Interplay – Midtown Social

Following Stern Grove Festival’s founding mission to support local artists, for the second season in a row the Festival presents ten brand new works of art as part of our local artist commission series, “Interplay: In Concert with Nature”.

When we first invited local SoMa-based “California soul” band Midtown Social to participate in this season’s commission series, they hit the ground running. Bouncing ideas off each other, the nine-piece group came up with “Home”, a dreamy hit with heavy bass and percussion that draws various aspects of nature to mind. It’s a perfect match with what Stern Grove Festival represents: an eclectic mix of sounds coming together in harmony with the outdoors.

“We’ve been asked to do commissions before”, says Midtown Social drummer, RJ Julia. “But this is really fantastic because we get to interpret a beautiful space and what it means to us as a collective.”

Watch below for a preview of the song and to learn more about Midtown Social and their creative process.

Catch Midtown Social on Sunday, June 19th for the debut of “Home” when the group opens for Janelle Monáe and we kick off the Festival’s 79th Season!

Midtown Social is: Aaron Joseph (Keys, Lead Vocals), Kisura Nyoto (Lead Vocals), RJ Julia (Drums), Rory Matthews (Guitar), Sarah Rice (Bass), Adam Rubinger (Percussion), Lydia Eyssallenne (Violin), Whitney Moses (Backing Vocals), and Teddy Raven (Saxophone/Flute).

Playlist :: Sergio Mendes and LoCura

Playlist of the Week #9

We’ve got just over a  week until the final performance of the 77th Stern Grove Festival. We’ve heard a ton of amazing music, ranging from all genres, raining in from all over the world. However, we’ve still got some amazing music to share with you, including this week’s Playlist of the Week, inspired by or related to brazilian superstar Sergio Mendes and fiery San Francisco band LoCura. Give it a listen and if you like what you hear grab a friend and a blanket and come on down to the second to last weekend of Stern Grove Festival. LoCura opens the show up at 2 p.m. and the show is, as always, admission-free.


Playlist :: Darlene Love and Monophonics

This week’s playlist, courtesy of a very musical staff member of ours, is inspired by or related to the legendary vocalist Darlene Love and Bay Area favorite Monophonics, who will perform at the Festival this Sunday, Aug 10 at 2 p.m. French soul singer, Ben L’Oncle Soul will join Monophonics as a special guest artist. Check out the tunes, let us know what you think of the playlist or if you’ll be coming to the show through Facebook!

We hope to see you all there.

Ben L’Oncle Soul returns to Stern Grove Festival this Sunday, Aug 10, as a guest of Monophonics

Some of you may remember the stellar performance by Ben L’Oncle Soul during Stern Grove Festival’s 74th Season. If you missed it, check out the video here for a glimpse of this French soul star.

We’re excited that Ben will return to Stern Grove Festival as a guest of our local friends, Monophonics on Sunday, August 10. Monophonics is just back from a European tour with Ben and we’re thrilled to welcome them home with this show! Monophonics will hit the stage at 2 p.m., followed by the legendary Darlene Love. Don’t miss it!

Backstage :: Monophonics


Monophonics at Stern Grove Festival on Sunday, August 10, at 2 p.m.

Over the past seven years, Monophonics have staked their claim as one of the west coast’s premier bands. Raised amid the rich musical culture of San Francisco, Monophonics has proudly carried on the tradition of music native to their hometown, which flourished during the birth of funk music and psychedelic soul.

Psychedelic Soul, sometimes called Black Rock, is a sub-genre of Soul music, combining soul with psychedelic rock. It came to prominence in the late 1960s and continued into the 1970s, playing a major role in the development of soul and funk music. Monophonics were formed in 2005 as an instrumental ensemble, but in the last two years their sound has evolved to encompass vocally driven songs.

Below is an interview we conducted with Monophonics bass player Myles O’Mahony.


Are there any psych soul bands that you find yourselves listening to lately?
Orgone and Ben L’Oncle Soul, among others. There are so many great bands developing and growing out of this scene.

What is your favorite San Francisco venue? Restaurant? Neighborhood?
Venue – The Fillmore, aside from the great history, it’s just a good place to see a show and has been a dream of mine/ours to play at there since we were young. In doing so recently, it only fortified my feelings for the place.

Restaurant – There is a lot of good food in SF but a birthday tradition of mine is Little Star Pizza on Divisadero. That place is hard to beat.

Neighborhood – The Mission is one of the more vibrant neighborhoods of the city and tends to be the general go-to.

What made you make the jump from an instrumental ensemble to a vocally-driven band?
Transitioning from an instrumental outfit into being a predominately vocal lead band was something I think we all wanted from the beginning. It just took time to first build a feel as a group of musicians then take the time to find the right singer. We were lucky to find as good a fit as Kelly, who really was the missing link we needed to grow into our own as a band.

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Playlist :: Rufus Wainwright and Quartet San Francisco

Playlist of the Week #6

When life gets too hectic, when the world has got you down, good music can always be found.

This Playlist of the Week is inspired by the grooves and tunes of both a man who has been voted the best voice of our generation, acclaimed singer/songwriter, Rufus Wainwright, and our very own Quartet San Francisco. Listen below and get excited for this weekend, because this Sunday’s concert is, as always, admission-free. Click here to learn more about the artists, as well as the rest of the season’s lineup.


Rufus Wainwright and Quartet San Francisco

Playlist :: The Funky Meters and Sugar Pie DeSanto

Playlist of the Week #3

Along with many of the best things in life (love, good food, good wine…), music is one of the most important, and sometimes overlooked, parts of  our everyday lives.  Our weekly playlists celebrate our love of music and the artists we’re inspired by every day.

The performers at this week’s concert, The Funky Meters and Sugar Pie DeSanto, are the inspiration behind the Playlist of the Week. We’ve asked our staff to compile a number of songs inspired by or related to the artists. Listen below, and come see the founding fathers of funk, The Funky Meters, and one of the most underrated female soul singers of the early ’60s, Sugar Pie DeSanto, perform live this Sunday, June 20, at 2 P.M. at the beautiful Sigmund Stern Grove. The performance is, as always, admission-free. Donations are welcomed!