My 3 Favourite Venues for Live Music in Blantyre Malawi

Now that Covid-19 seems to be somewhat under control in Malawi, Blantyre music lovers are able to go out and see their favourite bands play live. I’ve put together a short list of the best places to see live bands in Blantyre. This city has an abundance of entertainment for those who prefer a live band over a DJ. In Blantyre, you can see a live band at least four days a week and you will be spoiled for choice. Whether you want to dance or just relax and have a drink with friends, there is a place for you in this beautiful city. These are the top three places I frequented in the six months that I spent in Blantyre.

Scalla’s Café & Lounge

Scalla’s is a semi-upmarket bar and restaurant with a more mature patronage. The bar is open daily from 10: 00 serving simple meals and alcohol. One of Scallas’ claim to fame is the weekly live band that plays on Thursdays and Sundays. The band that plays here is called Mingoli. Mingoli presents a 4-5 hour set of contemporary hits, Malawi local songs, reggae favourites and crossover South African music. Even after almost five hours of music, the merrymakers still want to hear more. The band plays an interactive set where people can pay money to hear their favourite jam repeated or go up to the mic and sing the song themselves, depending on the amount of alcohol in their system. Mingoli is a four piece band with a female vocalist who serenades the audience with familiar pop hits and the lead guitarist who also doubles as a vocalist. Scalla’s regulars have become somewhat of a community woven together by their love for live music and a shuffle on the dance floor.

Scalla’s has recently introduced Jazz Tuesdays. On Tuesdays there is a jazz trio that plays anything from blues, smooth jazz and afro jazz. Tuesdays are also karaoke nights where the band allows the audience to take matters into their own hands, by singing or playing any one of the instruments. This means that Scalla’s now has live music three times a week.

Scalla’s has recently added some perks that will encourage you to spend your Sundays with them. These include an all day Sunday Shisanyama; a braai or barbeque if you’re not from Southern Africa. You can also enjoy the music while your car gets a good wash from the Scalla’s Executive Car Wash. But the greatest perk is that the band starts playing early on a Sunday!

Blue Elephant

Blue Elephant, or Blues as it is fondly known by its devotees, has a different vibe compared to Scalla’s. The clientele is younger, louder and more energetic. The Blue Elephant Facebook page bio promises to “give you the best food and a great experience”. This bar has live music on Wednesdays and Sundays. Blue Elephant has a bigger space and tends to draw bigger crowds. The live band at Blue Elephant is called Mizu. They are a four piece band with one vocalist. Every so often they feature vocalists from other local groups. Although this band plays similar music to the band at Scalla’s they always put a playful twist to the music. Mizu also plays pop cover songs, reggae favorites, and local music from the likes of Lucius Banda, Black Missionaries, Lawi and some South African tunes that always seem to open the dance floor. Mizu is a young band which is well suited for the younger crowd that patronises the place. The band is energetic and fun and they put on quite a show as they riff off each other and dance into the night. The lead vocalist interacts very well with the patrons, a gesture that is always well-received. Besides the endless access to live music, the draw card at Blue Elephant is Soul Food Sundays. On Sundays, they serve a variety of local Malawi dishes and all the meat you can eat, in addition to their usual menu. People arrive around lunch time and party until the early hours of Monday morning.

Breakers Investment

Breakers is located just over 20 km outside Blantyre and the perfect spot if you want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city. This place serves a full lunch menu, from starter to desert. This venue has an advantage of attracting different demographics, across race and age. Breakers has a live band every Sunday.

Instead of having a resident band, Breakers has put a twist by having multiple bands that alternate every week. This brings another element of variety. Some of the bands that play here are the same bands who play at other bars around town. Therefore, every time you go to Breakers to hear a live band, chances are you will hear a new band. This way it’s like attending a concert every week. Like most bands in the city, the bands all play covers, golden oldies, contemporary hits, reggae and local Malawi hits. Some bands have introduced some original compositions to their repertoires, while some have added 90s hits for that nostalgic touch. Breakers prides itself on always creating a family environment where everyone can feel at home.

This is but a short list of places you can go to or a live band in Blantyre. I only mention these because in the time I spent in Blantyre this is where I spent most of my time. Scalla’s being my very first experience of live music in Malawi. Some places don’t have a full band but will have a more acoustic vibe which is quite popular.

Perhaps when I go back to Blantyre, I will experience more places and add to the list.

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