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.

 

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).

New Works Debut this Summer with “Interplay: In Concert with Nature”

A series of artist commissions returns this summer at Stern Grove Festival

Part of Stern Grove Festival’s founding mission is to provide paid performing opportunities for local artists. The Festival is also a place for local artists to connect and interact with their community in an intimate and admission-free setting.

This summer, Stern Grove Festival continues this legacy with its local artist commission series. Ten local artists performing this summer will debut new works during the 79th Season. Using the the theme, “Interplay: In Concert with Nature” as a point of departure, artists will craft these new works inspired by the unique “interplay” between performance, nature, and the audience.

Fans can look forward to new works in hip-hop music and dance, funk, Afro-Colombian, synth pop, and more from the following local artists:

Keep up with the Festival’s blog and connect with us on Facebook for a glimpse behind the scenes as the artists work on these new pieces.

midtown-social-square

Midtown Social

bayonics-square

Bayonics

hieroglpyhics-square

Hieroglyphics

mixd-ingrdnts-square

Mix’d Ingrdnts

golden-state-breakers-square

Golden State Breakers

john-bros-square

John Brothers Piano Company

la-misa-negra-square

La Misa Negra

MJ's Brass Boppers

MJ’s Brass Boppers

afrolicious-square

Afrolicious

astronauts-etc-square

Astronauts, etc.

SGF Playlist :: Stern Grove Festival’s 79th Season Line-Up

Welcome to Stern Grove Festival’s 79th season! This year, the admission-free concert line-up features some big names like king of funk George Clinton, the GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning Julieta Venegas, and the Bay Area’s own groundbreaking hip hop collective Hieroglpyhics. These major artists are accompanied by a ring of impressive local performers, from the Mission District’s nightclub-turned-big-band, Afrolicious, to the swinging styles of John Brothers Piano Company, who got their start (literally) in train stations and on street corners around the Bay Area.

“Aside from the diversity and world class talent that we’ll be having on our stage this summer, I’m proud that we’re highlighting local artists each week,” says Judy Tsang, Director of Programming for Stern Grove Festival. “The Bay Area is full of talent and we should all get to know and support the artists who live here.”

In addition to the artists and bands shared in the 79th Season’s Spotify Playlist below are three incredible dance groups: the world-famous San Francisco Ballet (performing 7/31), the all-girl dance group Mix’d Ingrdnts (7/3), and the b-boys of the Golden State Breakers (7/3).

Please visit Stern Grove Festival’s concert page for a complete list of and further information on the performing artists of the 79th season, or visit any of the Artist Pages below:

June 19
Janelle Monáe
Midtown Social

June 26
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
Bayonics

July 3
Hieroglyphics
Mix’d Ingrdnts
Golden State Breakers

July 10
San Francisco Symphony

July 17
Joan Osborne’s Soul Revue
John Brothers Piano Company

July 24
Julieta Venegas
La Misa Negra

July 31
San Francisco Ballet

August 7
The O’Jays
MJ’s Brass Boppers

August 14
ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor feat Jamie Lidell, Luke Jenner, Money Mark, Sinkane, and more

August 21
The New Pornographers
Astronauts, etc.

Zakiya Harris – “Interplay” and Kids Camp

We met up with local singer Zakiya Harris during the last day of her songwriting Kids Camp at Stern Grove Festival. She spoke about being one of the seven local artists chosen to participate in this season’s “Interplay” local artist commission series, her dynamic sound and band, Elephantine, and more.

She’ll perform her new song this Sunday, August 16 when she opens for Talib Kweli at 2 p.m.


Grove Gourmet – Anchor Brewing picnic contest

There are few things more “summer” than Stern Grove Festival, but beer and picnics on Independence Day weekend come pretty close! In celebration of the Fourth of July, we’re teaming up with our sponsor Anchor Brewing Company for the first Grove Gourmet Picnic Contest of the season.

Bring your favorite patriotic or beer-themed picnic to the San Francisco Symphony’s performance at the Grove on Sunday, July 5. First place takes home two tickets to a San Francisco Symphony performance and a VIP brewery tour and tasting for 10 adults at Anchor Brewery. Second place wins an Anchor merchandise gift basket.

Come prepared with enough to share with our judges! Anchor brewers in white coveralls will be in the Grove to judge picnic spreads between noon and 1:30 p.m. Be sure to 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.


