What’s better than listening to live music outdoors in the summer? Not much, and one of the best free things to do in San Francisco is spending an afternoon at Stern Grove. Beginning June 19, every Sunday afternoon will feature a concert or performance in its numinous, eucalyptus-filled meadows. All shows start at 2 p.m.
Stern Grove released its 2011 line up this week and it’s going to be tough deciding which show to attend! Every week features a different music and performance genre. Soul singers Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings kick off the season accompanied by Frenchman Ben L’Oncle Soul. June 26 features the eclectic Bay Area collaboration, Jazz Mafia Symphony, with special guest Chali 2na – you know him from Jurassic 5 (a personal fave) and Ozomatli.
Photo courtesy of CBS local
July 3 gets folksy with singer-songwriter Neko Case and local fave The Dodos. If you want to shake your booty, think about attending July 10 when high-energy AfroCubism hits the stage. Pellejo Seco opens with their salsa beats. July 17 brings dub-infused ska and reggae from groundbreaking 80s band The English Beat.
As usual, the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, and San Francisco Opera will perform throughout the season on July 24, July 31, and August 21 respectively. R&B classic Aaron Neville croons on August 7, and August 14 brings Spanish vocals by Javier Limon and Burka, accompanied by Luisa Malta’s samba grooves. All around, a sensational roster!
You can reserve picnic tables for up to six people through an online lottery, or arrive early to stake out a spot in the meadow with a blanket, a picnic, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (or your vice of choice). Be aware that the hillside is steep, so definitely try to arrive early to claim a level space. Also, the gates close once the Grove reaches capacity.
Plenty of public transit options will get you to Stern Grove. I suggest taking the K or M Muni train lines (get off at 19th and Sloat) if coming from downtown. Complimentary bike valet service is also available to pedal pushers. Stern Grove is close to the sea, so it’s not uncommon for fog to drift through, chilling the air ever-so-slightly, so be prepared and bring layers.