Isley Brothers Playing In August; Other Shows Involve The Symphony, Jazz & Hip Hop
The free San Francisco Sunday summer concerts are back for 2019 as the Stern Grove Festival returns for its 82nd season.
Taking place June 16-Aug.18, Stern Grove Festival is the Bay Area’s original outdoor music festival with a ride range of music from rock, hip-hop, jazz, folk, classical, funk, and blues.
Starting at 2 p.m., every Sunday 10,000 people gather to enjoy live music in a beautiful setting at Sigmund Stern Grove, located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. The shows are free.
Here is the. weekly lineup:
June 16 – DIGABLE PLANETS and Bang Data
The Festival’s 82nd Season kicks off with jazz and hip-hop vibes from GRAMMY-winning jazz-rap fusion group Digable Planets. Comprised of rappers Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mariana “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, the trio gained stardom in 1993 with a Top 20 hit “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat).”
The afternoon starts with the high-energy sounds of Oakland-based Latin hybrid hip-hop group Bang Data, led by singer/emcee Deuce Eclipse and producer/instrumentalist Caipo.
June 23 – LOS VAN VAN and Banda Sin Nombre
Los Van Van heats up the Grove with its revolutionary “songo” sound, a uniquely Cuban concoction of rock, jazz, and son designed for one thing—dancing! One of the most important bands in 20th century Cuban music, Los Van Van celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Don’t miss this legendary group when they return to the Grove (Los Van Van performed at Stern Grove Festival in 1999).
Opening the show is local group Banda Sin Nombre, a five-piece street band from San Francisco’s Mission District. Mixing rich vocal harmonies with acoustic instruments—including guitar, fiddle, charango, cajon, and bass—the band’s inspirations range from Peruvian chicha to Catalan rumba, Appalachian old time to cumbia.
June 30 – GALACTIC and Baby & The Luvies
Seminal New Orleans group Galactic performs jam-based grooves inspired by the vibrant funk, R&B, and jazz traditions of their hometown. Formed in 1994, the six-member group is led by co-founding members, guitarist Jeff Raines and bassist Robert Mercurio. Galactic has gained a loyal following with a near-constant touring schedule, epic hometown throwdowns, and collaborations with artists like Macy Gray, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Maceo Parker, and Medeski, Martin & Wood.
Opening the show is San Francisco-based Baby & The Luvies, an original high-energy, soul-inspired, 10-piece dance band.
July 7 – SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY, Edwin Outwater, Conductor
The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) returns for its annual summer performance at Stern Grove Festival. Since its inaugural concert in 1938, Stern Grove Festival has partnered every year with the SFS to offer a world-class performance to the public. Led by conductor Edwin Outwater, the SFS performs a selection of classical favorites, including Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave Overture, Opus 26, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Opus 37 with contralto Lauren Decker, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Edwin Outwater will be participating in a pre-performance Artist Talk. The Artist Talk will take place at Stern Grove’s Trocadero Clubhouse at 12:00 noon on the day of the performance.
July 14 – MITSKI and Madeline Kenney
The next generation of indie-rockers takes the stage when acclaimed singer-songwriter Mitski performs at Stern Grove Festival. Hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock, Mitski offers carefully crafted songs and emotionally raw lyricism. Following the breakout success of 2016’s Puberty 2, Mitski’s latest release, Be the Cowboy, was heralded as one of the top albums of 2018 by Pitchfork, NPR, and more.
Opening the show is the “twang-haze” stylings of Oakland-based artist Madeline Kenney. Kenney began collaborating in 2013 with Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi), which led to the production of her Signals EP and later her debut album, Night Night at the First Landing. Her sophomore album, Perfect Shapes, was released October 2018.
July 21 – TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS, LEE FIELDS AND THE EXPRESSIONS
Stern Grove Festival presents a double-bill of reggae and funky soul with pioneering Jamaican group Toots and the Maytals and the prolific Lee Fields and the Expressions.
Toots is one of the true architects of reggae—so much so that “Do the Reggay,” a 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, is credited with giving the genre its name. Classic songs written and recorded by Toots and the Maytals have been covered by the likes of The Clash and The Specials, and the group was featured in the acclaimed 1972 film “The Harder They Come.”
