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Arts + CultureMusicStern Grove's just-released lineup shines (but you'll have to...

Stern Grove’s just-released lineup shines (but you’ll have to be on the ball)

A San Francisco tradition, a brilliant spectrum of artists—and it's still all free, though you'll need a reservation.

As the US economy’s steep slide appears to be leveling off, all the tell-tale pointers of summertime traditions returning have started to pop back in place after imposed hibernation. Restaurants and bars welcoming in-door (and outdoor) patrons back; the travel industry rebounding with Americans taking to the skies and roads in large-scale numbers over the past Memorial weekend; 75 percent of theaters firing up the popcorn machine once again.

So with half the country vaccinated, amped to move with purpose, San Franciscans can officially move beyond the casual pandemic White Claw conventions of the past year. You know the ones where everybody wears purple pants in Dolores Park and things seem little awkward.

Stern Grove Festival, the longest-running free outdoor music concert series in the San Francisco Bay Area, is back for its 84th season (reservations are required this time, however)—with quite possibly the strongest all-inclusive gathering of local and national booked talent you’d expect from Coachella, Bonnaroo, or SXSW. When you include the Grammy-winning LA bassist extraordinaire Thundercat, rapper Too $hort, Tower of Power, Ledisi, The Seshen, La Doña, Honey Mahogany, Thievery Corporation, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and local selectors—for the first time ever—LadyRyan, DJ Shortkut, and DJ Omar… It’s an invigorating

According to organizers, who released the line-up Tuesday, assembling such a roster marks a major milestone for the festival, finally returning to an in-person format at its iconic corner of Sunset District Park after a more than year long hiatus.

“For many like myself, Stern Grove Festival often serves as an annual summer get-together with friends and family, so I couldn’t be more excited that the Festival can once again help bring the local community together, especially after all we have experienced in the last year,” remarked Bob Fiedler, executive director of Stern Grove Festival, exclusively to 48hills late Tuesday night.

“Like many of our fans, I too am eager to get back to the Grove and celebrate what makes this city so very special. I hope residents from all over the Bay will come out and join us this summer either in-person or virtually online through our new live stream. See you all soon!”

How to get a reservation? Exactly 12 days prior to each event, an online portal will be opened to offer free passes on a first-come, first-served basis, on each individual concert page on the Stern Grove site. But you’ll have to be on the ball. Competition will be fierce with a lineup like the one below. (You can also watch the concerts live-streamed this year here.)

June 20: Ledisi, The Seshen, La Doña, LadyRyan

June 27: Perfume Genius, Madame Gandhi, Honey Mahogany, LadyRyan

July 4:  San Francisco Symphony

July 11: Thievery Corporation, Dessa, DJ Shortkut

July 18: St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Dip, DJ Omar

July 25: X, The Avengers, DJ Omar

August 1: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

August 8: Thundercat, Cassowary, DJ Shortkut

August 15: Fitz & The Tantrums, Devon Gilfillian, DJ Omar

August 29: The Big Picnic featuring Tower of Power, Too $hort, DJ Shortkut

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.
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