The 50 Best Live Music Venues in California

 

  
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Due to being the home of Hollywood and Disneyland, California is synonymous with entertainment.  Therefore, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Golden State has some of the best live music venues in the world.

It was a daunting task to review all the live music venues in California and create a list of just 50.  California is a big place and Californians are huge music fans.

To make our task a little easier, we excluded all venues with a capacity over 20,000.  That's why Staples Center and the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre didn't make our list.

We looked at several criteria but when it came to making the final decision on whether to add a venue to our list, we looked at just three: 

  1. They need to frequently host some type of live music event. 
  2. They need to be both patron-friendly and performer-friendly. 
  3. They need to cultivate a live music experience that's memorable and very enjoyable.

Using those three factors, among others, allowed us to create what you'll find below, our list of the 50 best live music venues in the great state of California.

 

 

ALBANY

Ivy Room

Neighbor bar
860 San Pablo Avenue
(510) 526-5888
Monday through Sunday: 3pm to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Ivy Room is a local meeting place and music venue serving the East Bay Community.  It's one of those rare places where you can hang out with friends, shoot some pool, and enjoy great live music.  You've got to love a place that has a framed picture of a young Stevie Nicks on a shelf behind the bar.
Getting There: West of the Albany Twin theatres
Venue Facts

  • Building dates back to the 1940s
  • Owned by Summer Gerbing and Lani Torres
  • They have a television for the big game and a jukebox.

Booking Examples: Angelo Moore, The Fell Swoop, The Anita Lofton Project


Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

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ANAHEIM

Juke Joint

“A place where friends can drink”
735 North Anaheim Boulevard
(714) 778-1397
Monday through Sunday: 6am to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Juke Joint is an award-winning downtown bar beloved by punkers, rockers, and those who like to have fun.  At the Juke Joint, you can enjoy live music as well as more than 50 beers (20 are on tap), Keno, and the big game/big UFC match.   
Getting There: Half mile from the Packing Plant
Venue Facts

  • Established in 1978
  • Three pool tables
  • Internet dart boards

Booking Examples: Guttermouth, Hot Rod Trio, Mindwarz


Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

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ARCATA

Humbrews Next Door

“Family restaurant, brewpub, and nightclub/banquet club”
856 10th Street
707-826-BREW (2739)
Monday through Sunday: 11:30am to 2am (most show nights)
Kitchen closes at 10pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Humbrews Next Door is not only a great live music venue, it's also a great restaurant and brewpub.  If you're visiting the North Coast, this is a place where you can take your family for a nice meal.  It's also a place where you and your significant other can enjoy some pub grub and the nation's top touring acts. 
Getting There: Located between “I” and “H “streets
Venue Facts

  • 3,000 square foot entertainment room
  • Pool tables, big screen televisions, and free WIFI
  • Capacity: 375

Booking Examples: Leon Russell, Blitzen Trapper, Meat Puppets

 

 

 

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BAKERSFIELD

Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame

Performance art theatre
2230 Q Street
(661) 864-1701
Monday through Friday: 10am to 6pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Country music fans are quite familiar with Bakersfield.  The Kern County city is home of the “Bakersfield Sound.”  The Hall of Fame has inducted such legends as Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Bonnie Owens.  It also supports a Grade-A performance venue that has clear sound and comfortable seats.
Getting There: The Hall of Fame's event entrance is on Q Street while its office is on R Street.
Venue Facts

  • Founded on December 8, 2015
  • 250-seat concert venue
  • The facility also houses a recording studio and coffee shop.

Booking Examples: Marty Haggard, Kim McAbee, Ty Herndon

 

 

 

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CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA

Sunset Cultural Center

“The Monterey Peninsula's Premier Arts Facility”
San Carlos Street at Ninth Avenue
831-620-2048
Open two hours before performances (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Sunset Cultural Center is managed by a nonprofit corporation that was founded in 2003.  It's also the cultural heart of the city.  It's a terminus for those that love classical music, dance, and theatre.  Yet, the center has a wild side and occasionally hosts rock and comedy shows. 
Getting There: There are no addresses in downtown Carmel.  If you need help getting there, give their box office a call.
Venue Facts

  • State-of-the-art performance center seats 718
  • Beautiful gothic architecture
  • Amazing acoustical enhancement program (L.A.R.E.S).

