Maybe The Best Autumn Ever
This fall, The volume will be cranked up to 12 in Monterey County with 14 megawatt music events.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Monterey was one of only seven cities around the world – four of those in the U.S. – chosen by Mumford & Sons to hold its Gentlemen of the Road stopover this summer. Just a few days ago, the Flaming Lips performed a special show at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur where they debuted their new stage set, something that won’t be revealed to anyone else until their next tour in 2013.
Monterey County continues to build upon its resume – which already has five and a half decades of the Monterey Jazz Festival and the landmark Monterey Pop Festival under its belt – helping make it a bona fide music destination. Below appear our 14 favorites of the season:
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Monterey Jazz Festival at the Fairgrounds
For 54 years, the MJF has maintained a reputation as one of the premier jazz fests on the planet. The 55th incarnation of the event is no exception. Legendary crooner Tony Bennett, boundary-breaking bass phenom Esperanza Spalding and one of the most gifted jazz guitarists to pick up a pick, Pat Metheny, represent only a fraction of the distinguished talent that will be blowing minds all weekend long.
Sept. 21-23. $225-$335 3-day arena; $66 Friday arena; $132 Saturday or Sunday arena; $125 (military/student $50) 3-day grounds; $40 Friday grounds; $50 Saturday or Sunday grounds. 394-8432. www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2012.
Ben Gibbard at Henry Miller Memorial Library
“Teardrop Windows,” a new tune on Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard’s forthcoming solo release, is not your run-of-the-mill love song. It’s an ode to Smith Tower, the oldest skyscraper in Seattle. Gibbard summed up the album to NME: “These songs span eight years, three relationships, living in two different places, drinking then not drinking. They’re a side story, not a new chapter.”
Los Angles-based indie rockers Earlimart open.
6pm, Sept. 26. $55. 667-2574, www.henrymiller.org.
Crosby, Stills & Nash: For the Benefit of Women at Sunset Center
There aren’t many acts that can produce three-part harmonies like Crosby, Stills & Nash – or, for that matter, who can sell out Sunset Center in six minutes. More than 40 years after the trio made its live debut in front of half a million at Woodstock, classics like “Teach Your Children” and “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” feel just as fresh as David Crosby’s new liver. Proceeds go to supporting the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery.
7:30pm, Sept. 26. Sold out.
Rufus Wainwright at Henry Miller Memorial Library
When singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright took up residency in New York City’s famed Chelsea Hotel for six months, he ended up writing most of his second album Poses. The journey into a world of self-indulgence and craving is arguably his best work yet. The generous Canada-based musician is directing all proceeds of the show go to the Henry Miller Memorial Library.
7:30pm, Sept. 28. $80. 667-2574, www.henrymiller.org.
Summer of Love at the Fairgrounds
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” Big Brother and the Holding Company, Barry McGuire and It’s a Beautiful Day headline along with members of The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Aside from gray and/or thinning hair and some extra inches around the waist, the music sounds pretty much the same as it did in 1967. You should still avoid the brown acid.
10am-10pm, September 29. Advance arena floor $25; door $35; Advance VIP box $35; door $45. (510) 828-6265, www.Summer67.com.
Alanis Morissette at Henry Miller Memorial Library
Alanis is back from 1995 and this is all that needs to be said: “I’m here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away.”
Oct. 2. Sold out. 667-2574, www.henrymiller.org.
Joan Baez at Esalen Center
In 1969, Celebration at Big Sur brought Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell to Esalen Center to perform for thousands as waves crashed in the ocean behind them. Baez opened the festival with a stunning rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and closed the day with the gospel standard “Oh Happy Day.” But the legendary folk singer’s connection to Esalen extends well beyond Celebration: Throughout the mid-60s, Baez led seminars and performed countless times at the new-age enclave. The songs she sang back then are still just as poignant today so it only makes sense that she returns to help celebrate its 50th anniversary.
