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The Wine Train Gets in the BottleRock Mood with David Pack

Posted by: on May 18, 2016 | Comments (0)

photo by Stacey Pack

Napa Wine Train is riding the rails in the spirit of BottleRock for two nights with Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter David Pack and several superstar wineries on May 27 and 28.

Best known as the co-founder and frontman of 1970s rock band Ambrosia, Pack has performed at BottleRock for the past two years. For 2016, the Napa Valley resident and multi-platinum selling artist takes to the train for two consecutive “After-BottleRock Wine Train Hang” shows where he’ll play his classic hits while the train rolls through the valley.

Joining Pack for both nights are wines from Far Niente, Silver Oak, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Gargiulo Vineyards, and Casa Piena; all of whom collaborated with Pack on his 2014 “Napa Crossroads” album. Also joining Pack on Saturday, May 28, is indie rocker Robert Schwartzman, lead singer of the band Rooney, who also appeared on “Napa Crossroads.”

The vintage Napa Valley Wine Train picks up passengers for these concerts at 10pm on May 27 and May 28 at the Wine Train’s Pop-Up Restaurant and Bar while the train is parked by the 3rd Street festival gate. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today. Get tickets here.

BottleRock Announces Aftershows

Posted by: on Apr 27, 2016 | Comments (0)

Michael Franti plays at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley on May 26.

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.

BottleRock’s 2016 Lineup is Here

Posted by: on Jan 5, 2016 | Comments (0)

Red Hot Chili Peppers headline BottleRock

Heading into its fourth year, the North Bay’s big and bold BottleRock Napa Valley music, wine and food festival has announced the lineup for 2016, taking place on May 27-29, with headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder and Florence + the Machine.

Also confirmed are the Lumineers, Death Cab for Cutie, Lenny Kravitz, Walk the Moon, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Ziggy Marley, Grouplove, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Gogol Bordello, Cold War Kids, Buddy Guy, Jamestown Revival, Ozomatli, the Pimps of Joytime, the Pharcyde, Langhorne Slim & the Law and many others.

North Bay and Bay Area talent will also be on display once again this year, with festival favorites Moonalice appearing, as well as Diego’s Umbrella, Royal Jelly Jive, the Deadlies, the Iron Heart, Anadel and more.

Fans of the massively popular Red Hot Chili Peppers will be glad to hear that the flashy funk rockers, who’ve been relatively quiet since releasing their last album in 2011, spent last year back in the studio and are gearing up for a massive 2016, including a top spot at BottleRock.

Soul and Motown legend Stevie Wonder last year proved he was still one of the most in-demand singers and performers today with an extended, sold-out North American tour, Songs in the Key of Life, a stage adaptation of his ambitious 1976 album of the same name.

London’s longtime indie rock sensation Florence + the Machine round out the headliners for BottleRock 2016 with their own, artful baroque pop fronted by the stunning voice of lead singer Florence Welch.

The rest of the BottleRock 2016 lineup includes Iration, MisterWives, Atlas Genius, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, Andy Grammer, Houndmouth,  The Struts, The Joy Formidable, Shovels & Rope, X Ambassadors, The Orwells, Coleman Hell, The Suffers, Kaleo, Monophonics,  The White Panda, San Fermin, Alina Baraz, Nothing But Thieves, Particle, The Score, Fantastic Negrito, Mike Stud, Son Little, SOAK, Until The Ribbon Breaks, Black Pistol Fire, New Beat Fund, WATERS, Deap Vally, Jamie N Commons, Greg Holden, White Sea, Bird Dog, Machineheart, Secret Weapons, Roses Pawn Shop, Ivan & Alyosha, The Moth & The Flame,  X Alfonso, Taxes, Happy Fangs, Panic is Perfect, La Misa Negra, Guardian Ghost, Strangers You Know, HEARTWATCH, The HELMETS, Anadel, Bey Paule Band, Silverado Pickups, Grass Child Gypsy, Olivia O’Brien, 92 South, and the Napa Valley Youth Symphony.

BottleRock Napa Valley takes place May 27–29, at the Napa Valley Expo, 575 Third St., Napa. Tickets go on sale Jan 7.

Scott Weiland Has Died

Posted by: on Dec 4, 2015 | Comments (0)

Reports have come in that Scott Weiland, former lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots and current frontman of Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, was found dead last night on his tour bus in Minnesota. His official instagram account posted the following statement:

Scott Weiland passed away in his sleep while on a tour stop in Bloomington, Minnesota, with his band The Wildabouts. At this time we ask that the privacy of Scott’s family be respected.

