This event has already passed - watch for FNM 2018 info coming in November

First Night 2017 Performers!

Your First Night Monterey Button includes admission to over 65 performances throughout the night in multiple downtown Monterey venues! Preliminary details, program and times subject to change.

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Rock/Blues/Jazz

New to FNM this year, VALLEY SOUL is an up-and-coming six-piece powerhouse from Monterey with an abundance of talent.

Their entrancing four-part harmonies and intrepid instrumentals are reminiscent of the Grateful Dead and Fleetwood Mac, and also call forth modern likeness to Arcade Fire and Of Monsters And Men. Nestled boldly amidst new age indie rock, old school folk, blues, and classic rock, the sextet reinvents and combines expansive avenues of sound. Four songwriters fuel the group’s extensive library of eclectic material. Featuring Kevin Call Bass Guitar, Kristen Gradwohl Vocals, Tommy Howbert Lead Guitar, Vocals, Adam Ingram Piano, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Joe Scardina Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Richard Tripps Drums, Percussion.
Site 16: Alvarado St/Rabobank Stage; 6:45–7:30; 7:45–8:30

Photo of Valley Soul

FINALE BAND! Monterey-based RED BEANS & RICE consistently blends original compositions and lesser-known classics into an up-tempo danceable gumbo of New Orleans-influenced, blues-inspired party music suitable for dancing or just listening.

Formed in 1993, Red Beans & Rice has become a household name on the Central California Coast. Founding member Gil Rubio’s original compositions and his arrangements of a carefully selected blend of Chicago, Texas swing, Louisiana, and contemporary music has earned the praise of fans and critics across the United States. The band has released 5 critically acclaimed CDs that have all received regular airplay throughout the world on radio stations and Internet sites. Red Beans & Rice features the talents of vocalist Jesse Bravo, keyboardist John Tindel, bassist Thomas McNamara, drummer Karl Stearns and Tamas Marius on saxes.
Site 17: Golden State Theater; 10:15–11:00; 11:15–Midnight

Photo of Red Beans & Rice

Also new this year, DEREK BODKIN AND THE HOVERING BREADCAT. Derek Bodkin is a Monterey Bay based Singer Songwriter, bringing his songs alive with the help of the Hovering Breadcat Folk Ensemble.

On his first solo album, “True Story”, Derek shares 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, Nik Bortolussi on drums and Clarinet, Tommy Knowles on guitar, and Monica Payne on percussion) Through his music, this songsmith will find his way into your head and heart; songs that are at times deeply personal and at other times clever and funny... all the while maintaining homespun optimism with large doses of honesty.
Site 16: Alvarado St/Rabobank Stage; 9:00–9:45; 10:00–10:45

Photo of Derek Bodkin & Hovering Breadcat

WILDCARD is a new band drawn from veteran sound-makers from Money Band, Red Beans & Rice and Sons of Twang, focusing on covers and danceable tunes.

The new five-piece group represents a local supergroup of sorts, comprised of the charismatic lead singer and multi-talented keyboard/guitarist/vocalist from Red Beans & Rice (Jon Gorman and John Tindel); the hard grooving, one-two punch of The Money Band’s rhythm section Michael Kobrinsky (drums and vocals) and Michael Chatfield (bass); and the fiery guitar and vocals of Sons of Twang guitarist Scott Dickson, WildCard lays shimmering four-part harmonies atop a bed of solid, highly danceable, finely crafted musicianship. Originals are in the works, but the focus for now involves vivacious covers and lots of movement—think Boz Scaggs, Bruno Mars and Jimi in one cohesive set.
Site 17: Golden State Theatre; 8:30–9:00; 9:15–9:45

Photo of WildCard

The DAVE HOLODILOFF BAND will be returning to First Night for a second year of acoustic adventure that is equal parts jam and jazz!

The Dave Holodiloff Band will take the stage to showcase Dave’s original music and traditional covers from yesteryear. A fantastic fusion of fun and sophistication, the music blends symphonic, traditional acoustic, and improvisatory elements to create a sound that is pure excitement. For fans of Bluegrass, Gypsy Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Folk, or Funk, the music will both delight and surprise. The line-up features Dave Holodiloff (mandolin/vocals/guitar), Steve Uccello. (bass), Peter Mellinger (violin), Kenny Stahl (flute), Nik Bortlussi (drums/clarinet), and Derek Bodkin (percussion/guitar/banjo/vocals). Don’t miss this chance to see these great musicians come together for a fantastic night of music.
Site 10: MIIS Irvine Auditorium/Pierce St. 6:30–7:00; 7:15–7:45; 8:00–8:30; 8:45–9:15

Photo of Dave Holodiloff Band

THE BLUE NOTABLES, an a cappella vocal jazz group, return to entertain with unique arrangements of pop and jazz hits.

