Sing a song of summer, with live music concerts and music festivals in the Sonoma Wine Country region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Enjoy Broadway Under the Stars in Jack London State Park, wine festivals, Fourth of July Fireworks at the Green Music Center, plaza concerts, farmers' markets and much more.
One of the highlights of summer is the annual 4th of July Celebration at Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, a dazzling fireworks display on the lawn and in Weill Hall. The world-class Green Music Center is situated on the picturesque campus of Sonoma State University, and hosts hundreds of notable concerts of all kinds all year long.
Yet that’s just one grand affair, amid an array of al fresco concerts playing in Sonoma County this summer of 2017. Take in the spectacular weather of long warm days and cool nights, and make plans to get your groove on at music festivals, rock-n-roll parties, and tastes of uncommon favorites like zydeco and Mexican pop.
Broadway Under the Stars, Jack London State Park
June 16 through September 10, 2017
Now under private management, the non-profit Jack London State Park is breathtakingly beautiful at dusk, and turns even more mystical in the summer, with the sounds of Broadway musical theater acts serenading under the stars. Each of the concerts begins before sundown at the spectacular Kohler & Frohling winery ruins in the park. This is the highest caliber musical theatre, too, showcasing ballads in a series of four concerts: Another Openin’ Another Show, Fantastical Family Night, Fascinating Rhythm, and the Gala Celebration in a season-closing showstopper. Festive pre-show picnicking and warm-up band music begins at the Beauty Ranch at 5 p.m., so bring your own feast or purchase food and beverages including signature wines from local wineries at the park. Then, prepare to dance and sing, when the show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Details: Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, Transcendence Theatre, ticket prices vary depending on VIP, Premium, Select, general admission or youth levels; proceeds benefit the park preservation.
Sept. 9 and 10, 2017
Part of the appeal of this immensely popular annual gathering is the magical setting, at Johnson's Beach & Resort on the Russian River. It’s just one block from Guerneville’s Main Street, and towering redwoods keep the crowds cool against the banks of the water. Even cooler is the line-up of top performers – still TBD but guaranteed to be top-notch (last year bought big names like like Chaka Khan, Keb’ Mo,’ Johnny Lang, Brian Culbertson, Sheila E., Bobby Rush, Nikki Hill, and more. The fun plays over two stages, and guests are invited to bring a blanket and low-back chairs. Doors open at 10 a.m. daily and the music rocks until 6 p.m., rounded out with food vendors, wine tastings, dancing in the grass, and even canoes, kayaks and paddle boats for rent on the river. Get your tix at the Russian River Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Center in Guerneville, by calling 707-869-1595, or online.
Details: Johnson's Beach Russian River Festivals, 16241 First St., Guerneville
Tuesdays in the Plaza Concerts, Healdsburg
May 30-August 28, 2017
A true community gathering, hundreds of locals and visitors stake out their blankets and folding chairs early in the day to secure prime viewing of bands playing everything from swing to cool jazz to country and rockabilly. Bring a picnic and wine (some regulars bring small, low tables and set up candelabras and flower vases), then settle back in the grass for a variety of acts that often include favorites like Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings, Stompy Jones, The Dixie Giants, and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. The music runs from 6 to 8 p.m. each Tuesday, with plenty of food trucks to feed you, too.
Friday Night Live at the Plaza, Cloverdale
June 2-September 1, 2017
Cloverdale’s summer-long, free concert series plays alongside the Farmers Market in the Downtown Plaza. The market begins at 6 p.m. and the music plays from 6:30 p.m. until around 10 p.m. There’s music for everyone, in a weekly changing showcase of alternative country, pop, rock, blues, American rock, soul, funk, salsa, Latin jazz, and indie - even zydeco and Cajun French tunes. For even more family fun, there are food booths, premium Sonoma County wines and craft beers, hand-crafted arts for sale, and kids’ activities like jumpy castles and rock climbing walls.
Details: The Downtown Cloverdale Plaza
Every year for the past 27 years, fans of this winery’s lavish celebrations have looked forward to seeing such intimate performances by world-class musicians in a stunning vineyard setting topped off by sweeping views of the Russian River Valley. Big names are a given; this year welcomes stars like Chris Isaak, Kenny Loggins, Chris Botti, and Kool & The Gang. Take a picnic meal to enjoy on The Green, or purchase an assortment of delectables from local purveyors who will be onsite. You can also stock up on Rodney Strong wines, to sip while you sing along.
Details: Rodney Strong, 11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg
There’s simply too much good music to pack into the small town of Windsor, which is why this weekly event is always packed, with thousands of partygoers converging on Thursdays. The Windsor Farmers Market, complete with food trucks and lawn games, runs from 5 to 8 p.m., and the free music concerts start at 6 p.m. You can dance this year to jams like Carolyn Wonderland’s blues/rock, Great Wide Open’s Tom Petty tribute, 80s a Gogo’s 80s dance music, Orchestra Son de Cana Latin beats, and more.
