Old Ironsides: Located at 10th and S streets, Old Ironsides opened in 1934 as the first business to obtain a liquor license in Sacramento after Prohibition.

One Club at a Time

Inside 11 of Sacramento’s small music venues

Back Photo gallery Jul 13, 2018 By Steve Martarano

This gallery started with a peek into the Torch Club’s “green” room, located down a few stairs back behind the stage and hidden from public view. Between sets at a Ray Copeland Band show, I caught singer Marilyn Woods on a piano bench looking at some video and I snapped a couple of photos before going back out to the bar area.

The room was littered with instruments and other tools of the music trade, and adorned with posters and playbills of artists and shows that graced the Torch’s stage over the years, many of which I had attended (Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, anyone?). I instantly felt a new historic sense of the place, even though I’ve been going to the Torch since its original location at 8th and L streets, and I’ve been seeing shows at the current site for years.

I also started thinking about all of the other Sacramento music venues in Midtown, downtown East Sacramento, Oak Park and elsewhere — both old and new — and what unique aspects they might possess. Could I find another Torch green room?

My search brought me to 11 venues over the past several months. I didn’t get to every venue and some, like Old Ironsides, the Crest and the Torch Club, I’ve been to on numerous occasions. Others, however, like Holy Diver, Cafe Colonial and a refurbished Goldfield Trading Post, I was experiencing for the first time.

From the ornate ceilings of the timeless Crest Theater; the poster-lined walls at Holy Diver and the Torch Club, to the bare-bones coziness of the Cafe Colonial on Stockton Boulevard and the Blue Lamp, a former strip joint on Alhambra Boulevard, Sacramento is awash in music and places to see it performed live.

This gallery is just a sample of Sacramento’s vibrant and diverse musical venues waiting to be explored.

Cafe Colonial: Teen band Exiled From Grace plays the UnderRAGE Music Fest in April at Cafe Colonial on Stockton Boulevard.

Crest Theater: The marquee facing K Street of the historic theater.

Crest Theater: Amen Dunes, the opening act for headline Fleet Foxes, plays its set at the Crest Theater in April.

Old Ironsides: The gang assembles for Old Ironsides’ Thursday night acoustic jam night to play tunes like Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille.”

Momo Lounge: The band Verno on stage at the Momo Lounge, located on J Street.

Torch Club: Ray “Catfish” Copeland gets ready for a 5:30 p.m. cocktail show in April at the Torch Club on 15th Street. The Torch is often referred to as a “classic hole-in-the-wall” venue.

Torch Club: The Torch Club’s “green” room located behind the stage.

Holy Diver: Holy Diver’s bar manager Nicole Graham tends the upstairs bar on a Sunday night at Sacramento’s newest Midtown club, which opened on 21st Street in 2017.

Holy Diver: A first-floor wall featuring the memorabilia of Holy Diver’s owners Bret Bair and Eric Rushing.

Goldfield Trading Post: Opening act Amador Sons warms up the crowd at Goldfield Trading Post before Dylan Schneider performs in May. Music fans may remember the live blues featured every night throughout the 1980s and ‘90s at Sam’s Hof Brau at the same location on J Street.

Luna’s Cafe: There’s a 1960s/70s coffeehouse feel at Luna’s Cafe, as Aaron Lincoln performs in May.

B-Side: A patron spends a Tuesday night in front of B-Side’s retro music equipment wall in June.

B-Side: Front entrance of the unique B-Side, which opened on S Street in 2015.

Ace of Spades: Country-alt headliner Turnpike Troubadours plays before a sold-out Saturday night crowd in June at Ace of Spades on R Street.

Ace of Spades: From the upstairs lounge overlooking the sold-out 1,000-capacity Ace of Spades on R Street.

Blue Lamp: Gabriell Garcia tends bar and co-owns the Blue Lamp on Alhambra Boulevard with husband, Ben Garcia.

Blue Lamp: Most nights, the Blue Lamp features live music, everything from punk rock, metal, hip hop, reggae to country. But on this night in June, it was Puppeteers for Fears, an Ashland, Ore.-based theater company specializing in original puppet horror musical comedy.