Eclectic, intimate and indie to the max, the annual Huichica Music Festival is building on its reputation for being the coolest two days of music in Sonoma with its most packed lineup yet. Hosted by songwriter Eric D Johnson, winemaker Jeff Bundschu and the indie collective (((folkYEAH))), this year’s Huichica festival boasts songwriters and bands who span the indie rock spectrum performing on June 9 and 10 at Gundlach Bundschu Winery.
Headliners include Los Angeles garage rock outfit Allah-Las, who mix sunny melodies and surf rock sensibility, and laid back indie pop band Beachwood Sparks, who are recently back in the saddle after a ten-year hiatus. Veteran songwriter Dean Wareham will be playing solo versions of the coolest tunes from his former band Galaxie 500, and celebrated alternative-folk songwriter Robyn Hitchcock offers a lifetime of acclaimed music. Other acts range from the throwback hippie psyche rock of Heron Oblivion to the kaleidoscopic California folk-rock of GospelbeacH.
With two stages of action on Friday, June 9, and a full four stages of sound on Saturday, June 10, this year’s Huichica is the most expansive yet, with plenty of food truck and beer and wine to make for a weekend to remember. Tickets go on sale this Saturday, Feb 25, at noon PST. Click here for more details. The full lineup is below.
Just last Spring, Sebastopol-based songwriter Frankie Boots and his band the County Line released the lush, laidback Leave the Light On, a full-length sophomore album that saw Boots rising to new rustic heights both musically and lyrically.
Now, Frankie Boots is back with a new solo record, Pagan Ranch, and he debuts the record’s lead single, the beautifully melancholic “Everything We Ever Knew,” here on City Sound Inertia. Listen to it now.
Boots recorded Pagan Ranch straight-to-tape at Gremlintone Studios in Santa Rosa with producer and musician John Courage. The record features Courage on several instruments, as well as Dan Ford (the Ironsides) on drums, and Kevin Carducci (Easy Leaves), and Alison Harris and Katie Phillips (Bootleg Honeys) on backup vocals.
The new single and album is bittersweet news for Boots’ North Bay family, as the songwriter is releasing Pagan Ranch right before he moves to New Orleans at the end of this year. The record will be available at the upcoming Frankie Boots farewell show this Friday, Dec 23, at HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol. Click here for more details on the show.
Sonoma County folk group Rainbow Girls are making some of the North Bay’s most heartbreaking acoustic harmonies these days. Last spring, they drove this hardened reporter to tears during a performance at the Next Level showcase in Santa Rosa, and they continue to do so with their new batch of tunes, set to be released on the upcoming album American Dream early next year.
Such is the case with “The Folk Singer’s Contract,” a wistful rumination on a tangled web of a relationship. The above video of the song was recorded live along the New Orleans waterfront on a recent trip. Supported by gentle waves in the background, the trio shows off their vocal chops and emotional resonance on the new song. Just be prepared to grab a tissue for your tears.
In January, Rainbow Girls are taking the new songs on the road for a “Backwoods Tour” with soulful folk singer Caitlin Jemma that takes them from Bolinas to San Diego. Click here to see their upcoming dates and keep your eyes and ears peeled for news of American Dream‘s release.
The Sam Chase & the Untraditional, San Francisco’s raucous Americana outfit, never shy away from the chance to ruffle a few feathers, or make a strongly worded point. This attitude reached a fever pitch with the release of their latest album, “Great White Noise” back in late April. It is a sarcastic and unapologetic look at the societal effects of the constant bombardment of information that we have to wade through as a culture today.
It is only fitting, that their music videos match the subject matter. The official music video for the title track, “Great White Noise,” is best enjoyed with a stiff drink. It is visually as heavy and confrontational as the lyrics. It starts with a helping of sweet nostalgia, and melodic major key optimism in order to lull the viewer into a false sense comfort of a simpler time, before bashing you over the head with the ugly side of our American dream and projecting the side of us that we try so hard to look away from on a giant screen behind our prophetic anti-hero, Sam Chase.