Booking Examples: The Monterey Symphony, Carmel Music Society, Chamber Music Monterey Bay


The Chieftains performing at the Sunset Cultural Center. Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

 

 

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COSTA MESA

The Wayfarer

“A house of social provisions”
843 West 19th Street
(949) 764-0039
Monday through Sunday: 5pm to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Wayfarer features live music, libations, and appetizing pub dishes.  This venue is the result of the genius, hard work, and inspiration of its owner, Jeffrey Chon.  He also owns the Tabu Shabu in Costa Mesa and Alley Restaurant & Bar in Newport Beach.  Tuesday night is dedicated to reggae music.
Getting There: You'll find The Wayfarer between Monrovia Avenue and Placentia Avenue.
Venue Facts

  • The Wayfarer opened in July of 2014.
  • Formerly known as “Detroit Bar”
  • Capacity: 300

Booking Examples: Lindi Ortega, Purple Mountains, and Johnzo West & The Wayward Souls

 

 

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FRESNO

Strummer's

“Concert Hall/Restaurant/Bar/Club”
833 East Fern Avenue
(559) 485-5356
Tuesday through Saturday: 5pm to 2 am
Sunday: 12pm to 12am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Yes, Strummer's is named after Joe Strummer (1952 to 2002), frontman of “the only band that ever matter,” The Clash.  Despite being relatively new, Strummers has a reputation for being a friendly haunt.  They bring a slew of great bands to Fresno, boast a terrific menu, and serve refreshing libations.
Getting There: Strummer's is in Fresno's Tower Arts District.
Venue Facts

  • Menu has meat, vegetarian and vegan options.
  • Tuesday is karaoke night.
  • Strummers is also the place to enjoy the big soccer match.

Booking Examples: Bad Suns, Miss May I, AJR

 

 

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LONG BEACH

Gaslamp

“Music + Bar + Kitchen”
6251 East Pacific Coast Highway
(562) 596-4718
Wednesday: 5pm to 1am
Thursday through Saturday: 5pm to 2am
Sunday: 10am to whenever (subject to change, always call ahead)

Gaslamp is a high-energy music venue, bar, and restaurant.  This live music venue is erected on the corner of the PCH and Loynes.  Sing karaoke on Wednesday and enjoy country music on Thursdays.  If it's Friday then it's “80's with Knyght Ryder.” On Saturdays, Gaslamp hosts concerts, DJs, and/or UFC.
Getting There: To get there from 405, 605, or 22: exit on 7th street, take left at Bellflower, and then a left onto the Pacific Coast Highway (for complete directions visit venue's website).
Venue Facts

  • General manager is Mike Neufeld.
  • Outdoor seating is available.
  • Checkout their huge chandelier.

Booking Examples: Tribute bands, Warren G, Metal Jam 2017


 Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

Alex's Bar

“Dive Bar”
2913 East Anaheim Street
562-434-8292
Monday through Saturday: 5pm to 2am
Sunday: 3pm to 2am

Alex's Bar is a happening locale to appreciate live music and pleasant libations.  The vibe is cordial and welcoming.  Visitors rave about Alex's attentive staff.  If you need more reasons to check out this cool, hip establishment, parts of “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny” were filmed here.
Getting There: Entrance to Alex's Bar is in back parking lot.
Venue Facts

  • Founded in 2000
  • They frequently host Karaoke nights.
  • All shows are 21 and over.

Booking Examples: The Billy Bones, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, CJ Ramone

 

Sgt. Peppers Dueling Pianos

“It was twenty years ago today…”
91 South Pine Avenue
(562) 499-4600)
Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday: 7pm to 12am
Friday and Saturday: 6pm to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

At Sgt. Peppers Dueling Pianos, you'll almost hear as much laughter as you will music.  That's because two piano players lead patrons in sing-a-longs.  You want to hear your favorite song?  You want to sing along to your favorite song?  Then come to Sgt. Peppers.  Bottom line, you'll have the time of your life.

Getting There: One block north of Shoreline Drive
Venue Facts

  • Indoor/outdoor bar
  • They do have a menu—try the McCartney's Wings.
  • All shows are 21 and over.

Booking Examples: Ronnie Shelton, Scott Doyle, Martha Boles, Time Butterworth


Piano player in middle of performance. Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

 

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LOS ANGELES

Hollywood Bowl

Performance and event venue
2301 North Highland Avenue
323-850-2000
Box office hours vary.  See website for schedule.

If aliens landed on Earth and wanted to experience an outdoor concert, you'd probably take them to the Hollywood Bowl.  Not only is it one of the most famous amphitheaters in the world, it's also one of the best.  Pollstar consistently votes the Hollywood Bowl the nation's “Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue.”
Getting There: To avoid traffic try the bowl's shuttle service.
Venue Facts

  • The Hollywood Bowl opened in 1922.
  • The Hollywood Bowl seats 17,500.
  • The iconic “band shell” was replaced in 2004.

Booking Examples: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lady Antebellum, Queen + Adam Lambert

 

El Rey Theatre

“General admission, standing room venue”
5515 Wilshire Boulevard
(323) 936-6400

The El Rey Theatre began life as a movie theatre.  It was turned into a live music venue in 1994.  As you might expect from an iconic building with a rich past, The El Rey Theatre is a registered historic-cultural monument.  You'll find the El Rey in the Miracle Mile area of Mid-Wilshire.
Getting There: LA Metro lines 20 & 21 serve The El Rey Theater. They stop in front of the theatre on Wilshire (review bus schedule before leaving for your destination).
Venue Facts

  • Built in 1936
  • Art deco theater with a grand ballroom and a sweeping staircase
  • Capacity: 771

Booking Examples: Mount Kimbie, Gavin James, Brother Ali


That Dog at El Rey. Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

The Wiltern

Live music venue
3790 Wilshire Boulevard
(213) 388-1400
Box office open 1 to 3 hours before show time (subject to change, always call ahead).

