Bay Area music legends Taj Mahal, Phil Lesh to close out final two Stern Grove Festival dates


SAN FRANCISCO — This Sunday and next Sunday, two Bay Area artists will perform at the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco. Fans will enjoy the sounds of blues and psychedelic rock by musicians influenced by the rich Bay Area culture.

At 80 years old, Taj Mahal has been making music his way for six decades.

The Harlem-born musician calls Berkeley home, and on Sunday, the Grammy Award-winning blues and roots artist will take the Stern Grove stage.

Taj Mahal performs at the 5th Annual Acoustic-4-A-Cure at The Fillmore on May 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

Chris Tuite  

“He’s most known for blues but he sort of expands out into different genres and styles of music and I think that’s what he’s known for and what he’s put a stamp on for the blues genre,” said Stern Grove Festival executive director Bob Fiedler.

Taj Mahal’s music has been called traditional and avant-garde. He incorporates elements of music from the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and the Hawaiian islands.

“For us in our 85th season, we’re finishing with two again sort of older gentlemen who have been doing it for a really long time,” said Fiedler.

To close out the season, the festival will host The Big Picnic fundraiser featuring Phil Lesh and friends.

The festival announced Lesh will be joined by notable musicians and session players including guitarist Scott Metzger (of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead), jazz guitar great Stanley Jordan, and woodwind player Stuart Bogie, who has played with Antibalas, Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire and many others. Phil’s son Grahame Lesh — who will additionally appear with opening act Midnight North — will also play guitar in the band.

Phil Lesh 

Cory Schwartz/Getty Images  

Taj Mahal’s opener will be the band Monophonics, which was formed in San Francisco. Their sound blends heavy soul and psychedelic rock.

“I saw them a couple years ago up in Petaluma and that really put them on my radar, and we’re excited to have them they bring an upbeat, energetic, blues funk sort of thing,” said Fiedler.

Demand for ticket reservations is high for the final two Sundays of the season. However, a small number of tickets will be released on a daily basis online.

The Stern Grove Festival wraps next Sunday, August 14th.

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