BottleRock Music Festival 2023

Napa Valley’s Three-Day Event Sets the Stage Ablaze with Great Music

To paraphrase Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corrigan, BottleRock is most definitely a top-shelf music festival. Yes, the crowds at this annual Memorial Day weekend extravaganza are massive — more than 40,000 people per day invaded the Napa Valley Expo May 26-28 (that’s close to half the population of Santa Barbara to give you some scale) — but the talent on stage is equally massive.

Here’s a recap.

Lizzo | Photo: Nicolita Bradley for BottleRock Napa Valley

Day 1

The first day’s headliners included the aforementioned Corrigan and the Smashing Pumpkins, who gave a full throttle, pedal-to-the-metal, balls-to-the-wall, pulse-quickening performance that most 50-somethings can only dream of pulling off, featuring a playlist of mostly old favorites like “1979,” “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” and “Silverfuck,” as well as newer songs like “Empires,” from the 2022 album ATUM-Act I & II. One of many highlights: an amusing cover of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” that sounded nothing like David Byrne.  

Also on the bill that same night (and unfortunately at the same time) was Post Malone, who my friend Misty (and many others) ranked as one of the top shows of the weekend. Sadly I missed out on Posty, but the Pumpkins were worth it in my book.

Smashing Pumpkins | Quinn Tucker for BottleRock Napa Valley

Another highlight from day one was Bastille, an indie British band whose strong lead vocalist Dan Smith added the beautiful voice of backing vocalist Bim Amoako to the mix for extra oomph. They made an excellent pair, and she even took on lead vocal duties on a cheeky cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs” — quite a departure from Bastille’s sad/happy songs like “Good Grief,” Pompeii,” and “Things We Lost in the Fire.”

BottleRock 2016 | Credit: Wikipedia Commons

I also really enjoyed a set by Jean Dawson, who brought a super random juxtaposition of sweetness and scary to the stage. He looked like a full gangsta-rapper-style dude with a grill, bandana, etc., and then played in front of videos of Teletubbies. He even pulled a little girl (maybe 12 years old) up on stage with him to sing along and play the maracas for a while. This is the kind of thing you (or at I) only get at festivals, and it’s so much fun to see what surprises are in store from stage to stage.

There were 22 bands in all that day, including S.B. Bowl favorite Billy Strings, Thievery Corporation, Peter Cat Recording Co., The Airborne Toxic Event, Phantogram, Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, War, and The Stone Foxes, among others.

Day 2

As I wrote earlier, they had me at Lizzo. She’s an incredible performer and her show was the absolute highlight of BottleRock for me. She owned that crowd from the moment she strutted on stage in her black leather catsuit with the curve-emphasizing green lace-up accents — joined by a fabulous five-piece, all-female band, three backup vocalists, and nine backup dancers she calls the Big Grrrls — she performed her long list of hits, including “About Damn Time,” “Juice,” and “Truth Hurts,” along with a terrific cover of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.” I heard she played Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” a couple days before in Phoenix, so I was hoping she would do a repeat of the song in honor of the late performer, but sadly she didn’t, which was probably my only disappointment in a truly stellar evening.

Lizzo | Michael Drummond for BottleRock Napa Valley

Lizzo is such a natural born superstar — she oozes so much charisma and talent, but is also so authentically herself — not to mention her unapologetic self love and sex positivity, that her joyful performance was something that truly transcended her show into a completely different realm than a typical concert. I got a little teary watching a trans teenager and their two moms dancing it out to Lizzo’s show together. She’s just that kind of an amazing performer, and it was just that kind of a night.

That day wasn’t too shabby either. While we missed Duran Duran playing on a competing stage (there were 27 bands playing that day), I was able to catch Leon Bridges, Lupe Fiasco, and Carly Rae Jepson on Saturday. I also saw Dogstar, Keanu Reeves and his band of buddies who were adorable and sounded like, well, Keanu Reeves and his band of buddies.

