Ventura County's Support-Local Program

The Sound Of A Town

There are many small towns that call themselves a Music Town, each contributing a different sound or twist that makes them unique. Ventura is one of these towns. Here’s why.

There are many small towns across the nation that call themselves a Music Town, each contributing a different sound or twist that makes them unique. Many of them seem to have some similarities such as an architectural tradition, college students exercising their creativity or a large influx of artists due to the natural beauty surrounding the area. These towns are alike in that they tend to be overflowing with artistic talent and community pride. Though each place is unique in its own way, all of these towns stand as a paradigm for what a Music Town can be.

Ventura is a bona fide Music Town

Ventura is one of these music towns, offering an ever-evolving scene that is consistently nurturing and bringing fresh and innovative sounds and styles to our community. Just walk down Main Street in Ventura on any given night and the sounds will draw you in – Jazz, Blues, Rock and ocean-inspired Surf Beats. You can even find Ventura’s own genre, Flip Flop Honky Tonk, a name and sound coined by local favorite Dan Grimm. Whatever your musical taste, there is something here for everyone. Musicians and music-industry types have relocated to Ventura County from all over the country, drawn in by the wonderful close-knit comfort of our music community and its creative people. Ventura, Ojai, Oxnard and the surrounding county have long offered a haven for famous superstars such as Dave Mason, Jack Johnson, Artie Shaw, John McEuen, Johnny Rotten, Army of Freshman, Motley Crew, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Missing 23rd, Suicidal Tendencies and the man in black himself, Mr. Johnny Cash. But the area might be even better known for all of the “musician’s musicians” that live here. People like Nick St Nicholas of Steppenwolf, Gary Mallaber from the Steve Miller Band, Neal Casal of the Brother Hood, Ralph Carter from Eddie Money and many more. Ventura County’s diverse musical history and wellspring of local talent has developed into a cultural and creative fellowship for aspiring musicians – all while helping our local music industry to grow and evolve. The contributions from all of these multi-talented musical artists, venue owners and promoters have led to Ventura and Ventura County gaining national attention as a true Music Town. So, find some music you like, sit, listen and bring your sense of adventure. We encourage you to check out new local musicians and venues. Each time we support local music, it gives back to our venues, the musicians and the local economy. It also helps build the local music scene, which is a great benefit for our community.  


Get a sense of Ventura County’s music scene

If you’re not sure where to go to sample some OUR music town’s wonderful sounds… well, here is a list of just a few of the local venues that are helping to build our local music scene:


Bombay Bar & Grill

143 S California St, Ventura, CA 93001, (805) 643-4406,

This venue has been bringing live music to Ventura for over 27 years. The front area features R&B, Blues and Rock music almost every night of the week, while the back area hosts live late-night DJs and dancing. You can skank the night away to some rollicking music while you enjoy the fantastic food offering and drink selection.

The Tavern

211 E Santa Clara, Ventura, CA 93001, (805) 643-3264,

Situate yourself in one of the booths or plop down on one of their comfy couches and sip a few inexpensively-delicious cocktails while socializing and listening to the sounds of live acts. This old farmhouse is a cornucopia of activity on any given night of the week. Don’t miss the Tommy Marsh Blues Jam every Wednesday. You never know who is going to show up.

Sans Souci Cocktail Lounge

21 S Chestnut St, Ventura, CA 93001, (805) 643-4539

This legendary spot, known by locals as “The Sewer,” has proudly held the title of “best dive bar” in Ventura for as long as many of us can remember. But it really is so much more than a dive bar, hosting great local talent and is always a happening late-night scene. Situated directly across from the Ventura Theater, it attracts famous acts as they stroll over for a drink and sit in with the band. Belly up to the bar folks because you never know who will see or meet at the Sans Souci.

The Majestic Ventura Theater

26 S Chestnut St, Ventura, CA 93001, (805) 653-0721,

The Majestic Ventura Theater is no slouch in its concert history. From the historic 1920′s Mission Style Architecture to the up close feel you get when seeing a concert, they have been featuring top name acts for many years. You will see all genres of music which include: Punk, Alternative Rock, Reggae, Classic Rock, Metal, Blues, Country, Jazz, Funk, Latin, Rock en Espanol, Electronica, R&B/Trip-Hop/Hip-Hop, World and more. Whether it’s country or the pumping energy of a mosh pit, the Ventura Theater is definitely the place to get your fill of top name acts.

Squashed Grapes

2351 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93003, (805) 643-7300

New on the scene, this friendly neighborhood wine bar and wine-making business has a steadily growing and evolving Jazz scene. Along with great Italian food and a deep love of Jazz, you’re sure to see acts here that will impress even the hardiest of Jazz lovers.

Billy O’s

2819 E Main St, Ventura, CA 93003, (805) 652-0327,

The rock and punk rock scene is alive and well and Billy O’s is one of the spots that continues to support its locals. Cheap drinks and good sound make this a great place to spend the evening.


Sugar Beets Restaurant& Bar

455 South A Street, Oxnard, CA, 93030, (805) 240-7777,

One of Oxnard’s hottest restaurant, bar and nightclub. They offer delicious cuisine at affordable prices and a wide range of fantastic cocktails. The music scene is always happening and their dance floor is packed. The music ranges from Latin and Jazz to Rock and Blues, and is a great place for a date night or a meet up with friends. The downtown Oxnard scene has really evolved and is a must see if you enjoy good food and love live music.


The Village Jester

139 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023, (805) 640-8001,

This pub and music venue is located smack in the center of historic downtown Ojai. This spot offers a great vibe and features lots of local and regional acts. It is also the major hangout for the Ojai locals and musicians. If you’re looking for a good time and an entertaining evening, stop in to Jesters.

And More…

Check out the open mic nights and other great venues like Amigos, Big Buddha Lounge (in Oak View), Sandbox Coffee and Peirano’s. Don’t forget to watch for local music festivals and events like The Road Show Revival Tribute to Johnny Cash Festival and Indie West Fest. And of course, our own Totally Local VC Music Jams which are held each month.

A few local-music fan tips

We recommended that you think about the following tidbits:

  • Always bring your earplugs to music events. Just in case.
  • Check out’s calendar for music events. And, for Ventura music listings, take a look at These sites will keep you up to date on all the local happenings.
  • Watch out – many of the spots listed may incite frolic and over-the-top dance moves which might lead folks to believe they are highly intoxicated, even if they have not touched a drop.
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Learn more about author Kat Merrick

Kat Merrick

About the author

Kat Merrick made her mark in the apparel world as an innovative leader and founder of Surf Chick Inc. With over 25 years of extensive experience managing worldwide capacity apparel facilities, companies and product, her superior leadership skills, practiced in directing cross-functional global teams to design, brand, source develop and marketing, won her world-wide recognition and awards. She is considered an expert in the areas of trend studies, brand building and marketing. At 23 years old she opened her first successful retail business in Ventura County, Since then, Kat has owned and operated several very successful retail and wholesale operations and assisted numerous multi-category small businesses to achieve success. Highly respected by many local small business owners, growers, artists and locals, she has been tagged as "the Shop Local girl". Kat's extensive travels, strong business knowledge and desire to make a positive impact locally helped inspire her to create Totally Local VC. A Ventura County resident since 1978, single mother of two and long-standing advocate for support of local small business and all that is Ventura, founder and developer of Totally Local VC, Kat brings her passion for our community to all she does. Her writings, posts and blog reflect her love of family, friends and community and desire to help.


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  1. Nice writing, Kat!

  2. Nice article Kat :~)

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