It’s still unclear what the cause of death is. Weiland and the Wildabouts performed last year at BottleRock Napa Valley and was scheduled to return to Napa this month with a show on Dec 19. Weiland was born in San Jose  and lived in Southern California. He was 48 years old.

BottleRock Napa Valley 2015 Festival Lineup Announced

Posted by: on Jan 6, 2015 | Comments (0)

This time last year, BottleRock producer Dave Graham and the partners of Latitude 38 Entertainment were in a very different place. Still negotiating the asset purchase of the popular yet financially strapped festival in Napa, Latitude 38 didn’t get a lineup in 2014 until almost April. This year, the producers of the third annual music, wine and food festival, which takes place May 29–31, are ahead of the curve, and they have already announced BottleRock 2015’s three-day lineup of big name bands and emerging artists.

Chart-topping indie rock band Imagine Dragons, alternative megastars No Doubt and rock legend Robert Plant will be headlining BottleRock Napa Valley 2015.

“We’re not trying to be like any other festival,” says Graham. “The notion of having something for everyone applies to BottleRock. You have bands that gear towards younger crowds as well as the older crowd.”

Imagine Dragons, which includes Forestville native Ben McKee on bass, emerged out of Las Vegas in 2012 with a succession of hits. No Doubt’s iconic front woman Gwen Stefani was recently well received on NBC’s karaoke competition show, The Voice. Stefani and the gang are reportedly only performing a handful of dates this year, as is Robert Plant.

“Nuff said,” comments Graham, when asked about Plant. “He’s one of the biggest names in rock and roll history.” (For you kids, Plant sang in some band called Led Zeppelin). “To have him in Napa Valley is going to be so cool,” says Graham.

Joining these diverse headliners are a slew of indie darlings; the Avett Brothers, Passion Pit, Foster the People, Cage the Elephant, Capital Cities and Portugal, the Man. Graham is also bringing in a slew of hip-hop acts like Snoop Dogg, Afrolicious and Public Enemy; jazz greats such as Preservation Hall Jazz Band and JJ Grey & Mofo; and international stars like Xavier Rudd & the United Nations and Courtney Barnett.

Graham is especially excited to welcome Michael Franti & Spearhead to BottleRock. “I love their music, but they’re just good people. They stepped it up for Napa after the earthquake and played a fundraising show for free. Napa loves them,” says Graham.

The rest of the lineup includes Gipsy Kings, Young the Giant,  AWOLNATION,  American Authors, Trampled By Turtles, Los Lobos, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, ZZ Ward, Echosmith, Brett Dennen, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, Lettuce, Los Amigos Invisibles, Aer, The Mowglis, Kopecky, Big Talk, Tristan Prettyman, People Under the Stairs, Vacationer, The Brothers Comatose, Knox Hamilton, The Last Internationale, Zella Day, Finish Ticket, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Ryan Sims Band, The London Souls, MoonAlice, Grizfolk, Black English, Wild Ones, The Record Company, Kawehi, Emily Wolfe, Afrolicious, Con Brio, Wildlife Control, Sneakout, Transfer, Battle Tapes, The Trims, Fritz Montana, The Frail, Eagle Wolf Snake, Matt Moon, Sielle, The Iron Heart, The Bad Jones, Silverado Pickups, The Deadlies, grass child, Pion 2 Zion, Walsh, Napa Crossroads Live featuring: David Pack of Ambrosia, John Elefante of Kansas, Bill Champlin formerly of Chicago, Jim Peterik founding member of Survivor.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, Jan. 8, at 10am.

Bottlerock’s Back, Baby

Bottlerock’s Back, Baby

Posted by: on Jun 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

Weezer at Bottlerock 2014. Photo by Katie Stohlmann.

Like the Terminator, Bottlerock proclaimed it would be back. The official announcement today made good on that promise.

The Napa music festival will return in 2015 again as a three-day festival, May 29–31. It will again take place at the Napa Valley Expo, according to an official statement made today by Latitude 38 Entertainment, the festival’s producers. Bands have not yet been announced.

“We’re thrilled to be back at the Napa Valley Expo with the support of our community of music, wine and food lovers for 2015,” says L38 CEO Dave Graham in a press release.

The festival mostly cleared its name this year after a fun-filled first year took a nasty turn after the founders failed to pay nearly $10 million in debts after the five-day event. They sold the brand to the new owners, who hosted the event with just three months of planning and addressed nearly every complaint of the previous festival. Many vendors returned after cajoling by the new owners, and the only major issues seemed to be the exit line on the festival’s second day, owing to about 35,000 fans trying to exit to shuttle buses at the same time.