Local pro vocalists have joined forces to create a new vocal jazz group called "The BlueNotables", returning to FNM for a second time. This exciting vocal group is reminiscent of "Manhattan Transfer", and "Pentatonix". Let the BlueNotables entertain you with lush arrangements of your favorites such as Stevie Wonders' , "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing", Van Morrisons' "Moondance", beautiful standard, "The Nearness of You", and much more!
Site 7: City Council Chambers 8:00–8:30; 8:45–9:15; 9:30–10:00

Photo of Blue Notables

Folk/World/Classical

Hear the thunder of the drums! SHINSHO MUGEN DAIKO opens First Night Monterey with traditional Japanese drumming.

Experience the exquisite physicality of these Taiko Drummers as they perform traditional Japanese drumming, incorporating elements of martial arts. Shinsho Mugen Daiko was founded in 1999 by Ikuyo Contant, as a group of drummers interested in studying the art of Japanese drumming. Taiko is a traditional art form that incorporates the elements of martial arts, focusing on centering oneself in the grounded position, the concentration, direction, and controlling of energy and breathing.
Site 2: Pacific Street Stage; 3:15–3:45; 4:15–4:45; 5:00–5:15

Photo of Shinsho Mugen Daiko

Begin your New Year celebration toe-tappin' to local acoustic string band HEARTSTRINGS!

Heartstrings again brings 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).
Site 7: City Coucil Chambers 3:30–4:00; 4:15–4:45

Photo of Singing Wood

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 four member Black Irish Band 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, Italian, 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.
Site 17: Golden State Theatre; 6:15–6:45; 7:00–7:30; 7:45–8:15

Photo of Black Irish Band

Playing styles range from traditional to contemporary, SINGING WOOD brings high-energy dance music and polyrhythmic trance music from Zimbabwe.

Laura Mallon established Singing Wood in 2002 in order to offer broad access to the Shona style of marimba ensemble playing traditional to contemporary styles. This music offers exceptional melodic and polyrhythmic variety -- from the very simple to the extremely complex -- and its ancient spiritual roots strike common chords in all people who are open to it.
Site 10: MIIS Irvine Auditorium/Pierce St. 9:30–10:00, 10:15–10:45,11:00–11:30

Photo of Singing Wood

FINALE BAND! 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!
Site19: Alvarado St/Wells Fargo Stage 9:45–10:15, 10:30–11:00, 11:15–Midnight

Photo of Samba Légal

The SAMURAI GYPSIES are an evocative mix of Gypsy Rhumba, Salsa, and Flamenco; beautiful, infectious, and highly danceable!

This passionate, high-energy, gypsy soul-fire acoustic ensemble take their listeners on an exotic scintillating journey of sensual grooves and wild crescendos you can't help but move to. Their masterfully rich instrumentation, is both complex and precise, gritty and hot. The Samurai Gypsies get their unforgettable sound from the band's core string virtuosos, Gary Carpenter on guitar and Dany Cobo on violin. Taking music with African, flamenco, Latin and jazz roots into some deliciously sexy and cerebral places.
Site 21: Monterey Center for Spiritual Living 9:00–9:30; 9:45–10:15; 10:30–11:00

Photo of Samurai Gypsies

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

I Cantori di Carmel is a chorus of local singers who have given concerts here and abroad for the past 30+ years. The group is united by a desire to cherish and preserve the heritage of great choral music. The First Night Monterey performance will blend great music from the past with spirituals and contemporary pop standards.
Site 21: Monterey Center for Spritiual Living 6:30–7:00; 7:15–7:45; 8:00–8:30

Photo of I Cantori di Carmel

Lyrically refreshing and musically diverse, DAN FRECHETTE & LAUREL THOMSEN take to the stage with exuberance!