The Wiltern was originally a vaudeville theater and has twice been saved from the wrecking ball.  The venue underwent four years of renovation in the early 1980s and then further modification in the early part of this century.  Its interior is elegant, sophisticated, and unlike any theatre in the world.
Getting There: The Wiltern sits directly across from the Wilshire/Western station.
Venue Facts

  • Built in 1931
  • Famous for its art deco sunburst on ceiling
  • Standing room only capacity: 2,300
  • Seated capacity: 1,850

Booking Examples: David Crosby, The Jesus and the Mary Chain, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

 

Largo at the Coronet

Performance art theatre
366 North La Cienega Boulevard
(310) 855-0350
Will call is usually opened at least two hours before show time (subject to change, always call ahead).

Largo is a funny music venue.  Literally.  When they're not hosting world renowned musicians, they're hosting hilarious comics.  Arrive early, get your seat, and then enjoy a Guinness or a glass of wine in The Little Room.  Once you get a seat, you can leave Largo and get a bite somewhere in the neighborhood.
Getting There: Largo is one block north of Beverly Blvd at Oakwood Street.
Venue Facts

  • General manager is Michael Griffee
  • Don't show up late.  You won't be seated.
  • Cash only

Booking Examples: Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Wild Horses

 

Five Star Bar

“Art.  Music.  Burgers.  Beer.”
267 South Main Street
323-428-4492
Monday through Friday: 12pm to 2am
Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Five Star Bar has a wonderful vibe and a terrific staff.  There are a lot of good people who work at this establishment.  Heavy metal bands are frequently on the marquee, but they do book acts from other genres.  If you're there before the music starts, make sure you enjoy one of their scrumptious burgers.
Getting There: Two blocks west of city hall
Venue Facts

  • 50 styles of beer
  • Serves lunch
  • Jukebox

Booking Examples: Scrapmetal, Spacetrucker, Greenskull


Performance at Five Star Bar.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

The Theatre at Ace Hotel

Performance and event venue
929 South Broadway
(213) 623-3233

Getting There: Located in the heat of downtown Los Angeles' historic theatre district
The Theatre at Ace Hotel is stunning.  This awesome LA music venue has a 2,300-square foot grand lobby, an intricately ornate mezzanine, and a vaulted ceiling plastered with tiny mirrors.  Throw in all the great acts that grace their stage and you have a venue worthy of every music fans' bucket-list.
Venue Facts

  • Movie palace from the 1920s
  • Three-story grand lobby
  • Capacity: 1,600

Booking Examples: Pixies, The Flaming Lips, The New Pornographers

 

The Orpheum Theatre

“One of L.A.'s most venerable landmarks”
842 South Broadway
(877) 677-4386

This historic venue has hosted performances by Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, and American Idol.  The Orpheum Theatre is a multi-purpose space and regularly schedules theatrical productions, film screening, variety shows, award shows, weddings, and religious events.
Getting There: The Orpheum Theatre sits between the Santa Monica 10, Hollywood 101, and Harbor/Pasadena 110 freeways. 
Venue Facts

  • Opened on February 15, 1926
  • Its Wurlitzer organ is one of three working pipe organs in Southern California.
  • Capacity: 2,000+

Booking Examples: Brandi Carlile, Mercyme, Tedeschi Trucks Band

 

 

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MARTINEZ

Armando's

“Open to music”
707 Marina Vista
925-228-6985
Except for Sunday, most shows start at 7:30pm or 8pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

You've got to love a venue that has a “no-play” list.  To learn all the banned songs visit their website, but we will say “Feelings” is on it.  Armando's is an embracing, intimate venue.  They support a plethora of musical genres except for cliché bar rock.  Make sure you bring cash and that you're over 21.
Getting There: From I680, take the Marina Vista Avenue exit.  From HWY 4, take the Alhambra Avenue exit (for complete directions visit venue's website).
Venue Facts

  • Stage is eight feet deep
  • They offer bands a complete sound system and stage lighting.
  • Capacity: 65

Booking Examples: The Lowell Trio, The Mic Gillette Band, The Sophisticated Ladies Vocal Trio

 

 

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MURPHYS

Ironstone Vineyards

“Family-owned and operated winery”
1894 Six Mile Road
209-728-1251
Box office open at 2pm and remains open until show time (subject to change, always call ahead).

