July 24, 2017

Today’s Live Music Scene in Calaveras

Posted : May 11, 2015

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.

Photo: Calaveras Arts Council

Music in the Parks | Photo: Calaveras Arts Council

Today, as the county’s wine and tourism industry has evolved, many large and small 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. Pin this page for planning your next Calaveras music adventure.

Free Music in the Parks – A Perennial Favorite

Music in the Parks series.  Now in its 25th year, the Calaveras Arts Council’s summer concerts series travels the county on Wednesday evenings.   A great way to unwind and discover a new-to-you treasure in the Calaveras art scene. Every week, you’ll find a new free show in a different community park throughout the county.   Music goes from 6:30pm – 8:00pm; picnics and low back chairs are welcome and you will be too!

Sarah Jarosz - Twisted Folk Concert

Sarah Jarosz & band | Twisted Folk Concert | Twisted Oak Winery | Photo: Maria Camillo

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. Angels Camp Farmers Market Fresh Fridays (5pm to dusk) and Copperopolis’ Sunday Market in the Square (10am to 2pm) both have free live music, fresh local produce, locally made goods and tasty eats each week.

Ironstone Amphitheatre

Ironstone Amphitheatre | Murphys


Calaveras Wineries Feature Idyllic Summer Concert Series

Ironstone Concerts This is where the household names come to play–Ironstone Amphitheater (pictured above)is a beautiful outdoor venue in Murphys. Set against the rolling hills of Ironstone Vineyards, the line up for 2017  includes acts like Toby Keith, Boston, Joan Jett, Jason Mraz, John Mellencamp, The Moody Blues, and more.

Looking for grammy-award winning folk artists? 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 Hilltop Concert series and award-winning annual Shakespeare on the Vine performances  under the star studded oak trees, perfect for a relaxing summer evening.

Bear Valley Festival Orchestra

Bear Valley Festival Orchestra | Photo: BV Music Festival

Classical, Jazz, Blues & 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…

Calaveras Community Band

Calaveras Community Band Historic Photo

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:

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.

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  1. Murphys First Fridays has Plan B playing August 2, a Saturday. S/b August 7.


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