Discover The Secret Hotspots For Live Music In Portsmouth NH

Are you a music lover seeking a vibrant music scene? Do you crave a sensory experience that elevates your soul? Look no further than Portsmouth, NH. This lively city boasts a thriving live music scene, with venues ranging from sleek downtown bars to laidback haunts. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through Portsmouth’s lively live music scene, exploring some of the best venues, musicians, and experiences this charming city has to offer.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with all the information you need to tap into Portsmouth’s rich musical landscape. From smooth jazz to electrifying indie rock, we’ve got you covered. You’ll learn about the city’s top-rated venues, the most talented musicians, and the best times to catch an unforgettable performance. No matter your musical preference, we’re confident that you’ll leave this article with a newfound appreciation for Portsmouth’s vibrant music scene.

So why trust us to guide you through Portsmouth’s music landscape? Our experience speaks for itself. We’ve been immersing ourselves in this city’s music scene for years, and through our research and firsthand experiences, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that is backed by results. From uncovering hidden gems to highlighting the top-rated spots, our team has scoured the city to bring you the best of the best. Get ready to discover your new favorite band, venue, or musical genre!

The Best Live Music Venues in Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth, NH is a bustling hub for live music enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the best live music venues in Portsmouth, NH that have attracted music lovers from far and wide. Whether you are a fan of jazz, rock, country or indie music, Portsmouth, NH has something to offer you.

The Press Room

The Press Room is known as one of the best live music venues in Portsmouth, NH. It is located at 77 Daniel St, Portsmouth, NH 03801. The Press Room is known for its lively and friendly environment that attracts music lovers from across the region. The venue has been around since 1976, making it one of the oldest establishments for live music in the area.

  • Genre Diversity: The Press Room is known for offering a wide range of music genres to its patrons. Genres like jazz, blues, folk and rock are played here. You can find a calendar of their performances on their website, so you can plan your visit accordingly.
  • Live Performances: The Press Room is known for hosting live performances almost every night of the week, except for Mondays. The venue’s stage is set up with state-of-the-art equipment, an advantage in terms of sound quality, making their performances a treat for music lovers.
  • Famous Artists: The Press Room has hosted renowned musicians in the past such as C.J. Chenier, J.J. Grey, and John Scofield.
  • Food & Beverages: The Press Room also offers food and beverages to its patrons. They have a full menu that includes appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees. They also offer a range of drinks, alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic. And if you’re looking for a late-night bite, they offer a late-night menu in addition to their regular menu.
  • Unique Atmosphere: One of the main draws of The Press Room is its unique atmosphere. The space is cozy and intimate, which adds to the experience of seeing live music. The crowd is friendly and supportive of the performers, which also helps create a pleasant environment for everyone.
Pros Cons
– Wide range of genres
– Live performances almost every night
– Hosts famous musicians
– Offers food and drinks
– Unique, cozy atmosphere
– Limited seating
– Parking can be difficult

In conclusion, the Press Room is an excellent choice for anyone looking to experience live music in Portsmouth, NH. Whether you’re a long-time music lover or a newcomer to the scene, you’re sure to have a great time at this legendary venue. With its diverse range of genres, lively performances, famous guests, delicious food and drinks, and unique atmosphere, there’s really no reason not to check it out.

How to Score Tickets to the Hottest Shows in Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth, NH is a small coastal city known for its vibrant music scene. From the intimate settings of smaller clubs to larger venues that attract major touring acts, there is always a live show happening in Portsmouth. However, getting tickets to these shows can often be a challenge. In this article, we’ll explore some tips and strategies for scoring tickets to the hottest shows in Portsmouth.

Plan ahead and be prepared

One of the best things you can do when trying to score tickets to a show in Portsmouth is to plan ahead and be prepared. This means doing your research and staying up to date with upcoming shows, venues, and ticket sales. Here are some tips for how to do that:

  • Check local news outlets and music websites for announcements about upcoming shows and concerts
  • Follow music venues and artists on social media for updates on upcoming performances
  • Sign up for email newsletters from local venues and ticket vendors to stay in the loop on upcoming concerts and ticket sales
  • Create accounts on ticket vendor websites in advance so you can quickly and easily purchase tickets when they go on sale

It’s also important to be prepared when tickets go on sale. Make sure you have all the necessary information handy (such as your credit card information and mailing address) and be ready to act fast. Popular shows can sell out within minutes, so the faster you can complete your purchase, the better.

