The Calaveras Music Legend
If you love live music concerts and are anywhere near Northern California, you’ve probably heard about the legacy of Calaveras County. Back in the 1970s, the county became the setting for an annual series of outdoor rock shows that would become legend. The Mountain Aire festivals brought bands in their prime – Journey, Foreigner, The Cars, Grateful Dead, Huey Lewis, among many others – to the county fairgrounds in Angels Camp, selling out to crowds hungry for the post-Woodstock festival scene that dominated the era.
Today, as the county’s wine and tourism industry has evolved, many smaller venues have emerged that offer the concert lover a wide array of choices for intimate, diverse musical styles and a scene that is as laid back and fun as the locals themselves. The challenge is deciding which show to see. Bookmark this page for the future…
Free Music in the Parks – A Perennial Favorite
Music in the Parks series. Now in its 23rd year, the Calaveras Arts Council’s summer concerts series travels the county on Wednesday evenings. Every week, you’ll find a new free show in a different community park, from Arnold to Valley Springs. Music goes from 6:30pm – 8:00pm; picnics and low back chairs are welcome and you will be too!
Free music in Calaveras parks has become somewhat of a summer institution. Beyond the Arts Council’s series mentioned above, residents and visitors alike pack up their favorite picnic treats, pull together their lawn chairs and blankets, and set out for a summer of great music and family friendly environments. Don’t worry if you forgot your picnic basket, as most of these events have food and beverage vendors on site so you can get a great meal while enjoying the tunes! Murphys Community Park has First Fridays throughout summer, Cedar Center in Arnold offers free music on weekends and in Copperopolis there is the first annual Sounds of Summer at Copper Town Square.
Calaveras Wineries Deliver Summer Concert Series
Ironstone Concerts – This is where the bigger names come to play at a beautiful outdoor amphitheater in Murphys. Set against the rolling hills of Ironstone Vineyards, the line up this year includes acts like The Steve Miller Band, Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Doobie Brothers, Boston, and REO Speedwagon. And for 2015, Ironstone is beefing up its sound system, expanding the stage and installing LED screens for brighter visuals in daylight for an even better quality Ironstone Amphitheatre experience than ever before. See a time lapse video of the construction.
Looking for eclectic local and independent touring acts? Head to one of the nearby nearby hilltop vineyards like Twisted Oak Winery in Vallecito for the Twisted Folk series, or Brice Station Winery for their intimate concerts and theater performances under the oak trees, perfect for a relaxing summer evening. Irish Family Vineyards also has concerts periodically throughout the season.
Classical, Jazz & Show Tunes
For the classical music lover, put the Bear Valley Music Festival on your calendar. Landing on the last week in July through the first week in August (2015 dates are July 24 – August 9), the festival brings national and international performers to delight audiences at 7000 feet in the Sierras. Since the festival’s beginning in 1968, the styles of music to be found here have diversified to include Broadway show tunes, contemporary, country and opera – but the core of the event remains rooted in classical. Across the county in Mokelumne Hill, Petroglyphe Gallery has a great line up of Sunday concerts with local and regional classical musicians.
Back to our Music Roots…
From the early days of the Gold Rush, music was an important and valued entertainment in the foothills. Brass bands like the Angels Camp Miners Band and the Murphys Independent Cornet Band eventually became the Calaveras Community Band which is still going strong today. Featuring jazz and swing, marches, show tunes and lullabies, the band plays throughout the county and throughout the year entertaining locals and visitors alike. As for the festival scene at the site of the original Mountain Aire, it’s alive and well too. Reggae in the Hills is now in its fourth year at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds, bringing in the hottest roots and contemporary reggae talent from North America and the Caribbean. The three-day concert offers camping and a family friendly atmosphere on the first weekend in June.
And let’s not forget that the most famous Calaveras County Fairgrounds event continues to be the annual Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee – and as part of the four days packed with entertainment, their music line-up is impressive.
More Music than Ever!
But wait – we’re not done! Beyond all the scheduled summer events above, you can find live music all year, all over the county at restaurants, bars and saloons, tasting rooms, and even inside a cave. That’s right, Moaning Cavern holds occasional acoustic concerts inside its main chamber and an annual a cappella choral music concert in December. Dine locally and you may just discover a new favorite musician while sampling some inspired Calaveras cuisine or a quick, tasty bite.
As for the future… White Pines Park (near Arnold) is hoping to build an amphitheater for lakeside concerts. Stay tuned for updates!
Quick links for places to catch great live music in Calaveras County:
- Summer Fest – Copperopolis Town Square, Copperopolis
- Concerts in the Park at Cedar Center – Arnold
- Ironstone Summer Concert Series – Ironstone Amphitheatre, Murphys
- Twisted Folk Concert Series – Twisted Oak Winery, Vallecito
- First Fridays in the Park – Murphys Community Park
- Frog’s Tooth Saturdays from 2 – 5 – at Frog’s Tooth Vineyards tasting room, Murphys
- Brice Station Hilltop Concerts – Brice Station Vineyards, Murphys
- Outdoor Concert Series – Irish Family Vineyards, Vallecito
- Backyard Blues & BBQ – Hotel Léger, Mokelumne Hill
- Jazz on Fridays – Alchemy Market & Cafe, Murphys
- Karaoke Thursdays – Murphys Historic Hotel, Murphys
- Calaveras Community Band – various locations through the county
- Music in the Parks – various locations throughout the county
- Fine Art Concert Series – Petroglyphe Gallery, Mokelumne Hill
- Fresh Fridays Farmers Market – Utica Park, Angels Camp
- Live Music Wednesdays with Nicholas Lefler – Rob’s Place Restaurant, Murphys
- Live Music at CAMPS Restaurant – Angels Camp
- Live Music at Prospectors Brewing Co. – Murphys
- Pickle Patch Entertainment – The Pickle Patch Restaurant, San Andreas
Add to Our List
Did we miss something? We would love to know about more live music venues and events in Calaveras County. Please leave details in the comments below and we will pull them into this article. For current events in Calaveras County including music, visit our current events calendar.