First Night 2018 Sneak Peek!

Your First Night Monterey Button includes admission to over 65 performances throughout the night in multiple downtown Monterey venues! Program subject to change until finalized.

Please check back as we add additional performance listings - coming soon!

Perennial FNM favorite BLACK IRISH BAND opens the night at the Golden State Theater with their highly entertaining and very up-beat and progressive Folk, Americana, and Celtic Pub-Rock music.

Hailing from the historic Gold Rush Country of America, the Black Irish Band of 28 years have a musical style that is as timeless as the rugged landscape of the west, a tribute to the people whose lives were spent building the world we now take for granted. The band has a large complement of traditional maritime and railroad music, as well as ethnic tunes in their repertoire. They excel at Irish & Scottish, and American folk music with an assortment of original songs and traditional western ballads. The bands musical style captures the spirit of the immigrants of this land, the men and women who tamed the Wild West.

Photo of Black Irish Band

New to FNM this year, DIRTY CELLO is cello like you’ve never heard before!

From China to Italy, and all over the U.S., Dirty Cello, led by vivacious cross-over cellist, Rebecca Roudman, brings the world a high energy and unique spin on blues and bluegrass. Good Times Santa Cruz says "...what is most spectacular about them is hearing the depth of soul in Roudman’s playing — it goes beyond what most people would expect from the instrument. She plays it with so much heart, you’ll wonder why more bands don’t have a cellist." From down home blues with a wailing cello to virtuosic stompin’ bluegrass, Dirty Cello is a band that gets your heart thumping and your toes tapping!

Photo of Dirty Cello

For over 20 years, HEARTSTRINGS has brought their fresh and unique sound to traditional acoustic string music from all over the world.

Begin your New Year celebration toe-tappin' to local acoustic string band Heartstrings, again bringing their versatile smorgasbord style of string music to First Night Monterey. The band plays all kinds of string music from around the world including Celtic, Eastern European, and good ol' toe-tappin' Appalachian string music. Band members are Laura Burian (fiddle), FNM founder Paulette Lynch (hammered dulcimer), Marj Ingram Viales (guitar), Rick Chelew (double bass), and Mike Osgood (mandolin). From beautiful traditional and contemporary waltzes to driving jigs and reels, a high energy performance with top players.

Photo of Heartstrings

DEREK BODKIN'S HOVERING BREADCAT FOLK ENSEMBLE is a spirited group of musicians performing funky folk grooves, bluegrass, swing, gospel and meaningful originals.

Derek is a Monterey Bay singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has performed a variety of music with some of the hottest national groups. (Five Eyed Hand, New Monsoon, Billy Nershi, Trailer Park Troubadours, Joe Craven, New Monsoon, Hot Buttered Rum). Derek brings a special 'mojo' to the stage to make the listener feel right at home. On his first solo album, “True Story”, Derek shared his love for musical tradition, collaboration, and storytelling as well as a penchant for memorable melody writing, putting his own unique twists to the traditional American songwriting genre. Joining Derek will be his friends known as "The Hovering Breadcat Folk Ensemble." (featuring Brian Vandemark on bass, Colin St. John on keyboards, Tommy Knowles on guitar and vocals, Harry Thomas on Harmonica and Monica Payne on percussion).

Photo of Derek Bodkin & Hovering Breadcat

Also new to FNM, THE PROUDEST MONKEYS is a musical collective operating out of Monterey.

In 2016, band leader Trevor Lucier released the album, "Destruction of the Species" to a welcoming and supportive local music scene. Following a successful first show, declared one of the area's best shows of the year by The Monterey County Weekly, the rest of the group came together around a mutual conviction that music is a potent resource in the movement to bring humanity closer together. With this ideal in mind, The Proudest Monkeys have set out to perform all over the Central California Area in an effort to bring together the many local scenes that exist in the region.

Photo of The Proudest Monkeys

First Night favorite SAMBA LÉGAL (pronounced 'leh-gao', meaning "cool, hip") plays rhythms from Bahia and Rio de Janeiro: Samba Reggae, Samba Afro, Samba, and more!

Boom! Get ready for Brazilian drums and dancers who spring to life this New Year’s Eve! "Energetic, upbeat, arid a real crowd pleaser" best describes this local Brazilian percussion group. Playing locally for the last 7 years, Samba Légal offers an arrangement of authentic Brazilian carnival beats and syncopated rhythms from all regions of Brazil. It’s tough not to partake in the dynamic dance and song, even with a little foot stomping or clapping along the way. Generating excitement wherever they play, this spirited and colorful group of drummers and dancers is known for getting crowds out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. A First Night favorite and a must see!

Photo of Samba Legal

THE FIRESIDE COLLECTIVE will be here to 'ease you out of the reality you know and into the reality you crave.'

Pulling inspiration from the cool jazz of Miles Davis to the modern R&B of Robert Glasper, this group strives not to fit the mold of jazz but rather to appreciate and indulge in the space that jazz creates for true musical exploration. While Jesse Burgess (drums) and James Collard (bass) hit you with the groove that will make your bootie move, Evyn Stratman (tenor sax/flute) will melt your cerebral cortex with licks so hot that 60% of your body will begin to boil, leaving Zak King (piano/keys) to douse the fire with a wave of cool harmony to let your spirit relax into its new state of existence. The Fireside Collective invites you to say goodbye to 2017 and begin the new year on a high note with us.

Photo of Fireside Collective

FNM newcomer AMY WARREN is an American Roots journey, embodying the down home spirit of acoustic traditions, from blues to bluegrass and folk to rock.

Amy Warren is a story teller at heart, and her original music touches the soul and stirs the senses, with “deep folk” influences spanning Celtic to bluegrass to gypsy jazz. She brings a rich musical mix that is warm and familiar. Her heartfelt storytelling and expressive flat-picking pair with Harry Thomas’ powerful harmonica and Derek Bodkin’s imaginative banjo make for a fresh take on American classics. With a growing catalog of original music and covers ranging from the Carter Family to Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch to Jack White, this band is a must-see for roots music fans.

Photo of Amy Warren

GRUMBLING GINGER brings the atmosphere of a British Folk Club to Monterey!

Original acoustic folk-rock with a celtic twist. Grumbling Ginger (Jana Heller and Andrew Gilhooley) bring the atmosphere of a British folk club to Monterey with songs, storytelling, and a variety of acoustic instruments. They've played everywhere from coffee houses and pubs to house parties and festival stages in front of 10,000-plus people. The band has also made many radio and TV appearances. A long-time First Night favorite!

Photo of Grumbling Ginger

Enjoy a joyful evening of song! I CANTORI DI CARMEL opens the night in the beautiful sanctuary of Carleton Hall.

I Cantori has been performing great choral masterpieces for Monterey Peninsula audiences for over 35 years, frequently touring internationally. Our repertoire for First Night will span the ages: sacred motets to contemporary compositions and songs from around the world. The group is united by a desire to cherish and preserve the heritage of great choral music.

Photo of I Cantori di Carmel