Fifth years into a celebrated career, 68-year-old Lee Fields is one of soul’s hardest-working and most prolific musicians. A$AP Rocky, J Cole, and Travis Scott have sampled his fervent yet tender melodies and deep funk beats. Writing, recording, and performing with tenacity and his trademark suits, his latest album, It Rains Love, was released this year on Big Crown Records.
July 28 – SAN FRANCISCO BALLET, Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director
San Francisco Ballet and Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson return to Stern Grove Festival with artists of the Company performing a selection of works from their current repertoire. Renowned for its incomparable level of innovation, the San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies, not to mention one of the longest-running, in the United States. Since its early years under the direction of American dance pioneers and brothers Lew, William, and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet now presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally.
San Francisco Ballet will be participating in an informative Artist Talk at Stern Grove’s Trocadero Clubhouse at 12:00 noon on the day of the performance.
August 4 – THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, JAMES
Post-punk icons The Psychedelic Furs and folk-rock group James take the stage in a Brit-rock double-bill.
Founded in London in February 1977, The Psychedelic Furs continue to define the British post-punk sound. Led by singer Richard Butler and his brother Tim Butler on bass, The Furs won over fans and critics alike by combining poetic lyrics, innovative rhythms, and melodies with a punk attitude. The band released seven studio albums, scoring major hits with “Love My Way,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Heaven,” “The Ghost In You,” and “Heartbreak Beat.”
At the forefront of the British alternative scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s, James was founded in Manchester in 1982. The group gained a loyal following in the U.K. before hitting the top of the modern rock charts in the U.K. and U.S. with their 1991 single “Sit Down” from the album Gold Mother. A follow up collaboration with Brian Eno yielded their biggest U.S. hit in 1993, with the alternative pop song “Laid.” After a hiatus, James reformed in 2007 and their latest album, Living in Extraordinary Times, was released last year.
August 11 – PINK MARTINI, Barrio Manouche
An eclectic international cocktail of jazz, swing, world music, cabaret, chanson, and more, Pink Martini and vocalist China Forbes bring their genre-defying sound back to Stern Grove Festival. Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1994, Pink Martini has amassed legions of fans with a genre-hopping and globe-trotting big band sound. Under the leadership of founder Thomas Lauderdale, Pink Martini features a dozen musicians and performs its multilingual repertoire in over 25 languages on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout the world.
Opening the show is local ensemble Barrio Manouche with a swinging blend of global influences. Barrio Manouche is an acoustic San Francisco-based international septet with influences ranging from the swing of Louis Armstrong to the hot jazz of Django Reinhardt, to flamenco, gypsy soul, and avant-garde jazz.
August 18 – The Big Picnic Starring THE ISLEY BROTHERS
The Big Picnic, A Benefit and Concert closes out the 82nd Season with an admission-free concert starring R&B legends The Isley Brothers. With a career spanning more than six decades, The Isley Brothers made their mark on the R&B charts with the million-selling hit “Shout,” and the #1 R&B hit “Twist And Shout” (both songs were subsequently covered by The Beatles). Their 1969 hit “It’s Your Thing” cemented their fame, shooting to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and selling more than five million copies. The song also earned a GRAMMY Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. Ensuing #1 hits included the Billboard R&B chart-toppers “Fight The Power (Part 1),” and “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love),” from 1980, as well as the songs “That Lady (Part 1),” “The Heat Is On,” “The Pride,” “Take Me To The Next Phase,” “Showdown,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Smooth Sailin’ Tonight,” and “Spend The Night.” Their catalogue is reportedly the most sampled in the history of hip-hop, with samples used by artists like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Ice Cube, The Notorious B.I.G., and Public Enemy.
The Big Picnic features a ticketed benefit party at 12:00 p.m. followed by the admission-free concert at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for the benefit party are available at www.sterngrove.org/thebigpicnic.
All Stern Grove Festival concerts are free; admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis. People are invited to bring their own food and beverages. The Festival also offers a rotating line-up of food trucks at concerts and free yoga classes at noon from Office Yoga instructors in the West Meadow.
Information regarding admission, facilities, and access to Stern Grove Festival is available on the Festival website (www.sterngrove.org) or call (415) 252-6252. In addition to the 10 Sunday concerts, Stern Grove Festival invites the community to experience an array of admission-free education programs.