Music is pure love. It’s what soothes the soul and fills your heart with joy just as the legendary Pat Kelly sang “Let me hear your song so that my soul will be filled with joy”. When I moved to Claremont 5 years ago, I was concerned I would strictly need to go to the LA Metro area to get my fix for live music, dancing, and record shopping. What I’ve come to find is that there’s plenty of music festivities to be had in the City of Trees and PhDs. You just need to know when and where to find them. I’ve spent most of my weekends exploring Claremont and have incredibly fond memories involving music and would love nothing more than to share those with you. So bust out your dancing shoes, wear your best symphony attire, and practice your karaoke voice in the car because chances are you’ll be creating new music memories at these places in Claremont.
The Press: Live Music, Dj's, and Karaoke
Where do I even begin with The Press. I can write an entire blog series on this restaurant because there are lively festivities going on every night of the week! The Press is a sit-down restaurant open to lunch and dinner but the best time to go is after dinner service. The night-time vibe is very casual and energetic. It’s the place to be to make new friends, run into someone you know, have a cocktail or two while listening to a live DJ or band. Thursday nights typically feature a live jazz band while Friday and Saturday nights feature a live DJ or live band.
The music at The Press is very eclectic and diverse featuring genres of funk, soul, chill, rock, folk, hip hop, and so much more! Sunday typically is Karaoke night and there was even a time where it was accompanied by a live band! My favorite night of all is Ska and Reggae night which is usually every third Thursday of the month. The Press does a bang-up job at carrying local craft beers and featuring craft cocktails. Be sure to have Ryan, the bartender, make you an Old Fashioned. They are top-notch. The best way to be in the know of their music line up is their Instagram page or the calendar page on their website.
Folk Music Center: Keeping Folk Music Alive and Well.
The Folk Music Center has been around since 1958 – that’s 62 years in case you hadn’t noticed! It’s very well known that musician and 3 time Grammy Winner Ben Harper owns the music center. He bought it from his grandparents, who were the original owners of Folk Music Center so that it can remain alive and well for generations to come. The Folk Music Center is not just a music store, it's an educational and cultural center, a museum for the preservation of antique and folk instruments, and a gathering place to share a love and passion for music. They offer private lessons, instrument repairs, appraisals, group classes, and workshops. The first time I walked in, my eyes wanted to take in every square inch of that store because there are beautiful instruments in every nook and cranny. The most impressive sight of all is the antique and ancient instruments on display. The Folk Music Center Museum provides museum exhibits, educational programs, and workshops surrounding the Los Angeles Area. You’ll have to attend the Folk Music Festival which is an annual celebration of music and the arts. It's truly a remarkable gathering.
Rhino Records: Buy and Sell Vinyl Records.
Record shops today are few and far between. It’s mind-bending knowing that Rhino Records has been in Claremont for well over 40 years now! It’s a living relic and filled with nostalgia. There’s something about record shops that immediately transports you back in time to when you were a teenager shopping for the latest Depeche Mode or New Order single (or is that just me?). Walking into Rhino Records, you immediately see the rows and rows of vinyl records and CDs. It’s so easy to get lost in visiting the various genres and looking at CDs that remind you of a certain time in your life and you can’t help but have a big smile on your face. But I digress.
At Rhino Records you can purchase vinyl records, CDs, cassette tapes, DVDs, books, toys, and more! You can even sell your own music records, CDs, and DVDs for cash or store credit. Personally, I love shopping the used record sections and uncovering hidden gems like “Oldies but Goodies Volume 7” and “Do-Wop Gold Volume 3”- which I still jam out to on my portable record player. They have fun and humorous toys to shop from which make great gifts for the Christmas stocking or just to put a smile on someone’s face. If you’re walking through the Claremont Village on Yale Avenue, I highly recommend popping in and supporting the local record shop.
Claremont Symphony Orchestra: Free Monthly Concerts at Bridges Hall of Music.
I was ecstatic when I discovered I can watch and experience a symphony orchestra here in my hometown of Claremont. Before, if I wanted to watch a symphony orchestra, I’d have to make a whole night of it driving to and from the Hollywood Bowl or Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Now, I only need to drive 5 minutes to Pomona College and watch the Claremont Symphony Orchestra (CSO) for free! Come again? Yes, It’s free for residents in the Pomona Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and Inland Empire regions. The CSO is a non-profit organization with an all-volunteer orchestra going on its 67th season. The Claremont Youth Symphony Orchestra is going on its 37th season. I wish I would’ve known the youth orchestra when I was playing trombone for my high school band!
The orchestra is composed (get it?) of 100 talented musicians who perform about once a month at the spectacular Bridges Hall of Music at Pomona College. Just recently in December 2019, the CSO completed its 9-year cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies. How spectacular it must’ve been to be there to experience an orchestra playing Beethoven’s 9th symphony. CSO Music Director Robert Sage commented, "Beethoven's 9th is iconic to every orchestra, chorus, solo vocalist, audience - and conductor. The greatness and beauty - and complexity - of this score is unsurpassable." So, mark your calendar with their concert schedule and put on your best outfit because you’re going to the symphony...in Claremont!
Monday Night Concerts: 9-Week Series Every Summer.
Every summer in Claremont, there is a 9-week concert series on Monday nights at Memorial Park. This event is quite the local affair bringing in at least 3,000 people at each concert. The lineup of musical performers is diverse playing music from genres like rock, jazz, and reggae. That’s what I’m talking about! My favorite part about the Monday Night Concert series is having the option to bring your own picnic, chairs and blankets making you feel right at home. Since there are so many people that attend, you’re guaranteed to have some interesting conversations with folks from around the area and perhaps make a friend or two! The concert series is open to families, adults, teens, and youth so be sure to bring the youngins so they can jam out too.
There are plenty of other places to experience music in Claremont like these honorable mentions: Piano Piano Dueling Piano Bar, Tuesday nights at The Quarter Creole Cuisine, and weekend nights at the Casa 425 Lounge. Let’s hear about the places you get your music fix on in Claremont or the surrounding areas by commenting below.
ǃHasta luego compadres!
Photography Credits: All photos were taken by the author of this blog.