Roots & Branches Conservancy’s concert to benefit Mount Tamalpais State Park also features DJ Andy Cabic of Vetiver KNBR Bay Area radio personalities Murph & Mac (aka Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey) as Masters of Ceremonies. 

Jazz legend Herbie Hancock, top left, headlines the 2018 edition of Sound Summit. The line also features special guest Bob Weir, at top right, and bottom row from left, Grace Potter, Con Brio, Nikki Lane and DJ Andy Cabic of Vetiver. Courtesy images.
There are copious amounts of incredible takeaways from Miles Davis’ spectacular 1990 autobiography. Two of the standouts are Davis’ relentlessly creative use of an obscenity that rhymes with other-trucker, and his praise for pianist Herbie Hancock: “Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven’t heard anybody yet who has come after him.”

With an illustrious career spanning five decades and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters, Davis’ praise for Hancock continues to ring true – and Bay Area music lovers will get to experience his prowess first hand. Hancock has been unveiled as the headliner for the 2018 edition of Sound Summit: A Benefit for The Mountain, a day-long music festival to benefit Mount Tamalpais State Park. 

Sound Summit – executive producer and Mill Valley resident Michael Nash’s double entendre moniker for the festival – is set for Saturday, Sept. 8 (11am–7pm) in Mt. Tam’s 4,000-seat Cushing Memorial Amphitheater, home to the Mountain Play. Produced as an annual celebration of and fundraiser for Mount Tamalpais State Park by Nash’s Roots & Branches Conservancy, the annual one-day festival has raised $175,000 for Mount Tam in its first three years.

Nash unveiled the lineup today, and it’s bountiful beyond the man whose career has spanned myriad ebbs and flows in acoustic and electronic jazz, R&B and even the seminal “Rockit” during hip-hop’s early years.

In a creative twist, Sound Summit is bringing back Grateful Dead legend and Mill Valley resident Bob Weir as a “special guest,” so fans can likely expect the forever busy guitarist to sit in with any or all of the bands taking the stage at Sound Summit. Weir headlined in 2017 along with bassist and fellow Dead legend Phil Lesh. Weir is currently a member of Dead & Company and has also performed with many other acts including The Other Ones, Kingfish, Bob Weir Band, Bobby and the Midnites, Scaring the Children, Ratdog and Furthur, co-led by Lesh.

Nash also landed Grace Potter, who has been described by Spin as “one of the greatest living voices in rock” and heralded as one of today’s best live performers. Potter has shared the stage with artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, The Allman Brothers, Neil Young, Mavis Staples, and The Roots, among many others, and recently joined Sheryl Crow in a tribute to the late Glenn Frey at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. While Potter has built a devoted fan base through her electrifying live show, she’s seemed hell-bent of late on breaking out of the box when it comes to studio work.  Over the last three years, she’s collaborated with the Flaming Lips for a Tim Burton film, written and produced soundtracks theme songs for film and TV, performed Grammy-nominated country duets with Kenny Chesney and joined The Rolling Stones on stage for a rendition of  “Gimme Shelter.”

Rising country star Nikki Lane, whose third album Highway Queen sees the young Nashville singer emerge as one of country and rock’s most gifted songwriters, will also perform, as will energetic Bay Area funk and soul ensemble Con Brio, fronted by charismatic singer Ziek McCarter who displays “the dance moves, splits and all, of James Brown” (KQED) and a tight, veteran band that “comes across like a party punk version of Sly and the Family Stone” (Consequence of Sound).

Vetiver frontman Andy Cabic also returns to Sound Summit after bringing his band Vetiver in 2017. This time Cabic will be DJing throughout the day. KNBR Bay Area radio personalities Murph & Mac (aka Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey) return as the day’s Masters of Ceremonies. 

In addition to Weir and Lesh and Vetiver, previous Sound Summits have featured Wilco, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jim James, Los Lobos, Dr. John & The Night Trippers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bill Frisell, The Mother Hips, among others.

Nash says he feels strongly that Sound Summit remain an eclectic music experience for its audience, where quality takes precedence over genre or preconceived notions of what kind of festival it is.

“We like to mix it up,” he adds. “Personally, I’m thrilled to have an iconic artist like Herbie Hancock headlining Sound Summit. His career has had an incredible arc and his artistry has influenced so many diverse musicians and continues to do so, both from his own generation and those that have followed. How cool is that?”

Sound Summit is produced by Roots & Branches Conservancy, the nonprofit organization Nash created to focus on the conservation of natural resources, both physical and cultural, via regional environmental and educational work. “Wherever possible, the organization aims to create intersections between the environment and the arts to their mutual benefit,” Nash says. The annual one-day festival has raised $175,000 for Mount Tam in just its first three years. 

“Sound Summit continues to fulfill what we’d envisioned – a spirited community gathering in a stellar location with a great soundtrack,” Nash says. “It’s also throwback to a more grassroots, time-out-of-mind experience. There’s a certain synergy in the amphitheater between the artists and the audience, an intimate gathering amidst an expansive landscape.”

The 411: Sound Summit: A Benefit for The Mountain, is set for Saturday, Sept. 8 (11am–7pm) in Mt. Tam’s 4,000-seat Cushing Memorial Amphitheater. Tickets go on sale on Friday, July 27 at 10am and are $110 for adults and $55 for youth 12 and under; children 2 and under are admitted free. MORE INFO & TIX.

Check out some selections from the bands performing at 2018 Sound Summit:

Herbie Hancock

Bob Weir

Grace Potter

Nikki Lane

Con Brio