Play It Back

Remembering the best of North Bay music

After a devastating end to 2017, last year was a year of healing and rebuilding in the North Bay—and music played a vital part in keeping spirits high. Looking back on the concerts and musical adventures in Sonoma and Napa counties, it’s clear the scene is strong. Here, we revisit some music highlights of 2018.

Last January, veteran hardcore punk band Ceremony, who formed in 2005 in Rohnert Park and are today a nationally touring band, returned to the North Bay to headline the inaugural Home Sick Festival at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma with a variety of bands representing all aspects of underground music.

“I’m really proud to bring this level of music to the place that showed us the ropes,” said Ceremony guitarist Anthony Anzaldo at the time. The festival was such a success that Ceremony will return to the Phoenix on Jan. 19 for Home Sick 2019, featuring acts like synth-pop outfit Cold Cave, post-punk performer Tamaryn, hardcore punk duo Iron lung, and others.

On the other side of the musical spectrum, the Santa Rosa Symphony made headlines last year when it selected 30-year-old Francesco Lecce-Chong as musical director and conductor, only the fifth to hold that title in the symphony’s 90-plus years.

“I’m passionate about making sure that people of all ages and all backgrounds have a chance to experience what we do,” Lecce-Chong said when he accepted the position.

This month, he leads the Santa Rosa Symphony in a new program, “Tiers of Heaven,” which will be performed on Jan. 12–14 at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall at Sonoma State University.

In Napa, the biggest musical event of 2018 was once again BottleRock Napa Valley, the undisputed king of North Bay music festivals. Boasting headliners like Bruno Mars, the annual three-day festival welcomed over 120,000 attendees last Memorial Day weekend. Last year’s event was a chance to shine a light on festival organizers Latitude 38 Entertainment, Napa natives who raised nearly a half a million
dollars for relief in the wake of
2017’s wildfires.

“BottleRock Napa Valley is their bread and butter, but their effort to make meaningful community contributions is their pride and joy,” said Napa Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Travis Stanley about Latitude 38 last May. This year’s BottleRock is again slated for Memorial Day weekend, and will take place in downtown Napa on May 24–26. The 2019 musical lineup will be announced on Jan. 7 and three-day tickets go on sale Jan. 8. Don’t wait to get your tickets, last year’s festival sold out faster than ever!