By Dave Pehling
SONOMA (CBS SF) — Now in its ninth year, the annual Huichica Music Festival brings an array of psych and folk artists to the Gundlach Bundschu Winery this weekend.
Presented and organized by Bay Area concert promoter (((folkYEAH!))) and winery operator Jeff Bundschu, the Huichica (pronounced “wah-CHEEK-ah”) Festival was started as a smaller, more intimate alternative to larger festivals like BottleRock Napa and Outside Lands with a narrower musical focus while still offering the type of gourmet food and expansive wine options those festivals are known for. The North Bay fires last fall threatened the winery, Gundlach Bundschu and the grounds where the festival takes place luckily.
On Friday, the celebration gets off to a low-key start, using only two of the four available indoor and outdoor stages. The first day’s schedule is anchored by the one artist scheduled to perform on both Friday and Saturday, Jonathan Richman. The longtime Bay Area resident got his start as a member of pioneering Boston proto-punk band the Modern Lovers in the early ’70s with future members of the Talking Heads (keyboard player Jerry Harrison) and the Cars (drummer David Robinson). While the group never scored a record deal during it’s brief existence, the Modern Lovers still exerted a huge influence on the burgeoning New York scene alongside contemporaries the New York Dolls.
The band would split up in 1974 (demos recorded by John Cale would eventually be released two years later), with Richman relocating to California and pursuing the more acoustic-oriented, stripped-down lyrical approach he has continued to this day with backing from longtime collaborator Tommy Larkin. Other highlights on Friday include appearances by SF folk-psych favorites Vetiver led by songwriter Andy Cabic (the band will play it’s album Things of the Past in its entirety, a performance it will reprise Sunday night at the Chapel in San Francisco), acclaimed guitarist and songwriter Sonny Smith and dub-soaked psychedelia of SF outfit Extra Classic.
Saturday offers up a full-schedule of acts filling the four performance spaces at Huichica with a dizzying variety of sounds starting before noon. In addition to an early evening Amphitheater stage performance by Richman that will be preceded by SF prog-pop favorites Once and Future Band and followed by sets from garage-rock hero King Tuff and noted songwriter Cass McCombs, the festival will include performances by Bay Area jazz guitar great Calvin Keys (playing his rare soul-jazz landmark Shawn-Neeq in full), powerhouse SF singer Bob Reed and his large ensemble tribute to British soul-rock legend Joe Cocker called Cocker Power, powerful Danish punk band Iceage, psychedelic outfits White Fence, Wooden Shjips and The Fresh & Onlys, and a set from Howlin Rain, the shambolic psych/roots band led by SF guitar hero Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire, Feral Ohms) that just released its latest album The Alligator Bride this week. For more information and tickets, visit the Huichica Music Festival website.
Huichica Music Festival
Friday-Saturday, June 8-9, 2 p.m. (Fri.) and 11 a.m. (Sat.) $41-$121
Gundlach Bundschu Winery