Interplay – Astronauts, etc. with “In the Park Dilated”

Aug21_Astronauts etcOne of the most difficult parts of fulfilling a commission request is finding the middle ground between being too literal or too obscure in matching a theme or topic.

As with our 2016 local artist commission series, where 10 bands and dance groups have been asked to create new works of art based on the theme “In Concert with Nature”, it can be pretty easy to head down the literal route (it’s tempting to throw in mentions of trees, sunshine, and grass). To avoid this road bump, the next and final group in the 79th Season’s series chose to ignore the fork in the road altogether by writing a stimulating instrumental piece that envisages nature without verbalizing it.

Read on below to hear how Astronauts, etc came up with their new piece  and to listen to a demo recording of “In the Park Dilated”. Visit Stern Grove Festival this Sunday August 21, when they open the stage at 2 p.m. for The New Pornographers in the final concert of the 79th Season!

“In the Park Dilated” sheet music

Stern Grove Festival: This commission is a new experience for you as an artist. What do/did you anticipate being the most challenging aspect of it, and what are you most excited about with this process?

Anthony Ferraro: Initially what made me anxious was the idea of writing the words for the commissioned song. Writing directly about nature seemed potentially trite, but interpreting the theme more abstractly seemed potentially disingenuous. So I opted instead to write a song without words, with pen and paper, on the stage where it would be performed. This allowed me to believe I was following the theme as faithfully and simply as possible.

SGF: The commission focuses on the relationship between the artist and the environment. How does the environment/venue you perform in influence your creative choices and how does it influence how you interact with the audience?

AF: It is a tricky business to delineate the border between external environment and internal experience. All that I can say is that, sometimes, being in a beautiful place makes you more explicitly aware of a beauty that is always present and waiting to be noticed no matter your surroundings.

SGF: A major part of Stern Grove Festival’s mission is providing free access to the performing arts for the public, often to artists whose work they are unfamiliar with. How will this focus on accessibility (in terms of free admission and exposure to unfamiliar artists or genres) influence your creative process or performance?

AF: I like the idea of playing to a different crowd and in a different setting than usual. Normally your audience is restricted to those people of drinking age who don’t mind staying up very late, often on a week night, in very loud room with a lot of commotion.

SGF: Stern Grove Festival is committed to artistic diversity and San Francisco is known for its vibrant and diverse arts community. How would you describe the sound of San Francisco?

AF: Sonically, I think San Francisco is still trying to figure out what it wants to say right now. On one pole is a cohort of artists disenfranchised and disillusioned by the financial difficulty of living here, and on the other you find a group energized by the new collaboration of music and technology. Sometimes I feel I exist on both poles at once.

Interplay – Afrolicious

Aug14_Afrolicious1What started out as a club night in the famed Mission district Elbo Room in 2007, Afrolicious has since grown into a collective of dynamic and skilled funk, soul, and electronic musicians. Since 2010, the group has been playing for packed crowds with a party-ready combination of soulful vocals, funky bass, and lively horns and beats with classic funk, soul, disco, Latin, and Afrobeat.

“As a club night we hosted so many amazing bands, musicians, and DJs from the Bay Area and the city, as well as international,” said Afrolicious’ co-founder Joe ‘Pleasuremaker’ Mcguire, reminiscing on the group’s early days. “We had the honor of building with many amazing musicians over the years and we continue to see new artists come up and blow it up, and it remains super inspiring.”

As the next participating act in Stern Grove Festival’s Local Artist Commission Series, Afrolicious has been asked to create and debut a new song inspired by the theme “Interplay: In Concert with Nature” that doesn’t stray away from their usual funkiness.

“It can be challenging to write a song in general,” says Pleasuremaker, “but the subject matter makes so much sense in the context of our modern times – the need for a relationship to nature. So the subject makes the challenge all more the interesting.”

Stern Grove is an extremely unique concert setting, so naturally the commission focuses on the strong relationship between the artist and the venue’s environment. Those who attended one of Afrolicious’ early Elbo Room club nights or one of their more recent concerts know that the show is more than just a fun musical experience: it’s a raging party. Stern Grove Festival has welcomed musicians from almost every genre out there, but it is always particularly interesting to see how these high-energy, funky groups plan their show around the fact that it is an outdoor concert in the middle of the day – not in a nightclub per their usual show. Understanding these hurdles, their goal is still the same: to wake up the crowd and bring the party to Stern Grove.

