Hungry for Entertainment? The Napa Valley is THE Place to Be! Music, Museums, Movies, Sports, Art
Napa Valley residents who have witnessed the evolution of our region over the past several decades may recall that time, not too long ago, when we all would have agreed that the “sidewalks roll up at night” in the towns around our county. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. All over the valley entertainment can be found.
While the Napa Valley has long been famous for wine, and risen to produce exceptional cuisine, over the past decade or so, our region has also become famous for entertainment and art. Wine country has absolutely created an appetite for art and culture, to complement the hunger for food and wine. There is rarely a day that live music, or an art exhibit, cannot be locally enjoyed. Throughout our mild months from summer into fall, the options for entertainment are vast. In addition, many of these cultural events also have a nominal price tag, or are even free!
In the 1990s a dramatic transformation of Downtown Napa began with the renovation of the historic 1880-era Napa Valley Opera House which reopened in 2003. A couple of years prior, the first version of Copia (then known as Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts) opened, and seemed sort of lonely out there on the eastern portion of First Street near the Oxbow Bend in the Napa River. The Oxbow Public Market had not yet been built.
Meanwhile, in Yountville on the grounds of the Veterans Home, the Lincoln Theater was once a cold, cement-walled auditorium, with poor acoustics and row after row of uncomfortable seats installed at a mild slant that did not provide a proper view. All of that changed following a four-year, $20 million renovation that transformed the space into what is now known as the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater.
My childhood memories also include enjoying movies at the Uptown Theatre. I can even recall when I was very small, one big screen and a ceiling that twinkled with tiny lights, at a time before the venue was subdivided and then eventually closed down. In 2000, a ten-year renovation of this historic gem began before it reopened in 2010.
A glance back at the momentum of larger venues over the past twenty-five years sets the stage for local entertainment, as well as the emergence of dozens of thriving smaller venues and other opportunities to be entertained, in the Napa Valley today.
The latest form of entertainment to hit the valley, is the arrival of the Napa Silverados professional baseball team, which plays in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs at Silverados Field on the campus of Napa Valley College. The team’s inaugural season kicked off on May 31 and lasts until the end of August. Pro baseball, right in our town, that is affordable and fun for every age and anyone. Take someone out to the ballgame!
The Lucky Penny Community Arts Center in Napa, produces large-scale shows in a compact, small-scale space. The result is an up-close and personal, immersive experience for the audience. From musicals to plays to comedy nights, this is a vibrant place that needs audience support to thrive. Season subscriptions, as well as single show tickets, are available throughout the year.
The Jarvis Family converted historic buildings in Downtown Napa into an intimate conservatory, the Jarvis Conservatory, which began operation in 1995. The line-up includes concerts, chamber music, art films, and seminars with a focus upon classical art films, music and dance.
di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art has debuted a new way to visit its galleries, now without a tour requirement or reservation. Visitors can drop in whenever they like, stay as long as they like, and visit the galleries independently with “No Reservations.” Located in the Carneros region of Napa, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art presents contemporary exhibitions and educational programs and maintains a permanent collection by artists living or working in the San Francisco Bay Area from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. The 217-acre di Rosa preserve is protected in perpetuity under the Napa County Land Trust, and features multiple galleries, a sculpture park and a 35-acre lake.
Napa City Nights carries on a long tradition with free live music in Napa’s Veterans Memorial Park Amphitheater. This summer the shows are set for every Friday night through August 23. Jazz, Rock, Country, World, Blues, Pop and Folk acts will perform. Appropriate for families and all ages.
The Blue Note Napa is now the resident downstairs live performance space within the Napa Valley Opera House, with the larger Jam Cellars Ballroom upstairs. Blue Note Napa is a live music jazz club, combined with a gourmet restaurant. Associated with The Blue Note in Manhattan, New York, the Downtown Napa venue blends the quintessential Greenwich Village jazz club with that only-in-Napa vibe.