Consider alternative ticket sources

While official ticket vendors like Ticketmaster or LiveNation are often the go-to for purchasing tickets, they are not always the most convenient or affordable option. Here are some alternative sources to consider:

  • Secondary ticket marketplaces like StubHub or SeatGeek can often have tickets available after a show is sold out or have listings below face value
  • Some music venues may have their own box offices where you can purchase tickets in person or over the phone, potentially avoiding service fees
  • Local ticket brokers or scalpers may have tickets available outside of shows, but be cautious of counterfeits and inflated prices
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It’s important to note that while alternative ticket sources can be convenient and affordable, they can also come with risks. Be sure to do your research and use trusted sources to avoid scams or fraudulent tickets.

Join fan clubs and mailing lists

Joining fan clubs or mailing lists for your favorite artists or music venues can give you access to exclusive pre-sales, discounts, and other perks. Here are some examples:

  • Many artists have their own fan clubs or email newsletters that can give you early access to concert tickets or exclusive merchandise
  • Some music venues have loyalty programs that offer rewards like early ticket access, preferred seating, or VIP experiences
  • Radio stations or sponsors may offer pre-sales or contests for free tickets to popular shows

Joining fan clubs or mailing lists can also help you stay up to date on upcoming shows and ticket sales, giving you a better chance of scoring tickets before they sell out.


Scoring tickets to the hottest shows in Portsmouth, NH requires planning, preparation, and sometimes a little bit of luck. By staying up to date on upcoming concerts and ticket sales, considering alternative ticket sources, and joining fan clubs or mailing lists for your favorite artists or music venues, you can increase your chances of securing tickets to the shows you want to see.

The History of Live Music in Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an alluring city with a rich cultural heritage. Its downtown area is dotted with historic buildings, museums, art galleries, and the famous Strawbery Banke Museum. Along with these attractions, Portsmouth is also known for its live music scene. From the early days of its settlement until today, the city has been home to an eclectic mix of musical genres, making it a music hotspot in New England.

The Beginnings of Live Music in Portsmouth NH

As one of the oldest settlements in New England, Portsmouth has a long and fascinating history when it comes to music. The town was founded in 1623, and by the mid-1700s, there was already a thriving music culture. One of the earliest forms of live music in Portsmouth was church music. Many of the town’s early settlers were Puritans who valued singing hymns as part of their religious practice, and this tradition continues to this day. In the 1800s, Portsmouth hosted music festivals where both local and national performers showcased their talents. These festivals became popular events, and people came from all over the area to listen to the music.

In the early 1900s, live music continued to flourish in Portsmouth. Jazz and swing music were popular genres, and the city had several live music venues, including ballrooms and dance halls. Many famous jazz musicians, such as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, performed in Portsmouth during this time.

The Evolution of Live Music in Portsmouth NH

The 1960s saw a revolution in the music industry, and Portsmouth was no exception. The city’s vibrant music scene expanded to include rock and roll, blues, and folk music. There were many new live music venues that catered to the changing tastes of the local audience. In 1965, a young musician named Tom Rush played at the Portsmouth Music Hall, which sparked a folk music boom in Portsmouth. The Music Hall, which was built in 1878, remains a popular venue to this day and has hosted many famous musicians, including Jerry Garcia and Pete Seeger.

In the 1970s, the city’s live music scene thrived with a new generation of performers and fans. Portsmouth became a hub for alternative music, and it attracted many up-and-coming musicians who wanted to make a name for themselves. In 1973, a music club called the Stone Church opened its doors, and it quickly became a popular venue for local and national musicians. During the 1980s and 1990s, Portsmouth’s live music scene continued to grow, and the city became a popular destination for music lovers.

The Present Day Live Music Scene in Portsmouth NH

Today, Portsmouth’s live music scene is as vibrant as ever. The city has several venues that cater to the diverse tastes of its residents and visitors. From small coffee shops to large concert halls, Portsmouth has something for everyone. One of the most popular venues is The Press Room, which has been a fixture in the city since the 1970s. It is known for its live music shows, particularly jazz and folk music. Another popular venue is 3S Artspace, which is a multi-disciplinary arts venue that hosts live music shows, art exhibitions, and film screenings.