Anchor Summer Wheat Potato SaladServes 10
Ingredients:

3 12 oz. cans of Anchor Summer Wheat® 3 cups vegetable stock or water
3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes cut to medium dice
2 bay leaves
1/2 red onion diced and quickly pickled in red wine vinegar
2 stalks of celery diced
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
4 oz. of mayo or vegan mayo
2 tablespoons mustard Salt pepper, mustard powder and paprika to taste
Lemon juice or red wine vinegar to taste

Instructions:

  1. Soak diced red onions in red wine vinegar for at least 1 hour.
  2. Bring Anchor Summer Wheat® and vegetable stock or water to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes with bay leaves. Add potatoes and cook until soft.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl (red onions should be removed from red wine vinegar), add potatoes.
  4. Add salt, pepper, mustard powder, paprika, and lemon juice/red wine vinegar to taste.

Anchor IPA Beer Bread – Serves 12

Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sea salt or salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon fresh dill
1 12 oz. cans/bottles Anchor IPA™
1 tablespoon lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or lime juice
1/4 Ghee, Butter or Vegan Butter

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, grease baking pan (9” x 4.5” pan or similar)with preferred fat (ghee, butter or vegan butter).
  2. In a bowl or standard mixer add self-rising flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, garlic powder, dill. Mix until evenly combined.
  3. Add beer and lemon/lime juice or apple cider vinegar and mix until moist.
  4. Transfer dough to baking pan. Top with preferred fat (ghee, butter or vegan butter).
  5. Bake 40 minutes to 1 hour until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
  6. Top with fresh dill, herbs and sea salt.

Anchor California Lager Kebobs – Serves 10

Ingredients:
3 lbs. of boneless organic chicken breast
Chicken Marinade: 1/4 cup chopped parsley, mint, cilantro, basil; salt, pepper, lemon juice, red chili flakes to taste; dash of grape seed oil and 2 12 oz. cans/bottles Anchor California Lager®.
1 lb. red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch square pieces
1 lb. red onion, cut into 1-inch square pieces
1 lb. wild mushroom or crimini mushroom, cut into 1-inch square pieces
10 10-inch wood skewers (soak in cold water for up to an hour)
Aluminum foil 

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients for marinade in a large bowl, whisk until emulsified
  2. Cut chicken breast into medium size squares. Add to marinade and let sit for 2 hours (8 hours maximum)
  3. Pre-heat grill or oven at 375 degrees
  4. Wrap foil around bottom of skewers up to 4 inches (this will prevent skewers from breaking apart on grill)
  5. Skewer vegetables and meat in desired order (red pepper, chicken, red onion, chicken, mushroom, chicken, red pepper)
  6. Grill skewers on each side until cooked (internal temperature for chicken should be 165 degrees)

Liberty Ale Peanut Butter Brownies – Makes 3 dozen cookies (medium-sized)

Ingredients:
5 Eggs
1/3 cup Peanut Butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate roughly chopped
1/2 Cocoa Powder
2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or fresh vanilla bean
1 1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Liberty Ale®

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a bowl mix cream, peanut butter, butter, Liberty Ale® and a dash of salt
  3. Beat eggs and vanilla extract (or vanilla bean) until combined
  4. Add flour, cocoa powder and a dash of salt
  5. In a greased baking pan pour brownie butter and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean.

All photos credited to Joseph Phillips Photography.

Interplay — Hot Club of San Francisco

Jazz Club or Outdoor Park, Hot Club of San Francisco Welcomes All


 

Hot Club of San FranciscoWhat words come to mind when imagining Stern Grove Festival? For Hot Club of San Francisco, the words “beautiful, outdoors, open, clean, and fresh” inspired their most recent song, crafted for the Stern Grove Festival stage as part of the “Interplay” commission series. Vocalist and guitarist Paul Mehling of this local gypsy jazz band shared with us the challenging process of translating these words into a sound that evokes the unique experience of being “In Concert with Nature” at Stern Grove.

“Using the copious amount of time we spend in rented vans while on tour together, we managed to brainstorm some ideas that were almost unanimously agreeable to all of us, which we then slowly molded into the song’s now ‘finished’ state,” says Mehling of their newest song, “Groovin at the Old Stern Grove”.

Hot Club understands, but embraces the challenges in working with the environment of a concert space, whether it is a jazz club, on the street, a full stage, or among towering eucalyptus trees. Not every band can adapt their sound to the claps of a crowded jazz hall and keep up with the rhythm of the wind blowing through 100-foot trees, but Hot Club looks forward to the environment of Stern Grove advancing their sound.

Mehling feels that the quintet is uniquely aware and involved with the environment of a venue. “Since our goal is to somehow reach and touch our audience, we need to be acutely in tune with our environment and how best to circumvent any blockages which might preclude us from connecting with listeners.” This could be something mechanical (like sound system issues), something personal (a broken heart), or something out of their control, like fans unfamiliar with their style of music.

