Wine Country is getting another major music festival. The premiere Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Valley is the first U.S. event of its kind presented as an outdoor, multiday and multistage event. It was inspired by the long-running East Coast version of the festival that has taken place at major venues across New York City for the past 11 years.
The three-day concert, set to take place Friday-Sunday, July 29-31, at the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, is slated to be hosted by controversial comedian Dave Chappelle, who has also scheduled four sold-out shows in Santa Rosa prior to the festival. Grammy-winning pianist and festival artist-in-residence Robert Glasper is billed to headline and perform with special guests including Erykah Badu, Ledisi, D Smoke, Terrace Martin and BJ the Chicago Kid.
Other acts include soul, jazz and R&B greats Chaka Khan, Maxwell, Black Star, Kamasi Washington and many more.
“The vibe of the festival stems from Robert Glasper’s artistry, musical collaborations and his inspiration,” Alex Kurland, the director of programming for Blue Note, told The Chronicle. “Many of the artists featured on the lineup have a deep artistic, musical history and kinship with each other. This festival is like a family reunion.”
The Blue Note Jazz Festival has become a staple of the New York City summer concert calendar over the past decade, taking place each June at venues such as the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, Sony Hall, SummerStage in Central Park, Town Hall and Washington Square Park.
Along with Khan, acts have included Chris Botti, McCoy Tyner, Dave Brubeck, Bobby McFerrin, Charles Tolliver, Bela Fleck, Cassandra Wilson, Stanley Clarke, Natalie Cole and Buddy Guy.
“Spontaneity and improvisation is a core quality of jazz, and this specially curated festival mirrors that experience and vibe,” Kurland said.
Who’s playing the Blue Note Jazz Festival?
The Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Valley lineup features Glasper and friends performing across all three days. Friday will feature the music collective Dinner Party, with Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington, and special guest Snoop Dogg. Saturday’s crew includes Martin, Badu and BJ the Kid. On Sunday, Glasper will be joined by Ledisi and D Smoke.
Also on the bill for what is being described as a “smaller-scale, intimate” festival is a Black Star reunion, featuring Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli, as well as sets by Khan, Maxwell, Thundercat, Corinne Bailey Rae, Emily King, Madlib, Kenny Garrett, and the Soul Rebels featuring GZA and Kweli.
Badu and DJ Jazzy Jeff are expected to DJ the official festival afterparty on Saturday.
Chappelle, who has come under fire over his comments about transgender people in his recent Netflix comedy special, “The Closer,” was tapped to host the festival. The embattled comedian is a regular at the Blue Note New York.
“We have been very fortunate and blessed to witness the friendship and camaraderie between Robert and Dave at Blue Note,” said Kurland. “Robert is hilarious and amazingly comedic, and believe it or not, Dave can play a mean and soulful piano. We feel gratitude and deep appreciation for them officially joining forces.”
Check the Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Valley website for the most up-to-date schedule.
When and where is the festival?
The Blue Note Jazz Festival is set to take place on the grounds of the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena (2800 Main St.) Friday-Sunday, July 29-31. Parking lots open and shuttles begin to run at 10:30 a.m. each day, with gates opening at noon. The music begins at 12:30 p.m. and ends around 10 p.m.
Parking is available, and there will also be a designated area for ride-hailing services. A free shuttle will run to the festival grounds every 20-30 minutes from Napa Valley College (227 Napa Vallejo Hwy., Napa). Check the festival’s parking page for more details.
The festival is an extension of the Blue Note Napa jazz club, which opened in 2016.
What’s going on outside of the festival?
Following the festival on Friday, Chappelle, Bey and Kweli will record an episode of their podcast, “The Midnight Miracle,” live at the festival. The taping will feature conversations with other performers from the festival and will be open, by lottery, only to VIP ticket holders. There is also a sold-out afterparty on Saturday, with Badu, DJ Jazzy Jeff and others.
Festival attendees can also purchase themed wine tastings at Charles Krug during the festival, or VIP passes for the Napa Wine Train.
Ahead of the festival, Tuesday-Wednesday, July 26-27, Chappelle is scheduled to perform four stand-up shows at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. His surprise Netflix special “What’s in a Name?” was dropped this month.
The shows, which sold out in less than 8 hours, have sparked a backlash, including an online protest against the Burbank Center’s booking. The operators of the venue say they rented the facility to promoter Live Nation.
How do I get tickets?
Tickets for the Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Valley, priced from $225 for general admission to $1,500 for Platinum VIP tickets, are on sale via bluenotejazzfestival.com. Afterparty passes start at $225, and a limited number of on-site parking spots are available for $150.
No COVID-19 policy is currently in place, but organizers said they will follow local and state regulations.