Portsmouth is also famous for its annual music festivals. One of the most popular is the Prescott Park Arts Festival, which has been held every summer since 1974. The festival features live music shows, theatre performances, and other cultural events. Another popular festival is the New Hampshire Music Festival, which takes place every July and features classical and contemporary music.

Despite its long and rich history, Portsmouth’s live music scene has faced challenges in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many music venues to close their doors temporarily or permanently. However, the city is resilient, and its music culture remains strong. As the world returns to normal, live music in Portsmouth is sure to make a comeback, and the city will continue to be a hotspot for music lovers in New England.

Pros of Live Music in Portsmouth Cons of Live Music in Portsmouth Comparison with Other Music Scenes
  • Contributes to the city’s culture and heritage
  • Provides entertainment for residents and visitors
  • Supports local musicians and businesses
  • Noise complaints from residents near venues
  • Uncertain revenue streams during pandemics or disasters
  • Compared to cities like Boston or New York, Portsmouth’s music scene is smaller, but it has a unique charm
  • Portsmouth’s music scene is more intimate and accessible

In conclusion, live music has been an integral part of Portsmouth’s cultural heritage since its settlement. From church music to jazz, rock, folk, and alternative music, Portsmouth has seen it all. Today, the city’s live music scene is as vibrant as ever, and it continues to attract residents and visitors alike. Despite pandemic-induced setbacks, Portsmouth’s music culture remains strong, and its venues and festivals are poised to make a comeback as the world returns to normal.

Local Artists to Watch in Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth, a charming city in New Hampshire, houses many local artists with exceptional talent. They bring life to the city’s live music scene with their unique sounds and styles. These artists capture the culture and essence of Portsmouth that locals and tourists alike can appreciate. Here are some local artists to watch out for in Portsmouth, NH.

1. Jumbo Circus Peanuts

The Jumbo Circus Peanuts, a band formed in 2010, is comprised of six talented musicians. The band’s style is a fusion of swing, rock, and jump blues that brings the perfect balance for dancing or listening. They have performed at numerous venues around Portsmouth, such as The Press Room and The Stone Church, and even opened for the legendary blues musician, James Montgomery, at the Newburyport Blues Festival.

  • The Jumbo Circus Peanuts is a six-piece band with drums, bass, guitar, piano, trumpet, and saxophone.
  • Their music is an amalgamation of rock, swing, and jump blues.
  • They have performed at various venues in Portsmouth and have opened for James Montgomery.
  • The Jumbo Circus Peanuts have two albums: “Carnival of Life” and “Do Me a Favor.”
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The Jumbo Circus Peanuts continue to make a name for themselves in the music industry with their original sounds and lively performances. The band has also released two studio albums, “Carnival of Life” and “Do Me a Favor,” that highlight their talents further.

2. People Like You

People Like You is a band formed in 2014 by Chris Lee-Rodriguez, the lead vocalist, and guitarist. The band is relatively new to the music scene but has already captured the hearts of many Portsmouth locals. Their music is a blend of various genres such as folk, punk, and jazz, with lyrics that inspire hope and optimism.

  • People Like You was formed in 2014 by Chris Lee-Rodriguez.
  • They play a mix of folk, punk, and jazz music.
  • The band’s first full-length album was released in 2017.
  • People Like You collabs with other artists, such as the horn section and string quartet, to produce their sound.

People Like You released their first full-length album, “Verse,” in 2017, which showcases their musical style and unique sound. The band also collaborates with various artists to add complexity to their music, such as incorporating a horn section or a string quartet. People Like You’s music is not only enjoyable but also inspiring for those who listen.

3. Dressed for the Occasion

Dressed for the Occasion started as a solo project of Zack Ciras, a multi-instrumentalist musician who plays the guitar, bass, banjo, and ukulele. With his fantastic music skills and eclectic style, Ciras incorporates different genres into his music, such as folk, bluegrass, and country. He often collaborates with other musicians, such as the violinist, Elyssa Spitzer, to produce the band’s distinctive sound.

  • Zack Ciras is a multi-instrumentalist who started Dressed for the Occasion as a solo project.
  • The band plays a mix of folk, bluegrass, and country music.
  • Dressed for the Occasion has released two albums- “Your Only One Off” and “Wide Awake.”
  • The band uses different instruments to enhance their sound- such as a ukulele, banjo, and violin.

