Skip to main content

Scenic, Sonic, Sonoma County: 12 Epic Live Music Venues to Explore

Text that says "Scenic, Sonic, Sonoma County: 12 Epic Live Music Venues to Explore" with a photo of Bryce Dow-Williamson overlaid on an image of people at a concertSonoma County is known for its many scenic attractions, but according to Bryce Dow-Williamson, it’s also a hot spot for sonic beauties, too. 

As SOMO Village’s event coordinator, Bryce is immersed in the live music and performance scene here in Sonoma County. A big fan of small, unique venues and brilliant, lesser-known artists, he’s the perfect person to offer insights on live music options in the area. 

We recently sat down with Bryce to pick his brain on the music scene and the types of venues to expect in Sonoma County. Here’s what he told us, plus his 12 top recommendations to check out.

SOMO Village: What types of music venues can you find in Sonoma County? 

Crowd of people in front of a band

Vintage Space, Flamingo Resort

Bryce Dow-Williamson: Sonoma County has a lot of great music venues, but it depends on what you’re looking for. There are a lot of bars and hybrid spots, but fewer pure music venues. 

There’s free music everywhere on just about any given weekend, the majority of weekdays, and all the time in the summer.

One of my favorite things about Sonoma County is that we’re ideally situated—we’re a 20-minute drive to the ocean or up to the Redwoods, and just an hour to San Francisco or Oakland. 

So, pretty much every weekend, my wife and I just pick a direction to take a drive. We always find live music. It’s unique because it’s kind of a sleepy area, and it’s often the spot that people will go to when they don’t want folks to find them. We may not attract all the big names, but there are lots of people who have such a high level of talent that happen to turn up at a winery or a cafe by the ocean. If you don’t necessarily enjoy top 40 music, I think there’s a lot to dig into. 

It’s part of why I’ve dedicated my life to supporting it—there’s just a lot of heart and consistency to the music scene here. Folks visit or move here because there’s some beautiful stuff in Sonoma County—not just scenic, but sonic as well. 

12 Unique Live Music Venues in Sonoma County

Whether small and intimate, large and exciting, or quirky and different, here are some of Bryce’s must-try music venues in different parts of Sonoma County. 

Sebastopol Music Venues

Crowd at a live performance at the HopMonk


1. HopMonk

Location: 230 Petaluma Avenue, Sebastopol (plus other locations in Sonoma, Novato, and Penngrove)

Known for: This bar-restaurant is a great small venue with regular, consistent live music. It can host around 200 people and has an indoor and outdoor space. 

Bryce’s take: “What’s special about HopMonk is that it’s been the consistent venue around here for 15 years. You get everything from the open mic that’s lasted the longest time, to people traveling through, to kids having their first experience, to more popular artists doing national tours. 

Sebastopol is the big focus for HopMonk—right downtown in the little hippie town of Sebastopol—but they’ve also expanded and have a large outdoor space. They focus a lot on more Americana and rock shows as well as some EDM and then other little odds and ends. They’re the ones that have been consistent as other spots have started and stopped and switched hands—you know there’s always going to be something there.” 

2. Horse and Plow

Location: 1272 Gravenstein Highway N, Sebastopol

Known for: This spacious oak grove and hobby farm is an ideal outdoor event space to hear some live music. They regularly host public events with live music.  

Bryce’s take: “Horse and Plow is a perfect weekend stop with natural cider, rotating art, and curated concerts all under old oak trees.”

Healdsburg Music Venues

Three performers on stage

Elephant in the Room

3. Elephant in the Room

Location: 177A Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg

Known for: Connected to a bar, this live music venue has a larger outdoor space for about 100 people. Live music is guaranteed on Fridays and Saturdays, plus intermittently throughout the week as well. 

Bryce’s take: “The Elephant in the Room is run by KC Mosso—he’s a local musician that still plays here with his band, Crowbot. He’s been able to create something special here, with a built-in crowd and treating the musicians well. Larger shows are mainly outside, so during the colder months it can be a tight squeeze inside. 

But he’s really curated the experience. He has both taste and the rare experience of somebody who’s done this a lot. He’s built a reliable quality for his audience where you can go and enjoy a show from someone you’ve never heard of before. 

These days, venues have gotten swallowed up by corporate stuff with Live Nation, so it’s rare for people to be a fan or an artist and then be able to see them because it’s so expensive. It’s even less common to go somewhere and see a band you don’t know and take a chance on them. But The Elephant in The Room is a place where that still exists.”

Petaluma Music Venues

Exterior sign of The Mystic

The Mystic

4. The Mystic

Location: 23 Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma

Known for: This historic theater is located in downtown Petaluma. Built back in 1911, it originally hosted live Vaudeville entertainment but was renovated in 1992 to accommodate live music. It has a full bar and room for 500 guests. 

