Are you looking for some local live entertainment? Want to discover where Big Island musicians get public exposure? Here are three great open mic nights worth checking out, and the food and beverage served is awesome too!
Big Island Brewhaus
Open Mic Thursdays – No Cover
64-1066 Mamalahoa Hwy, Waimea
The Big Island Brewhaus is mainly known for its award-winning beer. You can even find it offered at other restaurants around the island. They offer upwards of 15 beers, including ales, lagers and Belgian-style beers. Their Overboard IPA won a gold medal at the US Open Beer Championships, with its White Mountain Porter and Red Giant taking silver medals in the same event.
The food is just as stunning. “We source sustainably & support locally; working with local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, bakers, bee keepers, artisan cheese & ice cream makers to bring you food & beer made of the best products available in Hawai’i. We take care to use products with minimal environmental impact: all our fish is fresh, locally line-caught, with no bycatch, our local grass-fed beef is hormone free, the produce we serve is grown by local farmers as much possible and much of it is organic. Our spent grain and food waste feed local cows & pigs, we recycle and use only compostable straws & to-go packaging.” (From their website.)
On the night I visited, the Brewhause was packed due to a Hawai’i Songwriting Festival competition. Normally on open mic nights you get a feel for nearby performers, but on this particular evening, talent travelled from around the island to win admission passes to the annual songwriting festival.
The Brewhause’s entrance can be a little tricky to maneuver from either side of the road, and parking spaces are limited. But don’t give up as there are nearby spots in the area and only a short walk.
Papaaloa Country Store and Cafe
Open Mic Thursdays – No Cover
35-2032 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, Pāpa‘Aloa
The Papaaloa Country Store and Cafe’s location has been described as “tucked away in the middle of nowhere,” and that’s pretty accurate. If you’re leaving Honokaa, heading south on Old Mamalahoa Highway toward Hilo, after passing two gulches, you’ll want to look for a truck with a banner on a pole — that’s where you’ll turn left and almost immediately be in front of the Papaaloa Country Store.
On the night I visited, the newly minted Pāpaʻaloa Cafe finished up a four-day run of music shows, and the reviews on Facebook showed the locals/visitors loved it. This week’s entertainment started on Wednesday with the amazing guitarist Adam Crowe, a Thursday open mic night called Hamakua’s Got Talent, The Hilolbillies played Friday, and Saturday night wrapped up with the talented Boozer Ramirez. The service and food are wonderful. Check out a tasty pizza!
Hilo Town Tavern
Open Mic Mondays – No Cover
168 Keawe St., Hilo
The Hilo Town Tavern has received Yelp’s highest rating for a music venue in Hilo and USA Today said: “The Hilo Town Tavern is Hilo’s answer to the classic dive bar. The full bar with local beers on tap can make just about anything a guest could want, but don’t expect anything too fancy or gourmet. There’s always an equal blend in here of college students, locals, regulars and visitors. Open mic happens every Tuesday night with no cover charge. A porch area provides space and fresh air, while a pool table and game room a big draw for a lot of people. The menu has standard bar food offerings but with a local twist. Live music happens most nights of the week, with official concerts – booked popular bands – taking place also. Look around town for flyers or call to find out about those. A dance floor happens most nights of the week, and patrons can feel free to let loose on it.”
Locals have commented, “Hilo Town Tavern is the east side’s answer to the quintessential dive bar, but offers live music and dancing.”
If you find yourself in Hilo and looking for live music, the Hilo Town Town Tavern is worth checking out.