There’s very few places offering dinner with live entertainment in Bermuda and even fewer that boast some of the most spectacular views of Hamilton Harbour in the City of Hamilton, whether it’s day or night.
As quiet as it’s kept, there’s another vibe generating quite a following of fans that’s growing, who are joining hotel guests for dinner and live entertainment on Thursday nights at Marcus’ at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.
It comes with soothing tones in the form of three letters – DIA – Devil’s Isles Audio, a stand-alone group of artists, including DIA’s Music Director/Founder Derek G Simmons on Bass, Co-Founder Scarlet Thomas on Drums, Tino on Tenor Sax, the group’s Assistant Music Director, Leroy Francis on Keys, Dino Richol on Guitar and Kofi on Guitar.
After a first-time run last year, the hotel’s General Manager Tim Morrison said the city hotel “is proud to support local artists, businesses and farmers”.
“Our Made in Bermuda and Reggae Nights at Marcus’ are a perfect example of our commitment to this and are a great way for locals and guests alike to unwind,” he added.
As it turns out. live music backed by a menu full of catchy names with a Bermudian twist works for this foodie on a warm summer night in August.
The band was all set up when we arrived, which gave us time to check out the menu without missing a beat.
My guest opted for the Ace Boi LOBSTER Tacos, with coconut ceviche, avacado and corn tortillas and I ordered the Crispy Buttermilk Cauliflower with BBQ sauce and sesame mayo for starters.
For the main course, she ordered one of two Marcus’ Signature Specials – the Fried Yard Bird, crispy buttermilk chicken served with garlic mash potatoes, collard greens and sawmill gravy. I opted for the Surf & Turf with a five ounce tenderloin and shrimps instead of a lobster tail and Ed’s gumbo.
That was the most pricey dish we ordered, the Surf and Turf goes for $59, the Fried Yard Bird was $35. We also shared a separate side of Marcus’ Cornbread with tomato jam and honey butter – absolutely delicious.
For dessert I ordered the cheesecake, decked out with strawberries and other yummy treats. I took it with me in addition to most of my dinner because I generally don’t eat heavy after 5pm. But that’s another story on a three-year weight loss journey that shed 89 lbs.
But I did eat all of the cauliflower appetizer, which turned out to my favourite. And I plan to go back for just that appetizer with live music on another Thursday night, hopefully, in the not too distant future.
Once we got through a bit of confusion with our reservation, my guest was quite impressed with “the Bermudian who got us seated and sorted and the sous chef who took over from him to make sure we were well taken care of from there”.
“They were both genuinely pleased to have us and it showed. Their service was what you expect to receive in a first class establishment in a hotel like the Hamilton Princess but it had a little something extra,” she said.
“It was a good atmosphere with great music. The band was superb in their craft, their musical selections – it was the best entertainment I’ve seen in a local restaurant, and the food was good.”
Surprisingly, she said the cauliflower appetizer was good, considering she is not a fan of vegetables. She described her starter, the lobster tacos as “very tasty”.
“The mini corn bread was flavourful and it’s hard to go wrong with fried chicken. It was cooked to perfection served with mashed potatoes and greens. It’s called ‘Fried Yard Bird’ on the menu. It’s name was the only thing wrong with it.
With good company and conversation backed by live music, it’s the perfect setting for a great evening.
The open kitchen, where you can see the staff preparing meals in a kitchen fully decked out with top of the line stainless steel equipment is always plus.
On that note she said: “Thanks for the invitation and sharing each others food and for getting full with me even though I am bigger than you. And it was good enjoying the music together.”
Frankly, until CultureShock 18, held in celebration of their 20th anniversary earlier this summer, I had never seen or heard of DIA until I went to Snorkel Park specifically to see the star-studded local line-up, featuring the likes of the great General Kaution and Jesse Seymour with Abby – all of them.
They were all backed by DIA, with this guy on sax going all in and I said to myself: “Who are these guys? They’re on point and sounding TIGHT!”
That led us to Marcus’ where they’re the featured band for live music on Thursday evenings. They also play live on Monday nights for the Destination Dockyard events.
As a self-professed diehard ‘Foodie’, the decision to go try it out to see and hear DIA live again, was a ‘no brainer’.
Once dinner was arranged with a guest of my choice; who insisted that I keep her name out of it, we were there for dinner at 8:30pm.
This band has been active since 2010, when it was formed by Derek G Simmons and Scarlet Thomas, who decided to continue a showcase created by Chewstick with live music as the focus.
Although DIA formed eight years ago, they have already opened for Toni Braxton at the Bermuda Music Festival, they’ve travelled to New York City and Toronto backing Chewstick on tour.
Other appearances include the first annual BHW 5 Star Friday Series, the Official Louis Vuitton AC Launch Party, The America’s Cup Series Jam Concert and the AC Red Bull Event. DIA has also performed at various events around the island and they have created a few events of their own as well.
Outside of their full-time jobs, the group rehearse twice a week “to stay ready for the next event”.
“Our weekly gig is Marcus on Thursday nights from 8:30pm to 11:30pm is always a fun gig for us and it’s nice to give one of the best Bermudian restaurants a good energy weekly,” said Mr Simmons.
Asked for the reasoning behind the band’s name, he replied: “That’s a funny story actually.
“The initial title was Devil’s Isles Apocalypse. We felt it was a great title for our sound and our mindset but we eventually changed Apocalypse to Audio, due to some views of conservative Bermuda.”
Ultimately, he said it all worked out in the end as the group “didn’t lose anything by changing it”. “Our fan base understood and all was well,” he said.
“The Devil’s Isles was never changed as it was very important to our legacy. We took on the original Bermuda title Devil’s Isles because it was the best way to describe us (Bermuda’s Original Audio/Sound).
“Most people don’t know that we started our first two years playing strictly Bermudian original music,” he added.
“We had to adjust our set to appeal to broader crowd,s so we eventually drifted into adopting covers as our own to maintain the integrity of the vibe.
“DIA is a stand-alone band. All vocalists who work with DIA are independent artists. Anyone interested in being backed or supported by DIA can do so via email directly.
“Although we are a five piece band, we have several breakdowns for live entertainment on a smaller scale.”
The hotel also offers live music at Crown & Anchor and at the Beach Club. But if you haven’t seen DIA Band live yet, you might want to make plans.
For dinner and live music, nothing beats the sultry sounds of DIA backed by top notch service and a great meal.
All that backed songs like ‘Sweetest Taboo’ by Sade and ‘On & On’ by Erykah Badu with Tino on Sax, with a tight group on bass, keys and bass, who could ask for anything more! They even threw in a bit of vintage reggae music by Burning Spear.
A bit pricey yes! But this diehard ‘Foodie’ will most definitely go back to do it all over again!