Last month, the Next Level Showcase and Conference introduced Sonoma County music lovers to an array of local musicians and bands, and introduced those musicians to several industry professionals and insiders who led a daylong symposium revolving around the business of music.
Now, Next Level is in full swing of its second phase, a grants program where five Sonoma County musicians can each win $2,500 to help them in their musical endeavors. These grants will be paired with ten hours of one-on-one consulting with industry experts to help encourage the most effective use of the grant funds.
Under the direction of Creative Sonoma–an arts program with the county’s economic development board–and in association with the North Bay Hootenanny, Next Level’s grant program is made possible by a donation from the Hewlett Foundation. Grant applications, due June 6, are available now online.
Later this month, Next Level is holding an applicant Q&A session on Tuesday, May 17, at 1pm, at the Creative Sonoma offices, 141 Stony Circle, Ste 110, Santa Rosa. Applicants can call into the meeting as well, 707.565.8996.
Last week, BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival broke the news that it had already sold out all three days of its fourth annual fest, taking place in Napa May 27 to 29. For those who’ve missed out on the event, there’s now a ray of hope, as the fest has announced a week of aftershows taking place in and around Napa Valley.
The lineup of artists appearing at various venues range from songwriter Michael Franti to comedy duo Cheech & Chong to classic hip-hop group the Pharcyde to gypsy punk ensemble Gogol Bordello; meaning there’s something for everyone. There will also be pre-fest shows on Thursday, May 26, and a post festival performance by Rodrigo y Gabriela on Monday, May 30, at Uptown Theatre.
Check out the full list below, and grab tickets to these concerts at bottlerocknapavalley.com.
Returning to the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 6, the Petaluma Music Festival once again brings an enormous array of talent to three stages for a fun-filled day of music that benefits music programs in Petaluma’s public elementary and secondary schools. This year’s festival boasts its biggest lineup to date with an incredible roster of local and regional musicians.
Headlining the festival is prominent California songwriter Jackie Greene, best known as a former member of the Black Crowes, as one half of the Skinny Singers duo and for his own prolific solo output. Greene is a North Bay favorite, often selling out weeklong residencies at venues like Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley and playing alongside legends like Phil Lesh at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael.
Speaking of North Bay favorites, masterful guitarist and songwriter Steve Kimock will also play the Petaluma Music Festival, and he’s bringing friends. Best known for founding ’80s jazz rock fusion band Zero and now living in Sebastopol, Kimock this year unveiled his latest solo album, Last Danger of Frost, an experimental blend of Eastern and Western melodies. He’s also recently debuted his latest collaboration, KIMOCK, a duo with his son John.
Also on the bill for the Petaluma Music Festival are Bay Area veterans the Mother Hips, David Nelson Band, Moonalice and Mark Karan. The festival fills out the rest of its lineup with Northern California musicians David Luning, Kingsborough, Highway Poets, the Sam Chase, Joy & Madness, Saffell, MoeTar, the Melt and the Grain.
Today, April 21, legendary songwriter, singer, guitarist and music icon Prince died at his home in Minnesota. The Purple One was only 57. Millions of fans worldwide are in mourning, stunned by the latest loss in a 2016 that has seen too many entertainers go too soon.
In a year that began with the death of David Bowie, a year that has also taken monumental musicians like Lemmy, Merle Haggard and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg as well as stars of stage and screen like Alan Rickman and Garry Shandling, Prince’s untimely passing confirms what I already believed to be true. 2016 is the Rapture.
We’ve long been led to believe that the Rapture, the biblical end-times event where good souls depart for the Heavens while the wicked remain behind, would be an instantaneous one. Yet, evidence is starting to pile up that it’s a gradual ascension, and now the forces of good can include Prince in their swirling legions.
Of course, that’s not an actual or literal theory of mine, it’s just that this year has simply seen too many great and inspiring figures leave us forever. Truly, this is what it sounds like when doves cry.
This past weekend, April 15-17, some 28 bands and hundreds of fans came together for Sonoma County’s inaugural Next Level Showcase and Conference, with two days of music and a daylong seminar covering the business of creativity all aimed at helping local musicians get the information and assistance they need to take their music to, well, the next level.
Organized by the folks at Creative Sonoma (a program under Sonoma County’s economic development board) as well as the North Bay Hootenanny and Second Octave (both local promoters and event producers), the Friday and Saturday showcase took place at Arlene Francis Center next to Railroad Square, and the Sunday conference commenced down the block at Chop’s Teen Center.
In short, the two-day showcase was a fun-filled inspiration to anyone who’s a fan of North Bay bands, with a variety of genres and styles on display. Friday featured several folk acts alongside indie rockers. The crowd cheered along with harmonious groups like Rainbow Girls and emotionally-resonating rockers like Manzanita Falls.
