For 60 years The Cabana has been the flagship live music venue in the region, attracting local, as well as almost every major national band, and international acts.

The Napier institution is celebrating its diamond anniversary over the next few months.

Meanwhile two newer kids on the block are adding to its fine tradition, giving music lovers and artists a rich set of options to get their groove on.

Most recently Napier's Paisley Stage opened its doors in November, following in the footsteps of the Common Room in Hastings, which opened in 2012.


Paisley Stage owner James Rochester, a musician himself, said he and his business partner Lucy opened the Carlyle St venue as a means to put on gigs the way they wanted to.

"It's like an enormous lounge - lots of tables and comfortable armchairs, lamps and lava lamps - a very retro vibe.

"A lot of band bars have a history of being dark holes - our place is like hanging out in your lounge with a giant stage - we're all getting a bit older now and wanted somewhere comfortable enough to feel like you can relax and rock out."

Since opening, he said there had been a mix of acts from Jon Toogood of Shihad, Jonathan Crayford who brought in his own grand piano, as well as other touring acts.

Supporting local musos was also important, he said.

"There's a bit of a resurgence of bands coming through, as well as solo acts, and we wanted to create a place that would support them."

With a large stage, equipped with professional sound and lighting, most gigs were recorded, said Rochester, which gave bands, particularly local newcomers, an opportunity to make a cheap EP or live album.

Over in Hastings the Common Room has been going strong since it opened six years ago, and owner Gerrard Barron said the variety of venues on offer now was good for punters and the acts.


"The Hawke's Bay music scene is insanely good - when I moved here I was blown away by the talent - there's a swathe of young singer/songwriters coming through and the bands coming out of schools with Rockquest are doing some pretty cool stuff.

"Having three venues helps all of us to create a culture of going out to see live bands - the more the better."

It also helped divert touring acts off the State Highway 1 route from Wellington to Auckland, he said.

"For a long time on the music scene The Cabana's been it and now we support each other, when bands come to Hawke's Bay they can now get three bites of the cherry."

While the venues benefited from each other's existence, the biggest competition came from the likes of Netflix and other at-home entertainment, he said.

"It's about getting people out to have an experience, and that can cost as little as $10 to $20."

The Cabana owner Roy Brown agreed, but said a strong local music scene was also vital in luring people off the couch, and keeping the venues alive.

"These things are transitional, it was great four to five years ago - if you don't have that local talent you are sitting by the phone waiting for the next Jordan Luck tour to come through."

While there were younger bands coming through, they had a tendency to break up when members went off to university or other pursuits.

"We need lots of strong local bands with older members who have settled and had their kids and are still wanting to live the dream - every time a local band breaks up you know it's going to be more of a struggle to find acts."

Despite such a wealth of options for people to check out live music of all genres, the spectre of "use it or lose it" was always a reality.

This month's celebration of New Zealand music might be just the right time for people to head out and find out what's on their doorstep.