By Cicero A. Estrella
Stern Grove Festival returns later this week with headliner Ledisi kicking off arguably the most diverse and star-powered lineup in the outdoor summer music festival’s eight-decade history.
Ledisi, a longtime favorite among Bay Area R&B and jazz aficionados, will take the Stern Grove stage on Sunday, June 20. In the coming weeks, she will be followed by artists that run the gamut on the musical spectrum—including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame rockers Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, punk pioneers X, bassist extraordinaire Thundercat, indie pop/neo-soul band Fitz & the Tantrums and, of course, the San Francisco Symphony on the Fourth of July. Bay Area legends Tower of Power and Too $hort will co-headline the Big Picnic, the festival’s annual fundraiser. (The full schedule is listed below.)
“Our lineup is diverse as always and we’re even going to push a few more boundaries than we usually do,” executive director Bob Fiedler said. “Whether it’s punk rock, hip-hop, crossover jazz, or the good old Symphony on the Fourth of July, we hope that everyone can find something they love in this year’s lineup.
The festival was canceled in 2020—a first in its 84-year history—because of the global pandemic.
“It’s been so long since most of us have been able to enjoy live music with masses of other people, and we’re beyond excited to be able to be one of the first festivals to bring this soul-uplifting experience back,” Fiedler said.
The concerts are still free, but for the first time the festival will implement an online ticket reservation system. Twelve days prior to each show, free passes will be offered through sterngrove.org on a first-come, first-served basis.
Attendance capacity will be adjusted over time in order to adhere to local, state and federal health regulations. Limited seating is expected for at least the first few shows, but those unable to attend in person will be able to live-stream each event.
Additional changes include temporary fencing to help maintain proper social distancing, but concert-goers will be allowed to continue bringing their own food and beverages.
All shows begin at 2 p.m. at Sigmund Stern Grove, the historic park and concert meadow located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco. For additional information, log onto sterngrove.org.
2021 Stern Grove Festival schedule
June 20: Ledisi, The Seshen, La Doña, LadyRyan
June 27: Perfum Genius, Madame Gandhi, Honey Mahogany, LadyRyan
July 4: San Francisco Symphony
July 11: Thievery Corporation, Dessa, DJ Shortkut
July 18: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, The Dip, DJ Omar
July 25: X, The Avengers, DJ Omar
Aug. 1: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Aug. 8: Thundercat, Cassowary, DJ Shortkut
Aug. 15: Fitz & the Tantrums, Devon Gilfillian, DJ Omar
Aug. 29: The Big Picnic featuring Tower of Power, Too $hort, DJ Shortkut
Photos: Stern Grove Festival