Dressed for the Occasion has released two albums to date, “Your Only One Off” and “Wide Awake”, that showcase the variety of their musical talent. The band’s unique sound, achieved through Ciras’s and Spitzer’s instruments and style, is sure to leave the audience spellbound.

4. Trader Joe

Trader Joe is a DJ and Electronic Dance Music (EDM) producer who has an extensive background in producing music for various events, including clubs and weddings. He started DJing in 2007 and has since gained a reputation in the music industry as a skillful DJ with a tremendous knowledge of music genres. He has also produced his music tracks, which are gaining traction in the industry.

  • Trader Joe is a DJ and EDM producer with extensive experience producing music for different events.
  • He started DJing in 2007 and has since gained traction in the music industry.
  • Trader Joe has produced his music tracks that are gaining popularity in the industry.
  • His music style is a mix of house, hip hop, EDM, and party tracks.

Trader Joe’s style is a blend of house, hip hop, EDM, and party tracks that guarantee an exciting and fun time for everyone. His entertaining tracks and mixes have made him a popular name in the local music scene of Portsmouth, NH.

In conclusion, Portsmouth’s live music scene is filled with local artists with exceptional talent. The Jumbo Circus Peanuts, People Like You, Dressed for the Occasion, and Trader Joe are four artists that are currently captivating the city’s music enthusiasts. They all bring a unique sound and style to the table that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who listens.

5. Choosing the Right Venue

When it comes to planning a live music night out in Portsmouth, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the right venue. There are many things to consider when selecting a venue that will be able to provide you with the best live music experience.


The location of the venue is one of the most critical aspects to consider when selecting a venue. Some of the questions to ask yourself when it comes to the venue location include:

  • Will the venue be easy for everyone to get to?
  • Depending on where you are coming from, it may be essential to want to choose a place that is easily accessible by car, public transportation or within walking distance. This aspect is particularly important for those travelling from out of town or attending late-night gigs.

  • Is there enough parking nearby?
  • Always consider the parking situation of the venue you choose. This is especially important if you plan to drive or park near the venue. You want to ensure that there’s enough parking available, and the cost is not too high.

  • Is the venue in a safe area?
  • The safety of a venue should be considered, particularly if you will be visiting the place late at night. This aspect allows you and your companions to enjoy the music without worrying about your safety or that of your equipment.


A venue’s capacity refers to the maximum number of people it can accommodate at any given time. It’s essential to consider the venue’s capacity as it affects the atmosphere of the event as well as the kind of music that can be performed.

  • What size performance do you want?
  • Different venues will have different stage sizes, so it’s important to match the size of the performance you have in mind to the venue’s capacity. Determine if the venue’s stage accommodates the size of your band or act you’ll be attending.

  • What is the maximum capacity of the venue?
  • Make sure you consider the venue’s maximum capacity to determine how many people you can invite, whether it’s just you and your close friends, or a large group of people.

  • What kind of atmosphere are you looking for?
  • The venue’s capacity will tell you what kind of atmosphere to expect. If you’re looking for a more intimate and cozy atmosphere, you may want to choose a smaller venue with a limited capacity. On the other hand, larger venues with a larger capacity create a more lively and boisterous atmosphere which is perfect for bigger events or performances.


The acoustics of a venue refers to the way sound travels within the space. A venue with poor acoustics often produces muffled and distorted sound, which can hinder the overall liveliness of the performance.

  • What kind of music will be played in the venue?
  • Each genre of music demands different acoustics. For instance, classical music has a softer sound than rock music. Soft music requires venues with great acoustics, while hard music needs a venue with a more robust sound setup.

  • What kind of sound system does the venue have?
  • The quality of a venue’s sound system goes hand in hand with its acoustic. To make sure that everyone attending can enjoy the best possible sound quality, choose a venue with a reputable sound system.

  • Is the venue sound proofed?
  • The level of sound absorption is crucial when selecting a venue. Sound proofed venues are ideal if you plan on hosting a loud or energetic performance to ensure you have control over the volume of the event.

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Food & Beverages

When selecting a venue, it’s also essential to consider the food and beverage options. Different people have different food preferences and allergies. Selecting a venue that offers the right kind of food and drinks is crucial.

