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Top Music Picks to Kick Off Summer in Wine Country

Melvin Seals

Sonoma Wine Country is heating up in June, and I don’t just mean the beautiful sunshine. The start of summer is a golden time for North Bay music fans, with highlights in many genres, including jazz by way of a locally beloved festival and a hot indie rock jamboree. Here are some highlights to fill your early summer nights.

Through Sunday, June 8
Healdsburg Jazz Festival
Enjoying its 16th year of exploring America’s art form, this year’s festivities are heavy on jazz’s root genre—blues. Over a dozen eclectic events fill out the following week, including Danish violinist Mads Tolling’s tribute to jazz fusion legend Jean Luc-Ponty.  
www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org

Thursday, June 5
The Young Dubliners
Mystic Theatre, Petaluma
St. Patrick’s Day may be over, but L.A.’s Young Dubliners are keeping traditional Irish culture alive through their kinetic brand of Celtic rock, which evokes a bit of Green Day’s pop-punk just as much as the Pogues. At the Mystic, the band will perform songs off their ninth album 9, the first which they self-released.
Buy tickets here.

June 6, 13, 20 and 27
Funky Fridays
The weekly shindig is a fundraising effort for the Sugarloaf Ridge’s State Park that gives top local bands a stunning venue for making music. Volker Strofler kicks off the series on June 6, bringing his bluesy, New Orleans-influenced band and his soulful voice to town. Later in the month, we’re treated to the sounds of Streetwise with Blythe Klein, who delivers smooth pop standards from Norah Jones and more.
www.funkyfridays.info

Friday, June 6
Shana Morrison and Caledonia
Cloverdale Plaza, Cloverdale
It’s been nearly two decades since Shana Morrison arrived on the local scene with her blend of bluesy, rootsy pop rock and guest spots at her icon father Van’s shows. Fans of the Lilith Fair scene will love the inspirational “I Am a Rose” or the spunky, country-tinged “No More Mrs. Nice Girl” off her latest album Joyride. She’ll perform selections from her catalogue at this installment of Cloverdale’s Friday Night Live at the Plaza.
www.cloverdaleartsalliance.org/fnlmusic/

Thursday, June 12
National Brass Ensemble
Weill Hall, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park
This fittingly named classical ensemble collects 24 of the best brass players and percussionists from across the country. This inaugural concert from the group marks the start of a new curriculum of teaching and performance in conjunction with the San Francisco and Oberlin conservatories of music. The evening’s program premieres a new work by Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer John Williams, whose classical strains helped films like Schindler’s List and Star Wars reach their emotional zeniths.
Buy tickets here.

Friday, June 13
Melvin Seals and JGB
Zodiacs, Petaluma
Hammond B-3 organ master Melvin Seals is best known for his nearly 20-year musical partnership with the Jerry Garcia Band, in which he helped define the jam-band aesthetic that thrives today. JGB continues to tour, bringing powerful vocals from it multiple singers and a spontaneous energy from its rhythm section. If their bouncy rendition of “Lonesome Highway” doesn’t get you up and dancing, nothing will.
Buy tickets here.

Friday, June 13 – Saturday, June 14
Huichica Music Festival
Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma
The North Bay’s hippest winery continues its impressive tradition of hosting some of the best indie bands of the nation. Now in its fifth year, this gathering features headliners David Longstreth, frontman for Brooklyn’s acclaimed Dirty Projectors, Washington sensation Mount Eerie, and San Francisco’s modern-folk outfit Vetiver, who topped the inaugural bill back in 2010. Check out the freshest national talent while sipping GB’s Mountain Cuvee, a new red that became the unofficial wine of this year’s Record Store Day.
http://www.huichica.com

Friday, June 20
Miles Ahead — A Tribute to the Music of Miles Davis
Arlene Francis Center, Santa Rosa
The culture in the North Bay is not only known for its original music but also for its thoughtful tributes to luminaries. This weekend’s offering begins with a seven-piece band paying homage to jazz legend Miles Davis. What makes this tribute it the focus on the trumpet master’s fusion era of the late ’60s and early ’70s, where he pushed the boundaries of the genre like no one previous. When’s the last time you had Bitches Brew on rotation? Don’t miss this show.
arlenefranciscenter.org/calendars

Saturday, June 21
David T. Carter and Trailer Park Rangers
Twin Oaks Tavern, Penngrove
For decades, Carter has exemplified roots music excellence in Wine Country with his eclectic yet seamless mix of country rock, blues, and countless other musical styles. He calls it “road music for the mind,” which only begins to describe their offering. I’ve seen the group play swinging country-western, rockabilly, and waltz all in the same concert. Top-notch musicianship and a beautiful, woodsy venue make an irresistible combination.

Friday, June 27
Southern Culture on the Skids
Cloverdale Plaza, Cloverdale
The North Carolina group has embodied an alternative Southern Rock experience since the early ’80s. Rick Miller and company perform songs of humor and irony that span genres like country swing, psychobilly, and punk in an always-thrilling way. Their latest album Dig This offers humorous slices of life like the rollicking “Tuna Fish Everyday” and the Dick Dale-life “Rumors of Surf.” Stylistic hopping is the norm these days, but SCOTS is one of the originals.
www.cloverdaleartsalliance.org/fnlmusic/

Monday, June 30
Chris Robinson Brotherhood: A Benefit for Seva
Mystic Theatre, Petaluma
Music in June ends with a bang, thanks to Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson’s other band, a psychedelic outfit that features other Crowes members and Ryan Adams-collaborator Neal Casal. The Fall Risk, featuring Furthur singer Jeff Pehrson, also plays, making this an essential show for Sonoma Wine Country hippies. Wavy Gravy hosts this benefit for Seva, the organization he co-founded that helps restore eyesight to the world’s blind.
Buy tickets here.

Find more info about things to do, restaurants, and hotels in Sonoma County.

Written by David Sason.

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