5. The Phoenix

Location: 201 Washington Street, Petaluma

Known for: Located in downtown Petaluma, this historic building operates as a non-profit community building and performance venue. The guiding principle is that The Phoenix is “everyone’s building.” They have many youth programs and non-profit organizations. 

Bryce’s take: “The Phoenix is a legendary punk venue—Sublime had their last show here. Some pretty amazing names come through here.”

6. The Big Easy 

Location: 128 American Alley, Petaluma

Known for: The Big Easy is an underground restaurant and music venue located in downtown Petaluma. There’s live music six nights a week and offers a full bar and food menu.

Bryce’s take: “It’s a smaller spot—a 100-person room—but it’s got a great feel to it and lots of great folks that come through.”

Santa Rosa Music Venues

Exterior of The California music venue

The California

7. Vintage Space at The Flamingo

Location: 2777 4th Street, Santa Rosa

Known for: Located at the iconic Flamingo Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, the Vintage Space is a retro-futuristic music lounge. It boasts a lineup of live music, DJs, stand-up comedy, and more—all with a full bar and creative cocktail list. 

Bryce’s take: “This spot just got reworked and has a fun vibe and some DJ nights and different traveling folks coming through.”

8. The California

Location: 528 7th Street, Santa Rosa

Known for: With a full bar and kitchen and versatile seating options, The California offers a variety of performances including live music, theater, dance, and other cultural activities. 

Bryce’s take: “The California leans more towards blues and that kind of thing. They do a lot of theater and plays, but then also music there too.”

9. Arlene Francis Center 

Location: 99 6th Street, Santa Rosa

Known for: A registered nonprofit, this spot operates as a community-oriented venue for music, theater, and other performances and events. 

Bryce’s take: “It’s a community-oriented spot with lots of young kids and loud stuff. But it’s also the place you’d go to for a didgeridoo healing or something, if that’s your vibe!”

10. The Lost Church

Location: 576 Ross Street, Santa Rosa

Known for: The Lost Church is a nonprofit arts organization that operates spaces for live performances. It’s a small venue with a capacity of 75 people. 

Bryce’s take: “It’s my favorite spot in Santa Rosa. It’s a venue only and not a bar, so everybody that’s there at the show wants to hear every single thing and really leans in, which is special and unique.”

Rohnert Park Music Venues

People mingling at the somo village event space

SOMO Village

11. Green Music Centre

Location: Sonoma State University, 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park

Known for: Originally built for classic music, this location has now opened up to include all kinds of performing arts. It is home to the Sonoma State University Music Department, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and Sonoma Bach.

12. SOMO Village

Location: 1400 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park

Known for: As a 100% solar-powered venue, SOMO Village is home to one of the most sustainable and unique event venues in Northern California. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces that host live music events, festivals, and other events

Bryce’s take: “SOMO Village has been hosting events for about seven years, starting with the late great Sharon Jones and the DAP Kings years and years ago. It’s progressively grown and now focuses more on food festivals, beer festivals, and that kind of thing. 

We have some Latin shows coming up as well as a Cajun food and music festival. We’re able to host up to 3,000 in the space, but have also done some smaller stuff—during the pandemic, I was working on these dinner shows in the Redwood Grove that had about 300 people and was a very special and rare experience.”

Sonoma County is a great place to explore live music and performances. Next time you have a free weekend, take Bryce’s advice and check out some of these amazing venues. 

Check out all upcoming events at SOMO Village, or inquire today to book our event space. You can reach out to Bryce directly at or connect with him on Instagram.

headshot of Bryce Dow-WilliamsonAbout Bryce Dow-Williamson

Bryce Dow-Williamson specializes in music marketing with his company, Second Octave. Current clients include Rohnert Park’s 3,000-capacity venue, SOMO Village, Santa Rosa’s listening parlor, The Lost Church, the Santa Rosa city government, and a variety of nationally touring acts. 

He previously worked with the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Petaluma’s Mystic Theatre, and Cornerstone Berkeley. Bryce cut his teeth at a DIY venue in Santa Rosa called the Boogie Room and Gardens and comes from a background of poetry and living room punk shows. Bryce earned an Associate’s degree from the Santa Rosa Junior College and a bachelor’s in Sustainable Business from Warren Wilson College.

Learn More About SOMO Village

If you’re interested in living in a sustainable community that fuses the best of city living with the country lifestyle and all the amazing things that Sonoma County has to offer, we invite you to visit SOMO Village. To learn more, download our residential project brief or get in touch with us today.

Leave a Reply