The Ultimate Guide To Catching The Best Live Music In Wilmington NC

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Welcome to the vibrant city of Wilmington, NC! If you’re a music lover, we have some exciting news for you. The local music scene in Wilmington has been gaining momentum in recent years, and we’re here to guide you through the best live music venues in town. So, whether you’re looking for an intimate acoustic performance or a night of dancing to upbeat tunes, we’ve got you covered.

By reading this article, you can expect to experience the rich and diverse music culture of Wilmington, NC. We’ll take you on a journey through some of the most popular spots for live music, as well as hidden gems that only the locals know about. You’ll learn about the different genres of music that are played in the city, from jazz and blues to rock and folk. We’ll also share stories and insights from local musicians who have made a name for themselves in the industry.

So, if you’re ready to immerse yourself in the lively music scene of Wilmington, keep reading. Our guide will provide you with all the information you need to plan a musical night out that you’ll never forget. We guarantee that by the end of this article, you’ll be itching to check out the live music venues and events in Wilmington, NC for yourself. Let’s dive in!

Top Venues for Live Music in Wilmington NC

Live music is a way of life for those who call Wilmington, NC home. It’s no surprise that the town is bursting with live music venues. Whether you’re in town for the weekend or living here permanently, there’s always a place to catch the latest bands and musicians. Here are just a few top venues worth checking out around Wilmington.

1. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

If you’re looking for an outdoor setting for live music, the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is the perfect venue. The amphitheater sits adjacent to Greenfield Lake, which is a popular spot for outdoor activities like kayaking and paddleboarding. The venue has a capacity of 1,000 people and features a variety of genres including rock, reggae, country, and blues.

  • The venue has been around for over 70 years, with the current amphitheater built in 2002.
  • Acts ranging from The Avett Brothers to Lynyrd Skynyrd have performed here.
  • The amphitheater also hosts cinema and theatre events, making it a versatile venue for different types of entertainment.

As with any outdoor venue, there are pros and cons to consider when planning your visit.

Pros Cons
– Beautiful scenic setting – Heat and humidity in the summer can be uncomfortable
– Comfortable seating options – Limited parking options
– Multiple alcohol and food vendors on site – Limited seating options for general admission

For those looking to experience a true outdoor concert experience in Wilmington, the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater is hard to beat.

2. The Throne Theater

Located in downtown Wilmington, The Throne Theater is a relatively new venue that opened its doors in 2018. Since then, it has quickly become one of the premier spots for live music in the area. The venue has a capacity of 600 people and features a wide range of performers across many genres.

  • The Throne Theater prides itself on its top-notch sound system, which was custom-made and professionally installed.
  • The venue has hosted big-name acts such as Kacey Musgraves and The Revivalists.
  • Multiple seating options are available, including VIP seating and standing room only areas.

While it may not have the historical significance of some other venues in Wilmington, The Throne Theater makes up for it with unmatched sound and a modern, comfortable setting.

3. Ziggy’s by the Sea

Another relatively new addition to the Wilmington scene is Ziggy’s by the Sea. This venue is located just outside of downtown, near the Wrightsville Beach area. Like The Throne Theater, Ziggy’s has a capacity of 600 people and features a diverse range of musicians and performers.

  • Ziggy’s is unique in that it doubles as a bar, with an extensive selection of craft beers and local drafts.
  • The venue features professional lighting and sound equipment, making any show that much more impressive.
  • Ziggy’s has hosted acts such as Machine Gun Kelly and The Struts.

The bar atmosphere at Ziggy’s is a welcome change of pace from more traditional concert venues. It’s the perfect place to grab a drink and listen to some live music with friends.

4. Bourgie Nights

Bourgie Nights is located in the heart of downtown Wilmington and is known for its intimate setting and expertly curated roster of musicians. The venue has a capacity of just 100 people, making it the perfect place for up-and-coming artists to perform and for fans to experience live music up close.

  • Bourgie Nights is a cocktail bar as well, with a creative drink menu that changes seasonally.
  • The venue has hosted a wide array of acts, from local singer-songwriters to touring acts like Tank and the Bangas.
  • Despite its small size, Bourgie Nights has become a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

For those looking for a more personal concert experience, Bourgie Nights is the perfect destination. The venue’s size makes for an immersive concert experience that is unmatched in Wilmington.