This is one of the most interesting music venues on our list.  At Ironstone Vineyards, you'll find the Ironstone Amphitheatre.  This outdoor venue attracts some of the biggest touring acts in the world.  So, make it a long weekend—enjoy a concert and the hospitality (and wine) of the Ironstone Vineyards.
Getting There: Located approximately three to four hours from Bay Area.
Venue Facts

  • Low beach chairs are allowed in general admission area.
  • Vineyard is nestled in the Sierra Foothills
  • Facility also contains a tasting room, music room, banquet facilities, and wine caverns.

Booking Examples: Toby Keith, Matchbox Twenty, Jason Mraz

 

 

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NEVADA CITY

Crazy Horse Saloon & Grill

“Where the colorful essence of the past and fun-filled spontaneity of the present intersect.”
230 Commercial Street
(530) 265-4000
Kitchen open weeknights until 11pm and weekends until 12am
Bar open until 1:30am almost every night (subject to change, always call ahead)

Crazy Horse attracts big-time talent.  Musicians love playing in the snug venue with its superb acoustics. Meanwhile, patrons pack the Crazy Horse to party and cut a rug.  Crazy Horse books all kinds of acts except for heavy metal.  Their kitchen is famous for hamburgers; they are made with Niman Ranch beef.
Getting There: Located in the heart of downtown Nevada City
Venue Facts

  • Building dates back to the Civil War.
  • Crazy Horse opened its doors in 2012.
  • Five HDTVs and NFL Sunday Ticket

Booking Examples: Scott Pemberton Band, The Sextones, Andy Coe Band


The Polyrhythmics performing at Crazy Horse Saloon & Grill.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

 

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NORTH HOLLYWOOD

Kulak's Woodshed

“Singer/Songwriter, Video/Music Recording Studio, Venue/Listening Room”
5230 Laurel Canyon Boulevard
(818) 766-9913

Paul Kulak created Kulak's Woodshed in 1999.  It's a remarkable space that's for performers and music fans.  Not only is KW a live music venue, it's also a recording studio.  This inimitable venue has drawn all types of performers to its stage, everyone from established Grammy winners to emerging new artists.
Getting There: Located north of West Magnolia Boulevard and south of Chandler Boulevard
Venue Facts

  • Pet friendly
  • They serve soft drinks, coffee, and tea, but no alcohol.
  • Every Monday is free open mic night
  • Capacity: 49

Booking Examples: Delaney Bramlett, Jackson Browne, Ray Parker Jr.

 

 

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OAKLAND

The Layover

“The East Bay's best downtown art & music lounge!”
1517 Franklin Street
510-834-1517
Tuesday through Friday: 5pm to 1:45am
Saturday: 8pm to 1:45am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Layover is all about groovy music, organic cocktails, and good times.  Besides being a highly-regarded music venue, it's also an art gallery.  Artists are rotated monthly.  The Layover books top DJs as well as sidesplitting comedy acts.  For specials, they have Tequila Tuesdays and Whiskey Wednesdays.
Getting There: Located two blocks from the 19th Street BART station
Venue Facts

  • Bohemian interior
  • The artwork, lamps, and furnishings are for sale.
  • Look for their neon martini sign

Booking Examples: DJ Kimani, DJ Scott La Rocky, DJ Crimson

 

The UC Theatre

Live music venue
2036 University Avenue
(510) 356-4000
Open on show nights from door time until 10pm
Sunday: 10am to 2pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

The UC Theatre is run by a nonprofit called The Berkeley Music Group.  Their aim to is present a wide range of live performances.  Does live music make you hungry?  You can get a bite to eat at the UC.  Their menu is prepared by celebrated chef Dov Sims.  To volunteer, visit their website.
Getting There: From I-80 East, take the University Avenue exit and go east (for complete directions visit venue's website).
Venue Facts

  • State-of-the-art sound system by Meyer Sound
  • Dark Star Orchestra played first concert at venue on April 7, 2016.
  • Capacity: 1,400

Booking Examples: Toots and the Maytals, The Zombies, Yngwie Malmsteen

 

 

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PASO ROBLES

Vina Robles Amphitheatre

“European Inspiration meets California Character”
3800 Mill Road
805-286-3680

Head out to the countryside to enjoy the best in live music and wine.  The Vina Robles Amphitheatre—labeled a boutique amphitheater—is situated on a picturesque hillside in San Luis Obispo County.  Here you can enjoy concerts under the stars.  Vina Robles has seating options within 150 feet of the stage. 
Getting There: From Highway 101 take Highway 46 East, just three miles from downtown Paso Robles (for complete directions visit venue's website).
Venue Facts

  • Concert season is April through November.
  • Opened in summer of 2013
  • Capacity: 2,300

Booking Examples: David Crosby, Bryan Adams, Idina Menzel

 

 

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PETALUMA

McNear's Mystic Theatre

“Theatre and music hall”
23 Petaluma Boulevard North
707-775-6048

Many consider McNear's Mystic Theatre the premiere music venue in the North Bay.  After a few songs from your favorite artists, you'll agree.  When you attend one of their shows, you will have access to fine food and drink.  Luminaries that have graced their stage include Van Morrison, Train, and Joan Baez.
Getting There: Located in downtown historic Petaluma
Venue Facts

  • Built in 1911
  • Formerly a pornographic theater
  • Capacity: 550

Booking Examples: Donovan Frankenreiter, The English Beat, Jack Ingram


Matisyahu performing at McNear's Mystic Theatre.  Image, by Marissa E./Bulldog Media, courtesy of venue's Facebook page.

