Imagine a sweltering Friday evening on St. John. The sun has set casting bright flames across the clouds. Trade winds drain the day’s heat away, cooling sunburns, and whetting appetites for burgers, beer, and great live music.
Board shorts, tank tops, and sandals are the attire of choice as you head up the steps to the new Tap Room. The ice cold AC hits you offering more relief from the heat. As you scan the room, you notice a mix of locals and tourists lounging at the bar, or gathering near the stage, or grabbing a smoke out back. Everyone has a pint of perfectly poured craft beer in various stages of relief in their hands as you make your way to the curved bar to join the party that has already started.
The hardest decision you’ll make tonight is in what order you will sample the microbrews. The house music is pumping over the state-of-the-art sound system as more people pack in. Working your way to the stage, you notice tonight’s musicians chatting up some fans. You grab your spot. Soon enough, the house music fades, the musicians take the stage and rock the packed house of music revelers. This will be a memorable night on St. John.
The New Tap Room
For those who love locally made beer and locally made music, the Tap Room in Mongoose Junction is ready to bring back both to their new brewery/restaurant/live music venue. Following the devastating fire in 2015, St. John Brewers owners Kevin and Cheech have been gradually rebuilding and remodeling the new Tap Room to include a viewable brewery, kitchen, expanded bar, and of course a full in-house music system with lighting and a stage.
The new space is twice as big as the old Tap Room and gives Kevin and Cheech the ability to really step up their game as the newest hot spot in town booking local and nationally known musical acts.
Unbeknownst to most people, the Tap Room is no stranger to live music. Kevin and Cheech have supported the music scene on St. John from their earliest days as owners of St. John Brewers. Hosting live music was a challenge in the limited space of the old bar. Artists had to literally sit in the audience to play.
The Tap Room hosted a number of nationally known acts, notably Ryan Montbleau and Stick Figure. The newly expanded space now gives the Tap Room the ability to offer artists professional grade sound and lighting equipment in a climate controlled environment, and some pretty good beer as well!
Over numerous pints of Mango Ale, Cheech and I sat down and talked about what music means not only to him but to the business.
Cheech says, “In our mind, beer and music have a symmetry, a harmony, so to speak. They go hand in hand. We would like to provide quality, not only with our beer but with the music and sound we are bringing to the Tap Room. The new in-house system will be able to accommodate any artist, local or national, ensuring the balance and quality we strive for.”
When making craft beer, it has to be right. St. John Brewers have succeeded in getting it right with every beer they sell. It’s the same with music. The Tap Room is giving musicians the tools to showcase their talents on the stage, whether they are local artists or chart climbing celebrities.
Reminiscing about past bands, Cheech tells us that Ryan Montbleau and Stick Figure played the Tap Room for nothing more than a few hundred dollars and some free beer. Both acts now command top dollar and have ten of thousands of Facebook and Instagram followers.
Cheech and Kevin’s eye for music is only exceeded by their ability at making beer.
Future Live Music
Whose playing then, Cheech? Does the Tap Room plan on offering music every night since you have the space, equipment, marketing, and support staff?
“Probably not,” says Cheech, “We would like to see the space slowly evolve.”
As far as national acts go, St. John Brewers has teamed up with Cruz Bay Music to provide, “a premium product,” as Cheech describes it.
The national lineup will start with Zach Deputy to open the new space. Last year, Zach blew St. Thomas and St. John up with eight packed shows and will put the Tap Room’s new sound system to the test.
Cheech and Kevin have also booked Sol Driven Train and they are bringing back their old friend Ryan Montbleau.
Cheech says, “We are a local company and will always support local music and products. It’s a bonus that our new space will now accommodate the bigger touring acts that have been working their way down to the islands.”
Hot Tip: For the most up to date schedule of music in town, ask your bartender!
The music scene here is hotter than ever with a wide variety of genres of music being played across the island. From open mic acoustic sets to internationally recognized artists, there is something for every music lover on St. John.
In Cruz Bay, the more populated side of the island, you will find multiple choices for music every night of the week. Rock, country, singer song writer, dance, calypso, almost every genre of music can be found. You can find DJs at Dog House Pub, country and rock at Barefoot Cowboy, nightly local talent at the Beach Bar, and singer song writers at Ocean Grill.
On the Coral Bay side of the island, restaurants/music venues like Indigo Grill and the new Thirsty Donkey (formerly Skipper’s) have been rocking the nights with nationally touring acts and Caribbean favorites and will continue to do so.
No matter what town you live in, or what island you are on, a stellar 2017/2018 music lineup is in store for you. Get ready for the best music season ever!
On VI Insider Magazine
Andy has been a resident of St. John for the past 4 years. He has been a Paramedic for 20 years and spent 2 years as a contract paramedic in Iraq for the Deptartment of State before moving to the Virgin Islands. He holds two bachelor degrees in Environmental Studies and History in addition to his Paramedic degree. An avid world traveler, Andy has traveled to some of the most beautiful and dangerous places in the world. Currently, Andy bartends in Cruz Bay and co owns Cruz Bay Music with his girlfriend. His spare time consists of listening to live music and getting out on the water with friends.