TUNES TELL A TALE: Perhaps, as a child, you attended the local symphony hall on a field trip, or with a parent, or because you were thinking of making a career in the arts. And you learned, then and there, that a song doesn't always require lyrics to tell a full and exciting story, but that violins and oboes and cymbals and the other instruments found in an orchestra can fill out the plot and characters and thrills. But where that story is told -- and heard -- sometimes offers as much atmosphere as the music itself. Take Mendocino, which is about a storybook a town as California has to offer. It's soon to be the setting for Mozart in Mendocino, a quartet of presentations featuring the works of Wolfgang Amadeus, a composer who, even now, wouldn't seem out of place strolling along a foggy bluff. Modern Mendocino and 18th-century Vienna don't look much alike, but they both share a romantic air, making Mendo the ideal setting for the two-week-long Mendocino Music Festival. Mozart in Mendocino is a part of the sound-big spectacular, which features top-notch artists taking on beloved classical pieces as well as bluegrass, folk, jazz, chamber pieces, and other audio works of a fascinating and moving nature. The fest runs from July 11 through 25 in one truly press-it-to-your-memory spot overlooking the Pacific.
TWENTY-SEVEN CONCERTS... in all fill out the 2015 run, and much fiddling and trumpeting and conducting and drumming shall happen, so locating the sounds you want to crawl inside and enjoy, for an hour or two, is an important activity. Opera, roots music, a cappella, some Joni Mitchell tribute tuneage, and more summer-meets-flights-of-audio-fancy await. But would Mozart have been at home in the seaside burg? Perhaps, if he had a place to write and daydream and stage his grand ideas. Mendocino is still an excellent place for grand-idea-staging, and it keeps an open heart each July to those musicians and singers and visionaries keeping old sounds and new flush with verve.
30 YEARS ON THE HORIZON: And one round of applause for the festival as it approaches three decades of music-makery. Founded in 1986, it's one of the West Coast's quintessential warm-weather listen-and-love confabs.