Live Music, Monterey
Hard to predict what's going to be playing when, but if you're coming to town, I pasted a link to our local arts paper. Click on the day of the week you want to check out.
Unfortunately, they don't go out furthur than a week.
Sly McFlys always has Jazz/Blues/Rock on Fri-Sat (Cannery Row) - see the other review
"Monterey Live" has music nightly (Alvarado St, downtown), thier calendar:
The Mucky Duck is well known as one of Monterey's best nightlife spots, with the town's best happy hour and the best place for singles to congregate. Inside is a nice, quiet pub with a small bar and some pretty good food. The real nightlife is in the huge outdoor patio area at the rear of the restaurant, where you'll find live entertainment six nights a week. There is an outdoor bar, a huge square fire pit, numerous tables, and an area for the bands, all well laid out and a great place to spend an evening.
We were there on a random Wednesday evening, and they had a live band called "The Money Band" which was great entertainment. The crowd was an interesting mix of locals, military, tourists, and stoners. The beer was cheap for Monterey, about $2.50 a glass for most draft beers, and on Tuesdays the local English Ales varieties are just $1 per pint all night. On another visit we saw another local Monterey band, "Stun Gun Jones," and they put on a good show in the cold. And we always try to stop by the Mucky Duck to see the Band of Ninjas, our favorite local band!
And don't forget that Wednesday is half price night.... everything on the menu is half price, food and beer! That's why this is the best happy hour in town!
The Mucky Duck does have its share of problems, but considering the mix of clientèle, it's not surprising.
I finally got around to checking out Monterey Live on Alvarado Street downtown. When we were walking by around 7pm, they were just getting set up for the first of three 8pm bands, and the guy at the door said it was going to be great, and with lots of university chicks from Santa Cruz! So around 8:30 we decided to duck our heads in for a while and we stayed until closing. It turned out the Santa Cruz part was correct, but the bands were made up of teenagers, and as it turns out, so were about 90 percent of their fans... yep, our group of 30-something guys was here on underage night. Besides the weird punk hairdos, tattoos, and piercings, we also had kids coming in on skateboards all geeked out with neon lights and more. Monterey Live has a very classy look from the outside, but on this night, all class was left on the curb, if it made it even that far.
When we got to the club, we could enter the front door for free, but had to stay in the front bar area to avoid the $5 cover--luckily we could see the stage from the bar on the right. By about 9pm, they started charging at the front door, and we were free to wander in and listen to the music, even jump in the mosh pit... The first band was a little too grungy for me, and I'd swear the last band was the Beatles, but my friend said they sounded like the Ramones.
Besides the two bars up front with maybe five stools each, the live music area in the back of this deceivingly large building could probably hold another 100-150 people. The stage is lined with plush red velvet, and the padded seats along the walls are perfect for standing above the chaos. The best thing about the night at Monterey Live were the cool bartenders who took great care of us: a Ukrainian named Alina and a local who went by Eva.
We stopped in on another night when the crowd was definitely older, but still amazing odd for a fairly conservative town like Monterey. Punk hairdos and tattoos were the norm. Getting to the bar for a beer was a true challenge, as they place was packed. In the back stage area, they had some off-the-wall show going and, again, the strangest crowd I've ever seen assembled in Monterey. Monterey Live has definately found their niche and knows how to cater to this group.
Monterey Live has a limited menu at the Live Wire Cafe, and it offers free Wi-Fi. Drinks were about $5 each for a small selection of bottled beers.
Dress Code: Dress codes probably depends on the band. During my visits it seemed that ripped jeans and tattoos were the norm, but on jazz and blues nights, I hope it's a little bit nicer.
I've only been to Bullwackers a few times for the nightlife, so my review might be a little different than others... But this place had a live band and tons of old people out dancing like old people do. They have a nice outdoor bar and patio with several gas fires and an outdoor stage, all of which was very nice, but the bar was packed full of drunk old cougars and cowboys looking to rope a cougar. One lady was falling out of her dress as she fell off her stool, while two cowboys were fondling her up and down. Meanwhile, some kids are sitting nearby having dinner and watching intently. Not a place I'll frequent, and not a place you should take your kids after about 7pm.
I returned in May 2008 to see the Band of Ninjas play, and the crowd was much younger and more fun. Like the Mucky Duck downtown, the huge outdoor seating area is very popular and fun. Unlike the Mucky Duck, Bullwackers has bands at night instead of the late afternoon, so they can play until almost midnight.
Throw a fresh coat of paint on an old Monterey bar and what do you get? A surprisingly cool neighborhood bar called Carbone's, with a friendly owner and plenty of entertainment! We stopped in late one Friday night after the live rock band had just finished, enjoyed a few drinks, a few games of darts, and even sat outside by the natural gas fire for awhile. Carbone's also has a few pool tables, foosball, several TVs, a jukebox, and a big bar along one entire wall seating maybe 20. The outside area is almost as big as the inside with seating on the deck above a courtyard with the fire and several benches--unfortunately even a fire is not enough to keep you warm on the cool, wet Monterey nights.
Since I wrote the above information, Carbone's has really become our favorite place to hang out in New Monterey... it helps that Carbones is just two blocks from our house! The owner, Sal, is almost always present, and he is a great guy. The bar is never too busy, but you can always strike up a conversation with somebody. It seems that the dart boards or pool tables are almost always available, and, for novices like us, it is nice that they are tucked away in a corner so nobody makes fun of our complete lack of skills.
Carbones has dart leagues, pool leagues, live music, and even belly dancing on their weekly events list for now...not bad for a brand new place!