 

 

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REDDING

The Dip

“Beer.  Booze.  Jams.”
1730 California Street
530-241-2662
Monday through Thursday: 3pm to 12pm
Friday through Saturday: 3pm to 1am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Dip is an original and captivating music venue that also offers beer and cocktails—both of the craft variety.  The Dip used to be the flipside of the coffee shop “Serendipity Coffee.”  They sold joe by day and hosted live music by night.  If you appreciate independent music then you'll appreciate The Dip.
Getting There: Situated east of Railroad Avenue
Venue Facts

  • Every other Wednesday The Dip hosts “Pub Quiz”
  • 20 craft beers on tap
  • Tap is frequently updated

Booking Examples: B. Dolan, All Things Blue, The Hot 8 Brass Band

 

 

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SACREMENTO

The Guild Theater

Performing arts center
2828 35th Street
(916) 842-4906

The Guild Theatre is over a century old.  In 2003, the St. Hope Academy renovated the space and turned it into what it is today.  St. Hope operates The Guild Theatre and both are successful nonprofits.  During the restoration, St. Hope resurfaced the stage and added a slick LED lighting system.
Getting There: Located east of South Sacramento Freeway and north of McClatchy Park
Venue Facts

  • Theater opened in 1915.
  • Originally called “Victor Theater”
  • Building was part of the Moorish revival that was popular during the era.

Booking Examples: Besides live performances they also host plays, films, lectures, and discussions.

 

 

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SAN CLEMENTE

OC Tavern Grill and Sports Bar

"We have something for everyone!"
2369 South El Camino
(949) 542-8877
Monday and Tuesday: 11:30am to 10pm
Wednesday through Friday: 10:30am to 2am
Saturday: 9am to 2am during football season (otherwise 10:30am)     
Sunday: 10am to 10pm during football season (otherwise 10:30am)
(subject to change, always call ahead)

OC Tavern has it all.  Besides being a live music venue, they are also a full restaurant and sports bar.  Furthermore, they have the first mini-satellite horse wagering bar (with live tellers) in the state.  On Fridays and Saturdays, come to the OC to dance the night away to tunes spun by California's hottest DJs.
Getting There: Next to San Clemente Municipal Golf Course
Venue Facts

  • Two full bars
  • 15 beers on tap
  • Capacity: 300

Booking Examples: The Freeks, Hot Buttered Rum, The Chololas, Cubensis

 

 

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SAN DIEGO

The Casbah

Live music venue
2501 Kettner Boulevard
619-232-HELL (4355)
Doors open at 8:30pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

If The Casbah could talk it would probably brag about hosting concerts by Nirvana, The White Stripes, and The Breeders.  They suggest picking up your tickets at will call.  That way you don't have to worry about getting them in the mail or your dog eating them. They do have pool tables, pinball, and Galaga.
Getting There: If you're taking the trolley, take the Blue Line to Middletown.  Then, walk up to Kettner and toward Laurel (review trolley schedule before leaving for your destination).
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1989, moved to current location in 1994
  • Original capacity was 75.  Today, The Casbah's capacity is 200-plus.
  • All shows are 21 and over.

Booking Examples: Grace Mitchell, All Them Witches, Gary Wilson and The Blind Dates

 

Soda Bar

Dive bar
3615 El Cajon Boulevard
(619) 255-7224
Monday through Sunday: 8:30pm to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Soda Bar has created a fun atmosphere to enjoy terrific live music.  That's awesome because attending concerts should fun.  The Soda Bar has a full bar.  They don't take reservations, so if you want a booth arrive early.  If you don't want to drive home, the Lafayette Hotel isn't too far away.
Getting There: Found in North Park/City Heights between the 805 and the 15
Venue Facts

  • All shows are 21 and over.
  • They have arcade video games
  • Capacity: 230

Booking Examples: Foster The People, Japandroids, Xiu Xiu


The Donkeys performing at Soda Bar.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

Music Box

“San Diego's Premier Live Music, Event, and Entertainment Venue”
1337 India Street
619-795-1337
Monday through Sunday: 8pm to 1am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Music Box hits the sweet spot.  It's just big enough to attract world class artists but small enough to host those world class artists in an intimate setting, the kind music fans cherish.  Just about everywhere you go inside Music Box you'll have a view of their stage.  Their VIP experience is one of the best in the state.
Getting There: Situated two blocks from Santa Fe Depot and Little Italy
Venue Facts