“The venue plays a crucial role in how we feel and interpret the music as the sound, dynamics, visual elements, size and if it’s indoor or outdoor greatly affect the sounds and the intimacy,” said Pleasuremaker. “A venue that is inviting, relaxing, beautiful can create much more harmony between us on stage and the crowd. We love playing outdoors when the sound is truly dialed. It’s a magical feeling.”

A major part of Stern Grove Festival’s mission is providing free access to the performing arts for the public, often to artists whose work they are unfamiliar with. Some artists focus on this accessibility (in terms of free admission and exposure to unfamiliar artists or genres) when creating their commissioned piece, and Afrolicious in particular thinks of this as an opportunity to perform for groups of people who otherwise wouldn’t make it out to one of their shows (think children, the elderly, or people who can’t make it to shows in the evening).

“We LOVE that there is no admission,” said Pleasuremaker on behalf of his group. “I came to Stern Grove when I first moved to San Francisco and it was such a great way to be welcomed to the city: great music and open to all. We love this event and have each attended many shows over the years. We get the most excited to share what we do at free daytime events because we can play for everyone!”

A Stern Grove Festival crowd may be pretty diverse, and this depth of character matches that of the Bay Area where people of all kinds flock and frolic. It’s only natural that this diversity seeps into the performance scene. From funk and electro to brass and jazz, the SF Bay Area is home to a vibrant arts and music community.  As Pleasuremaker puts it, “San Francisco music scene is ever evolving. Change is the one constant, and that was a great influence on Afrolicious over the years.

“Hard to say there is one sound of San Francisco, it feels more like San Francisco can absorb any genre and flip it into new sounds, and that would be a long term legacy of [it] that continues today.”

Visit our website to learn more about the concert and Afrolicious. Visit Stern Grove Festival this Sunday, Aug 14 to hear them live when the open the stage at 2 p.m. for a cast of musical performers paying tribute to West African synth legend William Onyeabor in “ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor”.

Interplay – MJ’s Brass Boppers

Next up in this season’s #sgfInterplay Local Artist Commission Series, MJ’s Brass Boppers share their experience in creating a piece inspired by the theme “Interplay: In Concert with Nature”, and the similarities between performing at Stern Grove Festival and in their home town of New Orleans.

The swinging and singing brass-line is the Bay Area’s only New Orleans-style brass band whose founding members were born and raised in NOLA itself. This eight-piece group’s sound has been meticulously formed over years of practicing and experimenting together, fusing classic NOLA performance with funk, jazz, modern pop, and a second line twist. Since 2008, the tight knit musicians have written, practiced, and performed together at festivals, community events, nightclubs, and street corners around the Bay Area.

Make your way to the admission-free #sterngrovefest this Sunday, Aug 7 to witness the never-before-heard song and others when MJBB opens up for R&B legends, The O’Jays at 2 p.m.

Grove Gourmet 2016: Cooking with Anchor Brewing

There are few things that say “summer” quite like Stern Grove Festival – but cooking with beer comes pretty close! This Sunday, we’re partnering with our friends and contest judges at Anchor Brewing Company to bring the Grove Gourmet Picnic Contest to the SF Ballet’s performance this Sunday. Anchor Brewmasters will roam the Grove in search of the best picnic out there (extra points for incorporating Anchor brews, now available in cans!).

First place takes home a VIP brewery tour and tasting for 10 adults at Anchor Brewing Company. Second place wins an Anchor merchandise swag bag. Be sure to make plenty to share with our judges, who will be in the Grove to judge picnic spreads between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Look out for their white coveralls to know who to wave down, and let us know you’re entering into the contest by sharing an Instagram or tweeting a picture of your picnic and tagging #sterngrovefest and #RaiseYourAnchor.

As inspiration for the weekend’s picnic contest, Chef Ken Hernandez and Anchor Brewing have come up with the following recipes, showing us all how delicious (and easy) incorporating beer into recipes can be.

If you’re of age, you can find the following tasty brews and others with Anchor Brewing’s Beer Finder.

Coffee Rubbed Steak Marinated in Anchor California Lager with Chimichurri Sauce
Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients:CA Lager Steak- finished
2 lbs. flank steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoons black pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons coffee grounds
1 tablespoon chile de arbol
1 tablespoon turmeric, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
¼ cup (2 oz.) Anchor California Lager
¼ cup parsley, chopped

Chimichurri Sauce:
⅓ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon jalapeno, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon shallots, chopped
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
Dash ground black pepper and salt

Directions:CA Lager Steak Marinade

  1. Combine flank steak, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the rub.
  3. Massage the dry rub into the flank steak and refrigerate covered in plastic for up to 2 hours.
  4. On a grill or hot pan, sear both sides until caramelized. 4 minutes on first side, 3 on the other side (medium rare).
  5. Combine all chimichurri ingredients. Finish off with ground black pepper and kosher salt. Serve with steak.

