On the festival circuit, if winter is the time to grind it out and summer is the time to shine, then there's been mostly a lot of slogging going on behind the scenes, leading up to this point.
New owners rescued the BottleRock festival from near-fatal financial implosion. The organizers of Country Summer, the new kids on the festival block, are taking another stab at the fairgrounds country hootenanny model where others have failed.
Outside Lands paired the new (Kanye West) with the old (Tom Petty). And Gary Clark Jr., the closest thing to guitar maestro Jimi Hendrix we have today, has signed on to appear at the last musical gasp of summer on the Russian River.
Before you break out the sunblock and bota bags, here's the Top 13 Summer Festival List, from a North Bay perspective:
<strong>BottleRock Napa Valley — May 30-June 1:</strong> At the Coachella music festival in April, organizers pulled the power when Outkast tried to play past the 1 a.m. curfew. What happens when they play Napa and the curfew is only 10 p.m.? Along with headliners The Cure and Eric Church, the rest of the lineup is filled out by a flashback reunion of bands from the 1990s (Spin Doctors, Third Eye Blind, Blues Traveler, Weezer, Sublime, De La Soul, Cracker and more). $149 per day/$279 for a three-day pass. Napa Valley Expo, 575 Third St., Napa. Visit <a href="http://www.bottlerocknapavalley.com" target="_blank">www.bottlerocknapavalley.com</a>.
<strong>Healdsburg Jazz Festival — May 30-June 8:</strong> Blues harmonica stalwart Charlie Musselwhite leads a series of master workshops exploring blues and jazz with Joshua Redman and Elvin Bishop. Look for concerts with Ron Carter, Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain, Poncho Sanchez and more — and the grand finale at Rodney Strong Vineyards. $20-$75. For tickets and venues, go to <a href="http://www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org" target="_blank">www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org</a>.
<strong>Napa Jazz Getaway — June 11-15:</strong> For a smooth-jazz icon turned winemaker, Brian Culbertson sure has eclectic taste in music, bringing in Mavis Staples, Ohio Players, David Benoit, Morris Day and the Time, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and more for his third annual Napa Valley shindig. $79-$499. For tickets and venues, go to <a href="http://www.napavalleyjazzgetaway.me" target="_blank">www.napavalleyjazzgetaway.me</a>.
<strong>San Francisco Jazz Festival — June 12-23:</strong> John Scofield, David Sanborn and Martin, Medeski and Wood lead this most vaunted of summer festivals, now in its 32nd incarnation. It kicks off with the Afro-Cuban All-Stars and closes out with a big brass-band blowout. $30-$70. For tickets and venues, go to <a href="http://www.sfjazz.org" target="_blank">www.sfjazz.org</a>.
<strong>Country Summer — June 13-14:</strong> Twang is king when Hunter Hayes, Darius Rucker and Joe Nichols lead this inaugural country hoedown at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Don't miss local girl Heidi Newfield reuniting with her old band Trick Pony for another run through "Pour Me." $49 per day. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Visit <a href="http://www.countrysummer.com" target="_blank">www.countrysummer.com</a>.
<strong>Huichica Music Festival — June 13-14:</strong> Finding an easy common ground between indie rock and wine, Jeff Bundschu stages his fifth Huichica Music Festival, bringing in Dirty Projectors singer David Longstreth, Vetiver, Mount Eerie and more in the Gundlach Bundschu amphitheater and Old Redwood Barn. $30 Friday, $55 Saturday and $75 for a two-day pass. Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. Visit <a href="http://www.huichicamusicfestival.com" target="_blank">www.huichicamusicfestival.com</a>.
<strong>Vans Warped Tour — June 21:</strong> Generation after generation has outgrown this alt-rock fantasy camp — and yet there's always a new generation to dive right in. This summer, it's all for the sake of May Day Parade, Yellowcard, Finch and your grandfather's favorite blast from the past — Less Than Jake. (Is it 1992?!) $49.50. Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View. Visit <a href="http://www.vanswarpedtour.com" target="_blank">www.vanswarpedtour.com</a>.