Live Music in Santa Barbara

Photo by Justin KaseConder, Courtesy of The Granada Theatre

Aside from its natural beauty, world-famous wines and countless landmarks rich with history, the Santa Barbara South Coast also prides itself on being a lively destination for live music that features local artists to internationally recognized stars. Put on your dancing shoes and read on for a roundup of some of the best live music venues in the area.

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SANTA BARBARA MUSIC STAPLES

When visitors and locals think of places to see live music in Santa Barbara, SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, The Red Piano or the Santa Barbara Bowl usually come to mind. SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, an eclectic nighttime music venue that hosts a variety of local and touring artists, offers shows year-round where concert-goers can catch live music and dancing on most days of the week. If you find yourself strolling down lively State St., you’re sure to hear the notes from the famous red piano at the one and only, The Red Piano. Local musicians play covers of classics at this intimate, iconic Santa Barbara location every day of the week, where the drinks are plenty and patrons can BYOF (bring your own food!) from any of the surrounding restaurants. Of course, the Santa Barbara Bowl is one of the most popular venues to catch a live show in the Santa Barbara South Coast, as this outdoor stadium hosts big names in the music industry like Jack Johnson, Rebelution, Maren Morris and more.

Santa Barbara is adorned with many beautiful, historic theaters that also double as unique venues for live music, all within walking distance from each other. Granada Theatre, Lobero Theatre and Arlington Theatre, to name a few, feature artists big and small—encompassing a variety of different genres—for concert-goers to enjoy. When you step into any of these theaters, you’re taking a step back in time for an unforgettable evening of entertainment. Want to get the full lineup for these venues? Check out these things to do next month in Santa Barbara.

DOWNTOWN

Carlitos Café y Cantina is known for its exquisite Mexican cuisine and inviting atmosphere. On Thursdays at 6 p.m., diners can catch live music on its patio with a spicy margarita in hand. Just down the street, The Good Lion, in partnership with Sama Sama Kitchen, hosts the Santa Barbara Jazz Collective once a month for a night of specialty cocktails and good tunes—just be sure to tune in to The Good Lion’s Instagram page for exact dates, as they are released monthly.

In the mood for a refreshing beer with a side of dancing? M. Special Brewing Company on State St. is the perfect place to sip some local brew and listen to live local bands—from modern reggae to ‘70s rock. While most events occur on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., check the calendar on M. Special’s website for exact dates.

While Sandbar is typically sought out for its vacation-esque daytime ambiance or its after-dark nightlife, it does draw a different midweek crowd. At 9 p.m. every Wednesday, various rock and reggae groups jam the night away. Across the street, you’ll find The James Joyce, Santa Barbara’s first Irish pub, where a variety of blues musicians take the stage on Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and on Saturdays from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., the Backstage Dueling Piano Bar hosts—you guessed it—a piano duel between two musicians. This unique and interactive experience puts a twist on the average live show experience. Music Alley features a variety of different genres, from Latin music to soulful solo acts. Visit its Instagram page to stay up-to-date on events!

FUNK ZONE

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. highlights local musicians every Friday (and sometimes Saturdays), so pop over to the Funk Zone at 7 p.m. for brews and tunes. Also located in the Funk Zone, Friday nights at Seven Bar and Kitchen bring the heat with local funk musicians amidst its moody atmosphere. Sit back and relax at the bar with one of its craft cocktails or take to the designated dancing area in front of the band.

WATERFRONT

Throughout the month of July, the Great Meadow at Chase Palm Park is bringing back Concerts in the Park, a free series of Santa Barbara bands from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.—a favorite among locals. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries (July 21) and Pepe Marquez Band (July 28) and watch the sunset while getting groovy to some local tunes. The iconic Stearns Wharf is celebrating its 150th birthday this year with Wharf Wednesdays on the first Wednesday of every month, complete with all the family-friendly activities normally offered, the historic cannon firing and, of course, live music performed by local bands from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A little ways from the shore is Elings Park, where the once-a-month outdoor reggae series dubbed Evenings at Elings takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

MONTECITO & GOLETA

Local, a recent addition to the Coast Village Rd. scene in Montecito, boasts a full lineup of solo musicians every day of the week. Sit back and listen to some local melodies with a refreshing glass of chardonnay in hand. The Manor Bar at Rosewood Miramar Beach features artists Brandon Wattz, Pearls and Cocktails, The Mixtape and Jazz with John on Thursdays from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Up the coast in Goleta, Roof Top Bistro and Bar features Santa Barbara musicians that play a mix of rock and contemporary music every Friday and Saturday. Take in the twinkling lights of this unique rooftop setting from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Leta Hotel has live music featuring modern acoustic covers on Thursdays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The original M. Special Brewing Company location is a tucked away beer haven, popular with UC Santa Barbara students and Goleta locals alike. On varying Fridays and Saturdays, catch a live show on the outdoor patio. Browse the brewery’s calendar for more details.

BEYOND THE COAST

Fridays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., enjoy live music at the ever-popular Cold Spring Tavern. Grab a tri-tip sandwich and a cold beer at one of the oldest restaurants in the area.

Every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., catch “Summer Sets” at the Hitching Post Tasting Room through the end of August. All bottle sales during performances will receive an extra 10% off. Enjoy an afternoon under the canopy of trees with acoustic tunes from local Santa Ynez Valley musicians.