Some of the best live music venues in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 11:16 27 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:44 27 November 2014

The Ropemakers

The Ropemakers


Get your toes tapping with our pick of the best places to listen to live music while you dine. Alice Cooke dares you to resist getting up for a little dance…

The Three Compasses, Charminster

What it lacks in size this pub more than makes up for in its welcome. The bar isn’t huge, but they love their live music and never ask you to turn it down.

To the untrained eye it’s your typical village pub, but inside you’ll find two bars and a skittle alley. Anything from a three-piece outfit upwards manage to squeeze into the venue, and still play as if it were Wembley.

Whether you’re a local or a new kid in town, you’ll get the same warm reception. Local jazz stalwart Rodney Teague hosts the area’s only jazz jam session here.

01305 263618


The Ropemakers, Bridport

Bridport has its own annual hat festival, and PJ Harvey also famously hailed from here. The Ropemakers stands out as the town’s live music pub, offering a diverse selection of live acts. A quick glance at the website details what you can expect, and reflects the venue’s commitment to live music. There’s also a hearty and well-priced menu on offer in this quirky, friendly and deservedly popular venue. A traditional British pub with some great entertainment as a bonus.

01308 421255;


Sixty Million Postcards, Bournemouth

An indie venue in the truest sense, with a mixed crowd of students and older locals drawn in by the eclectic range of music that includes live bands, DJs, hip-hop, and the legendary Dirty Soul nights. In addition to the music, décor and ambience, they also do a great range of food, including an impressive 13 different burgers. A guaranteed good night out.

01202 292697;


Royal Portland Arms, Portland

This funky little locals’ pub has been turned into a live music venue by its owners. Despite its size, blues, roots and folk bands from around the world appear here regularly, and the walls of the performance area are decorated with their tour posters.

The pub provides an extensive range of real ales and ciders, and if you time it right you might leave with a bag of freshly caught scallops or mackerel bought from a local fisherman who’s dropped in for a pint. Local in the truest sense, and undeniably fun.

01305 862255


The Lord Nelson, Poole Quay

Marketing itself as Poole’s number one live music venue, The Lord Nelson doesn’t disappoint…there’s live music every day except Monday, with a variety of genres and styles on offer from a host of local musicians. This is an understandably popular venue all week long, with real ales, pub food, darts, pool, sporting events and a beer garden. Everything you could want from a genuinely friendly local pub.

01202 776226;


Jazz Café, Sandbanks

Set in the heart of Sandbanks, Jazz Café enjoys spectacular views and is loved by locals – enjoy appetizing home cooked food and drink all year round.

Since 1987, they have been offering a friendly, attentive service with a variety of freshly cooked meals and regular entertainment from their house band.

The Jazz Café’s Sunday lunch jazz sessions have become a hugely popular local tradition, and are well worth checking out.

01202 708346;


The Greyhound Inn, Corfe Castle

A truly wonderful pub atmosphere, with homemade fresh food and great live music. Nestled in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck, the pub is easily reached via the Swanage Steam Railway or the Sandbanks car ferry. There’s live music nearly every Friday, and they’re great supporters of local musicians, as well as producers and festivals.

01929 480205;


Next month: The best wine while you dine – know of a local gem? Get in touch, and we’ll see if it’s worth spreading on the grapevine…

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