By Amanda Pampuro
What good would paradise be without music? Across the radio dial, a world of genres mix together, and in a given venue, you might find anything from reggae and rock to killer jazz or cha cha. Here is a brief guide to some of the scenes.
Might as well get it out of the way. I’ve yet to meet an island that didn’t take reggae as a patron saint (even Long Island is hometown to some fantastic reggae-punk). If you’re looking for music in the key of chill, you won’t have to look farther than the neon Green Lizard in the heart of Tumon. A two-story party patio with pool and tequila specials, the Green Lizard gives stage to Rebel Lion every Friday.
It’s unofficial, but hard to deny, Guam’s national dance is the cha-cha. When you go (because you will go) to the Chamorro Village night market on Wednesday, you will find all roads lead to the pavilion in the center. Here, a rotating band plays loud, festive Chamorro classics, while the spectators break into couples and step into the cha-cha.
For an intimate setting, take the escalator into the lobby of the Outrigger in Tumon, where Jesse and Ruby play a nightly acoustic set in the Bamboo Bar. With a song list as thick as a phonebook, you don’t need to understand fluent Chamorro to appreciate the beauty and range of the set.
All the Jazz
Good jazz washes up on all shores. In the great brewpub, the Mermaid Tavern, catch the Trade Winds with Patrick Palomo on Wednesday and Friday nights. Like a good speakeasy, you can pair your craft beer with the line notes, or just kick your feet up and enjoy.
“Jazz on the Seventh Day,” broadcast from public radio station 89.3 KPRG on Sundays from 6 to 11 p.m., can’t be beat. DJ Darryl Taggerty has made it his mission to scour the earth for rare jazz records to play on his show, with only one rule: don’t play the same thing twice.
Rock My World
When you walk into Livehouse, it looks like every song ever rocked in the joint got stuck on the walls. If it’s too loud, you’re too old, for whatever alternative, punk, ska, or hardcore rock is being pumped out through the speakers. They took the “No Moshing” sign down, so mosh on to Flinched on Fridays. Livehouse is also home to the Sunday Showcase series, which features a different set of local bands each month.
Old Traditions is the kind of bar you take a date to, all dressed up, to play foosball. It’s just one of those places where you always run into somebody. Underneath the G-Spot in Tumon, you’ll find an unofficial Tumon museum, with framed Sand Castle ice skates, love letters from military squadrons, a whole wall of local art and a collection of broken guitars. In addition to featuring weekend rock bands, this hard rock café hosts the quarterly series Original Music Fest Guam (OMFG).
Guam has enough coffee shops and poets to satiate a city twice its size. The welcoming, and low key Open Mic scene attracts singers, songwriters, and a whole host of wild cards, comics, dancers, and poets. Best of all, at Open Mic night, you are always two steps away from getting on stage and performing.
One last note
Do not be deceived, though many local bands may play a long list of covers, each has at least one or two originals—some of them entire albums. All you have to do is ask to hear it.