North Bay Festivals

Bella Italia: San Rafael’s street painting fest hails Italy’s beauty this year.

Festival Fever

Fun with thousands of our closest friends

By Gretchen Giles

Our highly subjective notice of festivals, gatherings and out-and-abouts scheduled from May to August that you won’t want to miss as the summer season enfolds us in its warm, languorous, sun-blessed grasp. Oh yes, please.


Sonoma Jazz+
Essentially sold-out but still worth dreaming over, this first annual production features jazz diva Diana Krall, R&B groover Boz Scaggs, as well as Steve Winwood and a bevy of others. An ambitious “wine and song” program featuring local talent rounds out the weekend. May 26-29, downtown Sonoma. $35-$85. 866.527.8499.

San Rafael Wine Festival
Wine in San Rafael? You betcha. Some 50 wineries and restaurants swarm the Falkirk Cultural Center, featuring a port and chocolate tasting, a Champagne deck and even beer pourings for those diehards. May 28, 1-5pm. 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael. $40-$45. 415.453.9001.


Healdsburg Jazz Festival
Featured musicians this year include Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, John Santos, Babatunde Lea, the Mimi Fox Trio and the Gary Burton Generation Band, among stellar others. June 3-12 at various Healdsburg locations, from wineries to the Raven Theater to Barndiva to the Plaza. A “Jazz at the Chateau” gala featuring private performance by the Mary Stallings Quintet, dinner and more is scheduled for June 9. $10-$125. 707.433.4644.

Face to Face/Sonoma County AIDS Network’s Beerfest is a perennial favorite for suds ‘n’ grub lovers, featuring 35 microbreweries and an abundance of great food. Music this year is by the Trailer Park Rangers. June 4, 1-5pm at the Luther Burbank Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $30-$35 (includes all food and drink). 707.544.1581.

Pride Music Festival
Following the Pride Comedy Night with a cappella satirists the Kinsey Sicks and comics Lisa Koch and Amy Boyd (June 4 at the LBC; 707.546.3600), the LGBT community moves to Juilliard Park with a free fest of music, food and drink, shopping and the like. June 5, 1-5pm. On Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa. 707.538.2708.

First annual bash celebrating musicians in the North Bay this year salutes the work of bandleader and composer Johnny Otis with live performance by the Johnny Otis Band as well as the Lemon Lime Lights, American Drag, Marcus James, surprise guests and “house” band the Shotgun Wedding Quintet. June 10 at 7pm. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $15-$20.

Harmony Festival
Massive tribal gathering with speakers, booths, kid stuff and more. Headlining musicians include world musician Kitaro, Jon Anderson from Yes and the Nu Ladies of Funk, with George Clinton on hand to bring the feathers out. The “Harmony after Dark” Saturday night dance party has spread to three different themed venues within the fairgrounds. June 11-12; Saturday, 11am-8pm; Sunday, 11am-7:30pm. $20-$60. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Dance, Saturday at 8pm. $25. 707.547.9355.

Italian Street Painting Festival
See some 200 street painters transform the very streets of downtown San Rafael into works of art, this year celebrating the beauty of Italy. June 11-12, 9am-7pm. Fifth and A streets, San Rafael. Free. 415.457.4878.

Cotati Jazz Festival
Now in its 25th year, the fest causes jazz artists to infiltrate downtown Cotati, from La Plaza Park to every club in town. June 18, noon-midnight. Downtown Cotati. $10 adults; free for kids under 12. 707.795.5508.

Marin Art Festival
A self-described “lawn party for the arts,” with some 250 professional artists in all media as well as live jazz, taiko drumming and food galore. June 18-19, 10am-6pm. Marin Center’s Lagoon Park, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $8. 415.388.4386.

Russian River Blues Festival
What a weekend! Celebrating a decade of outrageous live music on the river, the Blues Fest this year sees the Rev. Al Green and Los Lobos headlining . Soul man Earl Thomas holds down the wine garden stage. June 18-19. Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville. $47.50-$225. 510.655.9471.