1pm doors, 3pm show Oct. 3. $85. 667-3000, www.esalen.org/esalen50th/concert.
Steve Earle Solo-Acoustic at Henry Miller Memorial Library
Steve Earle is more than a singer-songwriter. He’s a storyteller, philosopher and political advocate. He also wears a beard that puts ZZ Top’s face fuzz to shame. But one of the native Texan’s most infectious qualities is his candidness about the demons – including drug addiction and a few bad marriages – he’s had to face over the years. “I don’t really think in terms of obstacles,” Earle once said. “My biggest obstacle is always myself.”
6:30pm gates Oct. 3. $82. 667-2574. www.henrymiller.org.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Michael Chapman at Henry Miller Memorial Library
Chris Robinson is thinner and his beard is thicker, but the Chris Robinson Brotherhood picks up where the Black Crowes’ brand of psychedelic country-rock left off. Their jam-centric performances are heavy on tangential collaborations and covers like the Grateful Dead’s “New Minglewood Blues,” Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and Three Dog Night’s “Never Been to Spain.” Expect around three hours of continuous music – and some liberated jamming.
5:30pm gates Oct. 6. $71.50. 667-2574, www.henrymiller.org.
Head and the Heart at Fernwood
Head and the Heart explains on its website that the band was born out of “a critical tug between the logic in our heads and the hot red blood beating through our hearts.” The folk-rock sextet – known for lush three-part harmonies and violin-fueled melodies – was named “Seattle’s Best New Band” in 2011 by City Arts Magazine.
6:30pm gates Oct. 8. $55 camping (free 12 & under); $20 onsite parking pass. 667-2422, www.fernwoodbigsur.com/music.html.
An Acoustic Evening with Patti Smith and Her Band at the Golden State Theatre
Patti Smith once said: “An artist is somebody who enters into competition with God.” The poet/novelist/visual artist/punk rocker entered that competition and has yet to leave the ring. As one of the most prominent forces to emerge from NYC’s mid-70s punk scene – her genius debut Horses has been deemed by many, including Rolling Stone, as one of the best albums of that era and of all-time – Smith has most definitely earned icon status. For her show at the Golden State Theatre, Smith has a special birthday tribute to John Lennon planned.
7:30pm doors, 8:30pm show Oct. 9. $40; $60, www.goldenstatetheatre.com
Joanna Newsom (solo) at Henry Miller memorial Library
Singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom began her friendship with Big Sur a few years back when she played a surprise show at Fernwood. Last June, the boundary-pushing harpist lent her artistry – along with Phillip Glass – to benefit the Henry Miller Memorial Library with a special fundraiser event at San Francisco’s Warfield.
6:30pm gates; 8pm show. Oct. 12. $56.
Communion in the Redwoods at Fernwood
Over the past six years, Communion – co-founded by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett – has been turning the world onto a ton of good music. The inaugural Communion in the Redwoods will deliver three days of musical euphoria featuring Santa Cruz folk-punk rockers The Devil Makes Three, rowdy bluegrass Americana outfit The Brothers Comatose, indie-pop bicycle enthusiasts Blind Pilot and a whole hell of a lot more.
Oct. 26-28. $200 3-day camping; $25 onsite parking pass. 667-2422, www.fernwoodbigsur.com/music.html.
Go Tell It On The Mountain: The Blind Boys of Alabama Holiday Show at Sunset Center
There aren’t many musicians that have careers that span 70 years. The Blind Boys of Alabama’s longevity is commendable, but even more mind-blowing is the fact that most of the bandmembers have done it without eyesight.
“Our disability doesn’t have to be a handicap,” bandmember Ricky Mckinnie once explained. “It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you do. And what we do is sing good gospel music.” The Gospel Music Hall of Famer’s world-famous shows feature an entertaining hodgepodge of traditional gospel and unique interpretations of tunes by everyone from Tom Waits to Curtis Mayfield.
8pm Nov. 30. $49; $59; $69. 620-2048, www.sunsetcenter.org.