Live Music in Marin: Experience Like a Local
Marin County provides an idyllic setting for making music, with a long history of inspiring bands like The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Carlos Santana, Peter Frampton, Stevie Wonder, Metallica…seriously this list goes on. In the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s The Record Plant in Sausalito was the place for bands to tune in, turn on, and drop out to make their iconic albums.
Today, the influence of the original gods of rock still beats strongly in the county with live music every night of the week at venues inspired by our history. Add in local sunday summer concerts on lawns, Jazz by the Bay, some old school bar hopping and you have lots of opportunity to experience the music of Marin!
First off, let’s get this out there: this is by no means a comprehensive round-up of all things music in Marin. There are countless musical performances taking place around Marin in cafes, bars, restaurants, beaches, mountains, and meadows. We want to highlight a few of our favorites, to inspire your further exploration. Are you ready? Even this small sample, it’s ALOT!
Let’s start with the MUST-DO’s. Plan your entire evening around excellent food and world-class music at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley and Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael. Both venues have a great vibe and calendars packed with local, international, famous and about to be famous musicians.
The Sweetwater is an institution with deep roots in the Bay Area music scene. It was completely reimagined in 2012 with a new space, look, menu, and bar. What didn’t change? The music-first orientation and an intimate vibe.
Terrapin Crossroads offers live music in one of their three intimate venues every night of the week. In nice weather head outdoors for outdoor performances and fireside sing-alongs. That photo below captures Phil Lesh preforming at the outdoor stage — classic Marin moment. Soak that up if you can. Trust.
Off the beaten track. In Novato, the Northern-most town in Marin, you’ll find Hopmonk Tavern located in a large shopping complex. Odd location, but good fun.
Hop around. Head West to the town of Fairfax where you can old school bar hop between Peri’s Silver Dollar Bar (a self-admitted dive bar), 19 Broadway, and Iron Springs Pub and Brewery. Count on Uber or Lyft to for your ride, so you can party worry-free.
Concerts in the park. A number of towns in Marin have good Sunday concerts in the summer. Corte Madera Summer Sundays draws a small and enthusiastic crowd for remarkably good bands who play in a gazebo in the small old town square for a local neighborhood crowd. This is honestly the stuff of The Truman Show. Same can be said of Belvedere Concerts in the Park where Sunday afternoon concerts take place on a green in Belvedere Community Park.
For a sing-along experience, Beatles in the Park is a straight up feel good event that takes place in a small Redwood grove in San Anselmo. Pro-tip: arrive early, bring a picnic, stake out your place on the lawn with a blanket. It’s popular!
Bayside Music. Held Friday evenings in the summer 6:30-8:00 at Gabrielson Park in downtown Sausalito, Jazz and Blues by the Bay is a longstanding thing to do on a Friday night in the summer. You can even reserve a table if you’re not a sit-on-the -grass type.
Mountain Music. The Mountain Play is staged on Mt. Tamalpais at the outdoor Mountain Theatre. This year, they are staging Grease! And on June 8, it’s a sing along!!!
And keep this on your radar: For the past four years in September, a music festival called Sound Summit has taken place at the Mountain Theatre on Mt. Tamalpais. Check the website for 2019 announcements.
See you out there!