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10 Best Portland Swings To The Beat With Jazz and Blues Musical Stylings Throughout The City



Portland's Jazz and Blues music scene offers much for fans of these classic All American music genres. Several clubs devote themselves almost exclusively to Jazz or easy listening blues and they include Gingko Blue and Blue.  Here you can enjoy signature cocktails, kick back and relax as you listen to talented combos. Chances are, if you see an upright bass, you know you're in the right place for classic Jazz. Other venues cater more to aggressive, jump swing type blues. Here, you can try your latest moves on the dance floor as hard driving horn sections bring home the beat. Among the best places to indulge in such muscular music are Inn on the Blues in York (https://www.10best.com/destinations/maine/portland/york/nightlife/inn-on-the-blues/) and the Big Easy Blues Club in downtown Portland. Finally, several destinations feature Blues and Jazz on one or more nights per week with top clubs including Empire Dine and Dance, One Longfellow Square, Port City Music Hall as well as Jumpin' Jakes in Old Orchard Beach, Jonathan's Restaurant in Ogunquit, and Carmen Verandah in Bar Harbor. While not devoted exclusively to Jazz and Blues, these clubs do feature top name performers who attract loyal fans and music lovers. No matter the  type of Blues and Jazz that you prefer, chances are that you'll find what you love to hear somewhere in or near Portland. 


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Jumpin' Jakes
Photo courtesy of Jumpin' Jakes


Old Orchard Beach has long been a top destination for fun on Maine's southern coast. Perhaps no where else in the Pine Tree State can you find such a high concentration of shops, restaurants, amusement park rides and night clubs. One of the newest additions to this active shoreline scene is Jumpin' Jake's. This eatery features a long list of American traditional favorites such as burgers, fries, shakes and (this being Maine) lobster rolls. On weekends, Jumpin' Jakes hosts some of the best blues and jazz acts in northern New England. Here you can listen to and enjoy many of the hardest working groups in the area, with all of them performing high energy music that is sure to have you up and out on the dance floor. After a day at the beach, Jumpin' Jakes satisfies with blues and jazz virtuosity.

Local Expert tip: Check out the daily drink specials.

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Carmen Verandah
Photo courtesy of Carmen Verandah


Perhaps no venue has been as closely identified with its community than Carmen Verandah in nearby Bar Harbor. This nightclub/eatery has become one of the best places to enjoy nightly live entertainment in the legendary Bar Harbor region. The offerings cater to this lounge's diverse audience. Top DJs bring out the local dance fans while their Karaoke Dance Party is a big hit with vacationers and locals alike. On several evenings, Carmen Verandah also features fairly popular jazz and blues combos. While you're not likely to find nationally known acts here, the live performers do a great job of jazz and blues standards. The result are an evening's worth of music entertainment that is sure to please fans of all ages.

Local Expert tip: Check their website for a full listing of weekly entertainment.

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Port City Music Hall


Fans of progressive and indie-type music performances will find much to like about Port City Music Hall. This former Art Deco-designed department store was redesigned into one of the top music venue destinations in Portland. Just about any night of the week , Port City features top names in the punk, indie, heavy metal, and rock scenes. Several nights during the week, this destination also offers jazz and blues performances, as well. Technically speaking, this venue boasts technically advanced state-of-the-art lighting, sound and special effects capabilities which further enhance the concert experience. Attending these productions, you're likely to rub shoulders with many of Portland's hipster denizens as you enjoy some of the finest hard-driving progressive music offered in New England.

Local Expert tip: Port City Music Hall is also available for parties and group meetings.

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One Longfellow Square


One Longfellow Square has become one of the most dynamic, engaging venues for concert-friendly blues, folk and rock performances. Centrally located at the corners of Congress and State streets at the start of Portland's Arts District, this intimate concert destination has become a mainstay of the Portland music scene. Local and national favorites that have taken to the One Longfellow Square stage include blues great Duke Robillard, hard driving harmonica band leader James Montgomery, and Hot Tuna guitar master Jorma Kaukonen. This destination's atmosphere is friendly, laid back and inviting. Often, attending a performance at One Longfellow Square is like enjoying a cozy house concer

Local Expert tip: One Longfellow Square showcases many local Maine artists.

