A MUSIC LOVER'S GUIDE TO OXNARD

From local venues with live entertainment to events and festivals, Oxnard has a vibrant music scene. Heritage Square, The Collection at RiverPark, and Channel Islands Harbor host events with live bands in the summer and winter months. When it comes to festivals, mark your calendar for the Strawberry Festival, Oxnard Jazz Festival, Salsa Festival and Steampunk Festival. These events are always a good time with good tunes.

Music Culture in Oxnard

From "Nardcore" in the 1970s to homegrown artists dominating the charts today, there's a thriving music culture in Oxnard. In this guide, we'll dive into Oxnard’s Music Scene:

  • Discover Hollywood by the Sea
  • Best Summer Concerts to Attend
  • Winter Events with Live Music
  • Top Festivals to Experience
  • Where to Listen to Live Music
  • Music Shops in Oxnard

Music Scenes

Entire genres of music have taken off within city limits. "Nardcore" is a musical style emphasizing raw sounds and turbulent tempo changes. This influential hardcore punk-rock subgenre originated in Oxnard in the 1970s and gave rise to bands like Agression, Dr. Know, Nails and Ill Repute.

Born and raised in Oxnard, multi-Grammy-award winner Anderson Paak pays homage to his roots with two albums – Oxnard and Ventura. And Oxnard's hip-hop scene has produced top-tier talent, including Declaime, Lootpack, Madlib and M.E.D. — integral game-changers in West Coast hip-hop's eclectic, neo-soul stylings of the late '90s.

Pop personas who've called Oxnard home include Brooke Candy and Cola Boyy. Indie musicians to have found their footing in Oxnard city limits include Sea Lions, Astreyas and Nic Hessler (formerly Catwalk).

Musician Nic Hessler in Oxnard Shores; Photo by Jack Adams

Musical History

Hollywood by the Sea

After an influx of Hollywood stars — including Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne — famous musicians started to follow. They flocked to Oxnard's coastal neighborhoods and many invested in prime beachfront real estate.

Famous Properties in Oxnard:

  • In the '60s, Sonny and Cher had property in Mandalay Beach.
  • Foo Fighters singer and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl used to own a $2.9 million home in the same neighborhood.

Music Landmarks

Teatro - This rundown cinema turned recording studio has welcomed Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Iggy Pop and Kenny Rogers. Willie Nelson recorded an entire album here in 1998, using the building's iconic façade for the album's cover. The recording studio is located on the corner of Oxnard Boulevard and Sixth Street. The theater was recently purchased by the owner of local shop Streets of Vintage and is available for studio rentals and live events.

Oxnard's Performing Arts Center - From dance to exercise classes, OPAC promotes the arts while enhancing the quality of life and cultural development within Ventura County.

Visit the OPAC events page to see what's happening this month.

Photo by Luke Baum

Festivals & Live Music

Summer Concerts in Oxnard

Heritage Square - Oxnard's annual Heritage Square Summer Concert Series in historic downtown Oxnard features live bands every Friday night. From old school to classic rock to Latin jazz, rhythm and blues, plan a date night or family outing.

Channel Islands Harbor - Enjoy live music on Saturday evenings at the "Concerts by the Sea" Summer Concert Series. The free event features artists playing Rock, R&B, Jazz, Blues and Swing. Get comfy and bring your own chairs for a picnic at the harbor.

The Collection at RiverPark - In the summer, get ready to ROCK on Thursday evenings at The Collection at RiverPark. The free summer concert series is the talk of the town. Arrive early to grab a good spot and bring a chair or a blanket. There's also a Groupie Garden for the 21+ and over crowd.

Summer Concerts Ventura County

Winter Events with Live Music

Holiday Tree Lighting Extravaganza at The Collection at RiverPark. Enjoy live entertainment, fireworks, and a visit from Santa at Oxnard's premier lifestyle and entertainment center. Bundle up with a jacket, beanie, and gloves, and get cozy while you wait for the lighting of the 40-foot Christmas Tree. Adults can enjoy holiday spirits at the new 21 and over "Eat Drink and Be Merry Garden."