In conclusion, live music is alive and well in Wilmington, NC, and these top venues are just a few reasons why. Each venue offers something unique, whether it’s the outdoor setting of the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater or the intimate atmosphere of Bourgie Nights. Regardless of your musical tastes, there’s always a show to catch in this vibrant coastal town.

The History of Live Music in Wilmington NC

Wilmington, North Carolina, is known for its rich cultural heritage, beautiful beaches, and warm weather. However, one aspect that often goes unnoticed is its booming music scene. Over the years, the coastal city has become a hub for live performances, attracting musicians from various genres from around the world. This section reveals the informative history of live music in Wilmington NC.

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The Start of Live Music in Wilmington NC

The earliest record of live music in Wilmington is credited to the colonial period when bands were hired to perform during special occasions. However, the earliest known venue to host live music consistently was the famous Greenfield Lake Amphitheater built-in 1941. It was designed by landscape architect Robert Marvin to replicate a Greek theatre in the heart of Wilmington’s beautiful Greenfield Lake Park.

Not only was Greenfield Lake Amphitheater the first venue to host live music regularly in Wilmington, but it was also one of the first-ever universally accessible outdoor performance venues in the southeastern United States. From the 50s to the 70s, the facility became one of the top places where people could have a memorable experience by watching musical legends like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton perform.

Evolution of Live Music in Wilmington

The progression of live music in Wilmington continued throughout the 21st century. During the 80s and early 90s, the establishment of notable clubs and bars helped cement Wilmington’s status as a music hub. It was also during this period that live music was explored beyond the genres that had dominated the scene earlier. Pirate’s Deck (now defunct), Ziggy’s, and The Mad Monk were a few live music spots that featured nightly entertainment that appealed to college students.

The 21st century saw a shift again in the Wilmington music scene, with performances taking place in newer spaces. Places like The Throne Theater, The Manifest, Reggie’s, The Juggling Gypsy, Dead Crow Comedy Club, and Bourgie Nights have all become popular spots for live music performances in the city. They accommodate smaller audiences and place greater emphasis on independent and upcoming artists.

Recorded Music vs. Live Music

It’s no secret that with the rise of streaming music and growth of social media platforms, the music industry has changed significantly in recent years, and this applies to Wilmington. While recorded music remains a popular way for people to listen to music, live performances continue to hold a special place in people’s hearts.

Pros Cons
1. The experience of attending live music performances is more immersive and interactive. 1. Some venues do not have the best acoustics, which can hinder performances.
2. Live music performances allow artists to showcase their musical ability and passion, which may not be possible when recorded. 2. Dust, sweat, and other minor annoyances can ruin an experience.
3. Live performances provide room for improvisation and unique moments that can elevate the experience. 3. Bad performance or technical glitches, i.e., bad sound systems, can ruin an experience.

Other factors, like the sense of community created at live music events, and the opportunity for artists to build a fan base and network with other musicians, have also helped sustain live music culture in Wilmington.


Wilmington’s rich musical heritage stretches back decades, with many iconic venues and performers leaving their mark on the local scene. The evolution of live music in the city has ensured that it continues to thrive in a changing world, with new spaces, genres, and innovative artists emerging all the time, making Wilmington one of the best cities to experience live music on the east coast.

Where to Discover Emerging Live Music in Wilmington NC

Wilmington, North Carolina is a vibrant city that nurtures and celebrates its local music scene. From bluegrass to indie rock, the port city offers a multitude of live music events where you can appreciate talented emerging musicians. Here are some of the best places to discover fresh live music in Wilmington:

1. Satellite Bar & Lounge

If you are looking for a cozy and intimate live music experience, the Satellite Bar & Lounge is the go-to spot for many locals. The venue attracts a diverse mix of musicians playing everything from jazz to folk, and it’s not uncommon to witness electric performances from talented up-and-coming artists.

If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the Satellite’s extensive beer selection while nodding your head along to the beat. The bar also serves tasty bites such as pulled pork sliders, local smoked fish dip and vegan-friendly fare. You could make the Satellite Bar & Lounge your perfect weekend hangout by attending some of their exclusive events, trivia nights, comedy shows and game nights.


– Intimate venue that provides a close-up live music experience.
– Offers a wide selection of craft beer
– Provides menu with snacks and light bites to savor during the performance.