Anchor Mango Peach Galette
Yield: 1 Galette, 8 Servings

Mango Wheat Galette- finished

1 large mango, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup peach, sliced thin
1 cup strawberry, sliced thin
2 cups (16 oz.) Anchor’s Mango Wheat
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract dash of salt

1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup of almond flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup of butter, cubed
¼ cup (2 oz.) Anchor’s Mango Wheat (ice cold)
1 egg

Mint and granulated sugar

Mango Wheat Galette - fillingInstructions:

  1. Mix mango and peach together in a large bowl. Add Anchor’s Mango Wheat, vanilla and sugar. Stir and set aside.
  2. Whisk together all-purpose flour, almond flour, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter, creaming it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or for until the dough starts to form. (You can do this in a food processor by pulsing the mixture until blended). Add cold Anchor’s Mango Wheat and blend until the mixture is moist and emulsified. Feel free to add a bit more liquid if the dough is too dry. Once the dough is evenly mixed, roll into a ball and wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cover with a thin layer of butter. Lightly flour surface and roll out a 12-inch round with dough.
  5. Separate the fruit mixture from the liquid and add the strawberries. Stir until blended. Spoon the fruit mixture on to the dough round, starting from the center and moving out, leaving a 2-inch outside border. Fold edges towards the center of the round.
  6. Beat egg in small bowl and brush a thin layer of egg wash on the folded dough crust. Sprinkle granulated sugar on the crust as well. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Culinary Credit: Chef Ken Hernandez,
Photography Credit: Joseph Phillips,

Interplay – La Misa Negra, “El Agua Ya Se Acabo”

Next up in this season’s local artist commission series is La Misa Negra, a eight-piece Oakland-based group that performs a mix of late 50′s style Cumbia and high-energy, Afro-Colombian dance music. With such diverse musical backgrounds among band mates it’s hard to clump their talents into one genre, but whoever branded them “hella bailable” was headed in the right direction.

Reflecting on the themes that inspired many mid-century Cumbia artists, guitarist/accordion player Marco Polo Santiago thought about what topic to base their new song around, acknowledging that the theme “In Concert with Nature” could take many routes. Being a California band, they came up with “El Agua Ya Se Acabo”, a timely piece that roughly translates to “the water ran out” and will (the band hopes) help people recognize the severity of the current drought.

Check out a preview of the song below and an interview with the band talking about the new song and their upcoming Stern Grove Festival performance.

La Misa Negra will perform “El Agua Ya Se Acabo” and more at an admission-free concert this Sunday, July 24, when they open the stage for the GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning Mexican singer/songwriter Julieta Venegas at 2 p.m.

Interplay – John Brothers Piano Company

There’s no doubt about it: San Francisco is a musical masterpiece. Whether known or not, residents and tourists experience tunes from the city’s natural soundscape (a hum of Muni buses or cheers from AT&T Park) and from the countless busking musicians posted on corners across the city. Few performing acts recognize this city’s potential as yet another instrument like John Brothers Piano Company (JBPC), who first grew their fan base by dragging a beat-up piano to BART stations around the Bay and making street corners a personal stage for the afternoon.

Although it is a unique setting for many artists, Stern Grove Festival is still a ready-made performance space like fellow Bay Area staples The Independent and Fox Theater, equipped with concert hall speakers and barricades. But unlike many venues, artists not only have to perform: they have to fire up the crowd and remind them that they are not just in a public park for the day, but at a live concert that demands the same energy as any other festival stage. For some artists, this can be a challenging task, but the men of JBPC are very familiar with this game:

“When we play on the street, we must, in essence, create the context for the performance as opposed to one that is readymade as in a club or venue,” explains JBPC pianist and trumpeter Arlo Perlstein. “Our show must be impressive enough to snap people out of their daily grinds, to turn the sidewalk into a venue. When we have an attentive audience in a jazz club or at festival, for example, we are much freer in the music we play because don’t need to be simultaneously performing and saying ‘this is a performance!’” It’s an unfortunate reality that people often equate quality of music or art with a performance’s setting and price point. This thought was well conveyed in an experiment by the Washington Post where one of the best concert violinists in the world performed in a subway station on a 3.5 million dollar violin, but only seven people stopped to listen to him play. JBPC is very familiar with this reality, as a good portion of their audience are pedestrians who did not expect to come across a concert on their commute, and often do not stop to listen at all. 

