A Festival for You 

From BFD8 to Outside Lands, there's no shortage this year.

Art & Soul Festival

Arguably the best culture event in the East Bay, Oakland's annual Art & Soul Fest has featured everyone from soul singer Angie Stone to bassist and conductor Marcus Shelby, to Fillmore Slim (a former pimp who apparently used his hoes' earnings to bankroll his blues career). In addition to the main draw, this event always features a giant bazaar where local artisans hawk their wares, alongside exhibits from ProArts Gallery and the Oaklandish Mobile Operations Unit. Vendors sell food from all parts of the globe (Thai curry, couscous, plantains, and anything that can be cooked on a fryer), and there are usually Astro Jumps and magic shows for the kids. Art & Soul also features a dance stage where prima ballerinas mingle with B-Boys, martial artists, and bhangra dancers, proving that practitioners of vastly different genres can, indeed, coexist peacefully under one awning. This year's lineup has yet to be released, but the three-day event will surely have a little something for everyone. (R.S.)

Aug. 30-Sept. 1, Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th St. & Broadway, Oakland). Noon-6 p.m., $5-$10. ArtandSoulOakland.com


Though it'd already been around for a decade, San Francisco's leading modern rock outpost Live 105 truly hits its stride when, with the help of its own slogans, the word "alternative" infiltrated American culture in the mid-1990s. Likewise, when alt-rock went kaput half a decade later, Live 105 fumbled for a new niche, eventually settling on a toothsome blend of modern indie and vintage alternative. One constant through it all has been the station's annual summer festival, BFD, which since 1994 has reliably convened less edgy chart-toppers like Good Charlotte and Linkin Park, classic rebels like Social Distortion and the Cure, and an array of up-and-coming, underground, and local acts. With Cypress Hill, Pennywise, the Kooks, Moby, and many more on hand, 2008 will be no exception. If alt-rock taught us anything, it's that while "alternative" is a relative term, it's as fine an umbrella as any. (N.S.)

June 7, Shoreline Amphitheatre (1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View). Noon, $10.53. Live105.com

Harmony Festival

If Santa Rosa's Harmony Festival, now in its thirtieth year, has anything to teach its younger brethren, it's that the best festivals are about more than just music. This year's lineup is typical Northern California bohemian fare: Damian "Jr Gong" Marley, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Arrested Development, and Angelique Kidjo top a schedule heavy on world and blues. Where Harmony comes into its own is its extracurricular activities. Activism-minded speakers from Danny Glover and Greg Palast to "The World Council of Elders" are scheduled throughout the weekend. A host of attractions including an Eco Village, a Culinary Showcase, and a Crafters Village promote green living. And an ambitious zero-waste program underlies it all, proving that festival organizers practice what they preach. Music sounds so much sweeter when everything else is going right, doesn't it? (N.S.)

June 6-8, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa. 3 p.m. (Fri.), noon (Sat. & Sun.), $22-$55, $119-$139 for three-day pass. HarmonyFestival.com

High Sierra Music Festival

Besides the usual washboard and skiffle bands who spend most of their careers in a VW bus, traveling cross-country from one swampland festival to another, this year's High Sierra Music Festival features several genuinely daring choices. Among them are free jazz percussionist Scott Amendola, guitarists Will Bernard and Charlie Hunter, and famed Burning Man DJ Bassnectar. While the festival headliners have more name recognition and err more on the side of pleasing a crowd, they also qualify as musicians for real music heads: This year's bill features indie rock band Built to Spill, multi-genre hip-hop group Spearhead (fronted by the seemingly indefatigable Michael Franti), and, at the top, Bob Weir & RatDog, of Grateful Dead fame. The High Sierra also presents late-night concerts at three venues, for those who won't tire from kickin' it all day in the Cascades. (R.S.)

July 3-6, Plumas Sierra Fairgrounds, Quincy. $30-$157. HighSierraMusic.com

Monterey Jazz Festival

The Monterey Jazz Festival always looks as though it will have trouble topping itself, but year after year it showcases the most revered and forward-thinking royalty in modern jazz. Last year's lineup featured Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, and Ornette Coleman. This year, the show belongs to sultry contralto Cassandra Wilson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Christian McBride, beloved Berkeley High emeritus Joshua Redman, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Besides the arena performers, a host of up-and-comers will appear on the grounds, including Marc Carey's Focus Trio and Oakland R&B singer Ledisi. If you plan to check out any jazz festivals at all in 2008, this one should probably be your top choice. (R.S.)

