Jamaica

Jamaica Jazz BluesPhoto Credit: Sergio Leenen under Creative commons CC2.0

Returning after a hiatus in 2016, the Jamaican Jazz and Blues Festival promises to be better than ever in 2017 to help celebrate their 20th anniversary. The tentative dates for next year’s festival are set for January 26 to 29, 2017, but be sure to keep checking their website for final confirmation of the event and the lineup of performers.

3. Bob Marley Museum – Kingston Jamaica

Bob Marley MuseumPhoto Credit: Barney Bishop under Creative commons CC2.0

Located in Kingston, Jamaica in Bob Marley’s former home, the Bob Marley Museum is a Jamaican National Heritage Site and a must visit attraction for any fan of Jamaican music. This is the spiritual home of reggae, a place where you can pay homage to both the man and the music that brought him fame and fortune. The museum is open every day except for Sundays and has tours available throughout the day.

4. Reggae SumFest – Montego Bay Jamaica

Reggae SumFestPhoto Credit: Sergio Leenen under Creative commons CC2.0

Reggae SumFest is an annual reggae festival held each summer in Montego Bay, and is Jamaica biggest music event of the year. The festival, held on the third week of July, showcases all Jamaican music including hip hop, blues, dancehall, and reggae. This week long festival brings thousands of international visitors to the island to enjoy sizzling live music, the beach, and parties. This festival is for those who have tons of stamina as well as a great love for music as doors usually open around 7 pm. Music itself starts picking up around midnight and keeps on going until daybreak. Serious naptime on the beach is required before hitting up this festival!

5. Redbones Blues Café – Kingston Jamaica

Redbones Cafe Kingston JamaicaPhoto Credit: Barney Bishop under Creative commons CC2.0

Excellent food, great cultural events, and very good live bands are showcased at the Redbones Blues Café every week from Wednesday to Saturday. This Caribbean fusion restaurant is family run and is part of the musical heritage of Kingston. The family previously owned the Epiphany Night Club, which hosted music greats such as Inner Circle and Bob Marley. The restaurant opened in 1996 and continues to provide top entertainment and service to its customers.

Visit Jamaica and you too will soon be grooving to the music found in all corners of the country. The music of Jamaica has been thrilling and chilling locals as well as visitors for many years and will continue to do so well into the future. The beat goes on!

Find flight information and more great tips for travelling to Jamaica here.

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The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

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