What do Jimmy Durante, Billy Joel and accomplished tenor, Andrea Bocelli, have in common? All three men played in piano bars early in their careers. When you head out to Sacramento’s bar scene, you may not meet the likes of Billy Joel, but you can expect to be entertained at any of these Sacramento piano bars. These venues run the gamut of entertainment, from loud and eccentric to classy and sophisticated. On any given night, you can meet “real” mermaids, grab an open mic or drink authentic sarsparilla. Head to Midtown and visit an extraordinary mobile piano bar and one-man band, or find an open stool at your favorite local dive bar.

(Credit: divebarsacramento.com)

Dive Bar
1016 K St.
Sacramento, CA
(916) 737-5999

It’s not every day you can say you saw a mermaid in her natural habitat. That is, of course, if you consider a 7,500 gallon aquarium a natural habitat – and you believe in mermaids. Plunge into the Dive Bar on Thursday nights and you’ll be treated to random and spontaneous mermaid sightings and two very talented piano men, dueling it out for your applause. Seated across from one another on dueling pianos, these guys perform contemporary, feel-good tunes and your musical requests. Order a $3 “walk-the-plank” shot or a $5 Long Island Ice Tea on the Dive Bar’s no-cover Duel Thursdays.

Related: Best Dance Clubs in Sacramento

Photo Credit: River City Saloon

River City Saloon
916 2nd St.
Sacramento, CA
(916) 443-6852

Step back in time in the historic Old Sacramento shopping district when you visit the River City Saloon. Sacramento’s last Old West saloon has a rich history, dating back to 1861 when it was best known as a house of ill repute. Since then, it has changed hands many times, but one thing has remained a constant: the piano. Today, it’s not uncommon to find patrons sharing the piano bench, playing their favorite tunes. River City Saloon is a lively place with nightly specials, sandwiches, appetizers, and 25-cent sarsaparilla for the kids. Throw your peanut shells on the floor, belly-up to the bar and have an old-fashioned hootenanny at the River City Saloon.

Photo Credit: acousticsanctuary.com

Acoustic Sanctuary
22nd and J St.
Midtown Sacramento, CA 95857
(916) 454-9463

On weekend nights, the corner of 22nd and J in midtown Sacramento belongs to Winko. Storyteller, philosopher and one-man-band Winko Ljizz has a piano bar like no other. The Acoustic Sanctuary has four wheels, five stools and a one-couple dance floor. Small, but mighty. The centerpiece of his mobile piano bar is a baby grand piano that he has modified to fit inside the van. Surrounded by dozens of musical instruments, some homemade, this 21st-century minstrel entertains small groups in short sets. A little conversation, some schtick, and then a segue into contemporary favorites. He makes the difficult look easy as he switches from instrument to instrument, sometimes playing two or three at a time.

Related: Sacramento’s Best Karaoke Bars

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Henry’s Bar
1117 9th St.
Sacramento, CA
(916) 446- 0739

Everything about Henry’s Bar is unassuming and simple, starting with the name of the bar. Even the beer is simple: Schlitz, on tap. The bar is dark and the décor is understated. Henry’s is a dive bar and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Expect to be entertained by the piano man and the colorful cast of regulars that grace the bar. On Tuesday nights, it’s open mic; anyone who can play a tune can perform for the crowd. Don’t bother trying to look for Henry’s on the internet; they don’t have a website. What they do have is charm, friendly service, inexpensive beer and a great ambience.

Photo Credit: Headhunters

Headhunters Video Lounge and Grill
1930 K St.
Sacramento, CA
(916) 492- 2922

Centrally located in midtown Sacramento at 20th and K Street, Headhunters and Cornerstone Cafe are perfectly paired for around-the-clock meals and entertainment. The popular downtown dyad serves early risers in the cafe and late-nighters at Headhunters. Thursday nights, the Video Lounge transforms into an open-mic piano bar, where patrons can bring in their own sheet music and sing along to piano-man, Jim Jordan’s musical stylings. Singer Gayiel Von entertains on Saturday nights when Headhunters turns cabaret. When the weather cooperates, you can relax on the large outdoor patio.

Chuck Douros is a freelance writer, journalist, copywriter and editor from northern California. He specializes in web-based news and website content. Find his work here.