Photo by Paige K. Parsons.

By Paul Liberatore |Marin Independent Journal

As you’re reading this, we’re already charging, or should I say floating, into 2023. I’m writing this on a gray, rainy New Year’s Eve, an appropriately misty vantage point for taking a nostalgic look back at some of the columns I’ve written over the past year about our ever-evolving, persistently resilient and, yes, historic local music scene. READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

Sweetwater’s golden anniversary

I say historic because one of the big headlines of 2022 was the 50th anniversary of Mill Valley’s Sweetwater Music Hall, which emerged from the pandemic with a new general manager, Maria Hoppe, a new talent buyer in Chris Porter (who also books Hardly Strictly Bluegrass), a new restaurant, Rock & Rye, and new status as a nonprofit. In celebration, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir played a sold-out benefit show on Nov. 17, the exact date the original Sweetwater opened in 1972, which raised a ton of money for the club and its charitable arts fund. In the piece I wrote recounting Sweetwater’s storied history, general manager Hoppe said: “I know there have been pauses and different owners and different people involved, but the spirit of Sweetwater has lasted for 50 years.” And may it last for 50 more.

Mill Valley Music Festival debuts

The Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce began what it hopes will be an annual tradition in May with its inaugural Mill Valley Music Festival, a daylong outdoor rock concert headlined by three-time Grammy winner Ben Harper and his band, the Innocent Criminals.

When I interviewed Harper before the festival, I was surprised to learn that he was returning to the city that helped launch his career. Thirty years before, when he was an unknown singer-songwriter, the late Jeanie Patterson, Sweetwater’s legendary grand dame, gave him his first big break, opening for blues great John Lee Hooker. “That was one of the early indicators that I might be able to get somewhere in music,” he told me. “One of the early high points and honors of my career was Mill Valley and Jeanie Patterson and Sweetwater.”

The festival was such a success, by the way, drawing a sold-out crowd of 5,000 to grassy Friends Field, that it returns for its second year this year, this time for two days, May 13 and 14. Lineup TBA. READ THE FULL STORY HERE AND STAY TUNED FOR BIG NEWS LATER THIS MONTH.

Hello, Sound Summit

That wasn’t Marin’s only big outdoor music festival of 2022. In October, Sound Summit returned to the 4,000-seat stone amphitheater on Mount Tamalpais for its sixth year with the War on Drugs as its headliner. As was the case with Harper, the Philadelphia-born band also had a connection to Marin, once again proving that there’s almost always a local angle. The band shot the first video for its new album, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” on the West Marin coast. “It’s kind of cool for me to come back to where the rollout for the record started,” lead singer Adam Granduciel said. “We started the process of promoting the album there and Sound Summit is our last show of the year, so it’s kind of full circle.” READ THE FULL STORY HERE.