David Kerns is a Napa-based freelance journalist and novelist. His "Live in the Valley" column is a continuing exploration of Napa's live music scene. It runs on Thursdays in the Arts and Entertainment section of the Napa Valley Register. An extensive archive of his work can be found at DavidKerns.com.

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The Napa Valley Performing Arts Foundation has been been making grants supporting music-related local performances for less than two years. Its complicated history, though, began well before that. “It’s a young thing,” board member Howard Walker said, “but with old roots.” Walker and board p…

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Livingston Taylor is many things – singer, songwriter, storyteller, author, pilot, professor and more. For a half century he has been creating and performing music and enriching the lives of his audience and his students. He will perform two shows a night, Aug. 25-27, at Blue Note Napa.

Nine-time Grammy nominee and Billboard chart-topping saxophonist Dave Koz is no stranger to the Napa Valley. A regular at the Mondavi summer festivals over the years, Koz returns this month to the Uptown Theatre in Napa. He will perform “Side-By-Side” with legendary bassman and vocalist Larr…

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Before taking center stage with his own trio three years ago, pianist Larry Fuller spent decades refining his craft as a sideman with some of the most prominent artists in jazz. He broke in with vocalist Ernestine Anderson, performed with drummer Jeff Hamilton for six years, was the last pia…

Porchfest is a crazy quilt of musicians, bands of every size, age, gender and genre. For some, it’s a routine gig, for others it’s a one-off. Ross Rubin, the founding member and lead singer of Jealous Zelig, said that the event in 2014 was his band’s birthplace. They will play their fourth c…

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To their fans' delight, The Wailin’ Jennys are touring again and have laid down the tracks for their fifth full-length album, their first since 2011’s “Bright Morning Stars.” The popular Juno Award-winning folk trio will be in concert this Sunday, June 4, at the Uptown Theatre in Napa.

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Chris Shiflett has been a Foo Fighter for 17 years, typically identified as the lead guitarist, but more comfortable with the notion that he is one of three co-equal axe men. Foo Fighters is Dave Grohl, lead vocals and guitar; Shiflett and Pat Smear on guitars and backing vocals; Nate Mendel…

BottleRock CEO Dave Graham, typically a practitioner of MBA-speak, was in his office last week waxing metaphorical about the 2013 inaugural festival under the previous founders. “I would liken it to a birth,” he said. “A birth is amazing, it’s beautiful. At the same time, it’s not pretty.

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California native Holly Near has been performing and speaking up for social change for 40 years. An outspoken advocate for peace and justice, she has recorded 24 albums as lead artist, and participated in dozens of collaborations with similarly-committed musicians, including several with Wea…

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Jazz pianist Keiko Matsui has been a popular international performer, composer and recording artist for over three decades. Her music has been been variously described as smooth jazz, jazz fusion and new age. She brings her electric band to Blue Note Napa for eight performances, Thursday, Ap…

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Only 22 musicians have been inducted more than once into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. David Crosby has received rock’s highest honor twice, as both a founding member of The Byrds and of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The veteran singer/songwriter will appear with a new band at the Uptown Th…

Since his 1985 breakout album, “Magic Touch,” Stanley Jordan has been regarded as one of the premier jazz guitarists in the world. Playing across multiple genres, the four-time Grammy nominee employs a unique approach to his instrument, a technique that creates layers of music played simulta…

Folk music was the main course at Blue Note Napa last Saturday night. The headliners were 17-time Grammy winner Bela Fleck, widely considered the finest banjo player in the world, and his singing, clogging, banjo-picking wife, Abigail Washburn. Armed with seven banjos, their scene-stealing t…

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Ottmar Liebert has been one of the recording industry’s most popular instrumental artists for more than 25 years. An acoustic guitarist combining jazz and Spanish influences, his “Nouveau Flamenco” music has had broad international success.

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The conventional opener to a Jake Shimabukuro story is that he is the best ukelele player in the world. For the sake of completeness, there is this one other fellow, a Canadian named James Hill. If you are a uke fan, do check him out. That said, Shimabukuro is a miraculous player and a joyfu…

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Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart have been a couple in music and in life for almost 40 years. Their eclectic individual experiences, from classical to soul to funk to rock, were preamble to the jazz merger of his electric guitar and her alto voice. Tuck & Patti will play two shows on Sund…

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Five-time Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson is a jazz singer and pianist whose comfort zone encompasses a range of genres, from jazz standards to samba to blues to folk music and more. She plays Blue Note Napa, two shows a night, Thursday, Jan. 12 through Sunday, Jan. 15.

