Best Live Music in Portland

Live music fills the air in Portland

Portland's legacy as Maine's largest port city is perhaps no more evident than in its live music scene. Throughout this metropolis, you can hear and enjoy the many international influences apparent within Portland's music community. Along with acoustic and blues – which have long been popular among locals – you can revel in Reggae, Ska, Jazz, Folk, Indie, Punk and any number of musical traditions brought by immigrants and newcomers alike. The level of musicianship is also worthy of note - Portland has one of the largest populations of talented, hard working musical performers to be found anywhere in New England or beyond. Many of these ace artists are attracted by the wealth of small, intimate venues for presenting their craft. Visitors and residents alike appreciate the many opportunities to get up close and personal when listening to local groups and solo musicians alike in the many pubs and clubs throughout the city. So if it is premier musical performances in intimate venues that you are seeking, then Portland is the place to be for music lovers everywhere! 


The Portland Symphony is legendary for providing a diverse array of performances throughout the season (typically Sept-May). Their versatility and high degree of musicianship enables members to perform music ranging from pops concerts to Mozart. Half of the orchestra is comprised of native Mainers, the other half come from across New England but each one of them is well regarded for their talent and dedication to their craft. Summer visitors should consider a Portland detour the week of July 4th, when the "Independence Pops" performs (weather permitting) around southern Maine, including the grounds of the Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth. Also look for special Christmas shows.

Local Expert tip: The Portland Symphony Orchestra features some of the best classical musicians in New England.

Read more about Portland Symphony Orchestra →

The Space Gallery is a premier urban arts center committed to presenting new and progressive works to the Portland cultural community. A visit to this destination is a great way to become immersed in the latest and greatest offerings in the city's arts and cultural scene. Expect the unexpected here such as the Sketchbook Project which featured 10,000 artists from 60 countries who filled a sketchbook with their art and shared it with the world; Cursed New England, a multi-media examination of the region's legacy of spiritualists and naturalists; and Free Range Planets � an artistic representation of Planet Earth globes. This venue also features evening musical performances with world music themes featuring everything from rockabilly to African jazz.

Local Expert tip: The Space Gallery is a premier showcase for World Music musicians.

Read more about The Space Gallery →

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.

Read more about Big Easy Blues Club →

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.

Read more about Inn on the Blues →

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. 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.

Read more about Port City Music Hall →

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.

Read more about One Longfellow Square →

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.

Read more about Jonathan's Restaurant →

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 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.

Read more about Blue →

The Dogfish Bar and Grille
Photo courtesy of The Dogfish Bar and Grille

The Dogfish Bar and Grille prides itself on being a haven for simple, unpretentious live acoustic music. It does a great job of living up to its reputation by featuring local musicians and groups that excel in the art of the acoustic. No loud amplifiers or feedback loops here – just the pure notes and harmonies of non-electric guitars, basses, banjos and singing voices. The music varies from blues to jazz and folk and all of it is performed by artists who are premier musicians on the Portland music scene. In addition to great music, Dogfish also features a choice dinner menu and admirable selection of ales, liquors and wines. There is never a cover charge.

Local Expert tip: The Dogfish also offers an admirable selected of microbrews worth savoring.

Read more about The Dogfish Bar and Grille →

Slainte Wine Bar and Lounge
Photo courtesy of Slainte Wine Bar and Lounge

Centrally located near Monument Square in downtown Portland, Slainte Wine Bar and Lounge has quietly gained a strong reputation for diverse, trendy evening entertainment offerings. This place has all the charm and appeal of a local neighborhood tavern. It isn't unusual for newcomers to feel right at home at this pub soon after walking through the front door. Variety is key to Slainte's success. Live music occupies much of its events calendar with premier local groups performing everything from blues to folk to indie in a comfortable, intimate setting. Karaoke, trivia nights and open mic comedy round out Slainte's always interesting schedule. This pub also features a welcome variety of hand-crafted lagers as well as top shelf liquor and wine selections.

Local Expert tip: Check out the extensive wine offerings at Slainte – one of the best in Portland.

Read more about Slainte Wine Bar and Lounge →