For a lot of people, folk music conjures images of a singer with an acoustic guitar. While that’s definitely part of folk music, the term also encompasses country, rockabilly, blues, zydeco, and other similar genres. While a rock and roll show is good, sometimes you want a show that’s a little more low-key. If you’re looking for a good folk-music show in Orange County, try these places.
Beatnik Bandito Music Emporium
417 N Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Located next to an insurance office, Beatnik Bandito is as inconspicuous a music venue as you’re likely to find. This shop has musical instruments, CDs, albums, and even clothes. It’s a pretty cool spot that also hosts bands after store hours during the week and during business hours on weekends. It’s a pretty small venue, so the bands never get too loud, but you can see some great country and rockabilly bands as well as solo artists with guitars.
555 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
The delicious southern comfort foods are reason enough to go here (make sure you save room for dessert too), but this is also a good spot to catch live music. Every Wednesday, local artists play here from 7pm to 10:30pm. Every Friday and Saturday night, bands play here from 7:30pm to 11pm. You can hear some great blues here as well. You can also hear some great zydeco here. While zydeco bands may not always be easy to find, they always provide a fun and lively atmosphere.
Don the Beachcomber
16278 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Don the Beachcomber is a classic Tiki bar with decor in the place that certainly does not suggest that it’s a place where you can hear a lot of great country bands. However, that is exactly what you will find. Both local and national country acts play here to very enthusiastic audiences. You’re also likely to find rockabilly and blues bands here. Oh, and don’t forget to try one of the signature Zombie cocktails (created by Don Beach himself) here.
Related: Best Country Bars In Orange County
31786 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
South Orange County doesn’t have a lot of live music venues, but this is definitely one to check out. This is a legitimate cowboy bar where you’ll find a lot of patrons in cowboy hats ready to dance to some music. Country and rockabilly bands are what you’ll find here most often. Bands play here every Thursday through Sunday. If you visit the Swallow’s, make sure you have your dancing shoes on. You likely won’t have any trouble finding a dance partner in this crowd.
506 31st St.
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Coffee shops have long been a great place to catch some folk music. While Alta doesn’t have music every night, it does carry the tradition of coffee shops with folk music. On the first Thursday of every month, this cafe hosts Michael Ubaldini’s Outlaws of Folk series. This is a night where you can see some great local folk and country artists. These are all-ages shows with no cover charge, so even if you have little ones, you can bring them to hear some good music.