Upon the release of this video, the band will be heading out on a 17 date East Coast tour through the month of October. They are sure to raise some eyebrows with this video in the towns they will be hitting through the bible belt. Perhaps they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Their triumphant return will be just in time before election day and Sam’s birthday, on November 4th at The Mystic Theatre in Petaluma. Joining them on the bill will be the North Bay’s “best folk band” according to this year’s NorBay Awards, The Crux.
Fairfax songwriting partners Velvy Appleton and Anita Sandwina have spent more than a decade making harmonic folk under the moniker of Spark & Whisper. Their rhythmic tunes stand out from the crowd thanks to transformative melodies and undeniable chemistry. This month, Spark & Whisper released their third, already acclaimed album, Monument.
Available now on bandcamp, the record of 11 original compositions continues to advance the pair’s mature, eclectic songwriting and assured aural aesthetic. With Sandwina’s expressive vocals and Appleton’s sizzling guitar solos, this is a modern, rock-tinged take on traditional folk, presented in a fresh and engaging arena.
Though the band doesn’t have any live dates until the new year, you can stream Monument now and mark your calendars for February, when Spark & Whisper return to the stage.
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.
Folk and acoustic duo Misner & Smith, winners of a Norbay Music Award last year, are sharing their latest music video, a sweetly simple performance of their song “Lovers like Us.” Produced by Pint of Soul, the video shows off the pair’s perfectly-pitched harmonies and effortless instrumentation under the shade of trees.
Misner & Smith’s next North Bay performance is scheduled for March 6 at Rancho Nicasio, 1 Old Rancheria Rd in Nicasio. Tickets available at 415.662.2219.
Petaluma folk quartet Trebuchet have a new collection of harmonious music for you, just in time for the holidays. Rivers Out of Streams is a collaborative effort between the band and and the Santa Rosa Young People’s Chamber Orchestra. Filled with string arrangements and melodic wonder, this new release expands the group’s already lush acoustics into a swell of symphonic joy.
You can order Rivers Out of Streams on the band’s site here. It comes as a 10″ vinyl and includes unlimited streaming of the record online, which is good because you’ll want to listen to this one again and again.
Folk and Americana duo Eight Belles is made up of Michigan-born and longtime Bay Area-based singer Jessi Phillips and Sonoma County native songwriter and guitarist Henry Aloysius Nagle. The pair met in 2010 and first made noise in 2012 with their debut album, “Girls Underground,” hailed as a vividly beautiful country rock record.
Now, Eight Belles is back in the spotlight with a new self-titled album on Saint Rose Records, a recently premiered music video and an upcoming record-release show at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Dec 12, at 2pm.
Even with their impressive debut, the new self-titled record proves to be an even stronger effort, with Phillip’s lovely voice sounding like a mixture of Patsy Cline and Carol King, and evolved melodic arrangements performed with a full band of popular Bay Area musicians.
To get a taste of the new album, Eight Belles offer up a music video for their single, “The Old Life,” that matches their timeless country folk with enchanting black-and-white visuals, click on the video below to watch.
This weekend’s release show at the Last Record Store will feature the pair playing in an intimate setting, with Sonoma County songstress Ashley Allred opening. Vinyl and CD copies of the self-titled album will be available. The show starts at 2pm and is free.
Back in July, I spoke with Santa Rosa indie folk rockers Rags about their DIY approach and upcoming debut album. That record, Grounding, finally has a release date of November 13, and today the band unveils “Piece Together,” their first music video off the album.
“Piece Together” is a beautifully melancholic acoustic dirge. Singer and songwriter Charlie Davenport’s rhythmic riffs are buoyed by the swelling cello of Jiordi Rosales, while the drums and bass of Zak Garn and Travis Hendrix fill out the spaces in between the group’s stirring vocal harmonies. Directed by Jim Shoop, the visuals here are hazy, hypnotic and intensely intimate.
Rags are celebrating the long-awaited release of Grounding with a show on Nov. 13 in Santa Rosa. Details are here.