From BottleRock to Outside Lands, the Bay Area is home to some of the biggest and baddest summer music festivals in the country. But in the hamlets of Healdsburg, Windsor and Cloverdale, the hottest game in town is the free weeknight summer music series. It’s where neighbors, farmers and oodles of families throw a massive town picnic every week, all summer long. Here’s the soundtrack to your small-town Americana:
Through Sept. 4
Cloverdale Friday Night Live, Downtown Cloverdale Farmers Market
Musical range: Just know the theme this year is “The Summer of Soul,” which translates into blue-eyed soul with Eric Lindell, California soul with the Mother Hips and modern soul of Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds.
Top bill: Local blues harmonica virtuoso and Mississippi Delta ex-pat Charlie Musselwhite ends the season on Sept. 4.
Strategy: Plan ahead and get early-bird specials at nearby restaurants.
Rules and regulations: No outside alcoholic beverages, so you have to buy your craft beer and wine at the venue. Music starts at 7 p.m.
707- 894-4410, cloverdaleartsalliance.org/fridaynightlive
Through Aug. 25
Healdsburg Tuesdays in the Plaza, Plaza Park
Musical range: From gypsy jazz and Old-World folk to blues and rock, with Cajun zydeco tossed in for flavor.
Top bill: Roy Rogers closes it out with blues slide guitar on Aug. 25. But you don’t want to pass up the Crux and its self-described “barn dance tunes, klezmer jams, pirate shanties and bluesy dirges” on July 14.
Strategy: BYOB is the way to go. From blanket to blanket and lawn chair to lawn chair, the gushing wine on tap any given night is a who’s who of American winemaking. Dancing shoes highly recommended.
Rules and regulations: Set up blankets and chairs after 4 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. Leave Fido at home.
Thursdays through Aug. 27
Windsor Summer Nights on the Green, Windsor Town Green
Musical range: Authentic Mississippi blues to cheesy cover bands.
Top bill: Tossup between Charlie Musselwhite (Aug. 6) and San Francisco Americana singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet (July 30). Super Huey channels Huey Lewis and the News on July 9. The all-chick Killer Queens lead a crowd sing-along of “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Aug. 20.
Strategy: Free valet parking if you arrive by bike, skateboard or stroller.
Rules and regulations: No sitting on blankets before 4:30 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. Leashed dogs OK.
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