Meeting via a chance YouTube sighting and fueled by their undeniable musical chemistry, eclectic Roots-Folk songwriters Dan Frechette, guitar/harmonica/vocals, and Laurel Thomsen, violin/vocals, prove that musical magic is not only possible, but “a match made in heaven". With broad influences ranging from Folk, Classical, Old Time and Celtic, to Gospel, Jazz, Vintage Country, Rock N' Roll, Blues, and Bluegrass, Dan and Laurel flow seamlessly through genres, tempos, stories, and moods, embodying each style with virtuosic command and keeping music fans on the edge of their seats. Enjoyment is palpable.
Site 7: City Coucil Chambers 6:30–7:00; 7:15–7:45

Photo of Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen

Be delighted and intrigued by the unique sounds of WILLIAM FAULKNER's handcrafted Jalisco Harp.

He may share a name with the iconic American writer, but harpist William Faulkner has made a name for himself with his gorgeous musicianship and deep love for the classic Jalisco form. You've probably heard the Jalisco harp played in mariachi music, and Faulkner is among the world's leading players of this challenging instrument. His harp is a virtual orchestra of timbral colors enriched by a wealth of overtones. He has played the Jalisco harp for 25 years, performing throughout California and the Southwestern U.S. as well as various parts of Mexico.
Site 8: Monterey Museum of Art 6:15–6:45; 7:00––7:30; 7:45–8:15

Photo of William Faulkner

Experience four-part harmony with the MONTEREY BAY BELLES women’s a cappella barbershop-style chorus.

The 15-member Women’s Barbershop Chorus sings favorite popular songs in the barbershop style. They are a non-profit organization engaged in member education and local school outreach, performing several times throughout the year in Monterey County. The Bay Belles hosts a cappella concerts during the year featuring local and out-of-town talent. They love the thrill of singing four-part music and are excited to be performing at this great community event.
Site 8: Monterey Museum of Art 3:30–4:00; 4:30–5:00

Photo of Monterey Bay Belles

Based on the rhythms of Korean folk percussion, MONSORI SAMULNORI BAND captures the spirit of Korea.

The name Samulnori literally means "To play Four Things." Traditional Korean percussion music consisting of 4 main instruments that represent the elements of nature: Jing (a larger gong) being the wind, Puk (a barrel bass drum) the clouds, K’Kwaenggwari (a small gong) the lightning, and Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum) the rain. They will perform four pieces accompanied by traditional Korean singing and Piri (a reed wind instrument).
Site 9: Masonic Lodge/Pacific St. 8:00–8:30; 8:45––9:15

Photo of Monsori

Celebrate our cultural diversity with JAYSON FANN featuring artists from around the globe!

This event will include drumming performances on one of the worlds largest drums, musicians from across the globe, interactive singing and dance and spoken word. Don't miss this performance pulsing with powerful rhythms, acts of truth and imagination, celebrating the infinite creative spirit within us all. The event will feature an extraordinary group of artists, musicians, and dancers brought together by a common vision to celebrate our culturally diverse community and to affirm our commitment to a future of solidarity with each other.
Site 14: Alvarado Street and Bonafacio Street 7:00–11:00


GUITARS NOT GUNS gives young people free guitars and lessons to encourage their creativity and help divert them from the negative influences of drugs, alcohol and gangs.

Guitar Not Guns is a music program that provides guitars and lessons to foster kids, at risk youth and other children in a classroom setting with qualified teachers. Each student is assigned a beginner guitar when they come to the first class. They are allowed to take their guitars home with them and are asked to practice 30 minutes each day.The instructors volunteer thier time. The Marina program is the largest on-going throughout the year; serving the residents of Marina and children from other peninsula cities. Their programs teach the very basics of guitar playing up through advanced playing.
Site 19: Alvarado St Wells Fargo Stage 6:15 – 6:45

Photo of Guitars Not Guns class

Students from East Salinas make up the ACAN LATIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA specializing in Afro-Cuban music.

The ACAN Latin Jazz Orchestra is a community music group featuring young music students from Salinas specializing in Afro-Cuban music. They may be joined by members of the AUSD Marching Drum Line, a performing group composed of standout students from the AUSD after school drumline teams. Both groups are sponsored by the Alisal Community Arts Network, which holds classes for over 1500 youth in East Salinas, Greenfield and Gonzales.
Site 19: Alvarado St/Wells Fargo Stage 7:00–7:30; 7:45–8:15

Photo of ACAN Jazz Orchestra

World Dance

YAOCUAUHTLI CULTURAL DANCE opens the First Night celebration with stunning costumes and traditional Aztec dances.