Live Review: Bottlerock Day 1, 2, (3)

Live Review: Bottlerock Day 1, 2, (3)

Posted by: on Jun 2, 2014 | Comments (0)

Robert Smith of the Cure: Aqua Net's crowning achievement

Friday, May 30: Day One
The weather was the first surprise of the weekend. Friday offered a cool, even breezy afternoon at the Napa Valley Expo that turned to a chilly evening. Five stages, including one for VIP ticket holders only, played to 24 bands throughout the day. It was a relatively calm affair that would see less attendees than following day, but for the most part, the logistical aspects of food and drink lines and bathroom cleanliness was kept in good order. Some festivalgoers themselves, even, helped throw away garbage and just be generally decent—maybe Headliners like the Cure and Sublime with Rome (the guy, not the city) simply brought out equal parts of older and more sedated fans who were content to throw down blankets and relax.

Jewish reggae-rapper Matisyahu delivered an effortless and nicely rocking set of smooth jams and authentic beats, many from his upcoming album, “Akeda,” released this week. TV on the Radio wowed me with a continuously intensifying set of eclectic indie rock and soulful electro pop. Gin Blossoms brought the “county fairgrounds” vibe to, well, the county fairgrounds. Overall, crowds seemed to care about the fact that ‘90s radio rock leftovers filled out the lineup. They sang along with “Follow You Down,” and clapped, mostly in time, with the band through their back catalogue of, ahem, lesser-known hits.

The Cure really was the gem of this show. They are one of my longtime favorites, yet I’ve only been able to see them live twice before, and it’s been 7 or 8 years since the last time. They were amazing. No way around it. They sounded perfect, and their set list was a mash of surprises and staples from 30 plus years of new wave, postpunk, emo-goth melodic pop angst. Robert Smith’s hair was a glorious tangled web of Aqua Net, and Napa winds and Simon Gallup’s tight denim and slicked back hair still make him look like he stepped out of a 1982 Clash video.

The Cure opened with “Shake Dog Shake,” a surprise choice off their 1985 album, The Top. They played for two-and-a-half hours with hits old and new, making me realize how much I do, in fact, like their more recent material—pitch-perfect pops songs and raw, soaring rock riffs alike. It was only when the festival had to cut the power at 10pm (the price one pays for hosting an outdoor fest in a Napa neighborhood) that the Cure finally left the stage, and only after the crowd of about 10,000 helped Smith finish singing the band’s encore of “Why Can’t I Be You?”

Saturday, May 31: Day Two
Smash Mouth rocked the house like I could never have expected. I was having fun, dammit—at a Smash Mouth show! And lead singer Steve Harwell was cursing Third Eye Blind—who was playing at the same time on the main stage—in a fit of ‘90s Civil War. It felt too weird, and I had to get out of there. But I could barely move, suddenly finding myself in the middle of a horde of festival goers packing tighter and tighter with every song. And then it hit me: there are far more people here today than yesterday.

Estimates on Saturday were that 30,00 people came out to the Napa Expo, about 10,000 more than the most optimistic estimates of the previous day. That wasn’t the only difference, though—the whole vibe of Saturday different. This was a younger crowd—beefier, more seasoned for alcohol. Beer and wines lines were a dozen deep by 2pm, twice that by 4pm. Food trucks felt the pinch as wait times for orders hit a half hour. Bathrooms got gritty. The whole thing got gritty. Suddenly, people were competing for space, competing for views. There was a tension in the air.

The day started out well enough; Petaluma band Trebuchet played a fun set of indie folk rock with great harmonies and a cute little ukulele. Brooklyn indie duo Matt & Kim were the highlight of the early afternoon, running out to meet the crowd from the main stage and practically beaming throughout their energetic and hip set of synth rock. Drummer Kim Schifino’s smile infected the whole crowd; I’ve rarely witnessed a duo with the ability to get a party going more effectively than these two. Los Angeles noise punks No Age blew out some eardrums, but sounded awesome on the smaller stage, right before Smash Mouth started taking jabs and downing drinks that weren’t just Coca-Cola.

After that, the mood seemed to change. Couples were bickering more around me; people were stumbling—either from not eating right or not hydrating enough in the sun after drinking heavy craft beers and Napa wine. I started to watch my step, if you know what I mean.

But, I’ve totally buried the lead here. The recently reunited hip-hop dream team of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, aka Outkast, was introduced to the crowd in a giant cube, like Magneto at the end of that first X-Men movie. Soon enough, they escaped their confines to perform a blistering, dizzying and all-out electrifying set of hits. Happily, the masses that bottlenecked the fields unified under the banner of songs like “Hey Ya!” and “B.O.B.” The duo has been headlining many festivals lately, including Coachella, and the general consensus is that they were the big “get” of Bottlerock (they choose the Napa festival over the larger Outside Lands festival in San Francisco).

