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.