Paris Jackson | Mila Birtcher for BottleRock Napa Valley

Among my other highlights of Saturday was an opportunity to hang out at the JaMPad, a special club-like venue from JaM Cellars, the winery who is the main sponsor of the event. I sat about six feet away from singer Paris Jackson (daughter of Michael Jackson), who did a short, angsty, coffeehouse-girl-and-her-guitar set, and then was completely blown away by Mac Saturn, a Detroit-based band with some 70s Rolling Stones meets Greta Van Fleet vibes. They are currently opening on tour for the Struts (who had a fun mainstage set on Sunday) but I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing about Mac Saturn headlining shows on their own soon. I was tempted to text Moss Jacobs myself, but I figured they’re probably already on his radar.

Day 3

Keanu Reeves in Dogstar | Photo: Priscilla Rodriguez for BottleRock Napa Valley

Another embarrassment of riches. In terms of the headliners, I recently saw Los Lobos at the Lobero, so although I love the wolves, I decided to check out the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and damned if they aren’t still smoking! I’m always a little worried they won’t live up to their past glory when I see my old favorite bands from my younger days, but the Chili Peppers are still one of the most exciting live bands that I’ve ever seen, running and bouncing all over the stage like guys half their age.

Anthony Kiedis looked a little like Spock with short black hair and a day-glow green tunic top, but his voice, enthusiasm and pure star quality were just as sexy and appealing as ever. And Flea, on bass, is still an acrobatic wildman up there, backed by Chad Smith on drums and John Frusciante as fabulous as ever on the guitar. They did an awesome set that included “Around the World,” “Snow (Hey Oh),” “Black Summer,” “Californication,” “Give it Away,” and my personal favorite, “Under the Bridge.”

Welcome to BottleRock | Photo: Zak Klobucher

Because of the time conflict with the Chili Peppers, I was only able to catch a few Lil’ Nas X songs, but boy does he make a sassy, spicy, show-stopping first impression. Between the sexy, scantily clad costumes and dancers, and the fun meshing of hip-hop, pop, and country music, he’s definitely a performer I want to see again.

Other day three highlights for me were Sheryl Crow, whose well-earned Wonder Woman t-shirt got a workout as the tiny dynamo with the big pipes sang and strummed her way through almost all of her classics, including “Strong Enough,” “All I Wanna Do,” “My Favorite Mistake,” and “Soak Up the Sun.”

With 74 bands in total to choose from over the three-day weekend, I could have easily created a completely different and still enjoyable playlist, as I’m sure many others did. There were so many aura delights to be found that despite listening to music from noon until after 10 p.m. each day, I still barely scratched the surface.

The Spa at BottleRock | Photo: Zak Klobucher

The Rest of the Fest

That being said, I would be remiss in not reporting at least a little about the bounty of food and drink at BottleRock. We were in Napa Valley after all, and the many fabulous wineries pouring included title sponsor JaM Cellars, as well as Caymus Vineyards, The Duckhorn Portfolio, Miner Family Winery, Emmolo Wines, Schramsberg Vineyards, Silverado Vineyards, Mumm Napa, Robledo Family Winery, ACUMEN, Anarchist Wine Co., Oberon Wines and Art House Wines. There were also more than 40 different beers on tap, and loads of artisanal cocktails made with top-shelf spirits including Ketel One Vodka, Don Julio Tequila, Hendrick’s Gin, Aperol, Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky, Bulleit Bourbon, Captain Morgan, and Baileys Irish Cream — all of whom had cleverly themed and sometimes quite elaborate booths to visit. On the non-alcoholic side, Liquid Death (a hip canned water brand) had its own club, complete with a D.J. and dance floor, Tarot Card readings, tattoos, and other fun accouterments.

Soaking up the sun with Sheryl Crow at BottleRock Napa | Photo: Zak Klobucher

The food itself was also really good, with big name restaurants like Morimoto Asia, La Toque, Goose & Gander, Nash & Proper, and about 40 more serving up incredible fare.

Another highlight for me was the Williams Sonoma Culinary stage, which brought out celebrity chefs and celebrities together to cook on the spot. Cooking bigwigs like José Andrés, Giada De Laurentiis, Aarón Sánchez, and the Voltaggio Brothers  were joined by musicians Lil Nas X, John Taylor & Roger Taylor of Duran Duran, Wu-Tang Clan, Sammy Hagar, Bastille, Tré Cool of Green Day, Dogstar featuring Bret Domrose, Robert Mailhouse & Keanu Reeves, and Dancer Derek Hough, among others. If the music itself wasn’t so tasty, I definitely would have spent a lot more time at the culinary stage.