“To get people to even notice us we have to make the music interactive with the environment,” says drummer and pianist Jimi Marks, who notes that their performances often reflect the crowd’s energy. “We won’t play the same song to a street full of headphone-wearing commuters with their heads down as we would to an engaged crowd. But there are ways to engage people that may have otherwise walked straight past us, and part of that is playing to your surroundings, being part of the environment, and inviting others to stop and be a part of it too.”

Marks looks forward to having the freedom to play music with subtlety and nuance at SGF that “maybe would not fare so well at a busy BART station.”

We’re thinking some of that subtlety may show up in “Katabasis, the new piece JBPC has written as part of this season’s local artist commission series, where ten Bay Area bands and dance groups create new works inspired by the theme “In Concert with Nature” and debut them on the Stern Grove Stage. The band has been coming together to write this new work over recent months in preparation for their show this Sunday, practicing their craft outside in parks to really experience the theme.

“Feeling ‘in concert with nature’ is usually quite an inward, soulful experience,” says Marks. “The challenge will be to capture that experience on a personal level for such a large and diverse audience.”

Although they’ve been hired individually to create original works, the band as a whole has never participated in a commission series and are discovering that multiple voices can be both a blessing and a curse when creating something new.

“The most challenging aspect of this piece is, incidentally, what I also find to be most exciting: it is the process of creating together,” says Perlstein, noting that it can be easy to become attached to a part of a song that you’ve written, and difficult to abandon the part when it doesn’t work out in the final piece. “Each member of the band brings different musical sensibilities and ideas to the table and, invariably, some must be sacrificed for others when writing together. However it is also by this process that we as band can produce music of vibrancy and richness.”

And how vibrant and rich the music of JBPC is. Visit Stern Grove Festival’s 79th season this Sunday, July 17 to hear an admission-free performance by John Brothers Piano Company when they open for the legendary songstress Joan Osborne at 2 p.m., and keep your ears open for the debut performance of Katabasis.

Cooking with Anchor: Grove Gourmet 2016

What do music and food have in common? There are plenty of answers to that question, but we think they go great together at Stern Grove Festival, where we encourage all to pack a picnic and indulge in an outdoor feast. We welcome all curious and epicurious Festival attendees to participate in our Grove Gourmet Picnic Contest, sponsored and judged by our friends at Anchor Brewing Company.

Bring your favorite beer-themed picnic (extra points for incorporating Anchor brews) to the San Francisco Symphony’s performance at the Grove on Sunday, July 10. First place takes home a VIP brewery tour and tasting for 10 adults at Anchor Brewing Company. Second place wins an Anchor merchandise swag bag. Be sure to make plenty to share with our judges. Anchor brewers in white coveralls will be in the Grove to judge picnic spreads between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Let us know you’re entering into the contest by sharing an Instagram or tweeting a picture of your picnic and tagging #sterngrovefest and #RaiseYourAnchor.

Not sure what to bring? Here are some of delicious recipes for Anchor Brewing beer-centric bites, courtesy of Chef Kenneth Hernandez, Culinary Engineer and Founder of Collective Green SF.

If you’re of age, you can find the following tasty brews and others with Anchor Brewing’s Beer Finder.

Grilled Go West! IPA Jalapeno Blackberry Wings
Yield: 6 Servings

Go West! IPA

Go West! IPA

4 pounds chicken wings
2 12 oz. bottles Go West! IPA
1 cup blackberries
1 jalapeno
½ cup fresh sage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
Celery and carrots for garnish



Directions:Go West! Marinade

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the jalapeno-blackberry mixture, Go West! IPA, herbs, spices, and salt until emulsified.
  2. Add wings, stir, and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Drain marinade from wings but set liquid aside and save. Pat wings dry with a paper towel.
  4. Cooking options:
    -Grilling: Set your grill to 375 degrees. Place wings directly on the grate and cook for 30 minutes. As grill temps may vary, poke with a fork to check that they’re cooked through. Go West! Wings on grillPro Tip: brush glaze on wings during the cooking process. It will add more robust flavor!
    -Baking: Set your oven to 375 degrees. Place wings on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cook for 30 minutes. As oven temps may vary, poke with a fork to check that they’re cooked through.
  5. Serve with celery and carrot sticks.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Grilled Corn, and Feta Salad with Balsamic Meyer Lemon Lager Vinaigrette
Yield: 5 Servings

