Nothing says summer quite like live music on a balmy evening. August offers up a lot of ways to experience that in California, whether your tastes run toward jazz, blues, classical, or even hip-hop or all-accordion fare. Choose from these 15 events, some lasting a day, some spanning most of the month, to give your late August getaway an excellent soundtrack—all against the backdrops of Squaw Valley, Sonoma County, San Francisco, and more.
July 31–Aug. 25: Music in the Vineyards, Napa
Choose from 26 days’ worth of chamber-music concerts—Mendelssohn, Schubert, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, and more. Some concerts are combined with winery dinners, wine tastings, and meet-and-greets with musicians. Check the calendar for free open rehearsals, too.
Aug. 1–4: Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluespalooza, Mammoth Lakes
It’s hard to feel blue in idyllic Mammoth Lakes during the summertime, as this music fest blends traditional blues with R&B, soul, and rock, thanks to acts such as Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, and next generation star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. Or, focus your energy on the craft beer portion of festivities, featuring 55 beer makers, such as nearby June Lake Brewing and Mammoth Brewing, or lots of other California brews, such as Winters–based Berryessa Brewing.
Aug. 1–10: Concord Jazz Festival
Now in its 50th year, this music festival has a “Take 10” theme in 2019, offering up 10 days of events. Hear greats such as Chick Corea and styles spanning from mambo to an organ trio. It also offers the chance to check out some of the East Bay town’s coolest locations, such as the Todos Santos Plaza and the Frank Gehry-designed amphitheater Concord Pavilion.
Aug. 3, 24: MUSE/IQUE, San Marino
Grab dinner at one of the cafes at L.A. County’s gorgeous Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens, then watch one of the performances from this summer series that features ballet dancers, orchestra, and vocalists—with themes inspired by iconic movie songs, trains, and more.
Aug. 3-4: Alt Summer Camp, Long Beach
Check out some cutting-edge alternative bands at this summer concert that sits right next to Long Beach’s best old-school attraction: the docked Queen Mary. Headliners include Of Monsters & Men, Walk the Moon, and the Head & the Heart.
Aug. 3–4: Hard Summer, Fontana
This EDM/Hip Hop fest is at the Inland Empire’s Auto Club Speedway. Top acts include Kid Cudi and Major Lazer, along with a few “surprise guests” still TBD for Friday night.
Aug. 9–11: Outside Lands Music and Arts Fest, San Francisco
This now-annual event in Golden Gate Park mixes live music with a lot of local food and drink—like the steamed baos of The Chairman, Humphry Slocombe ice cream, and the burgers of Jackrabbit—among the festival's food trucks and its Cheese Lands area. This year’s headliners are Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, and Twenty One Pilots, but the lineup also includes standouts such as The Lumineers, Kasey Musgraves, Lil Wayne, and Mavis Staples.
Aug. 9–11: Long Beach Jazz Festival
The setting of this weekend festival in L.A. County—in grassy Rainbow Lagoon Park, overlooking the water—may be as blissful as the jazz itself: This year’s lineup includes Eric Benét, Willie Bradley, and The Rippingtons.
Aug. 9–11: San Jose Jazz Summerfest
The Silicon Valley hub loves festivals, and this late summer party focuses on jazz in its many forms, from big band to Latin, blues, and standards. The lineup features Grammy-winners like crooner Gregory Porter and pianist Ivan Lins, and genre-crossers such as The Family Stone and En Vogue. Throughout the weekend, you can take free swing lessons, too.
Aug. 10–11: Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest, Squaw Valley
This popular music-meets-beer weekend features lovely scenery, a lot of bands (the main acts on the two evening are Anders Osborne and Five Alarm Funk), along with $5 beers from more than 20 different breweries, including California-made brews such as FiftyFifty, Bear Republic, and Pizza Port. Since proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, well-behaved dogs are welcome too.
Aug. 10-11: Real Street, Anaheim
This hip-hop and street art festival at the Honda Center boasts of being the biggest music festival to come to Orange County. Headliners include Cardi B, Migos, Future, and, as of presstime, A$AP Rocky.
Aug. 16-17: Jurassic Park in Concert, Hollywood
Los Angeles is having a dinosaur-loving summer: the new raft ride Jurassic World–The Ride has just opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Hollywood Bowl is hosting this special screening of the original film Jurassic Park, with the L.A. Philharmonic playing John Williams’ soundtrack in real time.
Aug. 16–18: Cotati Accordion Festival
It’s billed as the “Woodstock of the Accordion World,” and it would be hard to argue with the infectious good cheer of this musical weekend in Sonoma County. It kicks off Friday with a performance at Lagunitas Brewing Company then continues over the next two days at the town’s La Plaza Park, fueled by lots of polka and zydeco music.
Aug. 25: Blues, Brews & BBQ, Napa
Three great tastes that taste great together come to Downtown Napa. The three stages this year include one devoted to zydeco, and otherwise, the lineup includes Bay Area blues musicians, such as The Terry Hanck Band and Brad Wilson Live, along with 40 micro-brewed beers and smoked-meats from 15 local BBQ purveyors.
Aug. 31: Woodstock on the West Coast, San Luis Obispo
It’s been 50 years since the groundbreaking music festival in upstate New York, and the Central Coast beach town is celebrating by way of the SLO Symphony, which will offer their takes on the music of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana, and more. Choose from chair, table, or picnic seating—and the event even offers a bicycle valet service.