Even though the North Bay Hootenanny is a year-round, multi-venue endeavor that promotes local acts and good music, most people still associate the name with the Hootenanny’s annual weekend party held at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa.
It began five years ago as a one-day bash, though the weekend expanded into two days of music a few years back. Now Hootenanny founder Josh Windmiller is going even further by adding a third day and hosting multiple stages for this year’s show running June 13–15.
“This event is where the spirit of the Hootenanny is really evident,” says Windmiller. “Everything’s happening at the same time.”
The jam-packed days of music feature two stages, with bands in both the larger brick room and the smaller saloon stage playing near the bar. It’s not an event about headliners as much as it is a communal get-together “for the bands as much as the audience,” remarks Windmiller. Along with the stages, there’s a jam room where impromptu collaborations are encouraged. There is also dancing and lessons in the Arlene Francis Center’s classroom and family-friendly activities throughout.
With a strong slant toward roots and Americana, the Hootenanny includes a wide variety of North Bay and Bay Area musicians. Friday sees popular acts like the Dixie Giants and Ring of Truth, and it also features Santa Rosa indie folk punk band Rags, who Windmiller refers to as “one of the best kept secrets in the North Bay.”
Saturday is a full afternoon and night of music with more local favorites like Frankie Boots & the County Line playing alongside soon-to-be favorites like San Francisco’s Heartache Sisters and the Corner Store Kids, a band that Windmiller says learned their trade playing a lot of late-night house shows.
Sunday is it’s own beast, an afternoon Windmiller is calling the “Hooligan Street Fair,” with six marching bands taking over the lot outside the center, including the Chaotic Noise Marching Corps and the Ten Men Brass Band, both of whom are currently touring their way up to the Honk Fest West in Seattle. It’s a dizzying amount of good music, and sure to bring out big crowd.
“These events are about the joy of discovery,” says Windmiller. “There’s a special energy that pops up here, one that really resonates with people.”