Meyer Lemon Lager SaladSalad Ingredients:
3 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 cups corn kernels, sliced off cob (grilled, cooled and sliced)
2 cups baby arugula
2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
Dash of olive oil
¾ cup feta

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
⅓ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup (4 oz.) Anchor’s Meyer Lemon Lager
Dash of salt and ground black pepper


  1. Grill the corn, cool, and slice kernels off the cob. If access to a grill is not possible, steam the corn.
  2. In a large bowl, combine heirloom tomatoes, corn, baby arugula, basil, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss and set aside
  3. In a saucepan, emulsify the vinaigrette olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Anchor’s Meyer Lemon Lager, salt, and pepper.Bring to a boil, then simmer until the liquid has reduced in half. Set aside and cool
  4. Drizzle vinaigrette on salad, toss, and sprinkle feta on top.

Anchor Liberty Ale Cold Wild Rice
Yield: 6 Servings

Liberty Ale Cold Wild Rice- finishedIngredients:
1 cup wild rice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2.5 cups water
1 cup (8 oz.) Anchor Liberty Ale
¼ cup red onions, small dice
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup green onion, chopped
¼ cup carrots, small dice
¼ cup celery, small dice

Dressing Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon honey

Liberty Ale Cold Wild Rice- cookingDirections:

  1. In a medium pot, combine olive oil, red onion, wild rice and Anchor Liberty Ale. Cook at a low boil until half of the beer has evaporated. Add water. Bring back to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook until no liquid remains.
  2. Prepare dressing by combining all dressing ingredients and emulsify together.
  3. Stir in walnuts, green onion, carrots, and celery into wild rice mixture. Drizzle with dressing, stir, and garnish with parsley.

Culinary Credit: Chef Ken Hernandez,
Photography Credit: Joseph Phillips,

Interplay – Mix’d Ingrdnts

Oakland-based dancers Jenay Anolin and Samara Atkins sparked more than just a close friendship when they met at an audition in 2008. They had long felt the pressures of working in the male-dominated field of hip hop dance – where women are often degraded and left uninspired to pursue opportunities – and decided it was time for a change. Together they formed Mix’d Ingrdnts, an all-female, all-styles dance crew and company that seeks to empower women to speak up and express themselves through art, most often dance.

Working with a unique track made by local DJ and producer Coflo, titled “Dawn”, the ladies of Mix’d Ingrdnts have come together to create the next installment in this season’s local artist commission series. Inspired by the theme “Interplay: In Concert with nature”, Mix’d Ingrdnts’ new work uses a natural soundscape to open the scene and set the tone for an awe-inspiring piece.

Preview the piece below, and catch the debut of “Dawn” at Stern Grove Festival this Sunday, July 3, when Mix’d Ingrdnts (along with fellow dance crew Golden State Breakers) opens the stage at 2 p.m. for local legends Hieroglyphics.

Interplay – Hieroglyphics

Hieroglyphics logo

Hieroglyphics is an Oakland-based musical collective of underground hip-hop artists whose individual careers skyrocketed in the early 90′s, but later came together to form their own group and hip hop recording label to take control of their careers. Since its evolution in 1997, Hieroglyphics has matured into a preeminent force in the american hip hop scene and is one of the most prolific groups that hails from the Bay Area. As a participating act in this season’s local artist commission series, members of the 9-piece Hiero crew came together to create a new song inspired by the theme “Interplay: In Concert with Nature”. The piece will debut this Sunday, July 3, on stage at Stern Grove Festival.

We were invited to visit and interview original Hiero members Casual and Phesto Dee (also of Souls of Mischief) at their Oakland warehouse and recording space. Listen below for their perspectives on being an artist in the Bay Area, performing at Stern Grove Festival, and what words of advice they have for young musicians.

Interplay – Bayonics, “Abajo Del Sol”

For decades, generations of families from the Bay Area and beyond have looked to Stern Grove Festival as both a source of entertainment and an opportunity for families to experience music from a wide variety of cultures.