Yaocuauhtli Cultural Dance is a calpulli (social unit) dedicated to the cultural enrichment of the community of Salinas thru Aztec dance, music, song and culture. Since its founding in 2003, Yaocuauhtli is dedicated in strengthening the identity of the Mexican community by teaching indigenous traditions of their ancestors to future generations. They handcraft their regalia utilizing exotic skins, natural stones and beads, genuine leather and naturally molted exotic feathers for their headdresses.
Site 1: Colton Lawn 3:00–3:15 (Opening Ceremony); 3:45–4:15; 4:45–5:00; Site 15: Alvardo Street 7:00–10:00 (art activities/booth)

Photo of Yaocuauhtli Cultural Dance

Local Youth Company from SPECTOR DANCE will perform several short pieces to celebrate the season.

Since 1997, SpectorDance Company has presented multidisciplinary performances using a signature style that blends music, spoken word, and visual media with dance. Fran Spector Atkins, the lead artist and creative director, creates performance works that highlight themes relevant to the community. The SpectorDance Youth Company (SDYC) is a selected ensemble of talented, committed, young dancers ages 11 and up, performing original contemporary works aimed to reach broad populations in our community.
Site 9: Masonic Lodge/Pacific St. 6:30–7:00; 7:15–7:45

Photo of Spector Dancer Russell

Welcome the New Year with MONTEREY BAY LION DANCE TEAM symbolizing the arrival of prosperity and good luck.

Celebrate the New Year and lift your spirits with traditional Chinese lion dancing, a challenging art form complete with martial art postures and exciting rhythms of drums, cymbals and gongs. Elaborate costumes characterize the Lucky Lion and Happy Buddha. This dreamlike lion mimics human-like emotions and intelligence, symbolizing life and humanity. The lion dance is customarily performed during the Chinese Lunar New Year Celebrations, for the lion brings prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year.
Site 12: Alvarado Street/Galleria 8:30–9:00; 9:15–9:45; 10:00–10:30

Photo of Lion Dance Team

Local dance troupe DI FRANCO DANCE PROJECT will present a lively, colorful, culturally diverse holiday program of dances.

The DiFranco Dance Project will present a lively, colorful, culturally diverse holiday program of dances representing New Orleans Jazz, Afro-Samba of Bahia and Afro-Cuban Fusion and even a unique blend of Afro-Celtic Dance. The DiFranco Dance Project is a local youth dance troupe of youth ranging from 8 through 16. The dancers are members of Dianne Lyle’s Afro-Latin Jazz Dance classes, originally an after-school dance program sponsored by the Pacific Grove Recreation Department.
Site 12: Alvarado Street/Galleria 6:15–6:45; 7:00–7:30; 7:45–8:15

Photo of Di Franco Dance Project

The dance team from THE DANCE CENTER in Carmel will present a program of dances.

The dance training/performance and competition team features all styles of dancers with years of experience. It is appealing to all ages and genders, focusing on community enjoyment and the betterment of students.
Site 9: Masonic Lodge/Pacific St. 3:45–4:15, 4:30–5:00

Photo of Dance Center

Groove like Bollywood with ASH DANCE!

Groove Like Bollywood “Ash Dance Group” has intermeshed Western popular with the traditional Indian classical music to produce a glamorous and spectacular dance of India’s favorite Bollywood movies. Ash Dance Group focuses in teaching her students not just how to dance but to understand the movements. Groove Like Bollywood dance class benefits individuals with self-confidence, movements, patience and music.
Site 12: Alvarado Street/Galleria 4:00–4:30, 4:45–5:15

Photo of Ash Dance

Crowd favorite A PARK AVENUE BELLYDANCERS will put smiles on your faces! Join in the fun!

Classic belly dance with an American flair! Stylized synchronized dances of both traditional and modern styles. Middle-Eastern Bellydance, which can be traced back to pre biblical times, has been used by both men and women for expression and healing, entertainment and exercise. This beautiful dance form consists of combinations of isolations of the body moved to the exact rhythms and melodies of the music, developed as specific expressions of life, each based on an aspect of our own humanity. They are always a crowd favorite - the audience is encouraged to join in the fun, so don't be shy!
Site 9: Masonic Lodge 9:30–10:00;10:15–10:45

Photo of Park Ave Bellydancers

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