SF Jazz Center, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)
The Bay Area has one of the most active year-round concert schedules in the country and a major reason for that is certainly the wide range of venues where artists can play. This includes many smaller, more intimate settings which host not only up-and-coming bands but big name acts as well. On any given night you might find an unknown post-punk band or one of the biggest legends in jazz. And while San Francisco has a nice concentration of smaller clubs, there are also excellent options in other locations around the Bay Area.
201 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Now entering its fourth year, the SF JAZZ Center is the first standalone structure in the country built specifically for jazz. The three sided intimate concert hall was designed to acoustically connect audiences with the artists’ music and it doesn’t disappoint. The venue averages about 30 jazz concerts per month, featuring artists such as Keith Jarrett, Roy Ayers, and the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Up-and-coming local jazz musicians are featured each month as well. The Center also has a restaurant on premises that serves Mexican small dishes prepared under the watchful eyes of former Zuni Café chef Rymee Trobaugh and Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame.
2209 Broadway St.
Redwood City, CA 94063
The downtown Redwood City area is booming and a busy music schedule offered by Club Fox nearly every week is one good reason. Housed next to the recently renovated Fox Theater, Club Fox seats 240 in a nicely intimate setting. The club features national touring acts on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays, dance or headliner bands on Friday and Saturday nights, and a weekly blues jam on Wednesdays. Tainted Love, the Irish group Tempest, and hot salsa bands are all part of the mix on any given week as music fans flock to this attractively-located small concert venue.
1710 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Opened in 2011, this 250-seat square venue has quickly acquired a reputation for booking hot new up-and-coming acts. This has a neighborhood rock club kind of vibe and if you are lucky enough to be in the front row it will feel as though you are onstage. Brick & Mortar hosts concerts nearly every night featuring artists playing rock, soul, funk, bluegrass, and many other styles, including artists such as Holly Miranda, Osage, and Pyrite Sidewalk. The best part about this club is the affordable ticket price, which ranges from $7 to $20 on most nights.
14831 Pierce Road
Saratoga, CA 95070
Paul Masson stopped making wine here in 1952, they started holding concerts in 1958, and the music is still playing today. This idyllic outdoor bowl setting offers beautiful views overlooking the Santa Clara Valley and has been the scene of concerts over the years by legends such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Roy Orbison. Just last year, ZZ Top, The Whispers, Willie Nelson, and The Doobie Brothers all made their way to the mountain top. Local groups play here too including the popular Noel Catura Band and a number of Bay Area Latin music acts during the concert season from May through October.
627 Main St.
Martinez, CA 94553
Since 2010, owner Roxanne Cole has entertained visitors with her vision for a small venue that successfully combines wine, food, and a love for music. The restaurant serves a creative menu featuring sustainable sourced ingredients and excellent wines for lunch and dinner. In the evening, diners can enjoy listening to blues, country, and pop/soul blend bands such as The New Frantics. Thursdays are very popular open mic nights if you want to get your singing career off to a rousing start.