Summer is almost officially upon us, and as of June 21st (Summer Solstice) there will hardly be a dull moment as the festivals infiltrate California with some of the best bands and activities around the globe. Here’s a list of festivals with some of their standout artists.
Sierra Nevada Music Festival
Complete Lineup here
One of the more affordable festivals of the summer, this secret gem resides out in Boonville where campers plant themselves for three days of music in the sun. The lineup is also one of the more eclectic for a reggae festival and exposes world music, tribal dancers, and local artisans.
Shaggy– The Grammy award winning Jamaican American Reggae fusion singer headlines the festival. Best known for his hit “Bombastic” and his “Shaggy” hair, other notable songs include “Angel,” “Midnite Lover” and “It wasn’t me.”
Ozomatli– A late addition to the festival, the seven-piece Latino rock group from Los Angeles is a perfect fit to the bill. With their worldly blend of hip-hop, reggae, jazz and rock they are one of the reasons this is the most eclectic Sierra Nevada Music Festivals this year.
Rebolution– Four dudes from Santa Barbra bring their Cali-roots sound to the stage and there couldn’t be a more perfect environment. After breaking out with their first album Courage to Grow in 2007, the band hasn’t looked back and has played a number of festivals throughout the years.
Hollie Cook– This British singer is the daughter of Paul Cook, drummer of the Sex Pistols, and Jeni, a backup singer for Culture Club, and her godfather just happens to be Boy George himself. Her music, however, is not a cultivation of her parents, straying into a more soulful, R&B musical direction. She could eventually reach her parents pinnacle of success.
Barrington Levy– Dancehall reggae artist, Barrington Levy, is a popular name. He’s been playing since 1979 and has released over twenty albums. Within the past decade he has stayed current, collaborating with Prince Paul and Dan the Automator in the song “White Boy” for Handsome Boy Modeling School, showing up on Slightly Stoopid’s album “Closer to the Sun,” and featuring his song “Here I Come” on the video game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.
Stern Grove Music Festival
June 22nd– August 24th
This free festival brings a mixed lineup of artists for ten Sundays in a row at Stern Grove. More of a family friendly environment, it features everything from R&B legends to up and coming soul artists to great local acts and respectable indie artists.
Lineup and details here
Smokey Robinson– One of the original Motown singers, fronting the band “The Miracles.” He co-wrote and helped produce singles like “I Second that Emotion,””Get a Job,” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.”A big influence of George Harrison from the Beatles, who wrote the song “Pure Smokey,” was featured on Robinson’s first solo album, Smokey.
Patti Austin– New York born Jazz and R&B singer was born into jazz, and won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Jazz Vocal album for her album “Avant Gershwin,” recorded live with the WDR Big Band.
Rufus Wainwright– No stranger to San Francisco, Rufus is the son of Loudon Wainwright III and brother to Martha Wainwright. The openly gay singer and pianist is best known for his take on Jeff Buckley’s song “Hellelujah” and “Going to a Town.”
Quartet San Francisco
Allen Stone– Stone has been making his name known around the bay, with a performance at the Independent this year for their string of anniversary shows. The Seattle native brings his soulful and upbeat songs to the Stern Grove festival, backing a soon to be released new album.
Yuna– A Malaysian singer and guitar player and self proclaimed “business woman.” A powerful and inspirational woman, she was an independent artist for the first half of her musical career until singing with an American label (who flew her to the states to convince her) and worked with producer Pharrell Williams on the popular 2012 single, “Live your Life.”
Andrew Bird And The Hands Of Glory– Bird brings his “Hands of Glory” band to the Stern Grove festival. After releasing the widely acclaimed 2012 effort “Break it Yourself,” Bird quietly released the “Hand of Glory” album that same year. With more folk influence, Bird shouldn’t be abandoning his violin for this performance.
Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors– The San Francisco born jazz and rock bass player is now a resident of Berkeley, and has played in multiple bands and artists that include Trey Anastasio, John Zorn, Stanton Moore, and Andrew Bird to name a few. Except some guest appearances and surprise collaborations.
San Francisco Symphony– San Francisco’s beloved Symphony takes over the park. They’ve produced some of the most admired musicians since their formation in 1980.
Edwin Outwater, conductor
Darlene Love- Darlene Love has that recognizable face, mainly because she was featured as Danny Glover’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” movie series, and actually won an academy award for her in the documentary, “20 Feet from Stardom.” But she is also a popular singer, producing a top hit “He’s a Rebel” and collaborating with Phil Spector.
