California’s capital city is the heart of a thriving and eclectic music scene. Many popular musicians came from Sacramento, including Tesla, popular alt/rock band Cake and two-time Grammy-winning metal rockers the Deftones. Large venues such as Sleep Train Arena, Mondavi Center and Raley Field regularly draw big name artists to the region, but intimate settings are better spots to enjoy talented local musicians both established and up-and-coming. During favorable weather periods there are a number of places to enjoy live music, including during the summer concert series at Cesar Chavez Plaza. But for year-round entertainment, check out these excellent venues close to home.
Fox & Goose Public House
1001 R St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 443-8825

Housed in a century-old brick old building, the Fox & Goose has been serving up English pub food, libations and great music since 1975. On Wednesday evenings, local performers fill the pub with Motown-esque Northern soul dance music. Individuals offer acoustic tunes on Thursdays; on Fridays and Saturdays, Goose typically resounds with iconic music from larger bands. Genres include rock, reggae, punk, bluegrass, metal, jazz, folk and indie-pop, and the intimate setting is perfect for local favorites and up-and-coming stars. Performers have included Nevada City faves The Rattlin’ Bones, Kevin Seconds, Sacramento “dream rock guitarist” Dolores 5000, Ish, Pants Da Buzzard, Chicken & Dumpling, long-time Goose performer Steve McLane and two-time SAMMIES winners Whiskey & Stitches.

The Shack
5201 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 457-5997

Although the interior and covered patio areas are relatively small, guests love this longtime East Sacramento spot for the food, the great beer selection and especially for the eclectic mix of live music. The Sacramento-based Harley White Jr. Orchestra performs everything from blues, funk and Latin to electronica, burlesque and Tiki-lounge exotica, playing both classic and original tunes. For acoustic, blue-grassy Americana, Shack customers can enjoy the music of Sacramento’s Drytown Smugglers; funk, rock, folk and blues music are offered up by creative local band Schwamigos.

Related: Best Bars With Jukeboxes In Sacramento

The Naked Lounge
1111 H St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-1927

Naked Lounge’s laid-back downtown location offers totally addictive coffee and tea concoctions, beer, wine, food and free Wi-Fi. The vibe is hipster-friendly, and live music is performed in the cool, intimate back room. Many local bands are featured, including the indie, rock and acoustic stylings of fun and funky Vinnie Guidera & The Dead Birds. Ebb Tide plays progressive, cinematic rock and jazz, with inspiration drawn from Pink Floyd, Liszt and Animal as Leaders. Other Sacramento favorites include the reggae, twang and folk music of Rubbidy Buppidy and Dandelion Moon’s combination of blues, classics and current pop and folk.

Old Ironsides
1901 10th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-9751

The venerable Old Ironsides was established in 1934, by members of the same family that operates it today. It is a friendly neighborhood bar that offers lunch on weekdays and open mike comedy on Wednesday nights, but is especially popular for the local performers who offer tunes of many genres. Recent and upcoming musical performances include reggae music from Sacramento bands Urbanfire and The Scratch Outs, hard rock and metal from Malcolm Bliss and old school, grunge and modern rock of Fudi. Sacramento’s Ken Arcadia bring alternative and hard rock to Old I, and They Went Ghost of Vacaville and Salinas-based Midnight Thieves provide great performances as well.

Swabbies On The River
5871 Garden Highway
Sacramento, CA 95837
(916) 920-8088

Located on the Sacramento River, Swabbies has a tropical ambience and a private dock for customers. While known for serving fresh fish tacos, the place is best loved for the rustic outdoor area where live music, drinking, dancing and casual dining take place. Popular groups from Sacramento include The Cripple Creek Band, which plays lively southern rock and country, AC/DC tribute band RIFF/RAFF and the diverse genres of danceable covers by Groove Thang. Buffett and Grateful Dead tunes are the bailiwick of Garratt Wilkin, while Ranell Carpenter’s sets include blues, soul and country; both artists are from Placerville. San Francisco band Spazmatics has also performed at Swabbies.

Related: Best Bars For A Blind Date In Sacramento

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers business, employment, animal rescue, volunteerism and nonprofits. Her work can also be found at