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God Bless Free Music: Stern Grove Announces Summer Lineup

Scott Lucas | May 1, 2014 | Story Music

You could forgive someone who's turning 77 this summer for slowing down a little bit. But the septuagenarian Stern Grove Festival isn't showing any sign of wear and tear.

Far from it—the free concert series, which kicks off on June 22nd, has just released its lineup of this year's performances—and there are some real gems. The 10-week series include Motown legend Smokey Robinson, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and singer Darlene Love, who was one of the subjects of this year's Oscar-winning documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom.

Thanks to support from a wide range of foundations, the Stern Grove Festival is once again free, bringing 10,000 people out to the park at Sloat and 19th over the course of the summer (pro-tip: Take Muni). All concerts start at 2 pm.

The full line-up is below:

June 22: The Big Picnic Benefit and Concert with Smokey Robinson and Patti Austin
Robinson is one of the most iconic figures in American music, having been an integral part of Motown records with his group The Miracles and as a solo act, as well as the songwriter of "My Girl," "Tears of a Clown," "The Way You Do the Things You Do," and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me." He'll be appearing with Grammy-winner Patti Austin, who made her debut at the Apollo Theater at four years old and sang on Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album.

June 29: Allen Stone and Yuna
At 25, singer-songwriter Stone has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, and Last Call with Carson Daly. His self-titled debut album draws on the classic R&B of the 60s and 70s. Opening that show is Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, whose new album is Nocturnal.

July 6: San Francisco Symphony with Edwin Outwater conducting
Stern Grove regulars the San Francisco Symphony will be performing works from American composers Bernstein, Mancini, Gould, Scott, and Hanson, as well as works from Ravel.

July 13: Funky Meters and Sugar Pie DeSanto
The "founding father of funk" have worked with artists as diverse as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, and Patti Labelle. They are joined by the City's own Sugar Pie DeSanto, who began recording in the late 50s.

July 20: Pupy Y Los Que Son Son and Vieux Farka Touré
Music from around the world as the horn-driven Cuban group formed in 2001 is joined by the "Hendrix of the Sahara," who is renowned for his fierce blues-rock.

July 27: Rufus Wainwright and Quartet San Francisco
Product of a clan of singers and songwriters, Wainwright is the son of the acclaimed Loudon Wainwright II and Kate McGarrigle. He performs solo with piano. He's joined by crossover artists, Quartet San Francisco.

August 3: Andrew Bird and the Hands of Glory and Todd Sickafoose's Tiny Resistors
Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird draws on a wide range of sounds from early jazz to country blues. His most recent album is 2012's Hand of Glory. (Ed note: He also played on three songs on our favorite album in college: My Morning Jacket's Z). He'll be joined by a progressive jazz sextet led by Bay Area native Todd Sickafoose.

August 10: Darlene Love and Monophonics
If you haven't heard of Darlene Love, it's because you haven't yet watched her masterful turn in this years Academy Award winning documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom. But you've certainly heard her, since over her career, she has sung on everything from Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" to "The Monster Mash." She steps to the front of the stage, along with funk bank Moonphonics.

August 17: Sergio Mendes and LoCura
The Brazlian artist Sergio Mendes' career stretches back to his 1961 debut to an Academy Award nomination in 2012. With him will be local group LoCura, which the Chronicle once wrote made "party music for the revolution."

August 24: The Zombies and Vetiver
With songs like "She's Not There," "Tell Her No," and "Time of the Season" The Zombies were like the Beatles' jazzier cousins during the British invasion in the 60s. Also performing will be local freak folk group Vetiver.

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