  • Spacious three-level venue with booths, lounge areas, and an outdoor patio
  • “Audiophile-quality acoustics”
  • Capacity: 800

Booking Examples: Of Montreal, Betamaxx, Poncho Sanchez

 

Patricks Gaslamp Pub

“Quaint, friendly, comfortable, and fun Irish Pub”
428 F Street
619-233-3077
Monday through Friday: 10am to 2am
Saturday through Sunday: 9am to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Patricks Gaslamp Pub serves live music every night of the week.  They also serve up daily drink specials and popular Irish potions.  What really separates Patricks is their amazing staff.  They are friendly, obliging, and have a passion for live music.  The venue books established, as well as burgeoning, artists.
Getting There: Located east of the Westfield Horton Pizza
Venue Facts

  • Located in the historic Keating Building
  • Founded in 1937
  • Rustic exposed brick

Booking Examples: The Bill Magee Blues Band, Len Rainey's Midnight Players, Johnny Vernazza

 

Whiskey Girl

Sports bar
702 5th Avenue
619-236-1616
Monday through Saturday: 11am to 2am
Sunday: 10am to 2am
Monday through Sunday: 21 and over after 7pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Whiskey Girl is the happening place to watch the big game and have a delicious bite to eat.  Then, celebrate your favorite team's victory with some live entertainment.  This live entertainment comes in the form of acoustic sets and DJs spinning the hottest platters.
Getting There: Within walking distance of Petco Park and the Convention Center
Venue Facts

  • Karaoke and photo booth
  • State-of-the-art audio and video system
  • Plenty of HDTVs to watch the big game

Booking Examples: J Marc Thrasher, Super DJ Romeo, The Heart Band, Kenny Eng

 

Cat Eye Club

“Cocktail lounge and Tiki bar”
370 7th Avenue
(619) 330-9509
Thursday: 5pm to 1am
Friday and Saturday: 5pm to 2am
Sunday: 11:30am to 5pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Want to take a trip back to the mid-20th century when nightclubs had an island flare?  Then come to Cat Eye Club in San Diego's East Village.  At Cat Eye Club, you'll relish the retro atmosphere as you partake in first-rate live music.  Best of all, Cat Eye Club serves drinks in some very cool decorative glasses.
Getting There: Across the street from Petco Park
Venue Facts

  • Red padded door
  • Lots of bamboo and wicker
  • Cool “Tiki Lounge” neon sign

Booking Examples: Tony Davis, Jason Hanna & The Bullfighters, The Fink Bombs

 

Moonshine Flats

“Live Free. Rock Hard”
344 7th Avenue
619-255-7625
Thursday through Saturday: doors open at 8pm
DJ and dancing start at 10pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Moonshine Flats is not your father's honky-tonk bar.  It is, however, a target for those that love to dance to country music as well as rock and pop.  When you've had your fill of line dancing and partying, visit their extension, “Deck at Moonshine Flats,” for some BBQ, a craft beer, and a laid-back atmosphere.
Getting There: Next to Petco Park
Venue Facts

  • 18,000 square feet
  • One of the largest LED screens in Southern California
  • Enormous wooden dance floor

Booking Examples: Maggie Rose, Jacob Bryant, Scotty Alexander


Performance at Moonshine Flats.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

 

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SAN FRANCISCO

The Fillmore

“Welcome to the Fillmore!”
1805 Geary Boulevard
415-346-3000
Monday through Saturday: box office open from published door to 10pm
Sunday: box office open from 10am to 3pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Fillmore is one of the most important and significant venues in the United States.  Under the genius of Bill Graham, The Fillmore helped launched the careers of Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Moby Grape, and many others.  Jimi Hendrix and The Who also played the Fillmore in the 1960s.
Getting There: To get there by MUNI bus take either the 22 Fillmore or the 38 Geary (review bus schedule before leaving for your destination).
Venue Facts

  • Constructed in 1912
  • Formerly called “Majestic Hall”
  • Capacity: 1,150

Booking Examples: Anders Osborne, Bishop Briggs, Kip Moore

 

The Chapel

“New live music venue, restaurant, and neighborhood bar”
777 Valencia Street
(415) 551-5157
Box office open 90 minutes before doors on show nights
Box office open on Saturday from 12:30pm to 4:30pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Chapel has a charming and laidback appeal.  The Mission District venue is more than a century old and was formerly a mortuary.  Yet, there's nothing stiff about The Chapel.  Its high ceiling makes it visually appealing and the great bands it brings to Valencia Street make it attractive to ticket holders.
Getting There: Served by 22 and 33 MUNI bus lines as well as the 16th Street and Mission BART station (review bus schedule before leaving for your destination).
Venue Facts