– Somewhat small capacity, seating is limited
– Not suitable for larger groups or parties

Category Pros Cons
Venue Intimate experience Small capacity
Food and Drink Wide selection of craft beer Snacks and light bites only

2. The Whiskey

The Whiskey is a staple of live music in Wilmington. As one of the city’s original music venues, it has hosted iconic musicians such as Willie Nelson and the Avett Brothers. The Whiskey is a lively bar that offers some of the best live music in town with an intimate atmosphere, featuring local and national acts playing genres such as blues, roots and country. Although it’s a bar that loves whiskey, if you’re not a whiskey-lover, they also have other alcoholic beverages to choose from, including some creative cocktails.

The venue has a limited capacity but has a variety of places to stand and view the stage or relax with friends seated at tables. The bar’s outdoor space is exceptional, with fairy lights setting a cozy atmosphere to kick back chill, and they also offer an excellent selection of craft beers.


– Hosts some of the best live music in town
– Lively atmosphere
– Outdoor space is cozy and romantic


– The selection of whiskey can be overwhelming
– Limited capacity so that it could be challenging to get a seat

Category Pros Cons
Venue Intimate atmosphere Limited capacity
Food and Drink Creative cocktails Overwhelming whiskey selection

3. Bourgie Nights

Bourgie Nights is an upmarket live music venue located in the heart of historic downtown Wilmington, popular amongst locals and tourists alike. This venue features a series of world-class musicians playing jazz, blues, and artists from different corners of the world. The decor is effortless but elegant, making it an ideal place to relax, appreciate live music, and spend time with friends. Bourgie Nights offer an experience that is fantastic, it’s a high-end venue provides an incredible and upbeat experience for all guests.

They don’t have a full kitchen, but they have various appetizers to choose from, including charcuterie boards, cheese plates, and other starters. A notable feature of the venue is the excellent acoustic quality, ensuring only the best audio experience for listening to live music in downtown Wilmington.


– World class live musical acts performing regularly.
– Located in the center of historic Downtown Wilmington
– Elegant atmosphere that enhances the live music experience


– Food menu only consists of appetizers
– Can be pricey for some guests

Category Pros Cons
Venue Excellent acoustic quality Pricey for some guests
Food and Drink Appetizer Menu No full kitchen

In conclusion, Wilmington has a vibrant and diverse music scene with something for everyone, from cozy bars to upscale venues. It is vital to experience the city through its music to appreciate its culture and artistry. These are some of Wilmington’s best, most unique live music venues that feature emerging or established musicians, which are worth checking out.

The Best Food and Live Music Pairings in Wilmington NC

Wilmington, NC, is a city that is rich in culture and history, with a vibrant live music scene. This bustling port city has numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars, each with its unique style and flavor. For music lovers, there is no shortage of live music venues to visit. From Jazz and Blues to Indie and Rock, Wilmington has it all. The beauty of experiencing live music with food is a mix of sensory stimulation. In this article, we will explore the best food and live music pairing Wilmington, NC has to offer.

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1. Seafood and Live Music

Wilmington is a coastal city, and seafood is one of the most popular food items in the area. From crab cakes, shrimp and grits, to fresh lobsters, you can find almost any seafood dish in Wilmington. It’s no surprise that seafood and live music would make for the perfect pairing. Whether you are dining in a cozy eatery near the beach or a fancy restaurant in Wilmington’s downtown, you can enjoy live music performances from some of the best performers in town.

  • The Pros:
  • 1. Seafood dishes and live music complement each other well.

    2. The energy of the live music enhances the dining experience.

    3. Wilmington is known for its fresh seafood, so you are in for a treat.

  • The Cons:
  • 1. Seafood can be expensive, depending on the venue.

    2. Some people may not like seafood due to allergies or personal dietary preference.

2. BBQ and Blues

When it comes to good ol’ southern food, BBQ is a staple in Wilmington, NC. Barbecue restaurants in Wilmington generally serve meats slow-cooked over wood or charcoal fires, often smothered in a tangy sauce. What’s more, if you’re looking for something to round out the experience, BBQ and Blues is a great combination. Blues music is a genre that originated in the southern United States, and if the smoky flavors of BBQ match with anything, it is the wailing vocals and soulful rhythms of old-time blues music.

  • The Pros:
  • 1. BBQ and Blues have a great sonic taste that harmonizes together.

    2. Could easily hang out with friends and family for a full afternoon or evening.

    3. The combination of our food and music is comfort food at its finest.

  • The Cons:
  • 1. BBQ is not for everyone because of its strong taste and high calorie count.

