A week after the lights go off at BottleRock’s big stage, pop music will again ring through Napa – this time on 30 small stages downtown.
The latest arrival on the local music scene is Napa Live: Inside & Out, which will debut on Sunday, June 5. Organized by the Napa Downtown Association, the free festival is scheduled to showcase about 40 musical acts performing at Veterans Memorial Park, Dwight Murray Plaza, Napa’s Riverfront and other venues, as well as downtown streets and shops – a city-center counterpart to the front-yard gigs of Porchfest later in the summer.
A slate of rock, funk, reggae, bluegrass, classical and other musicians will play at both public spaces and inside various businesses between noon and 6 p.m., according to Craig Smith, executive director of the downtown trade group. Several sites will offer food and beverages during the afternoon, part of a campaign to use the musical smorgasbord to lure more visitors into Napa’s core before the peak of the summer tourism season.
Rather than a big-budget rock festival or a historic house tour with a soundtrack, “we are viewing it more as ‘music crawl,’” Smith said of Napa Live. “It’ll be an opportunity to check out all the sites and try different things.”
Although staged separately from the five-year-old Napa Porchfest, Napa Live will include the Porchfest co-director Thea Witsil as well as that neighborhood event’s accent on home-grown musical talent from Napa and neighboring counties.
“There’s overlap between Porchfest artists and downtown artists, but there will be new acts, too,” Witsil said Monday.
Unlike other downtown events, Napa Live will not require street closures, according to organizers. Besides bringing the concert experience up close to shoppers, Napa Live also may set an example for future street festivals in a time when increasing downtown commerce – especially along once-sleepy First Street – makes traffic closures burdensome, said Smith, whose downtown association also hosts large-scale events like Blues, Brews & BBQ.
“When the Archer hotel opens, we have to change how we do events on the streets,” Smith said Tuesday. “There has been an interest in not closing streets for events, so we’ve tried to think about how we could plan for the future.”
Instead, Napa Live musicians will be split equally among outdoor venues and indoor businesses. Venues will be largely concentrated north-south on Main Street and east-west down First Street, but some acts will be stationed as far north as Napa Street and as far south as Third.
The new music festival is timed to draw visitors to downtown businesses during an overlooked part of the calendar, according to Smith. Napa Live will debut one week after the conclusion of BottleRock and its 30,000-strong daily crowds, and a month ahead of the July Fourth tourist influx. The only other large Napa County event sharing its weekend will be Auction Napa Valley, whose main wine auction will take place the day before, 18 miles north in St. Helena.