  • Built in 1914
  • 40-foot high arched ceiling
  • Capacity: 600+

Booking Examples: Cosmonauts, Hinds, Howie Day

 

DNA Lounge

“Late-night, all ages San Francisco nightclub”
375 Eleventh Street
415-626-2654
Monday through Sunday: 9pm to 5am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Since 2008, the independent DNA Lounge has been voted “Best Dance Club.”  Just one visit to the SOMA District hot spot and you'll see why.  This exciting nightclub has two stages and four dance floors—each has their own sound system.  Hungry?  Enjoy a pizza pie from their attached restaurant, DNA Pizza.
Getting There: The nearest BART stations to the DNA Lounge are at 16th and Mission and Civic Center.
Venue Facts

  • Two side-by-side venues that can operate individually or together
  • Seven full bars
  • Capacity: 800

Booking Examples: Zoë Keating, Weedeater, DJs

 

1015

Dance and night club
1015 Folsom Street
415-991-1015

Ten Fifteen and its sound system wallops patrons with 150,000 watts of premium audio.  With all that power, it's no wonder why music fans flock to this club.  At 1015, you'll find five different rooms.  Each has their own bar and their own DJ booth.  While you're there, check out their water-wall.
Getting There: Located in the heart of the city's Soma District.
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1986
  • 20,000 square feet
  • Brazilian hardwood dance floors

Booking Examples: Gramatik, Mad Zach, Mount Kimbie

 

 

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SAN JOSE

Poor House Bistro

"San Jose's New Orleans Joint"
91 South Autumn Street
(408) 292-5837
Monday through Thursday: 11am to 9pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am to 10pm
Sunday: 10am to 8pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

At Poor House Bistro, the musicians are always talented, the Cajun food is always spicy, and the brews are always cold.  Even better, their live music, which they offer daily, and is usually of the blues variety, is free.  The chefs at PHB have brought New Orleans cuisine to San Jose and have done so with aplomb.
Getting There: Two blocks south of SAP Center
Venue Facts

  • Established in 2005
  • PHB found in neo classical home built in the early 1900s.
  • Building was originally on 11th Street.

Booking Examples: Mitch Woods & His Rocket 88's, Amy Lou and The Wild Ones, The Funky Godfather w/Cubby Ingram


Performance at Poor House Bistro.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 

 

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SAN RAFAEL

Fenix

“Music venue, bar, and restaurant”
919 Fourth Street
415-813-5600
Tuesday through Wednesday: 4pm to 10pm
Thursday: 4pm to 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 4pm to 12am
Sunday brunch: 11:30am to 3pm
Sunday evening: 4pm to 10pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Fenix is a revolution.  After all, how many SLPRs do you know?  A SLPR is a “streaming live production restaurant.”  As far as anyone knows, Fenix is the first SLPR in the world.  What this all means is you come to Fenix for a delectable meal and captivating live music that's being broadcasted on the internet.
Getting There: From San Francisco, traverse the Golden Gate Bridge and then continue up US-101 North (for complete directions visit venue's website)
Venue Facts

  • Crafted by John Storyk
  • Fenix has a bar in the front of their venue and a wine bar in the back.
  • $20 minimum for all shows

Booking Examples: The Pulsators, Pacific Soul, Tazmanian Devils

 

 

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SANTA CRUZ

Moe's Alley

“Home of great live music”
1535 Commercial Way
831-479-1854
Tuesday through Sunday: 4pm to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

Moe's Alley excels at booking excellent musicians in a variety of genres.  Whether it's blues, jazz, reggae, or rhumba, Moe's stage greets them with open arms.  Besides the epic live tunes, visitors can enjoy a drink from their full bar and fresh air by stepping onto their patio.  Moe's staff is top-notch.
Getting There: From the CA-17 or CA-1, take Soquel Avenue exit (for complete directions visit venue's website).
Venue Facts

  • Try their shrimp tacos
  • Arrive early to get a good seat
  • All shows are 21 and over.

Booking Examples: Scott Pemberton Band, Melvin Seals & The Jerry Garcia Band, Reverend Horton Heat

 

 

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SOLANA BEACH

Belly Up

Live music venue
143 South Cedros Avenue
(858) 481-8140
Box office: 12pm to end of show
When no show, box office is open 12pm to 5pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

Belly Up is a highly touted live music venue in Southern California. The astounding staff works hard to bring top acts to the stage and to make your experience memorable.  The 21 and over club does serve bar food and drinks.  If you're looking for an enchanting meal, step next store to the Wild Note Café.
Getting There: Within walking distance of the Solana Beach Coaster Station
Venue Facts

  • Established in 1974
  • Free parking available
  • Capacity: 600

Booking Examples: Com Truise, Nick Waterhouse, Preservation Hall Jazz Band

 

 

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STOCKTON

Stockton Empire Theatre

Performance and event venue
1825 Pacific Avenue
(209) 943-7469
Box Office window open one hour before shows (subject to change, always call ahead).

