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Rock ‘n’ roll legend Neil Young together with Imagine Dragons and Mumford & Sons will headline this year’s BottleRock festival May 24-26 at Napa Valley Expo.

Dave Graham, CEO of Latitude 38 Entertainment, said that the Napa festival was definitely honoring rock this year.

“It’s the way that it fell. We’re always going to have more rock bands in our festival than any festival out there. We’re happy with where things landed; we’re feeling good about it,” Graham said.

That said, “There is some serious hip-hop and EDM (electronic dance music) in there,” he said.

Headliners on the festival’s second main stage are Logic, Pharrell Williams and Santana.

Other acts topping the festival lineup include Gary Clark, Jr., OneRepublic, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Juanes, Chevy Metal (Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins’ side band), Flogging Molly, Lord Huron, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Vintage Trouble and more than 60 others.

Graham is pleased to have two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young at the top of the lineup. “All you have to say is ‘It’s Neil Young,’ right?,” he said. “He is as iconic as they come. He has not played the Bay Area since 2016, and that was the Bridge School benefit concert. And to have him performing with Promise of The Real, which is fronted by Lukas Nelson, it’s going to be pretty cool.”

This is the first year that BottleRock will host a repeat headliner, Imagine Dragons. “We had no hesitancy going back to Imagine Dragons,” Graham said. “As good as the band was and as big as the band was when they played BottleRock in 2015, they’ve become huge since then. The number of new hits that they’ve created has exploded.

“They were the largest streamed band on the planet in 2018, and they’ve really come into their own from a live performance standpoint,” he said.

Mumford & Sons sits atop a small group of the world’s elite folk rockers. BottleRock has been hoping to book them for years. “Not to discount any other bands that we’ve had at BottleRock, but we can’t think of a better fit,” the festival executive said.

“We’ve been trying to get them and get them and get them. We knew that they had a new album that was about to debut. It’s called ‘Delta,’ and it was just released, their first full album release since 2015. We’re delighted to have them.”

Graham said that they have also been wanting to book Santana for years. “We’ve been trying for him since 2014, and the stars have never aligned. He’s been doing a residency in Vegas for I think the past two years. ‘Supernatural’ is celebrating its 20th anniversary. He’s got 10 Grammys and and along with Neil, he’s a Rock Hall inductee. Talk about another quintessential Bay Area rock star.”

Pharrell Williams is a multi-talented performer and producer, an 11-time Grammy winner, a six-time Music Award winner, a six-time Billboard Music Award winner and a two-time Oscar nominee.

Logic, with multiple Grammy and iHeartRadio nominations and a win at the 2018 BMI Pop Awards, will head up a cluster of popular hip-hop artists at the festival, including Big Boy, Too Short and Cypress Hill.

Gary Clark, Jr., one of the most honored contemporary blues musicians in America, will be making his Napa debut. “The way that he comports himself on stage,” Graham said, “he’s gone and transitioned over to a superstar and he has the crowds to prove it. It is unreal.”

The BottleRock CEO was not ready to talk about the details of the festival’s plans for design changes at Expo for 2019, but he said they would not be standing pat. “I can promise you that this is not going to be rinse and repeat. We always raise the bar, and the bar will be raised in a variety of ways.”

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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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