Experience Transat

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

Share the article

Table of Contents

Although Bob Marley’s melodies put this beautiful Caribbean island on the world map, there’s much more to Jamaican music than reggae. During your trip, be sure to visit some of the most legendary cabarets and concert halls. From small clubs to large festivals, Jamaica is full of incredible music.

Here are the five best places to relax, listen to music and make some priceless memories… and learn a few dance moves!

1. Jolly Boys and Bushbar Restaurant – Port Antonio Jamaica

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

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

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 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

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.

Cover photo credit: Visit Jamaica

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.

You may also like

And with the Transat Family Collection, your family vacation will be filled with benefits and inclusive rates tailored specifically for the little ones!
In case you’re interested in getting insider tips and travel advice for your first time in Jamaica, we got you.
Discover the best all-inclusive spa vacations for sun lovers looking for the ultimate relaxing experience in the South.
At Treasure Beach in Jamaica, take some time for yourself: Relaxation and exploration in the sun are on the agenda here.

Travel with Air Transat