    2. The blues genre may not be everyone’s preferred musical preference.

3. Craft Beer and Rock N’ Roll

Wilmington has a large and growing craft beer scene with over 20 different breweries and taprooms located throughout the city. With so many unique beers to choose from, it’s tough to decide which one to try first. Craft beers mostly contain unusual flavors and specific temperature requirements. In addition to craft beers, the city also has a thriving rock n’ roll music scene. Venues feature rock bands, tribute acts, and other high-octane performers that will keep you entertained throughout the night.

  • The Pros:
  • 1. You can get drunk while listening to great rock music.

    2. It’s an excellent way to discover new craft beers and bands.

    3. The vibe is energetic and perfect for party animals.

  • The Cons:
  • 1. The volume of the music can be too loud for some of the patrons.

    2. Not everyone loves the taste of craft beer, especially if they have never tried it before.

4. Wine and Jazz

Wine and jazz have been the perfect pairing for centuries. Wilmington, NC, has some of the best jazz music venues in the country, including the Aladdin’s Hall Jazz Club and Rusty Nail. These venues offer a wide variety of jazz music genres, from smooth jazz to swing jazz, with occasional live concerts by prominent jazz artists. Wine is also another popular drink of choice for jazz lovers, as it pairs exceptionally well with the flavors of the music.

  • The Pros:
  • 1. Wine is a sophisticated drink that matches the elegance of jazz music.

    2. Jazz clubs are usually cozy and intimate, making it perfect for a date night.

    3. Jazz live performances are ideal for winding down after a long week at work.

  • The Cons:
  • 1. The price of wine can be expensive, depending on the venue.

    2. Jazz is more of an acquired musical preference, and not everyone loves it.

Seafood and Live Music BBQ and Blues Wine and Jazz Craft Beer and Rock N’ Roll
Pros The energy of the live music enhances the dining experience. Could easily hang out with friends and family for a full afternoon or evening. Wine is a sophisticated drink that matches the elegance of jazz music. You can get drunk while listening to great rock music.
Cons Seafood can be expensive, depending on the venue. BBQ is not for everyone because of its strong taste and high calorie count. The price of wine can be expensive, depending on the venue. The volume of the music can be too loud for some of the patrons.

In conclusion, Wilmington, NC, has an incredible live music scene that is enhanced when paired with good food and drink. The blend of different genres of music and culinary art is an experience that is sure to ignite all your senses, creating memories to last a lifetime. Whether you’re a foodie or a music enthusiast, Wilmington has something to offer everyone. So, the next time you’re looking for a great night out, be sure to check out the city’s best food and live music pairings.

The Impact of Live Music on the Wilmington NC Community

Live music has become an integral part of the cultural fabric of Wilmington, NC, a coastal city that boasts a thriving music scene. From blues to rock, jazz to indie, there is a genre of music for every taste, and Wilmington has no shortage of venues to showcase that music. But beyond the entertainment factor, live music has a significant impact on the city and the residents who call it home. In this article, we explore the diverse ways live music affects the Wilmington community.

Economic Impact

Live music venues, festivals, and events generate a considerable amount of revenue for the City of Wilmington. Tourism, in particular, is a significant driver of the economy, and live music plays a crucial role in attracting visitors to the city. According to a study conducted by the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau, the economic impact of tourism in New Hanover County, home to Wilmington, was approximately $808 million in 2019, a 2.2% increase from 2018. Live music events and festivals were among the top ten visitor attractions in the county, contributing an estimated $87.8 million to the local economy.

Moreover, the music industry generates employment opportunities for musicians, venue staff, event organizers, and others in the music business. Venues such as Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, The Brooklyn Arts Center, and The Throne Theater provide jobs to their staff and support to the local economy by purchasing supplies, food, and beverages from local vendors. The live music industry creates a multiplier effect on the local economy, generating additional benefits like increased tax revenue and improved quality of life.

Cultural Impact

Wilmington’s music scene reflects the diversity of its community, showcasing a range of genres and cultures. Local musicians draw inspiration from the city’s history, architecture, and landmarks, infusing their music with a unique sense of place. Music is a universal language that brings people together, and live performances create a sense of community by breaking down social and cultural barriers.

Furthermore, music education is an essential component of Wilmington’s cultural impact. The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers music programs that expose students to both traditional and contemporary music genres. The school’s Department of Music provides degree programs in music education, composition, and performance, creating opportunities for talented students to hone their craft and pursue a career in music. The school also hosts concerts and events that are open to the public, promoting the value of music education and reinforcing the importance of music in the community.