The other big evening draw was classic rock sister act Heart. Anne and Nancy Wilson proved that they’ve still got it. They sounded amazing and looked spectacular—it was a rock and roll show every step of the way. Like the Cure, they were cut off at 10pm, and Outkast has just wrapped minutes prior on the main stage. That’s when 30,000 sweaty, tired, dirty, possibly drunk festival goers converged into mass chaos.

Everyone was trying to form one line to get to the shuttles that would take them the three miles to their cars at Napa Pipe. There was no supervision for this. I got the bright idea to leave an hour early, and it still took 45 minutes to go from festival gate to car door. I heard reports of people waiting three hours, and fights breaking out over line cutting.

Sunday, June 1: Day Three
Eric Church, Barenaked Ladies, Spin Doctors: meh. Nothing on this day really caught my attention other than, maybe, Thee Oh Sees or Deerhunter. It would have been awesome to see LL Cool J, if for no other reason than to say I did it, but after two long days of escalating madness it was best I stayed out of Wonderland on Sunday. I must say, though, the festival was much more fun than I had anticipated. Would I try it again next year? Maybe, we’ll have to see the lineup—if the Crash Test Dummies are going to be there, I’ll buy a ticket right now.
—Charlie Swanson

Live Review: Bottlerock Day 2 with Outkast, Weezer & Smash Mouth

Live Review: Bottlerock Day 2 with Outkast, Weezer & Smash Mouth

Posted by: on Jun 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

Outkast at BottleRock Festival. Photo by Matt Crawford.

It’s 2am and this is what I’m feeling after getting home from Bottlerock’s biggest and best day: tired, deaf, a little hungry, tired, thirsty as hell, musically fulfilled, nostalgic, sore, tired, and, most of all, happy.

Local Bands Play Big Part of Bottlerock Lineup

Local Bands Play Big Part of Bottlerock Lineup

Posted by: on May 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

The three-day extravaganza known as Bottlerock began today in Napa, the city known more for restaurants and winetasting than music. To wit, the festival, now in its second year and under new ownership, has focused more on music this year—in addition to bringing internationally famous acts like the Cure and Outkast to Napa, there will also be over two dozen local bands playing at the festival, meaning that over one-third of the bands playing will be from the Bay Area.

This isn’t a new idea—local acts were featured at last year’s festival—but there are more of them this year, and it’s more than just an afterthought. Latitude 38, the company behind this year’s Bottlerock festival, says including local bands was the plan from the start.

“A lot of people didn’t know there were a lot of bands in Napa,” says Latitude 38 CEO Dave Graham. He says they’ve made a new tradition of kicking off the festival with a local band on the main stage. This year, it’s the Napa–based group Grass Child.

On Saturday, the first band to strum a chord, pluck a note, or bang a drum will be local favorites Trebuchet, the indie-folk quartet known for its original songs with glorious harmonies and wide-ranging instrumentation. They’ll be playing on the City Winery Lounge stage at Noon, greeting attendees just inside the main entrance with their explosive tunes and catchy melodies.

The opening slot at a festival is a blessing and a curse. “We don’t have any headliners to contend with,” says Eliott Whitehurst, the band’s mandolinist, guitarist and lyricist. “But at the same time, it’ll be a challenge because we’ve never been in that situation where it’s like, ‘Oh, look there’s all these people,’ and they continue to walk by.”

Whitehurst, who lives in Napa, says he is excited for this year’s festival—not in the least because he’ll be playing in it, but also because the concerns of last year are being mitigated. “Last year, we actually got out of town,” he says. “People in Napa were of one of two minds: either this is going to be awesome… or oh my god, we do not have the infrastructure to handle what is going to be thrown at this city.” With a festival expecting 30,000 people per day for an entire weekend, in a city of 78,340, that’s to be expected. Though he’s sure there will still be challenges, Whitehurst says, “I’m not as afraid of it this year as I was last year.”

Local acts playing in the festival come from as far away as San Francisco, and Whitehurst says about 150 bands sent entries to Thea Whitsil, who also organizes the annual Napa Porchfest, to fill 32 spots. Instead of having an “in” or being owed a favor, as is the case when so many bands are booked for a festival like this, Trebuchet and the other local acts were picked on merit. “That’s why we’re so stoked on it,” says Whitehurst, who knows the industry well, coming from a musical family.

