Photo by Justin KaseConder, Courtesy of The Granada Theatre
Aside from its natural beauty, world-famous wines and countless historic landmarks, the Santa Barbara South Coast also prides itself on being a top destination for live music—from 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.
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 nights of the week.
If you find yourself strolling down lively State Street, 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 night of the week, where the drinks are plenty and patrons can BYOF (bring your own food!) from any of the surrounding restaurants.
The Santa Barbara Bowl is one of the most popular venues to catch a live show in the Santa Barbara South Coast, as this entirely 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 music-lovers 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.
Carlitos Café y Cantina is known for its exquisite Mexican cuisine and inviting atmosphere, and on Thursdays, 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 Street 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, 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. 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 Tuesday through Saturday.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 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!
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. highlights local musicians every Friday (and sometimes Saturdays), so pop over to the Funk Zone for brews and tunes.
Every summer throughout the month of July, the Great Meadow at Chase Palm Park hosts Concerts in the Park. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for an evening of Santa Barbara’s favorite local bands. 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.
A little ways from the shore is Elings Park, where the once-a-month outdoor reggae series dubbed Evenings at Elings takes place during the summer months.
MONTECITO & GOLETA
Local, a recent addition to the Coast Village Road 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 and Fridays.
Up the coast in Goleta, Roof Top Bistro & Bar features Santa Barbara musicians that play a mix of rock and contemporary music every Friday and Saturday among the twinkling lights of this unique rooftop setting
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
Friday through Sunday, enjoy live music at the ever-popular Cold Spring Tavern and grab a tri-tip sandwich and a cold beer at one of the oldest restaurants in the area.