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BottleRock musicians share their Napa Valley favorites
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BottleRock musicians share their Napa Valley favorites

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Big Freedia in Concert - Atlanta

Big Freedia performs on stage at The Masquerade, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Atlanta. She is performing this weekend and BottleRock and was among a group of performers who shared with the Register thoughts on her favorite parts of Napa.

BottleRock draws performers from far and wide. Usually, it’s locals who give insider tips to visitors, but in this case, we decided to ask our guests for their tips on what makes Napa County so special.

Here the top picks from NOLA rapper Big Freedia, Maui singer-songwriter Lily Meola, Tex-Mex pop-rock band The Last Bandoleros, and Canadian indie-pop band Walk Off the Earth. Napa resident and singer-songwriter Sean Patrick Garvey of country, soul, and Americana band Obsidian Son also chimes in.

Favorite restaurants and dishes

Big Freedia: I’m on a mission to find the best fried chicken everywhere I go. I hear ad hoc + addendum's chicken is fire! Gott’s Roadside for a burger. I went there once years ago in San Francisco. For Mexican food, La Calenda.

Lily Meola: Model Bakery in Yountville, best English muffin on the planet. Nothing better than a sandwich from here for breakfast. Also love Auberge du Soleil. Anything there paired with whatever wine they recommend is stellar.

Guitarist and vocalist Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros: This is our first time coming to Napa. We couldn’t be more excited. We don’t know specific restaurants. For sure, we love a good Italian, Cab, or red pairing or a good piece of fish with a Pinot Gris. Bring it on!

Singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood and drummer Joel Cassady of Walk off the Earth:

Sarah Blackwood: We love food and have a few places on our list for supper events.

Joel Cassady: We had the chance to eat at Grace’s Table in downtown Napa when we were in town for Live in the Vineyard back in 2019. It was exquisite. I had the roasted heirloom chicken. It was without a doubt one of the best poultry dishes I’ve ever had. Chef Mauro Pando certainly knows what he’s doing over there.

Singer-songwriter Sean Patrick Garvey of Obsidian Son: You can’t go wrong with a sandwich from Giugni’s Deli. Just don’t cut in line. For dinner, it’s tough to beat what Todd Humphries does at Kitchen Door, draft beers and great food. On a cold night in January, there’s no better place to be than the bar at Angèle Restaurant & Bar. I don’t typically like cucumbers in my booze. (Yet) “Clear Conscience” off the cocktail list is a perfect start to a big night out.

Favorite wineries

Big Freedia: Of course, Ashes & Diamond. That’s a winery I can get down with. The name alone is fit for a queen.

Lily Meola: St. Helena is stunningly beautiful. Just walking around...is a rare treat. For more natural beauty, it's definitely worth going to Pine Ridge Vineyards.

Guitarist and vocalist Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros: We have heard so much about the (amazing) wineries in Napa, so we can’t wait to get to some. If we have the time, we would love to taste all the wines.

Singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood and drummer Joel Cassady of Walk Off the Earth:

Sarah Blackwood: We love wine and we want to try them all!

Joel Cassady: My brother got married at Beringer Vineyards in 2018. It was an incredible experience from start to finish. We were treated to a fantastic meal curated by (then) executive chef Jacob Benevides. (We) had the chance to try a private reserve Chardonnay as well as a private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. If at all possible this year, I would love to try something similar to the Beringer Brothers Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Blend. It has become an absolute favorite of mine over the past few years.

Singer-songwriter Sean Patrick Garvey of Obsidian Son: Buehler Vineyards is an all-time favorite. Owner John Buehler is one of the last cowboys in the Napa Valley. If you can find your way up the hill to his place, you’ll leave with a friend for life. My family started Flora Springs Winery back in the ‘70s and continues to make great honest wine. If you’re looking for something top-shelf, check out Revival Vineyards. I’m also a big fan of Hayfork Wine Company. I guess what it comes down to is good people make good wine.

Activities

Big Freedia: This queen wants to take a hot air balloon ride in a bright pink balloon.

Lily Meola: Who doesn’t love a good spa treatment? I’ve never refused a massage, I haven’t been able to do a hot air balloon ride in Napa or off-road ATV rides. (These are) bucket list items for sure.

Guitarist and vocalist Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros: Wait, we can take a hot air balloon ride? Seriously? Yes.

Singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood and drummer Joel Cassady of Walk Off the Earth:

Sarah Blackwood: Are you telling me we can do all these things (from balloon rides to ATV excursions) when we come to Napa?

Joel Cassady: Because again, we are from Ontario, Canada and we just got out of lockdown. You are going to have a bunch of wild Canadians running around and ready to party. Sign us up for all of the things, please.

Singer-songwriter Sean Patrick Garvey of Obsidian Son: There are great hikes all over the valley. In fact, (my) song “Devil’s Punch Bowl” (between Hogback Ridge and Mount Veeder) is named after an old swimming hole just north of St. Helena. If you’re looking for a good bar to end your night, check out Susie’s in Calistoga. My wife and I found ourselves there on our first date. The Downtown Napa Skate Park has become a destination spot for skaters of all ages. It’s surprisingly quiet if you hit it early in the morning on the weekends.

Interest in playing BottleRock

Big Freedia: This is my first time at BottleRock, but it’s (an event) I’ve always wanted to play. As an artist, it’s important to me to bring bounce music and culture to places far and wide. I know the wine country ladies need some New Orleans shaking, bouncing and twerking.

Lily Meola: I love that (organizers) combined the music festival with a food festival. Great music and great food, impossible to go wrong.

Guitarist and vocalist Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros: It is amazing we get to be a part of such a cool festival. So many great artists in a beautiful part of the country with great culture. With festivals like this, we also get to be fans as well. (We want to) watch some of our favorites take the stage.

Singer Sarah Blackwood and drummer Joel Cassady of Walk Off the Earth:

Sarah Blackwood: First, it's an iconic festival. We love festivals. Second, we live in Ontario, Canada. It almost feels like a dream to actually play a live show, let alone a festival after live music pretty much died in 2020. We are happy to be a part of the revival of live music.

Joel Cassady: BottleRock has been on our bucket list for many years! Finally getting the opportunity to perform will be a total thrill in and of itself. The fact that it’ll also be one of our first live performances post-pandemic makes it even more special. We can’t wait.

Singer-songwriter Sean Patrick Garvey of Obsidian Son: On a personal level, I couldn’t be more grateful to Jason Scoggins, Justin Dragoo, Dave Graham, Tom Hoppa, and the whole team for the invitation to perform at BottleRock. Writing songs is something I do out of necessity. It’s how I process this crazy mixed-up world we live in. It feels good to have my music recognized. It’s going to feel really good to perform with so many great artists.

News artists want to share

Big Freedia: I want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and be safe. (Then) we can continue to tour and bring the party to you.

Lily Meola: I released a new single, “DayDream,” that came out Friday, Aug. 27. Here’s a bit about it.

“I wrote this song at a time in my life when things were beautiful. I was living in a house surrounded by a pasture full of longhorns raising butterflies and a baby deer. I wanted to write something meaningful and inspiring, something that would encourage other young people to listen to their heart and follow their dreams even when things got hard. Then the unexpected happened. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and my life twisted upside down. After a fierce 18-month battle with lung cancer, my mom ended up ... passing away. In that moment, not only did I lose my mom, I also lost my best friend, and number one cheerleader. I found myself falling into a depression. Now, after battling this heartbreak, I feel like I wrote this song for my future self. (It is meant) to re-inspire me to never quit my daydream.”

Singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood and drummer Joel Cassady of Walk off the Earth:

Sarah Blackwood: We just dropped a new album with a ton of cool features on it, it's called “Meet You There.” We also have a couple more live shows while we are in the area. (These will be at) Uptown Theatre Napa on Friday, Sept. 3, and August Hall in San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 4.

 

Joel Cassady: This is our third trip to Napa Valley. There’s no place we’d rather be to celebrate our return to the live stage.

Singer-songwriter Sean Patrick Garvey of Obsidian Son: My wife Lindsay and I have called the town of Napa home for the past 15 years. It’s been incredible to watch the transformation of downtown. The wine gets the headlines. (Yet) it’s the people and creative culture that make this place such a destination. Napa Bookmine is a great place to start. It’s the kind of book store you can lose yourself in, plus they helped keep (the site of the former) Main Street Books (in St. Helena) alive. If you forgot your smokes or need something to go along with your book, Eric over at Napa Cigars will take care of all your tobacco needs. I always try to find time to hit Southside Napa for coffee and a biscuit. The owners and staff are all good folks.

Editor's note: This item has been modified to correct the spelling of Joel Cassady's name.

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