Quite often the same kids who grew up coming to the Festival every summer return as adults to perform on our stage. Stern Grove Festival is proud to provide this opportunity for local artists, and Bayonics — a local group participating in this season’s commission series — is no exception. Some of the band’s members have attended the Festival’s admission-free shows their entire lives and drew from these memories when brainstorming their new song, “Abajo Del Sol”.

As one of the 10 local performing groups participating in the commission series, Bayonics was asked to craft this new piece inspired by the theme, “Interplay: In Concert with Nature”. We had a chance to chat with Bayonics’ lead singer, Rojai, on the group’s experience participating in the commission and on their upcoming performance, when they open for funk legends George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at 2 p.m. this Sunday, June 26. Read Rojai’s feedback below and watch the video clip to get a glimpse of their new song.

Stern Grove Festival: This commission is a new experience for you as an artist. What did you anticipate being the most challenging aspect of it, and what are you most excited about with this process?

Rojai: We would say this is a fairly new challenge for us. Stern Grove provides a diverse forum for artists to display their art and talents. Coming from San Francisco and being a household name for the last two decades, I would say the challenge was how we would approach this project in terms of genres specifically, because we play a wide range of music and we wanted to make sure that it was all encompassed in the experience of being at Stern Grove. Finally, we decided to write a song with more of a celebratory “feel good” vibe, and we identified each of our positive experiences of being at this amazing concert series in the past. The exciting part of this process was getting together and witnessing the development and growth of the song we wrote together as a group. I definitely feel that this allowed us to become stronger as a group, get on the same page, and have the results sounding super fresh!

SGF: The commission focuses on the relationship between the artist and the environment. How does the environment/venue you perform in influence your creative choices and how does it influence how you interact with the audience?

R: We were able to make the connection between the unique relationships at the Festival by having first-hand experience at the Festival our entire lives. We view Stern Grove as the city’s oasis — a place where people get to escape their daily grind and be free with shoes off in the grass. Where they get together with friends and neighbors and enjoy a free concert while dancing and singing along. Basically, allowing nature and love to inspire positivity. The connection with the audience is an experience for being in the crowd and onstage. Obviously the world is going through tough times and this is exactly what our society needs. To encourage love and respect and freedom.

SGF: A major part of Stern Grove Festival’s mission is providing free access to the performing arts for the public, often to artists whose work they are unfamiliar with. How will this focus on accessibility influence your creative process or performance?

R: The accessibility aspect of the Stern Grove Festival is an ideology that we share and have been on the front lines for the past two decades here in the city and abroad. Playing block parties, street festivals, and simply us running our own little generator and setting up on Market Street to create awareness of our music and our message. For us this is a huge milestone because we have been rocking stages here in the city for quite some time and Stern Grove Festival provides a larger forum for us to spread our creativity and our positive vibrations. This definitely has a lot to do with the inspiration of writing more music that will allow people to dance and get loose.  We are taking our experiences as previous audience members over the years and are able to channel that feeling into our writing process.

SGF: Stern Grove Festival is committed to artistic diversity and San Francisco is known for its vibrant and diverse arts community. How would you describe the sound of San Francisco?

R: I feel that we are a band that describes the diversity of our city. We are a Mission District-based band grounded in Latin roots, funk, hip-hop and reggae. Each member that is in the band comes from an interesting background. The diversity from our members with connections all over the world is amplified in our unique Frisco sound. A melting pot filled with rich ingredients from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. The sound has changed here in the city with modern technology and electronics being integrated more in the mainstream, but unique artists are finding ways to implement folklore sound, mixed in with the new modern feel that will allow them to speak to a larger demographic.

SGF: Is there anything else Bayonics would like to let their fans know about their upcoming performance or about the band itself?

R: We want to let everyone know that they should strap on their Birkenstocks super tight because they are in for a wild ride! We are a band that embraces comradery, family, and life. We have decided for my last two years to focus more in the Caribbean sound that entails reggae, dancehall, salsa, and reggae-ton. We still have our roots in the funk, but we are displaying that more in our side projects which we will highlight this upcoming Sunday. We are super excited to be part of this summer series. Make sure to be on the lookout for our new album Resilience dropping the end of the summer. People can catch us as well at the Reggae on the River Festival in August representing the Bay Area! And also the Cukui Festival at Great America in September. And of course…thank you, Stern Grove!

Catch the debut live performance of “Abajo Del Sol” and more from Bayonics this Sunday, June 26 when they open for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at 2 p.m. Visit our website to learn more about Bayonics and the rest of the Stern Grove Festival’s 79th Season.