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April kicks off festival season in California with two weekends of live music, camping and dancing at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Luckily, Sonoma County isn’t far behind. Over the past few years, Wine Country has continued to ramp up its music scene and now features several local festivals that will save you the drive south, starting with Napa's BottleRock in May. Click through the gallery for a list of local festivals to catch in the coming months.
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June 8-9, Huichica Music Festival, Sonoma: The Huichica Music Festival, hosted by Gundlach Bundschu Winery, is known for its intimate vibe and line-up of national and regional indie and folk acts. Concertgoers enjoy music on three stages, while a selection of culinary masterminds cook up delectable dishes. This year's festival will feature performances from more than 30 artists and bands, including Wooden Shjips, Jonathan Richman, King Tuff, Fruit Bats and Vetiver. $46- $121, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St, Sonoma, huichica.com. (Photo by John Capone)
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June 10, Railroad Square Music Festival, Santa Rosa: The Railroad Square Music Festival in Santa Rosa boasts a large number of local acts and serves up bites from the West End Farmers Market. Catch folk, bluegrass, country, and Americana from all over Sonoma County for a one-day fest resembling a block party. The festival is free of charge and features multiple stages and more than 20 performers, including Frankie Boots, The Highway Poets, Onye & The Messengers, Pistoleros Farmosos and Trebuchet. Free, Railroad Square Historic District, Santa Rosa, railroadsquaremusicfestival.com
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June 10, Russian River Blues Festival, Guerneville: Surrounded by redwoods on the Russian River, Johnson’s Beach is a far cry from Chicago juke joints or New York nightclubs — and the setting always invigorates touring jazz and blues artists. If you’re not floating down the river in an inner tube, trying to see the show for free (there’s always a handful), show up early to stake out a spot, since the beach fills up quickly. Two-day pass $100-210; check website for single-day ticket availability. Johnson’s Beach, 16215 First St., Guerneville, russianriverfestivals.com. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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July 8-September 9, Rodney Strong Summer Music Festival, Healdsburg: Singer songwriter Michael McDonald (formerly of The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan), Melissa Etheridge, Boz Skaggs, and The Temptations & The Four Tops headline at this Healdsburg winery’s intimate concert venue in the vineyards. Tickets $89 to $129, 11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, rodneystrong.com. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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July 14, Rivertown Revival, Petaluma: It’s all about the steampunk costumes and string-band twang during this scrappy-but-vibrant festival along the Petaluma River (or, as locals will quickly correct you, slough). But the region’s real artistic imagination takes center stage at the art-boat parade on the water — a must-see — as well as creative costumes on a solid 60 percent of attendees. Don’t show up without some flair of your own. Tickets prices TBA, Peninsula Steamer Landing Park, Copeland St., Petaluma, rivertownrevival.com. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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July 14-29, Valley of the Moon Music Festival, Sonoma: This relatively new chamber music festival, focusing on the classical and romantic eras, comes with a novel twist: All pieces are performed on their period instruments. This summer, the festival will explore some of the most influential music composed in Vienna: from a lesser-known Oboe Quartet by Vanhal (1771), through the chamber music of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, all the way to Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet (1908). $25-$45; packages available. Hanna Boys Center, 17000 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, valleyofthemoonmusicfestival.org.
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July 15, The Green Music Center's Bluegrass & Beer Festival: This indoor-outdoor venue at Sonoma State University is a beautiful backdrop to a day of dancing on the lawn to world-famous bluegrass artists. This year' lineup features the man Chet Atkins once credited as “single-handedly saving country music.” Now a fifteen-time Grammy Award-winner, Ricky Skaggs, and his bluegrass band Kentucky Thunder are doing their part in leading a roots music revival. Did we mention the event is paired with GMC’s Craft Beer Fest? Twenty local breweries are pouring, along with food pairings. From $35, 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, gmc.sonoma.edu. (Photo by Will Bucquoy)
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July 26, Monte Rio Variety Show: For more than 100 years, entertainers from the ultra-secret Bohemian Club have left their nearby two-week retreat to put on a one-night show for locals. Over the years household names from Bing Crosby and Merv Griffin to Zac Brown, Steve Miller and Clint Black have been among the surprise guests. The event is shrouded in secrecy, so there’s no telling who’ll be onstage this year, but for $30 ($15 for kids), it’s a steal of a deal. Proceeds go to local schools, churches and fire services. $30, Monte Rio Amphitheater, 9925 Main St, Monte Rio, monterioshow.org. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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August 5, Petaluma Music Festival: The best little music festival to keep music programs in public schools returns for its 11th year, this time featuring headliners Railroad Earth, Brothers Comatose and Melvin Seals and JGB (Jerry Garcia Band). There's always plenty of local favorites at the festival, with this year's highlights including Royal Jelly Jive and Black Sheep Brass Band. Early bird tickets $50, Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma, petalumamusicfestival.org. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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August 18-19, Cotati Accordion Festival: If you’re looking for bellows and keys, look no further than this two-day extravaganza that’s overtaken Cotati’s La Plaza Park for the past 28 years. Two main stages feature a cast of rotating acts who play 30- to 45-minute sets. Musical styles range from traditional Tex-Mex to "whacky Rock-pop-San Francisco-mischief music." For those who like to dance, there is a separate tent with polka and zydeco music. If you want to tip your hat to local accordion history, pay a visit to the statue of Jim Boggio, a longtime friend of and performer at the festival, in the corner of the park. $15-$17 daily; two-day pass $27. La Plaza Park, Old Redwood Highway at West Sierra Ave., Cotati, cotatifest.com.
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August 25-26: Bodega Seafood Art & Wine Festival, Bodega: The Bodega Seafood Art & Wine Festival celebrates music, local makers and the natural bounty of Sonoma County. Enjoy a day on the coast, paired with local music, beer, wine and seafood; such as fish tacos, grilled salmon, and barbecued oysters. This year, the main stage headliners are local rock/soul band, The Highway Poets and festival favorites, Pride & Joy. The large dance floor is always a big draw, while the wine stage offers more eclectic musical entertainment which, this year, includes "hypnotic Celtic rock." The entertainment stage will feature magic and acrobatic performances. Tickets go on sale in June, Watts Ranch, 16855 Bodega Hwy, Bodega, bodegaseafoodfestival.com (Photo by Alvin Jornada)