Cibo's Italian Restaurant is one of the classier places to grab a drink and enjoy live jazz six nights a week. With Monterey's mix of dive bars, college hangouts, and quirt pubs, Cibo's breaks the mold and offers something a little more upscale yet still casual. I have been amazed recently to see the very large crowds that congregate here in the evenings from around 9 or 10pm until they close around 1am.
They only have two beers on tap, but offer a huge variety of wines plus anything else you need from the bar.
The club Octane was great fun and dancing with a suprisingly well put together band that played for hours while I danced till my heart was content and feet were burning. I ate at the bar and had great conversation with a few patrons and bartenders.
Dress Code: Anything goes.
Sly McFly's is the best nightlife area on Cannery Row, with live music every night. Most of the musicians and bands are local acts playing blues or classic rock, some better than others. I have stopped in on a Saturday night and there was standing room only. Even on an average weeknight, Sly's gets relatively busy after about 9pm...around 10pm, many of the local restaurants close, so a few of the bartenders congregate here for a beer or two. Despite the location near a few of Monterey's finest hotels, Sly's remains a comfortable mix of well-dressed and casual patrons, with a friendly bar staff. Though the music is not always the greatest, I've enjoyed stopping in for a beer or two if I'm out late.
Cannery Row is where John Steinbeck set his famous novel. At one time, it was the center of the sardine industry. Now it's a collection of trendy bars, nightclubs, shops, restaurants, and other attractions such as the Monterey Aquarium.
Dress Code: Most places here are fairly casual.
The Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF )is the worlds longest running jazz festival, having debuted in 1958. The festival is held annually at the Monterey Fairgrounds on the third weekend in September, beginning on Friday. Over 500 jazz artists perform on nine stages for more than 50 performances. There are also numerous booths set up to sell food and merchandise like CDs, collectable posters, t shirts, etc.
The Britannia Arms is an OK daytime bar, as it has good food, a big screen TV showing sports, large windows to let in plenty of daylight, and a great draft beer selection. This is also one of Monterey's better nightlife spots with some of the biggest crowds in town. They have live bands most Fridays & Saturdays, making the Brit one of the few bars around to regularly have live music. They also have Karaoke Wednesdays and Sundays, which I try to avoid like the plague. Thursday is quiz night which draws a large gathering. The crowd is often a lot of military mixed with local college students and a few tourists.
I have been to the Brit many times over the past few years--2-3 times/month--but my most recent visit might be my last. It started off a a rather typical evening, sports on the big screen, everyone having a good time. When the football game was ending, many of the customers asked if the TV could be changed to a close baseball game that was nearing the end. Since there were a few guys still watching the boring, lopsided football game, the bartender rightfully decided not to change the channel. So as soon as the football game ended, we again asked if he could change to the baseball game so we could watch the last 2 outs. Again, the bartender refused, this time just being stubborn. Many of the paying customers who had been sitting there all evening, spending a ton of money were a little upset as you can imagine. Some of the customers decided they would not tip because of this, and one guy said, "way to take care of your waitress, bartender!" The bartender's response? He gave the middle finger to the customer! Then for the next 10 minutes he kept griping about the customers & even yelling a few things back at them. It was rude & unprofessional behavior. This bar does not deserve my business. I'll go where I am welcome.
And no, I have never been kicked out of the bar, nor have I ever been told my management not to return. Is all of the staff this bad? No, but one particular bartender is the worst I have ever seen.
The Brit has another location in San Jose that is much bigger and nicer. It is supposed to be owned by former San Jose Shark Owen Nolan.
After a nice dinner, we planned to check out this jazz club. Turned out to be a restaurant with a band set up to play in between the bar and dining area. There really isn't a dance floor to speak of but lots of people were dancing where ever they could! It was a blast! The band was fantastic, called Bank, named after the lead singer. They played some R&B, disco, Motown, blues, current tunes. It was all great to dance to. You must be 21 years of age otherwise you can't get in. We arrived at 9pm but the music didn't start until 10pm. At least we had a table to sit at. It was standing room only once the music started.
Dress Code: There didn't appear to be a dress code. Anything from dressy to jeans.
Not much here. Older crowd and odd night tourists.
Just head down to the warf or check the campus before heading out.
Hash House Harriers run on Saturdays.
Beautiful any day you come.
Bring a jacket.
Dress Code: California casual & slacks work most anywhere.
The C & A is a very authentic English Pub with a wide selection of English Ales, Irish Stouts,International Pilsners and Microbrews on draft, Scotches, Bourbons, Vintage ports and California wines. there are also some really great appetizers on menu.
Dress Code: Casual
The Sardine Factory near Cannery Row can be a deceiving place. From the outside, the peeling paint of the old boat and the odd red vinyl awning coving the long stairway to the front door give the place a really cheese touristy feel. Step inside the front door and the place transforms itself into a classy, maybe even elegant, restaurant that rivals some of the nicest places in Carmel and Pebble Beach.
Since this is a nightlife tip, I'll focus on their after dinner entertainment. The Sardine Factory has local vocalist and pianist David Conley on schedule Tuesday through Saturday night starting around 7:30 pm and playing until around 10 or so. He plays a lot of classic rock and seems to really enjoy keeping the crowd at the bar involved and entertained.
We arrived around 10 pm after dinner at nearby Willies Smokehouse. All of the seats at the bar and the small tables around the bar were packed, so we sat in front of the beautiful fireplace near the main entrance. We each had an Anchor Steam beer (for about $5.50) and listened to a few songs before the entertainment called it quits for the night. When we finally left a few minutes before 11, nearly the entire crowd had dispersed and the restaurant was all but closed for the night.
Dress Code: This is one of the few places in Monterey where jeans and a t-shirt just won't cut it. Most women here were in nice dresses and guys wore slacks and dress shirts.