Memorial Day Weekend • Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29 • Gates open 10 a.m. Aptos Village Park
This year’s Santa Cruz American Music Festival is bringing in some of the biggest names in rock, blues, folk and funk and showcasing some adventurous new directions.
Saturday headliner Mellissa Etheridge is a household name among rock fans who has won Grammys and had top 10 hits, including “Come to My Window,” “I’m the Only One” and “Bring Me Some Water.” But her appearance here will be like none other she’s done. She’s bringing in some of the finest Memphis musicians to do a genre-defying tribute to the golden era of Stax records, the label that gave us Otis Redding and Booker T & the MGs.
That’s the real beauty of this festival, according to fans and critics who have voted it best in the area. This isn’t a place to hear the kind of greatest hits sets you get at the county fair. It’s where artists come to show they are still artists.
Take Steven Stills (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), a rock star since the 1960s who is appearing Saturday with a band called the Rides, including bluesman Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg from the great early rock band, the Electric Flag. These stars are still taking chances with what Stills said is “the blues band of my dreams.”
Sunday’s top slot goes to The Devil Makes Three, a rootsy trio that started in Santa Cruz and has built a national following with a devilish mix of punk ethos with traditional instruments and tunes. No one sits through their shows.
Future stars include JJ Grey and Mofro, who like Trombone Shorty before them have played Aptos several times and are playing bigger festivals and wowing audiences with their smoky funk and soul.
The Record Company is a power trio that in one listen will convince you that they are bound for glory. Think of the first time you heard ZZ Top.
Festival founders Michael Blas and Phil Lewis, who have been doing this for 24 years, have a knack for picking big stars before they hit it really big. Roots rockers the Brothers Comatose, Barns Courtney, the Wood Brothers, and Baskery fall into that category.
You are guaranteed to be hearing the next big thing in the most intimate setting anywhere, Aptos Village Park, with no bad seats, great food and beverages and stellar sound and atmosphere.
American Music Festival
Memorial Day Weekend: Saturday, May 28 • Sunday, May 29
Gates open by 10 a.m. at Aptos Village Park, 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos. Shows begin at 11 a.m. and end at approximately 7 p.m. No in/out privilege after 3 p.m.
Single-Day (Sat or Sun) Costs
General Admission Seating: Adults $65 • Age 7-12 with adult $25 • Children under 6 free. General Admission lawn seating (bring your own chairs): first-come, first-serve.
Gold Circle Seating: $100 (same price for all ages) Permits entry into the white-chair (first-come, first-serve) seating area in front of the stage. Come early! Drinks available in Gold Circle; food in the food court near the Festival Pavilion.
Two-Day (Sat & Sun) Costs
General Admission: $120
Gold Circle Seating: $190
Cabrillo College Free Parking
Luxury shuttle bus transport from Cabrillo College begins at 9 a.m. Cabrillo College parking lot opens at 8 a.m. Cabrillo College parking structure “P” / call box 5
No parking at the festival site.