The Stockton Empire Theatre dishes out live music, comedy acts, and film festivals.  Patrons can partake in dinner, desserts, and drinks.  With all that it has to offer, the Stockton Empire Theatre is one of the main attractions on the Miracle Mile.  The venue's neon sign is definitely art deco inspired.
Getting There: Found between Bedford Road and West Walnut Street
Venue Facts

  • Opening night for the Stockton Empire Theatre was Feb 6, 1945.
  • Stockton Theatre was built for $150,000.
  • Seventh theatres have had “Stockton” in their names.

Booking Examples: Emily's Army, Broken Toys, Chris Robinson Brotherhood

 

 

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VENTURA

Bombay

“Burgers. Bar. Music.”
143 South California Street
(805) 643-4404
Tuesday through Thursday: 5pm to 12am
Friday: 5pm to 2am
Saturday: 12pm to 2am
Sunday: 12pm to 9pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

For over 30 years, Bombay has been entertaining Venturans with great live music and mouthwatering burgers—which are currently created by Chef Andy Brooks. This Ventura landmark is rocking two stages and two state-of-the-art audio systems.  The staff is superb and if you don't like burgers try their wings.
Getting There: One block west of Plaza Park
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1986
  • Heated patio lounge
  • Longest bar in Ventura county, it's over 140 feet.

Booking Examples: Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog, Boyfriend Material, DJ Erok


Inside Bombay.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

The Majestic Ventura Theatre

“The best venue between LA and San Francisco”
26 South Chestnut Street
805-853-0721
Box office open Tuesday through Saturday: 11am to 6pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

The hip Majestic Ventura Theatre will impress you with its great sight lines and terrific acoustics.  It really doesn't matter where you are in the venue, you'll feel close to the band.  The Majestic welcomes artists from every musical genre imaginable.  If you're driving, there is an accessible parking lot nearby.
Getting There: Half a block north of Plaza Park
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1928
  • Mission-style architecture
  • Capacity: 1,200

Booking Examples: Tribal Seeds, Panteon Rococo, PHORA

 

 

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WEST HOLLYWOOD

Troubadour

“Dance and night club”
9081 Santa Monica Boulevard

Troubadour has seen a lot of history over the years.  Ringo Starr jammed with Joe Walsh and Don Was in 2012.  Price played two surprise shows in 2011.  Also that year, John Legend and The Roots played "Wake Up" for the first time in L.A.  And let's not forget, Elton John made his U.S. debut here in 1970.
Getting There: Located between North Doheny Drive and Willey Lane
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1957
  • General admission and mostly standing room only
  • Capacity: 500

Booking Examples: Joe Purday, Good Riddance, Balkan Beat Box

 

The Roxy Theatre

Legendary music venue
9009 West Sunset Boulevard
(310) 278-9457
Monday through Sunday: 7pm to 1am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Roxy Theatre is a West Hollywood landmark and an iconic music venue.  Over the years, The Roxy Theatre has hosted sets by Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, and Patti Smith.  In fact, all three of those artists have released concert albums which were recorded at the historic Roxy Theatre.
Getting There: Take Metro Bus 2 (review bus schedule before leaving for your destination)
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1973
  • Previously a strip club
  • Capacity: 500

Booking Examples: Breakbot Live, Ronald Bruner Jr., Son Volt

 

The Viper Room

“Johnny Depp's Joint”
8852 Sunset Blvd
310-358-1881
Monday through Sunday: 8pm to 2am (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Viper Room has a reputation for being a hangout for celebrities.  After all, Johnny Deep co-owned the venue until 2004.  On Halloween of 1993, The Viper Room saw River Phoenix die from a drug overdose.  Two years later at the VP, Australian singer Jason Donovan fell into a drug-induced coma.
Getting There: Situated between North San Vicente Boulevard and Larrabee Street
Venue Facts

  • Opened in 1993
  • Lower level is a whiskey bar
  • Capacity: 250

Booking Examples: Tidal Babes, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Queen of Kings

 

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WINTERS

The Palms Playhouse

“Live Music.  Good Times!”
13 Main Street
503-795-1825
Most shows start at 8pm (subject to change, always call ahead)

The Palms Playhouse began its journey in the late 1970s in a barn.  In 2002, the playhouse moved into its current digs, The Winters Opera House.  This “cultural oasis” books whatever kind of acts suit their fancy.  The venue is cozy, causal, and you're never far from the stage. 
Getting There: Found 40 minutes west of Sacramento and 75 minutes east of San Francisco
Venue Facts

  • Heating and air conditioning (which is a big deal when your last location was a barn)
  • They sell Cracker Jacks!
  • Capacity: 220

Booking Examples: James Harman's Bamboo Porch Revue, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, Dirk Hamilton


Los Straitjackets performing at the Palms Playhouse.  Image courtesy of the venue's Facebook page.

 


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