Pop band Lungs and Limbs got a dance party going in the classroom stage, one of three performance spaces that featured bands, and the eclectic Oddjob Ensemble closed out Friday with a fantastic performance that included horns and accordions a plenty.
Saturday was a decidedly louder affair, what with experimental noise rock outfit Antiphony blasting the small saloon stage to pieces as the evening’s opening act.
Other spirited Sonoma County bands, like the quirky and solid Secret Cat, reminded the crowds that you can be both silly and sensational, and several San Francisco acts showed up as well, like Travis Hayes & the Young Daze, who were joined onstage by Petaluma singer Emily Whitehurst of Tsunami Bomb and Survival Guide fame.
We are still six weeks away from the fourth annual BottleRock Napa Valley, yet today festival promoters have announced that all passes have officially sold, meaning that those who snoozed on this getting tickets to year’s event indeed lose the chance to grab them from the festival itself.
While it’s not necessarily surprising that BottleRock sold out, what with musical headliners like Stevie Wonder and an array of culinary masters once again slated to appear in downtown Napa, May 27 through 29, it does seem like this year’s tickets went faster than ever, solidifying BottleRock’s stake as the largest and most popular music event in the North Bay.
For those who waited too long, your only hope now is to go online in the dreaded secondary ticket market. Fear not, though, as BottleRock has teamed up with Lyte, a ticket exchange platform that allows fans to buy or exchange tickets for sold-out events. Fans looking for BottleRock passes can visit uselyte.com/bottlerocknapavalley.
San Francisco folk ensemble the Sam Chase & the Untraditional have a new album, Great White Noise, on the way and this week premiered the music video for the record’s first single, “There For Me.”
For the video, the band invited several musical friends to listen to the song for the first time and-as the video description says-do whatever they want. The result is a montage of pure joy expressed in myriad ways. Look closely and you’ll see popular North Bay luminaries like Josh Windmiller rocking out to the epic Americana ballad.
The Sam Chase & the Untraditional perform in the Bay Area next on April 29, sharing a bill with Dead Winter Carpenters and Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
Set upon the rolling hills of Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the annual Huichica Music Festival has been a refreshingly intimate and eclectic gathering of hot indie bands and performers from the Bay Area and beyond. This year looks to be no different, as the fest has announced its most extensive lineup yet for two days of music, food and wine taking place Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11.
Headlining the festival is Los Angeles psychedelic rockers Mystic Braves, who cast powerful spells on their brand new album, Days of Yesteryear. Also taking a top spot is popular party band Dengue Fever, blending Cambodian-influenced rock and roll and danceable indie pop.
Huichica organizer Eric D Johnson will be taking the stage this year with his newly reformed melodic indie rock band Fruit Bats. Another major player in this year’s festival is longtime New York electronic act Silver Apples, fronted by the enigmatic Simeon since the 1960s.
I could go on. Seriously, this lineup is stacked with awesome acts. The full lineup can be found below. And don’t forget that several food vendors and plenty of libations will be on hand for a complete weeknd experience. Check out tickets and get more details by clicking here.
Taking place in the cultural heart of Santa Rosa, last year’s inaugural Railroad Square Music Festival, presented by the North Bay Hootenanny, was hands down one of 2015’s best days of music in Sonoma County. With two stages of bands belting out folk, rock and country music and wild acts from performance art groups like Circus Maximus, the free-admission and all-ages event perfectly captured the freewheeling, laid back and friendly way most people around here like to live their life.
Now, the Railroad Square Music Festival is in the planning stages for round two, set to take place once again in the historic square on Sunday, June 5, 2016. And the first wave of acts has already been announced.
Slated to appear at this year’s fest are the Easy Leaves, Royal Jelly Jive, the Dixie Giants, the Bootleg Honeys and John Courage; an eclectic blend of traditional country, gypsy jazz, New Orleans jazz, Americana and rock and roll. And that’s only the ones we know about so far. To stayed tuned to the happenings with 2016’s Railroad Square Music Festival, check the website here. To see highlights of last year’s event, click on the video.
Last summer, Sonoma County indie pop outfit the Velvet Teen released one of the best albums of their career, All Is Illusory, and celebrated with a tour of Japan. Luckily for us, they brought along talented filmmaker Timmy Lodhi of Khan Videos to shoot footage and set it to music.
Now, that footage accompanies the All Is Illusory song “You Were the First” in a frenetic and fun music video. Shot in black-and-white, the video captures the band as they navigate Japan, play in front of the dedicated fanbase they’ve built there, and eat lots and lots of Japanese delights. Seriously, it looks like these guys scarfed down a ton of street food on that tour. Watch for yourself, below.