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Rodney Strong Concert Series

Performers And Dates:

Michael McDonald, 6 p.m., Sunday, July 8

Melissa Etheridge, 6 p.m., Sunday, July 22

Temptations and Four Tops, 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26

Boz Scaggs, 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 9

_____

Where: Rodney Strong Vineyards, 11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg

Tickets: $89 lawn; $119 to $129 seats, per concert

Festival info: rodneystrongconcertseries.com

With glorious views of surrounding vineyards that roll over undulating hills, Rodney Strong Vineyards’ tree-shaded amphitheater is an ideal setting for late-afternoon concerts.

Located between Healdsburg and Windsor, Rodney Strong continues its long tradition of hosting summer concerts with performances by Michael McDonald on Sunday, July 8, and Melissa Etheridge on July 22.

Shows with Motown legends The Temptations and The Four Tops on Aug. 26; and Boz Scaggs, the bluesy crooner known for such hits as “Lido,” on Sept. 9 round out the four-concert series, now in its 28th season.

Alongside the 1,200-capacity venue will be wine bars, a food truck from Sebastopol’s Zazu Kitchen and handmade ice cream from Petaluma’s Mariposa Ice Creamery.

Etheridge is celebrating the 25th anniversary this year of her breakthrough album “Yes I Am.” McDonald, acclaimed for his solo hits and tenure with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, recently released his first all-original album in many years.

On the 2017 R&B album, titled “Wide Open,” McDonald’s soulful voice sounds as powerful as ever, yet he reveals its subtleties on songs like “Honest Emotion.” McDonald, 66, is “easily one of the most definable voices of our generation,” said Vince Gill in Rolling Stone last year.

Another defining performer of our time. singer-guitarist Melissa Etheridge is author of powerful songs such as “Bring Me Some Water” and the Grammy-winning “Come To My Window,” Etheridge, 57, has been a courageous advocate for gay rights.

She spoke to the Press Democrat while touring the East Coast in mid-June. Following are highlights from the interview:

Q. What’s your plan for the Rodney Strong show?

A. I am calling it the Rock Show – I just do everyone’s favorite songs. My intention is to rock everyone as hard as I can.

Q. What did the album “Yes I Am” mean to you in 1993, and what does it mean you now?

A. Back in 1992-93 it was about me getting back to a rock ’n roll album that reflected where I was at emotionally. It’s that landmark album everyone hopes that they have. I am just so grateful for it.

Q. Was that album a coming out for you, not just about your sexuality but about who you are?

A. One of my great joys is how it’s become easier for one to be themselves, and for one to step up and say: This is who I am. I think that saves lives, and it’s a beautiful thing about where we’ve gone as a people.

In the early ’90s, I was being asked personal questions. I had a big aversion to lying and didn’t want to keep some sort of secret, so it was a big choice for me. I had to believe in my music and in the power of change. I did, and it certainly worked out just fine.

Q. You appeared on the Grammys in 2005 while recovering from breast cancer and sang Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart” – do you consider Janis a role model?

A. Definitely a role model in her performance, not so much personally, I didn’t want to end up like her. When she got onstage, she knew how to take her love the blues and turn it into rock ’n roll. So I would study her for how she was on stage, that fire, that power. I was so honored to sing a tribute to her on the Grammys and to do it while I was going through chemo. That was intense.

Q. Having survived cancer, do you feel you’ve come out with a different take on life?

A. I’m grateful because it gave me an appreciation for life. Every time I open my eyes I’m like, “Yes! Here I am, another beautiful day to create.” And it gave me a bit of a conquering of fear because when you come face to face with fear of death and move through that, then what’s there to be afraid of? I’m just gonna rock this, and I’m gonna find my joy in every day. It set me on that path, and I will forever be grateful.

Q. What was it like growing up in the ’60s in the Midwest and what musical influences got you excited about music?

A. I was born in 1961 (in Leavenworth, Kansas) so the ’60s and ’70s were my childhood, and man that was such wonderful music. We had one radio station that we got in Kansas City at the beginning of the ’60s and that was WHB. The great thing about them was they played everything. Back then it was the top 40 songs of all genres, so I could hear Tammy Wynette and Marvin Gaye and Led Zeppelin, then Tommy James and the Shondells. I never thought that there was some border between them at all. In the ’70s, once FM finally came in, we had a rock station KY102 (KCKC). As a teenager I just immersed myself in rock ’n roll: Bruce Springsteen, discovering all different types of music, my fantasies, my dreams were in music. It’s where all these dreams came from.

Q. Were there any women during that time who made you think, wow, I could do that too?

A. Linda Ronstadt. She had a big influence in the ’70s (with songs such as) “You’re No Good,” that California country-rock sound. That’s when I thought I could play the acoustic guitar and rock. And then there were all the soul women I admire: Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight...

Q. You’ve become a role model for a lot of people. Is that something you think about?

It keeps me in line. It keeps me understanding that the choices I make not only affect me but live on forever and affect others. It’s OK with me because it keeps me honest. I might not have millions and millions of dollars, but I have a general respect and a place in the pantheon of music. I want to keep that, to nourish that, because that’s worth more to me than anything.

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