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A Look Back at Next Level

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

Santa Rosa’s Manzanita Falls show off some new songs at Next Level on Friday, April 15.

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.

Sonoma County folk veteran Kevin Russell (second from the right) brought his So-Called Friends with him to perform at Next Level.

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.

Secret Cat balanced high-energy and tight grooves at Next Level on Saturday night.

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.

Petaluma’s Emily Whitehurst shares the spotlight with San Francisco alt-rocker Travis Hayes at Next Level.