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The line-up for the eighth annual BottleRock Napa Valley festival in May will be topped by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Nicks, Miley Cyrus, Khalid and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, the festival announced Monday morning.

This will mark the second BottleRock appearance for the Chili Peppers, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Band who headlined in 2016, while the Dave Matthews Band will be making its Napa debut.

“It was only a matter of time before having them headline BottleRock,” festival CEO Dave Graham said of the Dave Matthews Band. “We’ve wanted this to happen for some time.”

Most years, there has been a “legend slot” at the top of the BottleRock line-up, and this year it will be occupied by Stevie Nicks. She has a singular distinction among women in rock. “Stevie Nicks is the only female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice,” Graham said, “both by herself and with Fleetwood Mac.”

Over a more than 40-year career, Nicks is a 17-time Grammy nominee with two wins. She has recorded four platinum or multi-platinum albums as a solo artist, and eight more as a member of Fleetwood Mac.

While happy with the major headliners, Graham emphasized the depth of the 2020 line-up. “It is, by far, the deepest lineup that we’ve ever had,” he said. “When you look past the first line, it never ends in terms of just how solid it is.” High-profile groups like The Avett Brothers, Of Monsters and Men and Michael Franti & Spearhead are as of this date destined for the third, fourth and fifth lines of the festival poster.

“The second thing to note is that without a doubt it is the strongest female presence that we’ve ever had,” Graham added. Along with Nicks, the lineup includes Miley Cyrus, Brandi Carlile, Janelle Monae, Maggie Rogers, Blondie and Maren Morris, each a major artist.

The BottleRock CEO was buoyant as he riffed on the line-up. “Anderson .Paak is arguably the fastest rising hip hop artist in the world,” he said, while “Khalid is the number one streamed artist in the world.”

“We have quite a local presence this year, whether it be Chris Pierce, Silverado Pickups, Obsidian Son, Grass Child Gypsy, Napa Valley Symphony,” Graham said.

Each year, Graham picks a lesser-known artist, a “green banana,” as he likes to call them, for fans to discover. For 2020, it’s Madison Ryann Ward, the soulful young singer/songwriter (vocally, think Norah Jones) and incidentally, a former University of Oklahoma star athlete. She recently performed with Lukas Nelson on the Jay-Z episode of the David Letterman Netflix series.

What will be new at Expo?

Over the past few years, the producers have prioritized improvements for General Admission (GA) fans at BottleRock. That emphasis continues for 2020 when the festival will run May 22-24.

“Things as simple as more shade always are really appreciated,” Graham said. “Some of the shade structures that we wire across, whether it be the Culinary Garden or areas like the fourth stage, the third stage, in between the second stage and the third stage, we create these shade hideouts, so to speak. And we’re going to continue to do even more.

“We’ll have a new elevated viewing deck for GA, which will be pretty special. We’ll have additional video screens throughout the festival grounds so that if folks don’t necessarily want to deal with the crowds, they can be in shaded areas and see these performances from large video screens.”

“We’re going to be adding new ultra-premium wine bars for guests in the GA areas,” he added, “and there will be free festival Wi-Fi for GA this year.”

Graham said that there will be a forthcoming announcement about improvements in environmental sustainability in 2020. “We’re making big inroads in that regard. We’ve always felt like we were the greenest festival out there, but now we’re going to really separate ourselves.

“We’re taking it seriously and we’re excited about being the leader in sustainability. For example, starting this year there will be no single-use plastics and we will use only compostible glassware.”

“Every year we do a recap survey and send it out to our fans,” Graham said. “The majority end up saying that the overall experience is the main reason that they come. What that means to us is that we can’t just rest on our laurels. We have to continue to not only meet that bar, but exceed it.”

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

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