Performing on New Year's Eve requires forethought. Bands must rehearse their regular sets, perfect "Auld Lang Syne" and make other preparations.
"I try to find a toast online to say" at midnight, said Whiskey Dawn lead singer Troy Ferris.
Whiskey Dawn, a Sacramento country band that has opened for Faith Hill and Brad Paisley, will usher in 2012 Saturday night at the Red Hawk Casino.
The band will offer casinogoers a lively New Year's Eve set, Ferris said: "Our music is always upbeat."
But a New Year's Eve gig sets itself apart.
"It's a different energy people are dressed to celebrate," Ferris said. "I want everybody to kiss somebody at midnight, so I have some fun messing with people" to encourage them.
Because people are more likely to be up for dancing and drinking on Dec. 31 than on any other night of the year, a New Year's Eve gig can guarantee exposure. But audience attention can waver, and crowds can get loud.
"Things can get kind of crazy on New Year's Eve," said John Németh, the Bay Area blues singer and harmonica player performing Saturday night at the Torch Club.
Németh usually skips New Year's Eve gigs, he said, but the Torch Club is an exception.
"I like the age and the temperament of people who go to the Torch Club," Németh said. "Folks are there to listen."
Here's a sampling of venues offering live music on New Year's Eve:
ACE OF SPADES
Oft-shirtless rapper M Mickey Avalon mixes glam, gutter, and rampant sexual braggadocio. One of his songs made it into "The Hangover." Think of his New Year's Eve show as a morning-after preview. Electronic-music innovator Big Chocolate performs before Avalon.
$30. All ages. Doors open at 7 p.m. 1417 R St., Sacramento, www.aceofspadessac.com.
AUBURN EVENT CENTER
Local dance-band favorite Mumbo Gumbo performs, with the Empty Wallets opening. Festivities include a champagne toast, so bring ID to this all-ages event.
$20 advance/$25 door. Online tickets: mumbogumbo. eventbrite.com Doors open at 7:30 p.m. 145 Elm Ave., Auburn. (530) 906-7441.
Leading a three-act bill is the Pine Box Boys, a Bay Area band that plays evocative, backwoods-banjo songs about murder. Happy New Year!
9 p.m. Cost $12. 1400 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento. www.bluelamp.com, (916) 455-3400
Tesla lead guitarist Frank Hannon headlines this all-ages show, with Grand Funk Railroad Tribute band Freightline and Lenny Dean supporting. Revelers 21 and older can enjoy champagne.
$20. 8:30 p.m. 9426 Greenback Lane, Orangevale. www.boardwalkrocks.com, (916) 988-9247
It's a New Year's Eve jam fest featuring two Placerville-area favorites: Jonny Mojo, with the Rusty Buckets, and Bone MacDonald and his band.
$7. 594 Main St., Placerville. www.ourcoz.com, (530) 642-8481
Utz! and the Shuttlecocks, a genre-traversing Sacramento cover band with an avid following, will end its five-year run with a final Harlow's New Year's Eve bash. An extra-misty-eyed rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" seems in order, no?
$35. 10 p.m. 2708 J St., Sacramento. www.harlows.com, (916) 441-4693
MARILYN'S ON K
They're unlikely to wear tuxedos, but they might trim their beards: San Francisco rockers the Mother Hips will perform '60s-tinged rock. Rootsy Huckle opens the show.
$40. 9 p.m. 908 K St., Sacramento. www.marilynsonk.com, (916) 446-4361
Reigning Sacramento Jazz Festival Emperor Tom Rigney and his zydeco, blues and boogie-woogie outfit Flambeau will get people on their feet.
$35. 9:30 p.m. 13 Main St., Winters. www.palmsplayhouse.com, (530) 795-1825.
Superlicious will play 1980s dance hits. The evening includes a champagne toast and (spoiler alert!) a midnight balloon and confetti drop.
9:30 p.m. $20. 614 Sutter St., Folsom. (916) 355-8586, www.powerhousepub.com
RED HAWK CASINO
It's a night of country at the casino's Stage Bar. Erin McKinney performs from 5 to 9:30 p.m., and Whiskey Dawn comes on at 10 p.m.
Free. 1 Red Hawk Parkway, Placerville. (530) 677-7000, www.redhawkcasino.com.
THUNDER VALLEY CASINO RESORT
Scrape the ice off your windshield, throw a wool coat over that Hawaiian shirt, and see the perpetually sunny Beach Boys at the outdoor (but heated and covered) Holiday Pavilion.
$79-$99. 10:15 p.m. Thunder Valley Casino Resort, 1200 Athens Ave., Lincoln. www.thundervalley resort.com, www.ticketmaster.com, (877) 468-8777.
Blues singer John O Németh and his band will provoke dancing and start the toasts.
$30. 9 p.m. 904 15th St., Sacramento. www.torchclub.net, (916) 443-2797.