.Indie-Rock and Accordions: More North Bay Festivals Planning Live Events

As California continues to operate at full capacity in a post-pandemic fashion, several local music festivals that were forced to cancel their fun in 2020 are bringing back live shows this summer and into fall 2021.

While Sonoma County Farm Trails is unable to plan for a full-scale Gravenstein Apple Fair this year due to the ongoing uncertainty around state and county guidelines for large events, fair organizers have opted to create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the music and spirit of the fair in an intimate setting with The Gravenstein Apple Fair Benefit Concert.

The concert takes place Saturday, Aug 14, at Ragle Ranch Regional Park in Sebastopol, from 11am to 5pm. Several North Bay bands, including the Whiskey Family Band with Alison Harris,  Burnside, and SoloRio will top the lineups. Surprise musical guests are expected as well. Guests will also enjoy farm-fresh food and beverages from top local chefs and producers.

“This year, we’re only able to host a fraction of the usual number of guests that the Gravenstein Apple Fair draws, so we’ve put together a small but amazing event with some of our favorite bands, foods, and vendors from previous fairs,” says Sonoma County Farm Trails Executive Director and Gravenstein Apple Fair Manager Carmen Snyder.  “The benefit concert will give our supporters an opportunity to contribute to bringing back the fair next year, keep our nonprofit afloat, and have a great time doing it.”

The fair historically attracts up to 15,000 attendees each year, connecting visitors to local agriculture and the county’s historical and beloved crop. The fair also provides the bulk of funding for Farm Trails programs like seasonal farm tours and scholarships for young farmers. Additionally, the event provides income for numerous farmers, producers, community nonprofits, local vendors, and service providers. 
“We can’t wait to bring the Gravenstein Apple Fair back in 2022,” says Sonoma County Farm Trails Board President Vince Trotter. “In the meantime, we’re really excited about putting on the benefit concert this year and continuing this beloved local tradition in a small but meaningful way.”

In Marin County, the popular music festival Sound Summit announced that it will welcome fans back to the slopes of Mount Tamalpais on Saturday, Sept 11, for a full day of live music. 

Produced as an annual celebration of and fundraiser for Mount Tamalpais State Park by nonprofit organization Roots & Branches Conservancy, Sound Summit is staged at the historic Mountain Theater, a 4,000-seat natural stone amphitheater with stunning views of San Francisco Bay and beyond. To date, Sound Summit has donated $200,000 to Mount Tam.

This year, Sound Summit’s lineup is topped by dynamic Americana group Lukas Nelson & The Promise of The Real and indie-rock sensation Father John Misty. The eclectic lineup of music will also feature retro-cool rock band Allah-Las, high-energy New Orleans brass ensemble Cha Wa, and local powerhouse vocalist Teal Collins.

“Being able to gather with friends and family again and celebrate high atop this treasured mountain after the long and challenging year we’ve all had is a truly joyful and liberating thought,” Sound Summit executive producer Michael Nash says. “We can’t wait.”

Also in September, the 30th annual Cotati Accordion Festival will be taking place once again in La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati.

Originally, the nonprofit festival was planning to celebrate the 30th anniversary milestone by riding the wave of the new “Roaring 20’s.” However, because of the stress and suffering so many in the North Bay have endured the past year, the internationally renowned event is instead centering on “bringing joy back to our lives.”

The Cotati Accordion Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, Sept 25 and 26, and will feature a vast array of popular performers such as virtuosos like Cory Pesaturo to Sourdough Slim, and new main stage surprises like Sergei Teleshev and his daughter Maria, Junk Parlor, Hernandez Hideaway and others.

In Sonoma Valley, Gundlach Bundschu Winery sits on the site of the historic Rancho Huichica (pronounced “we-chica”), named by Mexican general Mariano Vallejo. After 150 years of producing distinctive wines, Gun Bun has became a destination for great music in the last decade, hosting unique acts in their outdoor amphitheater.

This fall, Gun Bun welcomes back its signature event, the Huichica Music Festival, on October 15 and 16. The fest boasts a lineup of indie-rock icons, singer-songwriters, DJs and others performing alongside local food and wine vendors and more.

Mac DeMarco, Yo La Tengo (performing two sets) and Devendra Banhart are among the festival’s headliners, and groups and artists like Whitney, Cass McCombs, Wet, Vetiver, Bedouine, Shannon Lay, Kelley Stoltz and others round out the lineup. the Huichica Music Festival and all live events will adhere to the current Covid safety guidelines.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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