It’s not about the hottest bands on America’s Top 40. Maybe it’s not your style to buy a ticket to see the Justin Beibers, the Katy Perrys or Nickelback-type bands that blow through San Francisco in a day. Maybe you’d rather sit back at a local pub or venue and listen to diverse music that’s unique in every way. And you’d also like to see true talent that’s enough to make you say out loud to the stranger beside you, “I’m so glad I got to watch them here and now before they make it big.” Here are a few venues in the Peninsula where fans can listen to bands up close and personal and also take bets on which musicians could become the next Johnny Cash, Elton John or Joan Jett.

Angelica’s Bistro/Bell Theatre

863 Main St.
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 365-3226

Angelica’s Bell Theatre attracts some of the best professional entertainers and well-known musical artists from around the world. There are many music styles and performances that swing through this dynamic and historical restaurant. Listen to rock and roll, classical, blues and jazz. Fridays and Saturdays is when Angelica’s has live music or theatre shows with dinner. Every Wednesday night is jam night at Angelica’s. This unique night involves hostess Thùy Linh and two new musicians on stage each week. Check the calendar for upcoming shows.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
390 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 728-2739

If your heart is aching for groove and funk, R&B classics and great rock and roll, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is the place to feed your hunger for some of the best party music around. One band that happens to be a regular, Spill the Wine, is usually knocking out tunes from the Motown heydays. Other well-known artists play on the weekends, including Kid Dynamite, The Megatones and the California Cowboys. A trip to Half Moon Bay is well worth the miles.

B Street & Vine
320 S. B St.
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 347-8463

Whether you want to go for the jazz, for the jazz and wine or for the jazz and food, all that matters is there is plenty of jazz for all enthusiasts.  The regularly scheduled bands that play to a hip and eclectic crowd of jazz lovers include The Larry St. Lezin Trio (Thursdays), Larry Chinn Duo (Saturdays) and Dave Badilla (Fridays). No matter which of these nights you attend, you’ll be listening to some of the best jazz players around town.

Related: Best Open Mic Venues in the Peninsula

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
307 Mirada Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-4143

Music lovers come to this place for the talented musicians and the ambience. According to many of the acts who have played here in the past, the acoustics are perfect. Musicians who have performed here also say there is a clear distinction with the fans here compared to those from other venues. These fans are so very receptive. Maybe it’s because everyone, musicians and fans alike, know that the owners put their heart and soul into making each event a truly worthwhile and memorable experience. It may just be the relaxing atmosphere or the beauty of the ocean just outside the windows of this majestic place. Whatever the reason, everyone enjoys their time at Bach.

Pioneer Saloon
2925 Woodside Road
Woodside, CA 94062
(650) 851-8487

Every Sunday, a music jam with Terry Hiatt and Brett Brown is held for people from all over San Francisco who come to hear this entertaining band and its rousing, energetic sets. The Running with Scissors band also includes Greg Jones on bass and Pete Booras on drums. Fridays and Saturdays are for live music, with great bands from all across the Bay Area, including Second Story, Chris Cobb Band, Marshall Law and Dutch Uncle. To view a current listing of shows at the Pioneer Saloon, check out the calendar.

The Old Princeton Landing
460 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 728-7096

With sounds of blues, rock, reggae, punk and country, this little Half Moon Bay gem will impress. Live music is played by some well-known and rising Bay Areas stars like Neilsen Raiding (indie rock), The City w/ Get Dead (punk rock) and Sans Pablo (jazz funk). You name it and the Old Princeton Landing has it. Days and times will vary by bands. Check the calendar on the website for upcoming acts.

Related: Best Restaurants With Live Music In The Peninsula

Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at