Open-air music making continues to spread through Napa, and its next hub will be in the heart of Old Town.
The city parks department is moving its Third Thursdays concerts to Fuller Park, two years after debuting the monthly summertime series at the downtown Oxbow Commons. Five free performances are planned from June through October on the third Thursday of each month, according to Katrina Gregory, Napa’s recreation manager.
Hosting concerts in Fuller Park – which already serves as a central hub for the Porchfest music crawl in late July – may be a first step toward bringing live music to recreation areas around the city, Gregory said.
“We thought about, ‘What if we used different areas of town to promote our parks around the community?’” she said. “We toyed with idea of different parks in different locations and spreading the music around town.”
Third Thursdays performances will feature acoustic music on a small temporary stage, 8 feet square and shielded by a 10-foot-wide canopy. Shows will begin at 5:30 p.m. and end no later than 8, a decision Gregory said will encourage spectators to come to concerts after work and accommodate parents reluctant to take their children out later in the night.
Musicians scheduled to play at Fuller Park this year include jazz guitarist Kenya Baker on June 20; Shabang!, a Caribbean steel drum band, July 18; and guitarist Nick Schott on Aug. 15.
“We’re trying to pick gentler, but still engaging, music, instrumental and more peaceful,” said Gregory.
Success in staging live music in Old Town could lead Napa to eventually build a permanent gazebo at Fuller Park, which Gregory said could be designed with up to 300 spectators in mind.
Third Thursdays becomes the second musical event with ties to Fuller Park, the centerpiece of the historic Napa Abajo-Fuller Park district. In 2018, Porchfest directors moved food trucks and other visitor services for the free festival from the Napa County Library parking lot to the park in an effort to better cope with an audience that in recent years has exceeded 10,000 people.
Napa also will continue sponsoring free music at the Oxbow Commons this summer as part of a partnership with Blue Note Napa, which operates inside the Napa Valley Opera House on Main Street. An agreement between Blue Note and the city includes the staging of five free concerts at the Commons, in addition to 10 to 15 ticketed events, from June to October on an amplifier-equipped stage that can be partially collapsed when not in use.