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Healdsburg Jazz opens season of diverse genres, styles in North Bay


From the sprawling 40,000-strong carnivals to the more intimate single-day affairs, this summer's music festival season is shaping up to be one of the most diverse in years.

In a few weeks, adoring jazz fans will make the annual pilgrimage to Healdsburg. Country fans choose all summer from Martina McBride, Kix Brooks and Florida Georgia Line. Boomers relive their yesterdays with Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson and B.B. King. And the indie rock crowd gets to hang with the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, Vampire Weekend and The National.

Before you load up on festival apps, blankets and sunscreen, here's the Top 10 summer list:

1. Healdsburg Jazz Festival

When: May 31-June 9

A two-day tribute to Charlie Haden anchors this annual jazz convergence, along with Charles Lloyd, Fred Hersch Trio, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Marcus Shelby and many more.

Tip: Don't miss the Lloyd documentary "Arrows into Infinity" at 11 a.m. June 8, not only for the film but also for the following Q&A with the director and Lloyd.

Tickets: $20-$75. Info: www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org.

2. Stern Grove

When: June 16-Aug. 18

In its 76th season, this annual San Francisco free park series stands alone as a gift to the people. There is nothing else like it in the Bay Area -- in artistic range or price. Highlights this year include: Deltron 3030, featuring Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien and Kid Koala (July 7), Shuggie Otis (Aug. 4), Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs (June 16), Kronos Quartet (July 14) and performances by San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet.

Tip: Roll the dice and enter the Picnic Table Lottery to score six picnic table seats at a show. Entries are chosen at random at: www.sterngrove.org/home/2013-season/picnic-table-lottery2013.

Tickets: FREE. Info: www.sterngrove.org.

3. Sonoma-Marin Fair

When: June 19-23

Country is king at this homespun Petaluma haybale fest as Kix Brooks and "Dancing With the Stars" contestant Kellie Pickler take the stage. Throw in a little Southern rock courtesy of the Marshall Tucker Band and 1980's hits (and red leather pants?) from Loverboy, and you've got the perfect soundtrack to too much cotton candy and dizzying rides.

Tip: Get to the Kix Brooks show early on June 21 for the 25th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest at 6 p.m.

Tickets: $15 adults, $10 kids 4-12, $10 seniors. Info: www.sonoma-marinfair.org.

4. Vans Warped Tour

When: June 22

The 19th installment of this pop punk carnival (and homage to Vans skate shoes) lands at the Shoreline Amphitheater on June 22, with mainstage headliners like Aquabats, Motion City Soundtrack, Falling in Reverse, The Wonder Years, The Used and Reel Big Fish. Back again: the always popular Reverse Day Care chill tent for parents.

Tip: First 200 fans to say "the secret code word" (look for it on Twitter and Facebook the night before) get free stuff in the tent next to the inflatable schedule each day.

Tickets: $35 (easily one of the cheapest you'll score all summer). Info: www.vanswarpedtour.com.

5. Rodney Strong Concert Series

When: June 22-Sept. 1

This annual summer wine soiree with a soundtrack leans heavily on jazz, country, blues and blue-eyed soul, with Michael McDonald kicking it off June 22 and B.B. King closing it out Sept. 1. In between: Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown (Aug. 3), Dwight Yoakam (Aug. 4) and Dave Koz and Friends (Aug. 17).

Tip: Wine club members receive special pricing. Contact cc@rodneystrong.com.

Tickets: $60-$75. Info: www.rodneystrong.com/events.

6. Robert Mondavi Winery Concert Series

When: June 29-July 6

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of winemaker Robert Mondavi, this year's Napa summer concert series stages Martina McBride (Jun. 29), Bruce Hornsby (July 13), Huey Lewis and the News (July 12), ZZ Ward and Delta Rae (July 20) and Lifehouse (July 6).

Tip: Go online and order your BarBersQ Memphis-style barbecue ahead of time so you spend more time listening to the music than standing in line: www.barbersq.com/events.php

Tickets: $50-$225. Info: www.robertmondaviwinery.com.

7. Sonoma County Fair

When: July 25-Aug. 11

Country kid phenom Hunter Hayes kicks off the twang in this year's fair lineup on Aug. 6, with Florida Georgia Line (and local boy Pete Stringfellow) Aug. 7, Disney star Bridgit Mendler Aug. 8 and La Original Banda El Limon Aug. 9.

Tip: Seniors' Day (60+ free) Aug. 8 and Kids Day (12 and under free) is Aug. 9.

Tickets: $25-$40. Info: www.sonomacountyfair.com.

8. Petaluma Music Festival

When: Aug. 3

Quite possibly the best cause on the festival circuit, this one-day mash-up of 14 bands on three stages raises thousands of dollars every year for music in Petaluma schools. This year: Xavier Rudd, Sean Hayes, the Pimps of Joytime, Stroke 9, Brothers Comatose and more.

Tip: Kids under 12 are free and there's a big kiddie area to play in all day.

Tickets: $30. Info: www.petalumamusicfestival.org.

9. Outside Lands

When: Aug. 9-11

The Bay Area behemoth of the festival circuit might be looking over its shoulder at this weekend's BottleRock in Napa, but this year's Outside Lands lineup still taps into nearly every generation: Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Kaskade, Willie Nelson, Jurassic 5 and Hall and Oates.

Tip: Sell carpool seats in your car or score a ride to the festival at www.zimride.com/events/sf-outside-lands.

Tickets: $249.50 three-day pass. Info: www.sfoutsidelands.com.

10. Russian River Jazz and Blues

When: Sept. 21-22

The annual salute to the end of summer brings Boz Scaggs, Los Lobos, Robert Cray, Gregory Porter, Jeffrey Osborne and California Honeydrops down to the river. And that's just the start of it -- more bands to be announced soon.

Tip: Rent a kayak or paddleboat from Johnson's Beach for $30 a day and watch from the water.

Tickets on sale soon at www.russianriverfestivals.com.