The Wrap

BottleRock music festival was a sensory feast of sights and sounds, fun and festivities. It’s truly an adrenaline-fueled rush of entertainment of the highest order. The crowds were friendly and mostly very well behaved — there was grass all over the place rather than the dusty fields of many festivals — and the food and the wine were top notch. It really is a first class festival experience. That being said, the whole event was still tempered by the unavoidable inconveniences of being surrounded by so much humanity.

Keanu Reeves in Dogstar | Photo: Nicolita Bradley for BottleRock Napa Valley

Am I too old for this stuff was a question I asked both before, during, and after the festival. My conclusion: not quite. Being able to watch so many incredible artists in one place in just a few days is worth all of the inconveniences — but I definitely had to hang up my tiara in order to really enjoy it all to the fullest!

Tickets are now on pre-sale for next year’s BottleRock, which takes place May 24-26, 2024. Click here to access the information.

This story originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on June 3, 2023.

Streaming Culture

Originally published in the November 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Necessity is certainly the mother of invention these days, and performing arts organizations are pivoting in creative ways to bring entertainment directly to home audiences.

“Music is the common denominator that brings humans together, no matter the time or the place in history,” says New West Symphony (
21-virtual-season) CEO Natalia Staneva.

With that in mind, Staneva and the symphony’s artistic and music director, Michael Christie, have developed Global Sounds, eight mini music concerts and festivals inspired by cultures from around the world and presented virtually through June 2021.

“We discovered that our community contains a variety of cultures with vibrant musical traditions that have inspired and influenced classical music composers for generations,” says Christie. “And thus was born the concept of turning each concert experience into a mini cultural festival.”

Along with the orchestra performing symphonic works, each concert week will feature in-depth interviews with cultural experts and solo and ensemble performances of orchestra members and guest artists. Visit the website for tickets and more details.

UCSB Arts & Lectures ( brings cultural events home with House Calls, an interactive, online series of concerts, conversations, and question-and-answer sessions with musicians like Danish String Quartet and Rhiannon Giddens and authors such as Anne Lamott and Cheryl Strayed.

“House Calls is one way that Arts & Lectures is serving our community during a time when people are craving connection,” says Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures Miller McCune executive director, “to each other as well as to the major issues our nation and our world is facing right now.” For more information about individual events or to purchase tickets, visit the website or call 805-893-3535.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Summer Supper Concert in Los Olivos Continues

The next Summer Supper Concert in Los Olivos at St. Mark’s will be Thursday, August 9 at 5 p.m., featuring Tri-tip BBQ and the Just Dave Band with country tunes. Photo by Frank Panaro Photography.

The next Summer Supper Concert in Los Olivos at St. Mark’s will be Thursday, August 9 at 5 p.m., featuring Tri-tip BBQ and the Just Dave Band with country tunes. Photo by Frank Panaro Photography.

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip BBQ and all the fixings will be accompanied by the Just Dave Band  at Thursday’s Summer Supper Concert Series in Los Olivos

People of all ages are invited to enjoy the band—featuring lead singer, acoustic guitarist and harmonica player Dave Bernal and known for its high-energy legit country tunes as well as some fun originals—on August 9 from 5-8 p.m. in the shady, garden courtyard at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley church located at (2901 Nojoqui Ave., just one block from the flagpole in downtown Los Olivos).  

Guests gathered in the shady courtyard at St. Mark’s in Los Olivos during the second Summer Supper Concert on Thursday, July 12. Courtesy photo.

Guests gathered in the shady courtyard at St. Mark’s in Los Olivos during the second Summer Supper Concert on Thursday, July 12. Courtesy photo.

Directly benefitting the St. Mark’s Preschool Scholarship program, each Summer Supper Concert begins with a themed food & beverage supper served at 5 p.m. The live music begins at 5:30 p.m. The suggested donation per ticket including supper, concert and a beverage is $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 years and under (there is a capped cost of $30 for a family with three or more children). Additional beverages are available for purchase, but no outside food or drinks are allowed. 