Details: Windsor Town Green
June 16-18, 2017
As Northern California's largest country music festival, the weekend features some dozen big name acts, sprawled across the grassy, five-acre Carnival field at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. State-of-the-art staging and sound are enhanced by two 16-foot video walls, showcasing talent like Thomas Rett, Maddie & Tae, Michael Ray, William Michael Morgan, Ned Ledoux, and many more. Concessions serve beer, wine, spirits and Wine Country food alongside an array of western themed and festival activities.
May 26-September 1, 2017
The summer-long Funky Fridays concert series outgrew its previous venue at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and will now brings its eclectic variety of music to historic Hood Mansion in the Sonoma Valley. Weekly concerts on the lawn entertain from 7 to 9 p.m. with bands like The Bruthas, Soul Fuse, The Blues Burners, and Gator Nation. Funds raised will support Sonoma County Regional Parks. Tickets are only $10 for adults and free for kids 18 and under.
Details: Funky Fridays, Hood Mountain Regional Park, 1450 N. Pythian Road, Santa Rosa
June 9-10, 2017
First, it’s pronounced We-Chica. Second, it’s an annual concert at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, selected because the 152-year-old Gun-Bun (as regulars call it) was once part of the land called Rancho Huichica by Mexican General Mariano Vallejo, and Huichica is the name of the unique soil of the region that makes for great winegrowing. The festivities start at 3 p.m. on Friday and continue at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, with a diverse lineup across four stages, including groups like Beachwood Sparks, Cave Singers, Mr. Elevator, and Cool Ghouls. Keeping everyone fueled are pizza, barbecue, salads, yakitori, craft beers and plenty of Gun-Bun wine.
Details: Huichica Music Festival, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. Tickets start at $40.
July 15-30, 2017
It’s an authentic taste of centuries old inspiration, as this inaugural three weekends of concerts will be the first in the nation devoted to classical and romantic chamber music on period instruments.
Set in intimate, private home plus the 300-seat concert hall at Hanna's Boys Center in the Sonoma Valley, the works feature old and new favorites from composers such as Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn.
Details: 17000 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-996-6767, more info.
July 29, 2017
Fort Ross State Historic Park is wonderful to visit all on its own, with historic crafts, militia cannons, and living breathing history of its founding in the 1800s. For this special festival, there is also a multi-cultural food court, marketplace, children’s crafts, costumed re-enactments, dance, and the highlight: live music. Set in a dramatic natural outdoor amphitheater with the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop, authentic re-enactors will perform periodic songs accompanied by historic instruments and twirling dancers.
Details: Fort Ross Festival, 19005 Coast Highway One, Jenner
August 5, 2017
Plan for a whole day of entertainment, with gates opening at noon and live music continuing until 9:30 p.m. Spread out on the expansive lawn areas in front of the main stage and garden stage, or grab a VIP Premium ticket for shaded reserved seats under a canopied area complete with complimentary hors d'oeuvres, wine and beer. Wherever you sit, food is a highlight, offered for sale by gourmet food trucks and washed down with Lagunitas Brewing Company beers and Sonoma wines. Or check out the food pavilion, featuring locally grown and produced cheese, bread, chocolate, organic farm produce and more. And then, there’s the music from Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Moonalice, Royal Jelly Jive, and many more groups. As a bonus, proceeds from the weekend will be distributed among Petaluma’s public elementary and secondary schools to support their music programs. Tickets start at $50.
Details: Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma
August 3-13, 2017
One of the biggest parties of the year, the Fair attracts top-notch performers amid the carnival rides, games, great food and wine. As always, headline acts this year are big names, including the Marshall Tucker Band, Lauren Alaina, Foghat, WAR, The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute and Trent Harmon. And now, all concerts are FREE, with fair admission ticket purchase.
Details: Sonoma County Fair, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa
Summer concerts in the heart of the picturesque Montgomery Shopping Village make shopping and dining on the patios even more fun with a bit of groove! Concerts Under the Stars are every other Thursday in Village Court from 5:30 to 8 p.m., while Rockin' Concerts take place each Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. From 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, the music takes over the Village Terrace. This year’s lineup includes Beatles Flashback, RoseTown Soul, Twang Ditty, Pride & Joy, and more.
Details: Montgomery Village, 911 Village Court, Santa Rosa, 707-545-3844
May 18-Oct. 19
Enjoy six evenings of family fun, live music, food, and play at The Barlow, a 12.5-acre open-air “maker marketplace,” home to more than 30 makers and merchants in Sebastopol in western Sonoma County. Cheer on local performers, from professional bands to school choirs and dance troupes, on the third Thursday of each month, 4-8 p.m., May to October. Sip wine, craft beer, or other adult beverages while kids enjoy crafting, face painting, and a bounce house.
Details: The Barlow, 6770 McKinley St., Sebastopol, 707-824-5600