Sonoma Lavender Festival
Open to the public for two days only, the Sonoma Lavender Barn offers a five-acre farm in full bloom with farm tours, craft making and a marketplace. June 18-19, 10am-4pm. Admission is $5 per car. 8537 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood. 707.833.1330.

Sonoma-Marin Fair
With a competition featuring some 700 wines that is rapidly becoming one of the largest in the state, this year’s fair honors cheese, a noble foodstuff indeed. Entertainment includes the Charlie Daniels Band, a mini blues and jazz festival with Grammy winner Charlie Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop, the annual Hispanic fest, the Village People, Smashmouth and Josh Turner with Little Big Town. June 22-26. Petaluma Fairgrounds, 75 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma. $8-$14. Wine Competition Gala, June 4. $35. 707.283.3247.

Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival
A fantastic lineup hails this festival’s 10th year of honoring the work of the late singer-songwriter Kate Wolf, including a star-studded musical tribute on Saturday night. Artist highlights include performances by Richard Thompson, Donovan, Greg Brown, Iris DeMent, Robert Earl Keen, David Lindley and an exhaustive list of others so stellar that they should never be lumped together as “others.” Plan to camp. June 24-26. Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville. Full festival pass, including three nights camping, is just $125 before May 23, then goes up to $140 at the door. Daily tickets available. Under six, free. 707.823.1511.

Cotati Philharmonic Orchestra
“Adventures in Hollywood” is the theme for a pair of free Cotati Philharmonic outdoor concerts June 25-26, featuring the swell of swell movie music. Both concerts held outdoors and begin at 7pm. Saturday, La Plaza Park in Cotati; Sunday, Windsor Town Green in Windsor. 707.792.4600, ext. 664.

San Anselmo Art & Design Festival
Some 51,000 folks flood downtown San Anselmo each year–hungry, thirsty, craft-starved folks. June 25-26, 10am-6pm. San Anselmo Avenue between Bolinas and Tamalpais streets. Free. 800.310.6563.

Marin County Fair
Celebrating its 60th year, this granddaddy of North Bay fairs ages into modernity well, focusing this year not only on its past but on technology, as well as the fine arts and a festival of short film and video. Performances include the annual July 4 appearance of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, as well as music by Huey Lewis, the Starship, Pablo Cruise and the Rhythm and Roots festival. June 30-July 4, 11am to 11pm. Marin County Civic Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $10-$12; under 4, free. 415.499.6400.


Napa County Fair
Classic small-town country fair, including Mexican-style rodeo and live music, and ending with a parade through downtown Calistoga on the Fourth of July. July 1-4, noon-11pm. 4135 Oak St., Calistoga. $3-$7. 707.942.5111.

Robert Mondavi Summer Festival
With proceeds benefiting the Napa Valley Symphony and music in the schools programs, this summer lineup is good, and good for us, too. Featured performers this year include the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (July 2), Julio Iglesias (July 9), Tears for Fears (July 23), India.Arie (Aug. 6) and Aimee Mann (Aug. 13). Robert Mondavi Vineyards, Oakville. $50-$85. 1.800.RMW.JAZZ.

Green Music Festival
This sixth season kicks off, as always, with the red, white and boom of Independence Day on the Green’s patriotic favorites and fireworks led by guest conductor Jeff Tyzik. The popular four-event chamber-music series returns July 8-14 with a who’s who of musicians, from pianist John Kimura Parker to violinist Chee-Yun. The piano series features maestro Jeffrey Kahane, Fred Hirsch and his trio and the Latin jazz of Gonzalo Rubalcaba. July 4-July 30. Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 707.546.8742.

Oh, Rapture–It’s Scrapture!
This recycled sculpture event won’t be the same this year without founding mistress Pavitra Crimmel there to cheer it on, but her spirit continues to imbue this terrifically fun family event featuring art made from castoffs, live music and surprises. July 9, 10am-4pm. La Plaza Park, Cotati. Free. 707.795.3660.

Heart of the Forest Faire
Crafts, jousting, plump women in low-drawn dresses, warbling English accents, turkey legs and plenty of puppets are guaranteed. Saturdays and Sundays, July 9-Aug. 14, 11am-7pm. Stafford Lake, 3549 Novato Blvd., Novato. $8-$20. 415.897.4555.

