Sacramento’s music scene has a little bit of something for everyone, including stellar cover and tribute bands, jazz, soul, funk and pop, and punk, rock ‘n’ roll and indie. Luckily, there are just as many great venues in which to catch a local band, including two downtown joints, three midtown clubs, and one spot that requires a short car ride to the ‘burbs. Here’s the roundup of top places to see local bands in the Sacramento area.
904 15th Street
Hours: Tues to Sun – 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Torch Club is the place in Sacramento if you want to get the blues. The club, established in 1934, is also the place to see many local bands and soloists perform, including Jackie Greene, Walking Spanish, Mick Martin & The Blues Rockers, Arbess Williams, Mercy Me!, Mind X, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Johnny Guitar Knox, Golden Cadillacs, Jimmy Pailer, and the Beer Dawgs. The cover at Torch Club depends on the performer, but generally falls under $10, and special events/fundraisers cost more. Torch Club is 21 and older.
Insider Tip: every fall, Torch Club puts on a great breast cancer awareness fundraiser called “Blues for Life” that kicks musical butt!
Marilyn’s On K
908 K Street
Hours: Tues to Fri 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sat – 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
In addition to “Rock on Live Band Karaoke” every Thursday night, in which local performers Gerry Pineda and Adam Donald regularly take center stage, a variety of local bands regularly rock Marilyn’s, Jackie Greene among them. (In fact, Marilyn’s green room is actually called the “Greene room” for Jackie.) The stage at Marilyn’s has been graced by Mother Hips, local blues legend and radio DJ Mick Martin, hard rocking band The Secretions, and dance party bands The Hits, Pop Fiction, and No Bozoz. Don’t miss up and comers like Smirker, Dirt Nap Band, and Lite Brite. The cover at Marilyn’s is generally $10 or under, and often free. Marilyn’s is 21 and older.
9426 Greenback Lane
Hours: Tues to Sat – 12 p.m. to close
This all-ages all-the-time venue has seen some great big names over the years, including Hoobastank, Switchfoot, and Collective Soul. They also book a bevy of local bands, with an emphasis on rock and roll. Past (and present) local performers literally span from A to Z, and include Across The Tide, Brothers To Arms, California Kid, Dap the Stampede, Eyes of Deception, From Cities to Salt, Groovie Ghoulies, Human Temperament, I-80, Kevin Seconds, Larisa Brisky, Mystic Roots Band, Namm Classic, Oleander, Restrayned, Tag You’re Dead, The Walking Dead, and Wesley Avery. Most covers range from $10 to $15, and for those 21 and older, there is a bar.
1400 Alhambra Blvd.
Hours: Open only for shows
Not only does Blue Lamp draw performers like Ben Lee and Pete Yorn, but it also brings in entertaining local acts that rock—literally–from rock ‘n’ rollers The Snobs, to metal band Kill The Precedent, as well as beloved locals The Brodys. Additional performers include Jackpot, Musical Charis, The Secretions, The Hypnotic IV, The Souterrain, Walking Spanish, The Cash Prophets (A Tribute to Johnny Cash), The Golden Cadillacs, Kate Gaffney, Random Abiladeze, and The Sleeprockers. Covers vary. Blue Lamp is 21 and older.
2708 J Street
Hours: Thurs to Sat – 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
From exquisite bands like Exquisite Corps, to indie pop Musical Charis, Harlow’s regularly books diverse bands that span musical genres. Sure, big names like Whiskeytown and Bob Mould have played at Harlow’s, but so do local regulars like Tainted Love, Tattooed Love Dogs, The Cheeseballs, Skynnyn Lynnyrd (a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band), Super Huey (celebrating the music of Huey Lewis), House of Floyd (Pink Floyd), and Steely Dan fans Steelin’ Dan. Most local acts range in price (under $20), while bigger names cost a bit more. Harlow’s is 21 and older.
2030 P Street
Hours: Daily 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
I have a love-hate relationship with Press Club. I love them because they book amazing acts, both local and regional. I hate them because I missed the opportunity to see Son Volt there decades ago—my fault, but it still stings a bit. What helps is that Press Club has since booked (and continues to book) local talent, such as jazz/soul/funk Elements Brass Band, punk rock G Green, pop/rock/punk HeyZeus, indie rockers Jilt V. Jonah, rock n’ rollers The Snobs, and the psychedelic Art Lessing and the Flower Vato. Most acts are under $10, and a lot are under $5.