A guide to Nor Cal’s summer music festivals
The heat of summer is blowing into the valley, pushing music fans into the hills and coastal communities for those familiar marathons of music and dancing. While the exceptions to the rule—the metal heads and emo kids/skate-punks—keep things hardcore by diving into the exposed hell-heat of Sleep Train Amphitheatre for Mayhem Fest and Warped Tour, respectively, most everyone else will opt for getting away from the heat in places like Grass Valley for Cal World Fest and Santa Rosa for the Harmony Music Fest.
The regular world/American/jam-focused extravaganzas are all on the schedule and as strong as ever, but there’s a new, intriguing offering catching this writer’s imagination: Wanderlust Festival. Taking place on the grounds of Squaw Valley USA at Lake Tahoe, the festival is bringing together an impressive variety of musical acts—from the old-school R&B/funk of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings to Austin indie popsters Spoon—and placing them in the wilderness setting alongside the world’s top yoga teachers for a really chill getaway.
Here are several suggestions for the next three months. Choose one or choose six, just choose something before the triple digits hit and you’re stuck wandering around the mall until the heat wave passes.Bobolink Music Festival
May 29-31, Belden (Hwy 70, between Chico and Quincy)
Harmony Music Festival
June 12-14, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
Father’s Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival
June 18-21, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley
Featuring: The Grascals, Dailey & Vincent, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Claire Lynch Band, plus jamming, workshops, children’s programs and much more. Tickets range from $13-$105 for many choices of single- or multiday passes. Children 15 and younger are free with adult. Camping is available—extra charges apply. Info & tickets: www.fathersdayfestival.com.Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
June 19-21, Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville
Featuring: Femi Kuti, King Sunny Adé, Sly & Robbie, Zap Mama, Gregory Isaacs, B-Side Players, The Itals and more. Tickets $145 for three-day pass; $55-$65 for single days. Kids 12 and younger are free. Camping is available (extra fees apply). For details and directions, go to www.snwmf.com.Kate Wolf Memorial Festival
June 26-28, Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville
Featuring: Emmylou Harris, Richard Thompson, Patti Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Joe Craven and more. Tickets for children and adults range from $25-$200 for many choices of single- or multiday passes. Children 6 and younger are free. Tickets & info: www.katewolf.com/festival; www.cumuluspresents.com/kate.High Sierra Music Festival
July 2-July 5, Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds, Quincy
Featuring: John Butler, Umphrey’s McGee, Ani Difranco, The Wailers, The Del McCoury Band, Dr. Dog, Devil Makes Three and more. Tickets (includes camping) for children and adults range from $35-$165 for two-, three- or four-day passes. Individual late-night show tix available too. Tickets & info: (510) 595-1115; www.highsierramusic.com.
July 10, Sleep Train Amphitheatre, Marysville
Featuring: Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, All That Remains, Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder and more. Tickets range from $31 for lawn to $60.50 for the pit. Info & tickets: www.livenation.com; www.sleeptrainamphitheatre.com; www.mayhemfest.com.California World Fest
July 16-19, Grass Valley Fairgrounds, Grass Valley
July 18, Benbow Lake State Recreation Area, Garberville
Wanderlust Festival (music and yoga)
July 24-26, Squaw Valley USA, Lake Tahoe
Aug. 21, Sleep Train Amphitheatre, Marysville