Monophonics– This psychedelic funk band will be sure to have the crowd swaying with the trees, establishing themselves in the past seven years as one of the west coasts premier jam bands.
Funky Meters– The Meters were an American funk band based out of New Orleans in the 1960’s and 70’s. Now revived as the Funky Meters, they’ve still got the same energy with just a little more experience.
Sugar Pie DeSanto– The seventy-eight year old Filipino-American blues singer has been singing since the 1950’s, now this living legend lives in Oakland and makes a special appearance this year at Stern Grove.
Sergio Mendes– With over fifty-five releases, Mendes shows no sign in slowing down. The Brazilian musician melds bossa-nova with funk and jazz, and his Stern Grove performance kicks off the start of a mini tour around the world.
LoCura– Specializing in Spanish music that makes the hips move, the local group have put in their dues all around the west coast and deservedly acquired a spot at this year’s Stern Grove.
Pupy Y Los Que Son Son– Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso’s Cuban band makes an appearance this year. Expect a lot of dudes on stage playing an array of instruments.
Vieux Farka Touré– Keeping things worldly, this Malian singer guitarist is the son of Grammy winning musician Ali Farka Touré and has worked with the high profile Toumani Diabaté.
The Zombies– The popular English rock band from the sixties reformed in the nineties, and have kept going since despite multiple band changes. They’re familiar for songs like “Time of the Season,” “She’s not There,” and “Goin out of my Head.”
Vetiver– This contemporary folk band started in San Francisco in 2002 and headed by Andy Cabic. They’ve opened and collaborated for big names like Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, it’s only fitting they play on the last weekend of Stern Grove.
Northern Lights Music Festival
Complete lineup Here
Out under the giant California Redwoods, bordering the Mendocino and the Humboldt county line features the Northern Lights Music Festival, with plenty of entertainment including river activities, exquisite food vendors, and exceptional DJ’s.
Beats Antique– (*Interview with Sf Station) The World Fusion and Electronic Super Group include David Satori, an alumni of the California Institute of Arts, Tommy Cappel, the Berkeley College of Music graduate, and Zoe Jakes, a respected lifelong belly dancer. Forming in 2007, their individual achievements joined forces to create powerful and intricate music with an unforgettable visual pairing of performance art.
Zion I– The hip-hop duo reigning from Oakland is known for making innovative and conscious music. With Amplive’s futuristic production techniques that cross live instrumentation with sampling and MC Zumbi’s positive and socially conscious and constructive lyrics, the duet are favorites amongst the hip-hop and festival community and always bring good vibes to the party.
Giraffage– Twenty-three year old Charlie Yin is a resident of San Francisco and utilizes his multi-instrumental talents to create a type of dream pop with catchy samples, tight-knit hooks, and thoughtful compositions that will be perfect underneath the stars of the Northern Lights.
30th Annual Reggae on the River
July 31st-Aug 3rd
Complete lineup Here
Perhaps the biggest Reggae Festival of the summer takes place on the Russian River in Humboldt County, featuring lots of legends and newcomers to the lineup.
Jimmy Cliff– Cliff might be one of the most well known of Reggae artists. Hailing from Jamaica, the multi-instrumentalist has a barrage of talents including acting and singing. He’s the only living musician to hold the Order of Merit, which is the highest honor granted by the Jamaican government. He’s best known for songs like “The Harder they Come,” “Wild World,” and “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Alpha Blondy and the Solar System– An innovator in the reggae scene, Alpha Blondy is known for singing in many different languages and dialects, including his native tongue Dioula, French and English. His songs are mainly politically motivated, and he’s accredited for adding violin and cello to reggae music.
Israel Vibrations– From Kingston, Jamaica, they’re one of the most successful reggae groups to come out of Jamaica sine the 1970’s. They’ve supported such acts as Bob Marley and Dennis Brown, and have been a staple of the reggae festival circuit for a while.
Fishbone– The influential alternative band has been rocking since the 1970’s, and their infusion of reggae and ska caught on quickly, making them one of the most distinct bands of their time. They should add some energy to the river.
Gentleman and the Evolution– Gentleman is one of those secrets in the Reggae world. The German born artist and son to Lutheran pastor, he brings passion to the table and has been touring independently since 2002.
Marlon Asher– Popularized for the hit, “Ganja Farmer,” plumes of smoke are ensured to encapsle the skies of Humboldt County when he hits the stage.
Complete linup Here
Every San Francisco native probably has their calendar marked for this event, whether attending or not. It might be hard to top Sir Paul McCartney, but one of the best events of the summer in Golden Gate Park never really fails to impress.