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It was another eventful and abundant musical year in Napa Valley—City Winery out, Blue Note in, BottleRock and Porchfest bursting, the Uptown Theatre and Festival Napa Valley and the chamber music programs rolling along, and much more.

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Brian Culbertson is a prolific jazz and R&B artist and record producer, with 15 albums released over the past 22 years and an abundance of awards, mostly in smooth jazz categories. He is best known locally for his Jazz Getaways, early summer Napa Valley music festivals that began in 2012…

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Clarence Greenwood, whose professional name is Citizen Cope, is a Memphis, Tennessee-born singer/songwriter and record producer with a multi-genre palette and a strong indie identity. He performs this Saturday night at the Uptown Theatre in Napa.

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What turns a budding 12-year-old classical pianist into a jazz man? San Francisco’s Ken French credits his family. His big sister exposed him to Eddie Harris and Les McCann’s historic “Swiss Movement” concert album, his uncle gave him Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” and his grandmother gave him…

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Freddy Cole’s distinguished career as a jazz pianist and vocalist spans a half century. As a member of one of America’s most prominent musical families, Juilliard graduate Cole has released 32 albums, is a Best Vocal Jazz Album Grammy nominee, a Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee and a memb…

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Charlie Hunter is a jazz guitar adventurer. On a musical road less traveled, with technique that has been described as mind-boggling, he plays solos, intricate bass lines and rhythm simultaneously on his custom seven string guitar.

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Dee Dee Bridgewater is one of the great ladies of jazz. Born in Memphis and raised in a musical family in Michigan, she has accrued a string of prestigious honors over four decades as a vocalist and an actress in musical theater. Among these are three Grammys and a Tony Award, and she will b…

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Bruce Springsteen’s long and lyrical autobiography, seven years in the writing, is unsurprisingly titled “Born to Run,” after his career-making 1975 album and perennial signature song. That makes sense, artistically and certainly commercially. Reading it, though, a different song kept coming…

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The oldest cliché in the entertainment business is the breakout success of the artist-in-waiting, unexpectedly summoned to the big stage. This is exactly what happened in 2014 for the young British rock band, The Struts. As a last-minute replacement, they were called upon to open for the Rol…

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This coming Tuesday marks the beginning of the latest chapter in the 136-year history of the Napa Valley Opera House. The new tenant is the world-famous Blue Note jazz club, its grand opening headliner Grammy winner Chris Botti.

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It’s just about the first anniversary of Ca’ Momi Osteria on First Street in downtown Napa. From Day One, musical performances have been integrated into the restaurant. Live artists are presented from 10 p.m. to as late as 2 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night. The popular series is only th…

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If you’ve seen Fleetwood Mac in any of its incarnations over the last five decades, the chatty, very tall and occasionally bug-eyed fellow permanently behind the drum kit has been Mick Fleetwood. These days, he is immersed in his first and abiding musical love, the blues.

You can try to comfortably fit The Avett Brothers into a genre or two, but good luck. There’s a banjo in there, but there’s also a guy playing cello standing up, and he’s pogo-ing. The high harmony-singing brother swaps his acoustic guitar for an electric and shreds like a metalist as the ba…

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Art Garfunkel is among the legendary artists who gave us the soundtrack of the 1960s. His angelic tenor lead on “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is as iconic and indelible as Paul McCartney’s “Let It Be” or Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” The seven-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall o…

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Dena DeRose’s early career as a jazz pianist was interrupted by a painful hand condition, which forced her to stop playing for two years. She used the time well, developing her chops as a jazz vocalist. Her hand recovered, and for the past three decades she has been playing and singing, reco…

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Dr. John is not like anybody else. Born, bred and infused with the jazz, R&B, rock, funk and zydeco crosscurrents of New Orleans, he emerged in the 1960s and ‘70s as an original — musically, visually, theatrically and spiritually. The six-time Grammy winner and his band, The Nite Tripper…

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If you’re a bluegrass music fan, you likely know that one of the last patriarchs of the genre, Ralph Stanley, died at age 89 two weeks ago. Along with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs, Stanley, a banjo picker and “high lonesome” tenor vocalist, created the musical landscape that’s been na…