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Empire Dine and Dance
Photo courtesy of Empire Dine and Dance


If you're looking to rub shoulders with Portland's hipster community, there is perhaps no better place to explore than Empire Dine and Dance. This venue features diverse entertainment offerings including bluegrass, jazz, blues, folk and soul performances as well as stand-up comedy troupes. Many presentations also have a delightfully refreshing interactive slant such as First Friday Salsa complete with dancing lessons. Meanwhile, Empire's Boston and Maine series combines art and live music stage productions. The atmosphere is funky new wave with some evenings featuring a crowded dance floor, while other shows may encourage laid back enjoyment of the music. For those seeking something different in their evening out in Portland, be sure to check out Empire Dine and Dance.

Local Expert tip: Check out the special drink menu during the week.

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Blue
Photo courtesy of Blue


Eclectic is the word that often comes to mind when describing Blue, one of Portland's most intimate live music venues. This subtly trendy club has a funky coffee house feel and, indeed, it is a hot spot with many culturally savvy artistic types. Blue prides itself on being a showcase for what is commonly referred to as "World Music." It does a great job of living up to its mission by offering acts that perform everything from Celtic to Middle Eastern and Jazz and Blues musical styles. Most of these are performers with little public notoriety. However, within their very defined spheres of influence, these musicians are true masters at their craft. Especially popular is Mark Tipton and his trio who, through their "Tip O' the Hat" series pay tribute to jazz masters who have passed on. Other regulars include Sean Mencher and his Rhythm Kings, who perform 50's style Rockabilly with particular gusto, and Matt Meyer and the Gumption Junction with their renditions of classic mountain music tunes. While listening, be sure to enjoy Blue's wide selection of Maine craft brews and their delicious cheese plates.

Local Expert tip: Blue is famous for offering one of the widest selections of Maine crafted brews in the state.

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Big Easy Blues Club
Photo courtesy of The Big Easy Blues Club


Looking for the best in independent music in New England? Then the Big Easy should definitely be included on your list. This intimate nightclub setting welcomes some of the leading lights in blues, soul and rock music to be found in the region. Theme nights such as Monday Funk and Wednesday Rap are big draws for the locals at the Big Easy. Seating is always close to the stage, creating an exciting and welcome personal concert experience. The atmosphere is energetic and festive � don't expect a laid-back evening of music here. However, if you're looking for an evening out of raucous, hard-driving performances, then the Big Easy is definitely the place for you.

Local Expert tip: Monday Funk is famous for showcasing up and coming funk acts in New England and beyond.

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Jonathan's Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Jonathan's Restaurant


Jonathan's Restaurant in nearby Ogunquit is famous for showcasing entertainer icons that have built significant followings, both locally and nationally. Personalities such as comic Paula Poundstone or roots master Leon Redbone are regulars at this intimate live entertainment night spot. No wonder given the warm welcome such personalities consistently receive from the friendly, laid back audiences at Jonathan's. Music also figures prominently on this night spot's stage include guitar legend Ronnie Earl and his band the Broadcasters, folk legend Judy Collins, and British blues great John Mayall. Jonathan's also features an elegant dining menu with dishes that focus on delicious Maine seafood recipes.

Local Expert tip: Check out Jonathan's dinner specials, as well.

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Inn on the Blues
Photo courtesy of Inn on the Blues


Blues in nearby York. This legendary live music destination is a magnet for national blues and soul performers touring the New England region. This is especially true during the summer, the top tourist season along the southern Maine coast. Featured headliners have included guitar legend Monster Mike Welch, Jay Geils of the former J. Geils Band, blues legends James Cotton and James Montgomery, and swing blues favorites The Love Dogs. This club's atmosphere encourages up close and personal enjoyment of the music � the stage is within close proximity of the audience � with an expansive dance floor. It's also possible to make a full evening of it with dinner and drinks at this entertainment mecca.

Local Expert tip: Inn on the Blues features a wide selection of dinner specials, as well.

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Gingko Blue
Photo courtesy of Gingko Blue


Upscale but far from pretentious, Gingko Blue is fast gaining a reputation in Portland for quality, relaxed jazz and blues in Portland. The atmosphere here is intimate, warm, welcome with a subdued blue designing motif. The performing artists represent some of the best on the Portland jazz and blues scene. Among the regulars to grace the Gingko Blue stage are Tommy O'Connell and the Juke Joint Devils with their high powered jump blues; Poor Howard and Bullfrog which specializes in classic Delta blues (musician Mike Rogers is among the best harmonica players in New England or anywhere for that matter); and The Travis James Blue Review which presents classic and original tunes for, it claims, "drinking and dancing." Be sure to check out Gingko's signature cocktails with a special Prohibition Era flavor. There is never a cover charge at the door, either.

Local Expert tip: Check out the nightly cocktail specials.

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