Sept. 19-21, Monterey Fairgrounds (2000 Fairground Rd., Monterey). $15-$110. MontereyJazzFestival.org

Outside Lands Festival

Like San Francisco's version of Coachella, the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival is destined for a place in the pantheon of behemoth music fests. The extravagant three-day affair in Golden Gate Park features a lineup with mass appeal, likely to draw KFOG devotees (Jack Johnson, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals), aging rockers (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood), hip-hop heads (Little Brother, Lupe Fiasco), indie-rock fans (Beck, the Black Keys), and the jam-band set (Widespread Panic, Steel Pulse). Local celebrities add to the draw, including Lyrics Born, Goapele, the Coup, Primus, and Two Gallants. But most will come for Radiohead, who'll perform Friday for the first-ever nighttime performance at the park. Hearing Jonny Greenwood's eerie Ondes Martenot under cypress trees and a waning full moon will surely make it a night to be recapped around the water cooler for eons, or at least, till next year. (K.R.)

Aug. 22-24, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. 5 p.m. (Fri.), 1 p.m. (Sat. & Sun.), $85-$1495. SFOutsideLands.com

Treasure Island Music Festival

The two-day Treasure Island Music Festival not only bears the distinction of having the best view in the Bay Area, but it's also an extension of the famed spring NoisePop music conference, whose taste-making reputation has helped boost acts like Rogue Wave to national prominence. Last year's debut event divided into two sound-specific days — dance-friendly (Thievery Corporation, M.I.A., Dengue Fever, etc.) and traditional indie-rock (Spoon, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, et al) — and this year's event follows that vein, with Justice, TV on the Radio, Goldfrapp, Hot Chip, and Mike Relm on Saturday, the Raconteurs, Tegan & Sara, Tokyo Police Club, Spiritualized, and John Vanderslice on Sunday. Count on it being another must-attend event for anyone curious about surveying the state of independent music. (K.R.)

Sept. 20 & 21, Treasure Island. TreasureIslandFestival.com

True Colors Tour

After spending a scorching day in the sun at the LGBT Pride celebration, beat the traffic back to the East Bay in time for some more good ol' gay fun at True Colors, a national, multi-band tour headlined by Cyndi Lauper. Now in its second year, the tour features 23 bands, DJs, and comedians, and benefits the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, and other LGBT-rights organizations. In addition to the legendary Lauper, the show will feature performances by the B-52s, Erasure's Andy Bell, the Puppini Sisters, and comedian Wanda Sykes. Sassy and stylish Carson Kressley, the resident fashion expert from Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, will be the host. Tickets begin at $43, but die-hard Lauper lovers can pay $450 to meet the 1980s teen idol-turned-activist after the show. (C.P.)

June 29, Greek Theatre, Berkeley. 8 p.m. TrueColorsTour.com

The Warped Tour

Hitching its wagon to skateboarding was a wise move; the once counterculture, now commercial sport has proven itself nothing if not durable. Skateboarding is cool with surfers, punks, and rappers; dropouts and video gamers; and teenagers worldwide of every imaginable stripe. That the Vans Warped Tour, built on the twin pillars of music and skateboarding, has managed to stay relevant since its 1994 debut says at least as much about the fluidity of skate culture as it does about the festival's smart booking. Keeping track of the myriad indie bands and obscure subgenres — from punk to hip-hop and almost everywhere in between — favored by the Warped Tour's target demographic is no easy trick, but neither is landing a 360 kickflip. This year's tour, featuring acts like Against Me!, Cobra Starship, and Gym Class Heroes alongside the requisite half-pipe, promises to succeed at both. (N.S.)

June 21 (11 a.m.), Pier 30/32, San Francisco; Aug. 15 (noon), Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. $33. WarpedTour.com

Wente Vineyards/Mountain Winery

An alt-rock performer could spend years minting Top 40 singles, popping in and out of recording studios, and regaling stadium-sized crowds at the Shoreline Amphitheatre or Oracle Arena. But not until he's entered the winery circuit does he really stake a place in the pantheon. This year, the Mountain Winery increased its hipster quotient by teaming up with Live Nation, a veritable goliath in events production. The winery's 2008 lineup features Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (July 6), George Carlin (July 21), and Bonnie Raitt (Sept. 3). Wente Vineyards opens a rival concert series on Jun. 9 with Crosby Stills and Nash, and caps off with Willie Nelson (Sept. 3) and Foreigner (Sept. 17) (R.S.)

July 2-Sept. 28, Mountain Winery (14831 Pierce Rd., Saratoga). $29.50-$125. LiveNation.com or MountainWinery.com

June 9-Sept. 17, Wente Vineyards (5040 Arroyo Rd., Livermore), $89-$289. WenteVineyards.com


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