  • Does the venue serve food and drinks?
  • If you’re planning to spend an entire evening with live music, it’s best to find a venue that offers drinks and food. This ensures that you’ll remain hydrated and energized throughout the event.

  • What kind of food and drinks does the venue offer?
  • Check to see what kind of food and drinks are available at the venue. This will help you to determine whether it matches your preference and in line with your group’s dietary restrictions.

  • What is the cost of drinks and food?
  • Make sure to check out the cost of drinks and food before settling on a particular venue. This is because some venues may offer better deals than others or may significantly impact your overall budget.


Accessibility is an essential element to consider when choosing a venue for your night out. Everyone should be able to access the venue, regardless of their ability.

  • Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
  • To ensure everyone can attend the event, select a venue that’s wheelchair accessible, so everyone can enjoy the music without feeling left out.

  • Are there enough washrooms??
  • The number of washrooms matters for the comfort of your guests; therefore, it’s important to consider the number of washrooms to ensure they can accommodate an influx of people during peak hours.

  • What other facilities are available?
  • Other facilities like parking, cloakroom, and an outside patio area are beneficial when considering venue accessibility factors.

Pros Cons
Easy accessibility High cost in prime locations
Great acoustics Small capacity venues have limited seating capacity
Variety of food and drink options Dining in allows guests to miss live music
Large capacity, lively atmosphere Limitations for guests with mobility issues
Reputable sound system Low-quality sound can hinder the vibe of the event
Less availability with popularity

In conclusion, choosing the perfect venue for your live music night out in Portsmouth takes some careful consideration. Consider the venue’s location, capacity, acoustics, food and drink options, and accessibility. Knowing all these factors will help you to choose the perfect venue that guarantees a fantastic live music experience.

FAQs: Live Music Portsmouth NH

What are some venues to see live music in Portsmouth NH?

Some popular venues for live music in Portsmouth, NH include The Music Hall, The Press Room, and 3S Artspace. Each venue offers a unique atmosphere and variety of music genres.

When is the best time to catch live music in Portsmouth NH?

The summer months tend to be the busiest for live music in Portsmouth, with many outdoor music events and festivals taking place. However, there are also plenty of options for live music year-round.

What genres of live music are available in Portsmouth NH?

Portsmouth offers a diverse range of live music, including rock, jazz, blues, country, folk, and more. The Music Hall also hosts symphony orchestra performances.

Are there any free live music events in Portsmouth NH?

Yes, there are several free live music events in Portsmouth throughout the year, including the Prescott Park Arts Festival and the Market Square Day festival.

Can I bring kids to live music events in Portsmouth NH?

It depends on the venue and event. Some venues have age restrictions, while others are family-friendly. It’s best to check with the specific venue or event organizer for more information.

Do I need to buy tickets in advance for live music events in Portsmouth NH?

It’s recommended to buy tickets in advance for popular shows at venues like The Music Hall and The Press Room. However, some smaller events may offer tickets at the door.

Is there parking available at live music venues in Portsmouth NH?

Most venues in Portsmouth have limited parking, but there are several public parking garages and lots available downtown. It’s recommended to arrive early to find parking.

Can I grab a bite to eat or drink at live music venues in Portsmouth NH?

Yes, many of the live music venues in Portsmouth also serve food and drinks. The Press Room is known for its pub fare, while 3S Artspace has a full-service bar and restaurant.

Is there a dress code for live music events in Portsmouth NH?

Most live music venues in Portsmouth have a casual dress code. However, some events may have dressy or themed attire suggestions.

What’s the atmosphere like at live music venues in Portsmouth NH?

The atmosphere varies depending on the venue and event. Some venues, like The Music Hall, have a more formal atmosphere, while others, like The Press Room, have a laid-back pub vibe. Overall, Portsmouth’s live music scene is known for being welcoming and friendly.


If you’re a music lover in New England, Portsmouth, NH is a must-visit destination for live music. With a variety of venues offering diverse genres and a friendly atmosphere, there’s something for everyone. During your visit, be sure to check out the popular venues like The Music Hall and The Press Room, as well as the many free outdoor events throughout the year. After the show, explore Portsmouth’s charming downtown, full of shops and restaurants. Goodbye for now, and be sure to check out our other travel guides for more inspiration!