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Social Impact

Live music events serve as a platform for social interaction, promoting social cohesion and cultural exchange. Community events like the Wilmington Jazz Festival and the Downtown Sundown Concert Series bring together people of all ages and backgrounds, fostering a sense of community and belonging. These events create opportunities for people to meet and develop relationships, reducing social isolation and promoting mental health.

Live music also has therapeutic benefits. Research shows that listening to music can reduce stress and anxiety, boosting mental health and well-being. Live musical performances create a sense of euphoria, releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in reward-motivated behaviour. The social and therapeutic benefits of live music contribute to the overall wellness and health of the Wilmington community.

Environmental Impact

Live music events have an impact on the environment, and it is essential to consider the ecological footprint of the music industry. Concerts and events generate waste in the form of discarded food and beverage containers, as well as plastic cups and straws. The music industry also consumes a considerable amount of energy in the form of electricity and transportation. Therefore, it is crucial to promote sustainable practices in the music industry.

Venues like The Greenfield Lake Amphitheater are leading the charge in environmental stewardship. The Amphitheater is a zero-waste facility, meaning that all waste generated is either composted, recycled, or reused. The venue uses sustainable materials for its stage backdrops, and lighting fixtures consume less energy. By adopting sustainable practices, venues like the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater set an example for the rest of the music industry and contribute to the overall well-being of the environment.


Live music plays a crucial role in the economic, cultural, social, and environmental impact of the Wilmington community. From generating revenue for the local economy to promoting cultural exchange and social cohesion, live music enriches the city’s fabric and is an essential component of its identity. As the music industry continues to evolve, it is crucial to ensure that the impact of live music remains positive and sustainable, paving the way for a vibrant, healthy, and connected community.

FAQs for Live Music in Wilmington NC

What are some popular live music venues in Wilmington, NC?

Some popular live music venues in Wilmington, NC are Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, Ziggy’s by the Sea, The Whiskey, Bourgie Nights, and Satellite Bar & Lounge. Each of these venues offers a unique atmosphere and hosts a variety of musical acts.

What kind of music can be heard in Wilmington, NC?

Wilmington, NC has a vibrant and diverse music scene that offers a wide range of genres. From jazz, blues, folk, and rock to hip hop, country, and electronic music, there is something for everyone.

How often are live music events held in Wilmington, NC?

Live music events are held frequently in Wilmington, NC. There are weekly events, such as open mic nights and karaoke, at various venues throughout the city. Additionally, many of the larger music festivals and concerts occur annually, drawing big crowds and well-known acts.

Are there any free live music events in Wilmington, NC?

Yes, there are free live music events in Wilmington, NC. Many of the downtown breweries and bars offer free shows, and there are often outdoor concerts in parks and other public spaces.

Can I bring my children to live music events in Wilmington, NC?

It depends on the venue and the specific event. Many venues are 21+, while others are open to all ages. Additionally, some outdoor concerts and festivals are designed to be family-friendly

What is the cost of attending a live music event in Wilmington, NC?

The cost of attending a live music event in Wilmington, NC varies. Some venues charge a cover fee or require tickets, while others are free. Additionally, the cost of attending a large music festival or concert can range from $20 to $100 or more.

Are there any music festivals in Wilmington, NC?

Yes, there are several music festivals that occur in Wilmington, NC. Some popular festivals include the Cape Fear Blues Festival, the Riverfront Blues Festival, and the Port City Reggae Music & Arts Festival.

What is the best time of year to attend live music events in Wilmington, NC?

The best time of year to attend live music events in Wilmington, NC is during the warmer months, typically from May to September. During this time, there are many outdoor concerts and festivals that take advantage of the beautiful weather.

Can local musicians perform at live music events in Wilmington, NC?

Yes, local musicians are often featured at live music events in Wilmington, NC. Many venues host weekly or monthly showcases that highlight local talent, and there are several music festivals that exclusively feature artists from the area.

How can I stay updated on upcoming live music events in Wilmington, NC?

To stay updated on upcoming live music events in Wilmington, NC, you can follow local music venues, check event listings on websites like Visit Wilmington or Wilmington N.C., or join social media groups dedicated to the local music scene.


In conclusion, Wilmington, NC is a great destination for live music lovers. With its diverse music scene, frequent events, and beautiful outdoor venues, there is always something to experience. After reading this article, make sure to check out some local music venues and festivals, and stay updated on upcoming events in the area. Thanks for reading and enjoy the music!