Petaluma Music Tour
Big things sometimes come in small packages. Petaluma California is only an hour north from San Francisco, but from a lifestyle standpoint, it can seem light years away. The town has been cast multiple times as a sleepy town in multiple classic movies. Perhaps most famous, it was used as the shooting location for George Lucas’ classic ‘American Graffiti’. In fact, the yearly event in the town is Butter and Egg Days Parade. Not quite the thing that your average Silicon Valley developer might find interesting on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a town of rich agricultural heritage and pride. For most city dwellers, it is a town that you pass through on your way to tour a winery.
Petaluma may be lacking in a lot of categories for people looking for cultural diversity and nightlife, it makes up for with it’s music scene. The scene has been experiencing an influx and resurgence over the past decade. One big reason for this is the start of the Petaluma Music Festival in 2008. The festival started from humble beginnings, it was a fundraiser to aid music in the local school district. The first years were shaky, but the festival gained momentum as it dialed in what it’s focus would be. Coachella has it’s dance music, Petaluma has Americana. Once this format was determined, the festival was able to court local and national acts from the nearby Bay Area. The festival now regularly sells out and in 2016 it was able to raise $60,000 that was distributed to local school music programs.
The festival exists due to the hard work of a dedicated crew of volunteers. People move to the community because of it’s friendly and tight-knit nature. This spills over into the volunteer scene. The town is small but houses many thriving venues. Venues like, the Mystic Theatre, Big Easy, Jamison’s Roaring Donkey, and the Lagunitas Brewery. Lagunitas is not only a generous sponsor, but they also run the “Live at Lagunitas” free music series at the amphitheatre in their tap room.
Musicians thrive in Petaluma because it is a community that respects them and allows them to earn good livings. Musicians find high demand for work in the area. A lot of that work comes from being booked at the breweries and the wineries in the area. There are also a large amount of celebrations and wedding parties that are eager for good musicians. Musicians can also make the trek down to the Bay Area to perform, while reaping the benefits of not living 5 people to a studio apartment. Petaluma may be a sleepy town, but that’s only if you choose not to go out and listen to the music at night.