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In her 2012 memoir, “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music,” Judy Collins whimsically refers to the era of her emergence as “the great folk scare.” In the 1960s, on the heels of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and The Weavers, a flood of folk artists broke into the musical mainstream. A partial …

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Bill Hart, president of the Napa Valley Jazz Society, cannot say enough about Benny Green. He says that Green is the greatest hard bop jazz pianist performing today. In jazz world, hard bop is bebop with a heavy influence of rhythm and blues. Its piano-playing pioneers include Horace Silver …

Austin Whitney is the founder and CEO of Accessible Festivals, a nonprofit company specializing in services for handicapped guests at music festivals and other large events. Whitney and his team were hired by Latitude 38 Entertainment to provide accessibility services for BottleRock 2016. I …

Editor’s note: Register music writer David Kerns is writing a daily diary from the BottleRock music festival. Here is his submission from Sunday, Day 3 of the festival.

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Editor’s note: Register music writer David Kerns is writing a daily diary from the BottleRock music festival. Here is his submission from Saturday.

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David Kerns is a Napa-based freelance journalist. You can view more of his work at DavidKerns.com. 

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If you ask BottleRock’s chief executive what he’s most excited about for this year’s festival, he will talk for a long time. Dave Graham sat down last week for our annual pre-BottleRock chat. He began, not surprisingly, with music.

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How do you physically construct a world-class three-day music festival? Latitude 38 Entertainment partner Justin Dragoo spoke in detail this month about the planning and production of BottleRock 2016.

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A few years ago, a reviewer described cellist Mark Summer as “a whirlwind with his instrument, playing things that were seemingly impossible until one saw him actually doing it.”

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Moonalice is a Bay Area psychedelic roots-rock band, an adventurous group of veteran musicians, unrestrained by genre and into extended improvisation, who consider their performances a communal and artistic experience with their audience. Sound familiar?

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Last year, Elizabeth Pitcairn, the violinist with the famous red Stradivarius, brought star power to the Napa Valley Youth Symphony’s most important fundraiser, its annual Red Gala. In 2013, the headliner was Mark O’Connor, a fiddle superstar who straddles two worlds: classical and bluegrass…

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One of America’s great jazz guitarists is our neighbor. Vallejo’s Mimi Fox has won six consecutive Downbeat Magazine international critics’ polls, released 10 albums as leader and featured artist, and performed and/or recorded with a who’s who of jazz royalty, including Charlie Byrd, Stanley…

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In the 1960s, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins set the standard as a first generation of high-profile female folksinger/songwriters. A half-century later, we are enjoying their musical offspring, a rich roster of talented women, from veterans like Shawn Colvin, Iris DeMent and Gilli…

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Bill Hart is a jazz passionado. One of the founders and the current president of the Napa Valley Jazz Society (NVJS), Hart’s enthusiasm for the genre is unbridled. At a local eatery last week, he talked about the history of the society, its emergence as a successful producer of local and nat…

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Mat Kearney is a danceable pop musician with the lyricism and intimacy of a singer/songwriter. With his measured and tasteful addition of spoken word and world rhythms, the package has yielded a decade of successful albums and singles, and a dedicated following. Kearney will headline CabFest…

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Jeff Denson is a musician on a mission. With three jazz ensembles, a full professorship at the California Jazz Conservatory and leadership of a nonprofit organization devoted to the enhancement of jazz in the Bay Area, the double bass master, vocalist and composer is among the busiest musica…

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Shelby Lanterman is a musical ringleader. The 22-year-old Napa singer/songwriter has been organizing local artists for performances over the past two years, most recently in a series of “Emerging Artist” shows at the now-closed City Winery. She’s at it again, this time showcasing herself alo…

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The Cypress String Quartet is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Based in San Francisco, the foursome has performed throughout North America, Europe and Japan, and along the way recorded 15 albums.

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Beautifully restored and reopened five years ago, the Uptown Theatre, according to owner George Altamura, is steady as she goes, growing its reputation among artists and their representatives, and expanding its entertainment calendar with optimism about the year to come.

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Mads Tolling, at age 35, has accomplished what many musicians would be pleased with in the span of an entire career. The Danish-American jazz violinist, violist and composer is a two-time Grammy winner who had a breakout stint with the Stanley Clarke Band and then a long run with the Turtle …

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