For many years, the music scene in wine country had been long on intimacy but short on talent. Mostly a lot of throw-back acts – pop-rock, mellow jazz, country-folk – you could enjoy while sprawled out on a picnic blanket. But over the last few years things have changed dramatically. Two new venues have brought an entirely new caliber of artists to wine country: the Green Music Center at Sonoma State and BottleRock at the Napa Fairgrounds.
The Green Music Center, specifically Weill Hall, is an acoustic gem, designed to seat just 1,400. Home to the Santa Rosa Symphony, it also hosts the San Francisco Symphony from time to time as well as a world-class line-up of artists that run the gamut from classical to bluegrass to jazz to world music. Laurie Anderson, Audra McDonald, Yo-Yo Ma, the Emerson String Quartet – they’ll all be bringing their music tours to Weill Hall this season.
A rather different experience can be had at BottleRock, a three-day music festival that is wine country’s version of Coachella or Lollapalooza. I have to say,