Silo’s Napa is another intimate, hideaway performance space located in the historic Napa Mill / Hatt Building complex, which now also houses the Napa River Inn. Silo’s is unique in that it feels like a nightclub, complete with a full bar and serves small plates. Musical genres include Jazz, Motown, Rock, Funk and Classics too.
Following the renovation, the Uptown Theatre has become a North Bay destination for live music, comedy and even some films (usually during the Napa Valley Film Festival). Beautifully restored, this venue has several bars, comfortable seats and a vibrant revolving schedule. This summer, upcoming acts include Straight No Chaser, touring stars of American Idol: Live! 2018, Ry Cooder, Paula Poundstone, Tig Notaro, Robert Cray, Cesar Millan and Amos Lee.
Several restaurants, bars and tasting rooms such as Downtown Joe’s, Ca’ Momi, Capp Heritage Lounge, Billco’s Billiards and Darts, and Napkins in Downtown Napa also offer live music after dinner hours, throughout the year. Just head to dinner in Napa, then stroll around town after you have imbibed. Follow the music, you will hear it, and you will find something on nearly every block in town.
Yountville Throughout the summer months, the Town of Yountville presents free Sunday afternoon live music once per month in Veterans Memorial Park, located at the southern end of town. For the full schedule of Yountville Music in the Park, visit the Town of Yountville website. A food truck is always available on site, and musical styles are varied, including Soul, Rock, Latin, Cajun-Zydeco, Country-Bluegrass, Disco, R&B.
Priest Ranch Thursday Night Live is hosted for free by the Priest Ranch Winery tasting room in Yountville weekly on Thursday nights beginning July 12 and lasting through September 27. Food (provided by either a local chef or a gourmet food truck) and wine (by the bottle or glass) will be available, while a live band performs on the back patio.
Hot Summer Movie Nights in the Park, also presented by the Town of Yountville, are free family-friendly movies shown on Friday nights, once per month. Movie goers are invited to arrive early and enjoy listening to music, snacks from the concession stand and dinner from a delicious food truck. Movies are screened for free at Yountville Community Park at the north end of town. All concession sales and a percentage of the food truck sales benefit the town’s Youth Subsidy Program.
Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater presents shows throughout the year, and also hosts several Festival Napa Valley events in July. This summer Billy Bob Thornton, Symphony Napa Valley concerts and music, cowboy music and poetry, as well as comedy and dance camps for kids are planned.
The Napa Valley Museum is opening a new exhibit, “50 Years of the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve” in the Don and Lonne Carr History Gallery on July 7. The exhibit, which will run through August 19, will be interactive, dynamic and educational in regard to the history of the Napa Valley’s Agricultural Preserve, its key players, why and how it was initiated, and an examination of what is next.
The grande dame of modern Napa Valley entertainment has to be the Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series, which is celebrating its 48th season this year. This summer on the expansive lawn of Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, an array of artists including headliners Gavin DeGraw, Citizen Cope, Brandi Carlile, X Ambassadors and Fitz & The Tantrums will take the stage. The audience gets to enjoy this Saturday afternoon summertime tradition. For shows that may have sold out, there is an online ticket exchange on the winery website.
This year the Live Music Series at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena will be a Bluegrass-fed series on the lawn featuring some of the best bluegrass bands in the country. Food and wine is available on site. Planned shows include Trout Steak Revival and Dead Winter Carpenters.
Every Thursday night in Calistoga at Pioneer Park, live music is available at Concerts in the Park. This summer tradition attracts acts from around the Bay Area with tunes that range from Surf, to Rock to Symphonic. Concert goers picnic, and bring blankets and chairs.
A lesser known jewel in the Napa Valley is the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in St. Helena, which houses the largest collection of “Stevensoniana” on public display in the world. Books, artifacts, and personal items are included, with the mission of connecting visitors with the works and times of Stevenson. Locally, and globally, this museum is dedicated to connecting people with Stevenson, his works, and his legacy to literature.
This is simply a sampling of entertainment possibilities in our region. Check out event and venue websites, mark your own calendar and I can guarantee you it will be full! Be entertained in the Napa Valley.