Local stars

Local acts score big gig at BottleRock's Wildcat Stage

Emerging talent also part of music festival
2013-05-11T20:15:00Z 2014-05-01T14:37:43Z Local acts score big gig at BottleRock's Wildcat StageISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
May 11, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

Being at the right place at the right time has worked well for local musician Alan Parks.

His year-old swing jazz band, The Smart Fellers, is one of 16 local bands booked for BottleRock’s stage for emerging talent — and it’s all thanks to Parks’ good luck and good timing.

The Smart Fellers weren’t originally scheduled to perform at the five-day music festival, but Parks happened to be at Wildcat Vintage Clothing in downtown Napa when store owner Thea Witsil discovered one of the bands she booked for BottleRock had to cancel.

Witsil, co-founder of the summer music event Napa Porchfest, saw Parks in her store and asked if The Smart Fellers wanted the BottleRock gig.

“Let me call the guys,” Parks responded.

Coming in as substitutes doesn’t bother The Smart Fellers. Normally, the local jazz band can be found performing at the Chefs Market. Now they’re sharing the Expo with national acts.

“(BottleRock) is going to look good on the resume,” Parks said.

BottleRock may bring as many as 35,000 people on peak days this weekend to the Napa Valley Expo. Sixteen bands — many from Napa — will have the chance to be heard by thousands as they take turns performing near the festival’s entrance.

The “Wildcat Stage” features four local bands each day, Thursday through Sunday.

On Friday, Sebastopol-based band Frankie Boots and the County Line kicked off that day’s local music show with their blend of Americana, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. As festivalgoers streamed through the entrance gates, many stopped to listen to Frankie Boots before checking out the major stages.

A friend of the band, Doe Covella, credited the group for having “a great stage presence” and “dark, grungy lyrics.”

“I’m stoked to see they’ve come this far,” Covella said. “This is a huge milestone.”

BottleRock, and other similar music festivals, help “relatively unknown bands” get “front and center,” said Jacob Rubanowitz, who stopped to hear Frankie Boots on Friday.

Rubanowitz, a Redding resident, said he was drawn to the band’s bluegrass sound — adding that it gave him a “good start” to BottleRock.

On Saturday, Napa native Lily Wilson was to perform on the Wildcat Stage. Wilson, a Justin-Siena graduate, describes her music as a scaled-down acoustic blend of folk, pop, and rock.

“I’m really honored and really excited for the whole weekend,” Wilson said, adding that she always wanted Napa to become a destination for bigger bands.

“I’m proud of my hometown for having this festival,” Wilson said.

Parks’ band, The Smart Fellers, will be the last band performing on the Wildcat Stage. They’re scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday.

Parks, a graduate of Vintage High School, said he and his bandmates have put a song list together for their Sunday performance but will have no rehearsals prior to the show. For Parks, the lack of rehearsals is good for the music.

“The nature of jazz is improvisation,” Parks said. “We didn’t want to over-rehearse.”

BottleRock isn’t the only venue The Smart Fellers have scheduled for Sunday. Before their evening performance at the music festival, the trio will play next to the Dim Sum Charlie’s food truck near the Oxbow.

“We haven’t rehearsed for BottleRock, but we’ve played plenty of gigs,” Parks said. “We’re fine. We’re good to go.”

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