Kanye West– He’s one of the first hip-op/pop icons to headline at Outside Lands, and at least it’s not Puff Daddy Kanye has probably gained more fans since proposing to Kim Kardashian in the city. Look for a cluster of Kim-watchers. Even if one doesn’t dig his music, he should put on a good show.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers– How do you replace Paul McCartney with another legend, you don’t, but the Florida native Tom Petty is no stranger to Outside Lands and will make a repeat performance.
The Killers– The Killers formed in 2001 in Las Vegas, released a Killer album (Hot Fuss), then released a flurry of mediocre albums and went hiding in Northern California. This band should produce a good time with familiar danceable indie rock hits.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis– His story is admirable, a young independent hip-hop artist in recovery for alcoholism from Seattle makes it big through the internet, exploding with his hit single “Thrift Shop,” and then really laying it on thick with “Can’t Hold Us.” But he wasn’t nominated for seven Grammy awards for nothing.
Arctic Monkeys– The English rockers might have overplayed festivals this year, but at least they rock.
Chromeo– The song “Jealous” is apparently the hit of the summer, and rightfully so. They’ve been producing sexy tunes for the past decade with “Fancy Footwork” and “She’s in Control” quietly building a cult following. They should bring some swagger and glitter to Golden Gate Park.
Atmosphere– He wasn’t nominated for seven Grammy’s and isn’t married to Kim Kardashian, but Slug is one of the best MC’s of our time.
Death Cab for Cutie- The Seattle rockers come to the Bay Area for a performance sure to dazzle and swoon.
August 23rd and 24th
Yes, it’s in Los Angeles, but the lineup might be worth the drive, or short flight, down south. Lots of bands coming out of retirement for this one.
Complete lineup Here
The Strokes– The band hasn’t released a record since 2011, and singer Julian Casablancas and other members have been busy releasing solo material, but they come out of hiding for this festival.
Phoenix– The band from France has been somewhat quiet since last year’s “Not So Silent Night” held in San Francisco. This could mark the start of a string of U.S. shows?
Interpol– Probably New York’s most beloved band in the past decade, they make a rare appearance on the West Coast.
The Blood Brothers– The hardcore band from the suburbs of Seattle will reunite for this show. It should be brutal, or bloody, to say the least.
Caribou– The Canadian composer and musician released his latest effort, Our Love, and gaining proper attention.
Grimes– It wouldn’t be a real festival if it didn’t feature some grimy electronic music.
Slint– Yet another band coming out of a semi-retirement, the post rock- math core band have been linked to artists like Tortoise and Billy Corgan.
The Presidents of the United States of America– Another throwback to the 90’s.
First City Festival
August 23rd and 24th
If you don’t go to LA, you can head down highway 1 to Monterrey and still catch an amazing lineup that features a more rare cast of festival performers in a smaller town on the coast of California. What started as the “Gentleman of the Road” tour quickly caught on in a town most famous for its aquarium. Held in their fairgrounds, it’s coupled with the local fair that includes rides exclusive to festival attendees that weekend.
More Info Here
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
October 3rd, 4th, 5th
There are no rumored lineups at this time, but don’t worry, they always deliver.
More Info Here
Treasure Island Music Festival
It might technically not be summer anymore, but with San Francisco’s Indian Summer people still look for an excuse for a good time. Bring jackets though, many jackets, it get’s cold out on the island.
Complete lineup Here
Outkast– Playing festivals “ain’t not thang but a chicken wang” for this Atlanta hip-hop duo who have become festy veterans, who made an appearance at this years Bottle Rock in Napa Valley and last years Coachella.
Massive Attack– This performance could be a bit nostalgic for long time trip-hop fans. The band from Bristol has been making music since 1988. Their unique sound of deep rhythms and beautifully simplistic melodies only seem to be getting darker and craftier.
Alt-J– These English rockers were on the fast track to success, and sort of equalized in the past year. They could be the perfect fit for Treasure Island with lots of psychedelic riffs mixed in with synthesizers without ignoring their inherent indie rock roots.
TV on the Radio– High powered, emotive, electronic, post punk rockers from Brooklyn sound like spoken word poetry on acid.
The New Pornographers– There always seems to be at least one straight up indie rock and roll band at Treasure Island. The rockers from Vancouver are sure to shake things up. They also have eight members, including Dan Bajar and Neko Case.
St. Lucia– And this year, instead of James Blake we get St. Lucia- a very formidable following act. Born in South Africa and later moving to Brooklyn, his influences range from Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson, to Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon. His music should warm the soul.