Just over an hour east of Lodi is beautiful Ironstone Vineyards that will kick off its summer concert series on July 18. Ticket sales start this week for a concert lineup that includes Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, The Moody Blues, Alan Jackson, Diana Krall, Chris Isaak, Lynyrd Skynyrd and super folk rock group, Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Ironstone: A music venue
It's a celebration of the senses. All around, flowers are in bloom. Petals of red hibiscus open up, revealing their purple hearts. Yellow daffodils tilt to the east, hoping to be kissed by the afternoon sun. Water trickles in creeks, quenching the bright moss thriving on rocks and tree bark as it passes. Standing under pink-flowered dogwood trees, the sweet aroma is subtle and comforting. The sun is warm, but in the shade of sprawled and twisted tree branches, the soft breeze shows its chilling strength. Here, hummingbirds, bumble bees and spotted ladybugs think they've found heaven amidst purple and white haze of Japanese wisteria.
This peaceful getaway with the green Sierra Foothills as its backdrop is Ironstone Vineyards. Just over the stream and around the bend, Ironstone sits on the outskirts of the tavern-like town of Murphys that is charming in itself with boutique inns, family owned tasting rooms, art galleries and antique stores.
Ironstone, let's just say, is on to something. Above all, they are a winery, and a popular one at that. Inside, there is a store that features various wines and many locally made products. There is also a gourmet deli, events hall and old-fashioned bar that is clean and quiet during midday.
Offering music and entertainment to Murphys guests and locals was the obvious next step, which is why they started their summer concert series. Since the concerts started, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Chris Isaak, Bonnie Raitt and more have performed at the winery's outdoor amphitheater.
The winery has come a long way from when it was started by Lodi's Kautz family.
A row crop farmer from Lodi, John Kautz, began growing grapes in Lodi and eventually became one of the top 10 wine grape growers in the state. After creating the Ironstone brand of wines, the Kautz family opened the winery and visitor's center that they hoped would not only exemplify their family's commitment to wine, but also add support to the cultural arts, especially music.
It is because of Stephen Kautz's love for music that Ironstone's annual concert series has become so popular.
Completed in 1998, the amphitheater is five-tier and horseshoe shaped, perfect for concert-goers sitting in chairs and blankets on the lawn during nighttime performances under the stars. The surrounding trees, mountains and openness are credited for the venues great acoustics.
With tickets starting at $45, Ironstone expects this year's series to be very popular. Performers include Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, The Moody Blues, Alan Jackson, Diana Krall, Chris Isaak, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
"They're all strong shows," Ironstone Director of Operations Bruce Rohrer said. "I think (there's) a little something for everybody."
IRONSTONE CONCERT SERIES
Where: Ironstone Amphitheater, 1894 Six Mile Road in Murphys
Ticket Prices: $45 general admission, $75 reserved, $140 silver, $160 gold, $225 platinum.
Times: All shows are in the evening.
Tickets go on sale May 8.
Chris Isaak and Brian Setzer and the Nashvillains
Born and raised in Stockton to a forklift operator, Chris Isaak is an accomplished musician and actor. He is now known for songs like "Heart Shaped World," which catapulted him into worldwide fame in 1989. As a teenager, Isaak borrowed his brother's guitar and taught himself to play. He found early inspiration in country musicians such as Hank Williams. Isaak now stays busy touring and promoting his new album, "Mr. Lucky."
Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs
The former Doobie Brother and touring member of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, is known for his effortless and powerful voice in modern soul and rock. Before McDonald went on a solo career, he had already won a Grammy Award for the Doobie Brothers hit that he wrote with Kenny Loggins, "What A Fool Believes." During the 1980s, his songs were recorded by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Millie Jackson and Carly Simon. His 1985 album, "No Lookin' Back." was followed by his epic No. 1 duet "On My Own" with Patti LaBelle.
Diana Krall with Dave Koz and Brian Culbertson
Award-winning singer and songwriter will celebrates her 10th album, "Quiet Nights" with a 2009 tour and stop at Ironstone. She says her album is dedicated to her husband, Elvis Costello.
"I feel like this album's very womanly - like you're lying next to your lover in bed whispering this in their ear," she said on her Web site.
Krall is best known for her popular album, "The Girl in the Other Room," as well as the song, "Genius Loves Company," which she sang with Ray Charles.
Alan Jackson with a special guest
Fifteen years into his career, Alan Jackson has sold more than 40 million albums and scored more than 30 No. 1 singles - 21 of which he either wrote or co-wrote.
Jackson hit No. 1 three times in 1991, with "I'd Love You All Over Again," "Don't Rock the Jukebox" and "Someday." In 1992, he released the video for "Midnight in Montgomery," which won a CMA Award. That same year, he returned to No. 1 with "Love's Got a Hold on You" and "She's Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues)." In 1993, he spent four weeks at the top with "Chattahoochee," which propelled the corresponding album, "A Lot About Livin' (And a Little 'Bout Love)," to sales of more than 6 million copies.
In 2002, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" won Jackson his first Grammy, as best country song. At the 2002 CMA Awards, the song netted Jackson song of the year and single of the year honors. That same year, Jackson received the CMA's album of the year award for Drive while being named male vocalist and entertainer of the year. He tied Johnny Cash for the most CMA wins in a year.
The Moody Blues with special guest Dave Mason
With a legacy that spans the late '60's to present, The Moody Blues have generated a legendary list of hit songs that are regarded as some of the most groundbreaking and innovative music of our time. The Moody Blues - Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge - carry on their magical musical legacy to generation after generation, year after year. They're best known for hits such as "Tuesday Afternoon," "Nights In White Satin," "Ride My See Saw," "Legend Of A Mind," "Voices In The Sky," "Lovely To See You and "Gypsy (Of A Strange And Distant Time)."
Lynyrd Skynyrd with Los Lonely Boys
Popular since the '70s, Lynyrd Skynyrd is still touring, offering fans worldwide a chance to hear Skynyrd favorites like "Sweet Home Alabama," "I Ain't The One" and "Free Bird."
The band became prominent in the United States in 1973, before lead vocalist and primary songwriter Ronnie Van Zant died in an airplane crash. In 2006, Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
An evening with Crosby, Stills and Nash
Crosby, Stills and Nash is best known for their second gig at Woodstock in 1969, the same year their self-titled album made it to the Top 40 charts. But now, the folk rock and rock super group made up of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, are still touring. They are noted for their intricate vocal harmonies, political activism and lasting influence on music and culture. Some of their popular songs include "Teach Your Children," and "Southern Cross."