Take a walk around Thamel in the evenings and you realize that it’s live music that livens up this tourist district. While some eateries feature live bands throughout the week, others have bands playing at least three days a week. And with a new agreement with the authorities, some places blast music right up to 11pm or beyond; unthinkable only ten years ago. Thamel became a backpacker’s haven in the late 70s and tourists living here sorely needed entertainment.

New Orleans Café

New Orleans Café is a popular hangout for both tourists and expats who are attracted by its cool ambience. Half the people sit out in the open surrounded by buildings. Sudesh Shrestha the owner, himself a musician, prefers softer music to entertain his guests. He hires fusion bands along with bands that play pure Nepali music. A band called Triplet comprising of a guitarist, flautist and a tabla player, entertain his customers on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Wednesday also features the band Prince that has a flautist and tabla player accompanied by a sarangi player that lends a real Nepali feel to their music. There’s a slight change of scene on Fridays when the band features singer Prateek singing in Hindi, English and Nepali. The mixed crowd at New Orleans is usually very lively that creates a festive atmosphere and the music takes it up a notch. Triplet on Saturday was impressive, playing a classical fusion. The trio has a full sound with quite accomplished musicians combining well together. Flute and nylon string guitar solos weave patterns around each other. Perfect music for the New Orleans ambience! Live music: from 7 pm to 10 pm.

Jatra Café

Jatra Café in Chaksibari, Thamel has a quiet atmosphere and preferred by people who like to have a relaxing time. It’s a great place to sit and chat over a meal, sharing your travel stories with friends. Here too people have a choice of sitting out in the open or in the more closed environment upstairs. Jatra usually has live music on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Fridays feature the band called Cloud. This eatery has always hired bands to entertain their guests but these days it’s more of the acoustic variety that doesn’t disturb the neighborhood and keeps the conversation at a lower decibel level. Cloud plays quite regularly at this eatery. The other days bring various bands interchanging according to their individual schedules and sometimes it’s purely instrumentals. Alok Maskey, the owner once had a band of his own and knows what he wants from the bands he hires. Soft acoustic music is the preferred genre which attracts a different set of people from the ones frequenting Shisha Lounge or the Irish Pub. Live music: from 7pm to 10 pm.

Shisha Lounge & Bar

Shisha Lounge & Bar is one of the popular venues for live music. Most rock bands have already played here in the last few decades. The street below is usually dominated by the sounds emanating from this eatery which has live bands playing seven days a week. Usually featuring heavy rock, many different bands play here through the week. Each day brings a different band playing its own brand of music. Here’s a complete list of bands that provide live music in this lounge & bar (subject to change): Sundays feature a band named ‘Connection’ and on Mondays, it’s the old familiar ‘Strings Nepal’ although they’ve gone through many line-up changes. Tuesday nights bring you ‘Over n’ Out’ while ‘HD’ takes to the stage on Wednesdays. Come Thursday, ‘The Electrix’ provides entertainment for you and on the big night, Friday, there are two bands ‘Noise Gate’ and another band called ‘Airspace’. If you go there on a Saturday night you might catch the ‘Time Trap’ and ‘Majesty’ belting out their stuff. The band performing during our visit on Saturday was ‘Time Trap’, a trio: a vocalist on guitar, a bassist and a drummer. They made good use of the loop and played inspired improvisational music captivating the audience with slow rock and reggae: impressive vocal improvisations. Most nights the music starts at 7 pm while on Sundays the band begins at 8pm.

Paddy Foley’s Irish Pub

This Irish Pub is one of the older pubs in Thamel and lies opposite Shisha. The name Paddy Foley’s distinguishes it from the other Irish Pubs in town. Outside, you can hear the music clash as both these eateries are known for hiring bands on a regular basis. The loud music spills out onto the street which is one way of attracting tourists hungry for entertainment. The Irish is a smaller place but the music here packs a punch and they’ve been hiring bands for decades, gaining a reputation for hard rock that bounces off the walls. The band playing here on this Saturday night is Brahmastra known for heavy rock. They play anything from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” to AC/DC and Metallica. Some of their all time favorites include: “I want to Break Free” by Queen and “Still Loving You” by Scorpions. Their repertoire also includes Nepali songs such as “Ko Ho Tyo” by Om Bikram Bista and songs from their own album: “Antim Lakchya” and “Kohi Bhayena” to name a few. Paras Puri on vocals belts out the songs for this five-piece band. The other band that entertains here is Swatantra, a six piece band. Live music from 7 or7:30 to 11pm and may go up to 11:30pm.