Festival of Art & Wine in Duncans Mills
The ever-popular duck races are back, along with music by Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums, the Rhythm Doctors and others. Benefiting the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, this is all about food, wine, community and the arts. July 23-24, from 10am. In Duncans Mills. $5-$7; under 12, free. 707.824.8717.

Catalan Festival
The fastest trip to Barcelona possible, the annual festival at Gloria Ferrer features live flamenco guitarists and dancers, the winery’s own sparkling wine and tastings from many Spanish-influenced eateries. July 23-24, 11am-4pm. Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, 23555 Carneros Hwy., Sonoma. $35-$40; under five, free. 707.933.1999.

Sonoma County Fair
Toucans flourish this year, allowing the hall of flowers to be South American rain-forest-misty. Look for such musical acts as the 10-piece rock band Malo and salsa pioneers Tito Garcia y Su Orquesta Internacional. Other headliners include Rita Coolidge, Uncle Kracker and country music sensation Dierks Bentley, as well as the annual blues festival and a terrific lineup of local talent on the smaller stages. July 26-Aug. 8. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $2-$7; free for kids six and under. 707.545.4200.

Wine Country Film Festival
This exhaustive event has simply broken into two. This cutting-edge celebration of cinema and cuisine is now the Napa Valley International Film Festival (July 28-31) and the Wine Country Film Festival (Aug. 11-28), showing in Napa, Yountville and Oakville for. Films this year center on conscience and world culture. 707.935.FILM.

Sonoma Salute to the Arts
Benefiting art in the schools, this yowza blowout of fine art, food and wine celebrates its 20th year by hailing the art deco period of the 1920s. July 29-31, on and around the Plaza, Sonoma. 707.938.1133.


Music in the Vineyards
Retreat to the coolness of barrel rooms in the dog days of August for a soothing dose of chamber music. Nationally known artists in residence perform chamber music in intimate winery settings, parks and churches. Aug. 5-21. 707.258.5999.

Reggae on the River
Darian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Queen Ifrica, Lyrics Born, Dezarie, Prezident Brown and Ozomatli are just some of the performers at this annual event Aug. 5-7. This is the last year the festival will be held at French’s Camp, Piercy. $150 for three days. 707.923.4583.

All Nations Bigtime
The Petaluma Adobe’s eighth annual celebration of Native American culture offers music, dancing, crafts and food. Aug. 6-7, 10am-5pm. Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, 3325 Adobe Road, Petaluma. $3. 707.762.4871.

Solar & Good Living Festival
SolFest combines fun with being eco-friendly. Musical headliners this year include Holly Near and Alex de Grassi; speakers, Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman, local author Richard Heinberg and others. Aug. 20-21, Real Goods Solar Living Institute, Hopland. $20-$30. 707.744.2017.

Napa Valley Summer Musicals
Celebrating the newly completed renovation of the Lincoln Theater, this first annual fest features leading Broadway stars singing the best of Broadway from the last 100 years, a tribute to Frank Sinatra and the work of Ennio, the Italian “super-mime.” Aug. 25-Sept. 4. 100 California Drive, Yountville. $25-$55. 707.944.1300.

Three days of crunchy goodness with plenty of motivational speakers, performers, raw cooking demos and an abundance of figs. Aug. 26-29. This is the fest’s last year at MacDonald’s Farm, Sebastopol. $50-$99. 707.829.0362.

Cotati Accordion Festival
Queen Ida brings her Bon Temps Zydeco to this two-day tribute to the squeezebox, with Flaco Jimenez holding down the top spot the next day. Aug. 27-28, from 9:30am. Cotati Town Square, Cotati. $17-$25; children under 15 free. 707.664.0444.

Seafood Art & Wine Festival
Bodega Bay celebrates with seafood deluxe and music by Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Ton Rigney and Flambeau, and Red Archibald and the Internationals. Aug. 27-28 from 10am. Watts Ranch, Highway 12, just east of the town of Bodega. $8-$10; under 12, free. 707.824.8717.

From the May 18-24, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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