Yes, festy time is upon us once again, bringing music in meadows and frolics out in the sun. In recent years the "summer" festival season has grown to include spring. In fact, a major new entry in the growing mega-fest market is this weekend. We'll get to that one, but first we look at our local music parties.
The 37th annual Summer Arts and Music Festival. The Mateel gets things going with another massive two-day party mixing music, dance and art. Among this year's headliners: Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Diego's Umbrella, Gaudi, Yogoman Burning Band, Blackberry Bushes String Band, Alice DiMicele and Joanne Rand. That's along with countless local bands and dance troupes, fine art, crafts and food booths, a kid's zone, etc. June 1-2, Benbow Lake Recreation Area south of Garberville. www.mateel.org.
The 36th annual Redwood Run. The big biker bash includes motorcycle games and a wet-T-shirt contest, plus rock and blues music, including Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers, former Bad Company lead singer Brian Howe, Jackyl, Pink Floyd tribute House of Floyd, Johnny Cash tribute Cash'd Out, The Fryed Brothers and St. John and the Sinners. June 7-9, Riverview Ranch, Piercy. www.kiwanisrwr.com.
The 35th annual Humboldt Folklife Festival. The Folklifers bring Dell'Arte's Mad River Festival to a close with a full week of music, all local, mostly in the folk vein but not exclusively, including barn dances, the usual songwriters' night, country night, "bluegrass and beyond," and a new humor cabaret hosted by The Brendas. The grand finale is the All Day Folklife Free Festival on Saturday, July 20, with scores of songwriters, bands, workshops and more, at Dell'Arte headquarters. July 13-20, Blue Lake and Arcata. www.humboldtfolklife.org.
Northern Nights Music Festival. Brand new this year, an organic dance music festival on the Eel River curated by Bay Area-based BLAP Productions and Humboldt's own World Famous Productions. It kicks off with a Friday funk and bass-a-thon, followed by an organic riverside discotheque Saturday, concluding with a sexy Sunday tropical dance party. July 19-21, Cooks Valley Campground, Piercy. Hotline: 707-659-6001, www.northernnights.org.
The 29th annual Reggae on the River. It involved a lot of hard work and struggle but the Mateel crew is finally back at French's Camp, where it all began. As always, the lineup includes top flight reggae and world music artists, among them Julian Marley, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Anthony B, J Boog, Junior Kelly, Sierra Leone's Refugee Allstars, Les Nubians and locals Woven Roots. Aug. 1-4, French's Camp, just south of Richardson Grove State Park. www.mateel.org.
The Lucky 13th annual Buddy Brown Blues Festival. Most of the usual suspects return for another one-day all-local blues bash, among them Shinbone, Buddy Reed and the Uptown Kings. Saturday, Aug. 3, Blue Lake's Perigot Park. www.humboldtfolklife.org.
The fourth annual Jefferson State Old Time Revue. The boys from Missing Link have another alt. old time/roots fest in the works for August at the Arcata Playhouse, but the date and the line up are still pending.
The fifth annual Mad River Summerfest. Local music in the sunshine, rock 'n' roll, string bands, etc. Food and beer. Aug. 16-17, Christie's Ranch, the pumpkin patch on Glendale Drive west of Blue Lake. www.facebook.com/mad.summerfest.
The 16th annual Blues by the Bay. The Redwood Coast Music Festivals' board of directors is meeting this week to explore options for Eureka's Labor Day weekend blues bash. Tentative plan is for a return to Halvorsen Park Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, but fair warning: It might not happen this year. www.bluesbythebay.org.
The 40th annual North Country Fair. Hard to believe, but the Same Old People are turning 40. Plans for the weekend of music, arts and crafts are in the works. Sept. 21-22 on the Arcata Plaza. www.sameoldpeople.org.
There are some additions and subtractions among other big festivals outside of Humboldt but not so far away. Last year we noted that the Harmony Festival and Earthdance were on hold. Well, Harmony is still on hold and Earthdance moved its "global hub" to Cape Town, South Africa. Its replacement, the Gaia Festival, joins the "on hiatus" list, same with the Trinity Tribal Stomp. Not to worry, new festivals are popping up like spring flowers. First up: One this very weekend.
Bottle Rock Napa Valley. The brand new music fest coupled with a wine and food expo has a dizzyingly eclectic line up with 60-plus acts including The Black Keys, The Black Crowes, Kings Of Leon, Primus, The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Violent Femmes, Jane's Addiction, ALO, Bad Religion, Jackson Browne, Richard Thompson and Dwight Yoakam, plus a comedy stage with people like Wyatt Cenac and Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show. May 9-12, Napa Expo, in downtown Napa. www.bottlerocknapavalley.com.
Hickey Fest. Another new festival, a few miles over the county line, on Memorial Day weekend brings a few dozen West Coast indie rock bands to an outside stage by the Peg House near Leggett. It's across 101 from Standish-Hickey State Park, where organizers have reserved camping space. Among the 33 alt. folk, garage, psyche rock acts: Sea of Bees, Easy Leaves, Warm Soda, Quinn DeVeaux, Sun Hop Fat, The Blank Tapes and Ash Reiter, who put the whole thing together. May 24-26, The Peg House, Highway 101, nine miles south of Humboldt County. hickeyfest.wordpress.com.
The 20th annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. As usual SNWMF's headliners lean toward rootsy reggae, among them Bob's boys Damian and Stephen Marley with The Ghetto Youth Crew, Sister Carol, Groundation and Max Romeo. Tuareg guitarist Bombino, African reggae star Alpha Blondy and Afrolicious add the "world" element. June 21-23, Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville. www.snwmf.com.
The 18th annual Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival. Always featuring the best in folk and roots music, this year Kate gets more eclectic with headliners including Angelique Kidjo, Irma Thomas, Rebirth Brass Band (Friday); Dave Alvin, Madeleine Peyroux, Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal (Saturday); Paul Thorn Band, Greg Brown, Iris DeMent and John Prine (Sunday); and bands like Brothers Comatose and Poor Man's Whiskey playing all weekend. June 28-30, at Black Oak Ranch, north of Laytonville. www.katewolfmusicfestival.com.
The 23rd annual High Sierra Music Festival. Once a jamband fan's dream, the Fourth-o-July fest keeps widening horizons. This time out headliners Primus, Thievery Corporation, Steel Pulse and Emancipator trade off with jammers like Leftover Salmon, The Greyboy Allstars and more. July 4-7, Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds, Quincy. www.highsierramusic.com.
The Sixth annual Outside Lands. San Francisco's superfest maintains its rep for a top flight eclectic mix with headliners Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Vampire Weekend, Pretty Lights, D'Angelo, The National and Hall and Oates. Aug. 9-11, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. www.sfoutsidelands.com.