The group made a one-shot montage video as an homage to the big names at Bottlerock, rearranging pieces of about a dozen songs into their own style. It was a hit—garnering over 1,200 Youtube views in just over two weeks. “It didn’t take us too long,” says Whitehurst. “We practiced for a day and maybe did 10 shots of us doing it live.” The festival is filled with nostalgia for those who grew up with the soundtrack of the ‘90s. Whitehurst is no exception. “I can’t deny how fun it will be,” he says. Outkast and Weezer will be great, and, because they’re a sure-fire way to heat things up, he’s also stoked to see Blues Traveler.

Bottlerock Preview: Camper Van Beethoven

Bottlerock Preview: Camper Van Beethoven

Posted by: on May 28, 2014 | Comments (0)


Could there be a better act to play the uniquely Northern California festival BottleRock than Santa Cruz’s own Camper Van Beethoven, with their conjoined twin band Cracker in tow?
After all, Camper is the group that on their 2013 album La Costa Perdida delivered “Northern California Girls,” perhaps the ultimate NorCal anthem—meaning an anthem that’s way too laid back to actually be an anthem.
“Right, it takes seven minutes to get where it’s going,” admits David Lowery, the frontman for both Camper and Cracker. “The drums come in a little bit like three times before they finally kick in about three-and-a-half minutes into the song.”
Lowery had already written his share of great California songs for both Camper and Cracker over the years—most recently, “Where Have Those Days Gone”—in which he mistakes Good Times’ astrologer Rob Brezsny for Thomas Pynchon in a bar in Mendocino County—but also “Big Dipper,” “Miss Santa Cruz County,” “Come On Darkness” and more.
But with his latest cycle, he’s outdone himself. While La Costa Perdida was a NorCal-influenced album, the songs on Camper’s latest, El Camino Real (which comes out June 3), are all set in, or otherwise related to, SoCal.
“We wrote these songs at the same time, then thematically we broke off most of the Northern California ones for the last album, and then kind of took these songs that were Southern California, and built another album around them, by adding another five songs or something like that,” says Lowery. “There’s kind of this opus going now, this theme going. There’s also a Cracker album, which comes out next year. It’s a double disc—one is Berkeley, one is Bakersfield. One is the punk side of the band, one is the country side.”
So, basically, four albums worth of California songs. And it all started because of…Joan Didion?
“I think it started with me and Victor [Krummenacher] and Jonathan [Segel] reading a bunch of Joan Didion,” confirms Lowery. He can’t remember which collection of essays specifically sparked it, but it would almost have to be the first section of Slouching Toward Bethlehem, in which Didion rips to shreds the “golden dream” of the Inland Empire—where Lowery, his Camper bandmates Krummenacher and Segel, and Cracker co-founder Johnny Hickman all grew up.
“Those essays really captured the feel of it. It’s not really that flattering about the area, but that’s sort of what people from the Inland Empire are proud of,” says Lowery. “There was actually some sort of referendum on a theme for the Inland Empire, like ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ or how California is the Golden State. And we all wrote in: ‘We will kick your ass.’”
The most noticeable difference between the two Camper albums is the overall feel—La Costa Perdida is more easygoing and gentle, while El Camino Real is darker and more intense, with a deep streak of paranoia that runs through songs like “The Ultimate Solution,” “It Was Like That When We Got Here” and “I Live In L.A.” Clearly, Lowery has very different views on the two halves of the state.
“Yeah, but I like ’em both,” says Lowey.
At the BottleRock festival in Napa May 30-June 1, Lowery’s bands will join an eclectic mix of five dozen other acts across four stages, including the Cure, OutKast, Weezer, LL Cool J, Robert Earl Keen, TV on the Radio and Smash Mouth. Some of those musicians have been around longer than Camper, while others benefited from the college-radio-to-gold-records trail that CVB and Cracker blazed in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s very likely, however, that Camper is the only band on the schedule that has been reunited longer than they were originally together. After recording their first album in Santa Cruz in 1985, the band imploded on a European tour in 1990. But after reforming in the early 2000s, they’ve been back together now for over a decade. Part of the reason, Lowery says, is that they all agreed to do the band on a more part-time basis, or at least do fewer tours, which puts less pressure on them as a group. But maybe it’s even simpler than that.
“Jonathan says it’s just because we’re not in our twenties,” says Lowery. “And it’s kind of true.”
Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker play BottleRock Napa, which runs May 30-June 1 at the Napa Calley Expo, 575 Third St., Napa. Tickets are $149 for single-day passes, $279 for a three-day pass, at bottlerocknapavalley.com. 877-435-9849.
—Steve Palopoli