Annual Downtown Oxnard Tree Lighting Ceremony. Mark your calendars for the oldest tree lighting ceremony in town. Every year, families flock to Plaza Park to watch the 110-ft Christmas Tree light up. Enjoy holiday music, refreshments, and a visit from Santa.

Oxnard Festivals

California Strawberry Festival - An ode to the strawberry, this festival features live music on three stages. Choose your favorite strawberry treat while you listen to live music and dance all day. In previous years, this event has welcomed youth bands, solo vocalists, drum circles, drum-offs, boom-shaka and music lessons so you can get your groove on.

Oxnard Jazz Festival - This day-long celebration at Oxnard Beach Park is a celebration of Jazz, Latin, Soul, Blues and R&B music. The Oxnard Jazz Festival is all about fusion: Jazz, Latin, Soul, Blues and R&B.

Oxnard Steampunk Festival - Inspired by the Victorian Era and the Industrial Revolution, Steampunk thrives with science fiction and fantasy elements. The festival held at Heritage Square in Downtown Oxnard features live bands and entertainment. While you don't have to dress up, it's more fun if you do. The event is a fundraiser for the Oxnard Heritage Foundation and the Friends of Heritage Square.

Oxnard Salsa Festival - Sample spicy salsa varieties and watch the battle of the bands and live entertainment. The free event is held at Oxnard's Plaza Park.

Where to Listen to Live Music in Oxnard

The Thirsty Ox - This local bar hosts karaoke nights and live music, including acoustic sets and Latin Saturdays.

Location: 640 N Ventura Rd, Oxnard, CA 93030

1901 Speakeasy - Enjoy live music every Friday and Saturday nights from local Ventura County musicians at Oxnard's only speakeasy bar and restaurant. Weekend plans sorted!

Location: 740 S B St, Oxnard, CA 93030

The Waterside Restaurant & Wine Bar - Located at the Channel Islands Harbor, this restaurant hosts live entertainment for your dining pleasure. (A fire in September 2020 closed down the restaurant temporarily. Check their website for updates.)

Location: 3500 S. Harbor Blvd. Ste. 1-100, Oxnard, CA 93035

The Lookout Bar & Grill - Sip on a cold beverage and enjoy the view while you listen to live music at this Channel Islands Harbor restaurant.

Location: 2800 Harbor Blvd Suite B, Oxnard, CA 93035

Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen - Get down to the sounds of live rock bands and tribute bands at Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen. On Friday and Saturday nights, dance the night away while the DJ plays your favorite song. Don't miss salsa and mariachi night on Sundays.

Location: 591 Collection Blvd, Oxnard, CA 93036

Music Shops in Oxnard

Need to repair or restring your instruments? Henson's Music Center in Oxnard has got you covered. This family music store has been in business for more than six decades. They also offer music lessons and sell guitars, ukuleles, and other musical instruments.

Location: 301 S. A Street, Oxnard, CA 93030

Drum Workshop - Some of the world's top artists' drum sets were made in this world-famous factory. Musicians include Mick Fleetwood, Don Henley, Sheila. E., Dave Grohl and Bruno Mars. Visitors can book a tour to see the entire drum-making process — from raw wood veneer to finished instrument — plus a tuning lesson, history of the company, a chance to see where the hardware is made, and a "hands on" showroom experience.

To book a tour, you'll need to make a reservation two days in advance. Tours are on Thursday afternoons.

Tune in: Oxnard's Playlist

Want the perfect soundtrack for your Central Coast getaway?

Visit Oxnard's official playlist includes a mix of Latin, rock, indie, hip-hop and electro-pop artists who've lived and recorded right here in the "Strawberry Capital of California." Click here to listen on Spotify.

Conclusion

Thanks to a vibrant music scene that has produced some of the biggest names in rock, hip-hop, metal and more, this beloved beach town has become a musical mecca in its own right. Discover rising stars at one of the city's popular venues, dance the day (and night) away at a music festival, or check out a piece of music history.

What's your favorite venue to listen to live music in Oxnard? Share your festival photos with us on Instagram @visitoxnardca.