Groovin at the Old Stern Grove scoreGypsy jazz, which promotes the swinging sounds made popular by guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt in 1930s Paris, carries a welcoming aura in each twang and pick of a guitar. Fans are drawn in by its lively rhythm, and Mehling and the crew take the next step in treating each audience member as a friend that they haven’t yet met. “While audiences may or may not be familiar with us, or our genre of music, we hope to establish an interplay and connection with them that they won’t find anywhere else, and which will stay with them.”

The five members of Hot Club take being San Franciscans—and the area’s influences and long list of contributions to the evolution of jazz—very seriously. These ties are evident while listening to their new song, where nods are given to local insider jokes like “vegan/pagan hipsters” and “high-tech chief execs” grooving together at everyone’s favorite urban getaway, Stern Grove.

Mehling says he and the rest of Hot Club feel a huge sense of indebtedness to the people in the Bay Area jazz scene that they’ve learned from, been inspired by, and have been a part of for more than 27 years. “We are extremely proud to not only be a part of this artistic tapestry, but we see our role in preserving and pushing it forward as an integral part of our purpose.”

Hear Hot Club of San Francisco perform “Groovin at the Old Stern Grove” and more at Stern Grove Festival this Sunday, June 28 when they open for one of America’s favorite lyricists, Randy Newman. The show kicks off at 2 p.m.

June, 2015 Stern Grove Festival

Interplay — The California Honeydrops

The California Honeydrops stretch their imaginations for “Interplay commission


California HoneydropsAs the city rapidly changes, supporting local artists is vital in maintaining the sounds of San Francisco. One of Stern Grove Festival’s goals has always been to offer a space for local artists to access the community, while supporting their work.

With that in mind, this summer we’ve commissioned seven local performers to create new music and dance pieces specifically for our stage. These pieces reflect the connection between the artist, audience, and nature that creates the singular experience offered at Stern Grove Festival. Titled “Interplay”, this commissioning series allows the artists to create something special to be debuted for our audience.

Preparing for this commission wasn’t natural to Lech Wierzysnki, the lead singer (and guitarist, and trumpeter) of Oakland-based band, The California Honeydrops.  In looking for inspiration to capture what it means to be “In Concert With Nature”, he found that simply sitting down and thinking performing outside wasn’t the easiest way to become inspired.

“This commission is different, in that the work is a little more premeditated,” he adds, on the steps the band took in beginning their new song, “Long Way”. “In writing this song I tried to make the process as natural and personal as possible, while keeping a few important sources of inspiration in mind. I often use nature as a place to reflect peacefully on the complications of life – a place apart from my day-to-day routines, where I can find perspective and guidance.”

Lech Wierzynski and Johnny Bones practice “Long Way” in preparation the the Stern Grove Festival debut on June 14.

Honing their “street soul” sound in BART stations, dive bars, and crowded clubs, The California Honeydrops recognize the connection between music and the space in which it is performed. “This is a welcomed change for us,” Wierzysnki notes. “Just as the people (at Stern Grove Festival) have room to breathe, to relax, and to enjoy the sky above and the trees around, this piece of music will have an organic and meditative feeling to it.”

In writing “Long Way” The California Honeydrops pulled inspiration from their own musical upbringing as street artists. Being non-mainstream musicians with no label backing and little money, the group often plays for new fans. “We know what it takes to grab a new audience and pull them along on a ride.” Wierzysnki says, “In the end, the feeling in music is a universal language.”

In creating a piece distinctly for a crowd in San Francisco, the California Honeydrops had it easy in that, well, they’re from here. They’re well-versed in the sounds of the city. But with the cost of living in the Bay Area on the rise, many musicians like the Honeydrops are constantly under pressure to take their trade elsewhere, and many veterans on the music scene have moved on. “The sound of San Francisco is certainly changing, and reflective of an ever-narrower slice of the socio-economic spectrum,” Wierzysnki notes. “I’m most familiar with folks playing roots music, blues, rhythm and blues, funk, soul, gospel, Cajun/Zydeco. There are great young, creative musicians as well, but I learned my craft from older musicians in the Bay.”

Come check out the debut performance of “Long Way” June 14 at Stern Grove Festival. The California Honeydrops take the stage at 2 p.m., followed by The Doobie Brothers.

June 9, 2015 Stern Grove Festival

SGF News :: The Doobie Brothers Headline at The Big Picnic on June 14

The Doobie Brothers and The California Honeydrops

We’re excited to announce that rock legends The Doobie Brothers will perform at The Big Picnic opening day celebration at Stern Grove Festival on June 14, 2015. Local blues group The California Honeydrops will open the show.

Click here for more information about The Big Picnic.