Complimentary childcare for ages 2-10 is available onsite. Tickets are sold at the door as well as online in advance

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published on August 7, 2018 in Santa Barbara Seasons.

Style File: Coachella Inspiration

Bassnectar's traditional "family photo" taken at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2013, by Drew Ressler, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Bassnectar’s traditional “family photo” taken at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2013, by Drew Ressler, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

To everything there’s a season, and in the California style scene, Coachella musical festival marks the beginning of warm weather style inspiration. Sure,  it’s a ginormous music festival—but it’s also the place where performers, celebs, and concert-goers alike debut their super-stylish looks.

The Jewelry Junkie, courtesy photo.

The Jewelry Junkie, courtesy photo.

Here’s a little bit of Coachella spring/summer inspiration:

The Jewelry Junkie is female-operated, 100% handcrafted in the U.S. brand offering jewelry pieces that are unique, stylish and affordable.  Boho meets elegance with these handcrafted, southern-inspired collections. Whether you prefer statement pieces or dainty touches, The Jewelry Junkie collections have earrings, necklaces, chokers, rings, bracelets and more. Plus, each piece has a unique touch of leather, gemstones, and beads. In addition, The Jewelry Junkie donates more than 10% of all net proceeds of every sale to local and international charities. 

Agabhumi charms from Bali, courtesy photo.

Agabhumi charms from Bali, courtesy photo.

We love these empowering charms from Agabhumi’s hip, designer collection of impeccably-crafted jewelry imported straight from Bali.  Each piece evokes the Indonesian island vibe and collaboration with the artisans of Bali. Co-founder Regina Kirshbaum created this collection to remind us of our power within, these Agabhumi charms provide a perfect message for the feel good festival. 

By Lilla hair ties that double as bracelets, courtesy photo.

By Lilla hair ties that double as bracelets, courtesy photo.

Warmer weather means getting your hair off your neck, which is even easier—and prettier—when you have a stack of By Lilla designs on your arm. A brilliantly simple idea, hair ties that double as beautiful bracelets, these babies are functional yet fashionable. And you can easily stack them up to share with your friends. 

Tonle calf length vest, courtesy photo.

Tonle calf length vest, courtesy photo.

Every thread matters at tonlé, a zero-waste fashion brand that is one-of-a-kind. The reduce, reuse and recycle ethos makes its way into the fashion world with this Cambodia-based clothing line. The sustainable styles of tonlé use remnants discarded by large manufacturers and create beautiful, comfortable clothes, without wasting a single scrap in the process! In just one year, this bold brand has saved 10,000kg of textiles, 70,000kg of CO2, 200kg of pesticides, and 42,296,600 gallons of water—and they’re just getting started. Check out the calf-length vest, hand-woven from a curated mix of remnant cotton jersey and cotton yarn for a great warm weather throw on piece. No two pieces will be exactly the same, making your look truly one-of-a-kind.

Renpure Black Line Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist, courtesy photo.

Renpure Black Line Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist, courtesy photo.

Keep your hair in tip-top condition and lay the foundation for healthy, nourished hair with Renpure products, like Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist, a great portable option for adding softness and shine. Part of their Black Label Coconut collection, this mist utilizes the innate properties of rich and creamy coconut oil to give sun and product damaged hair the hydrating drink it needs to appear healthier and younger, while controlling frizz and preventing breakage and split ends. 

Naked Truth Beauty products, courtesy photo.

Naked Truth Beauty products, courtesy photo.

Outdoor music festivals are the perfect place to let your natural beauty shine. When chemical and toxic ingredients just aren’t gonna cut it—keep it green and clean with Naked Truth Beauty products.   This socially responsible beauty, the eco-friendly line takes the guess work out of choosing safe products by using only simple, high quality ingredients that are from the earth—stripped down for your skin. Stylish lip and cheek all-in-one colors like “as if,” “promise me, rose,” and “Beauregarde” offer great versatility, as well as products you can feel good about using. 

The 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival begins on Friday, April 13 and ends on Sunday, April 22, with headliners including Beyonce, The Weeknd and Eminem, among many, many others. For complete details, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 9, 2018.