A Day at the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival

Russian River Jazz Blues Festival Crowd StageWhile it might not seem like it here in California, for many people Summer is coming to an end. And sadly that means the end of Music Festival Season. While the Fall and Winter will be filled with great events, full day music events will be hard to come by. That is the perfect reason why you should get one more in before the seasons comes to an end. A unique and laid back event that you can’t miss is the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.

The Specifics

I hadn’t heard of this festival before even though it has been taking place for 35 years right on the Russian River up in Guerneville, which is about 30 minutes Northeast of Santa Rosa.

The event is taking place on September 11th and 12th this year and features a great lineup. You can purchase either two or one-day tickets. Tickets are $90 for both, or $50 for one. With that they are again running discounted tickets through TravelZoo, this is where we got our’s last year.

Last year what really caught our eye was the lineup on Sunday, the blues day, Trombone Shorty and Gary Clark Jr.  were the headlining acts and we signed right up. The lineup is out for this year and looks just about as good.

A Long But Great Day

Looking for one more music festival in before the end of summer. Enjoy the local, casual experience on the river at the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.We left Sacramento in the late morning and drove on up. When you turn off from Santa Rosa it is a beautiful trek through forests and grape vines. Next year when we head out we will definitely swing by some of those wineries on the way up.

You get into Guerneville, traveling along the River. We found parking pretty quickly at a local church by 4th Street & Church for only $15, which was well worth not wasting time driving around to find a spot.

From there it is a short walk down to the river, and when I say to the river I mean right on it. Many people enjoy the festival by watching it floating in kayaks or inner tubes.

Looking for one more music festival in before the end of summer. Enjoy the local, casual experience on the river at the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.The festival was filled with vendors selling crafts and clothing. Beyond that, you will find a dozen different food vendors from BBQ to Cajun to the standard festival food. We ate at “The Wurst” and had a Detroit Polish Sausage, a Smashburger, and sweet potato fries. They were very very tasty, the only downside was we couldn’t finish it all!

While it was a little warmer than we expected, and we didn’t realize we should have brought our lawn chairs, we found a good spot to stand through the first act and a seat on a small hill for the second.

Trombone Shorty was exceptional with both an incredible talent and an amazing energy that captured the crowd. Gary Clark Jr. was a mind blocking artist to watch as the sun began to tuck behind the mountains.

Looking for one more music festival in before the end of summer. Enjoy the local, casual experience on the river at the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.Beyond the main stage, they also had a wine stage with smaller but very talented artists played while local wineries pour tastes and glasses.

Overall the day was a great success. Great music, great scenery, and great food all right on the river. Plus the festival wrapped up at 6 pm which meant we didn’t miss anything and still made it home at a reasonable hour for a Sunday night.

A Few Tips

We learned a few tricks on what we will do differently next time, but we will definitely be heading back to the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.

If you head up for the event a couple things to remember:

  • Head out early to explore Guerneville or some of the Russian River area.
  • Bring a chair to sit on. It is rocky and everyone else has one too.
  • It was hotter than we expected so dress in layers.
  • Parking is a mess and it is worth paying to park at the church at 4th and Church Street.
  • Bring your appetite, the food was delicious.

What other local music festivals have we been missing and should check out?

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.