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First Night Monterey 2023

FINALE BANDS!! Countdown to Midnight!

Your New Year Starts Here! This year's finales will be held indoors, so whatever the weather you can see in the New Year in style! The venues open at 11:00 PM and all the festivities at both venues begin at 11:15, culminating with a countdown to midnight. Space is limited, so a Finale ticket (no extra cost to button-holders) is required to get in. PICK UP YOUR FINALE TICKET by showing your FNM button at the Portola Plaza ticket booth (look for the signs!) after 8:00 PM. Both bands also have an earlier set, so you will have the opportunity to see & hear both bands.

Special surprise guests may be dropping in to join the bands at either venue - you never know what might happen at a First Night finale! At either venue, whether you want to be on your feet dancing or just sitting back and enjoying the tunes, you can guarantee a fun and exciting time into the New Year! Have fun, and have a Happy New Year – First Night style!

AJ Lee and Blue Summit at the Golden State Theater

AJ Lee and Blue Summit brings a fresh contemporary approach to bluegrass and Americana, combining virtuoso instrumental work with soaring vocals and sweet harmonies, and taking in elements of western swing, soul, folk, jazz and pop/rock. A powerful singer, talented mandolinist and gifted songwriter, bandleader AJ Lee has been making waves on the acoustic scene for many years, performing in The Tuttles with AJ Lee since she was ten! The band also features flatpicking guitar ace Sully Tuttle. Now in their 20s, AJ and Sully are making a big impact with their equally talented bandmates Jesse Fichman (guitar/vocals), Chad Bowen (upright bass/vocals) and Jan Purat (fiddle).
Soaring harmonies, top notch picking and a reverence for the classic country, bluegrass and folk music of the past all add up to a band who are masters of the genre. With nod to the masters of the past, their sound is modern and thoroughly today.

Latin Jazz Collective in the Serra Ballroom
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The Latin Jazz Collective with John Nava is a high energy, seven piece Latin Jazz ensemble that received a standing ovation from a full-house crowd at the 2017 Monterey Jazz Festival. Led by percussionist John Nava, saxophonist Stu Reynolds, and drummer Martin Binder, the band creates a rich and eclectic blend of original compositions and highly acclaimed standard jazz arrangements steeped in authentic Latin rhythms. With Stu Reynolds, they have a songwriter versed in both swing and jazz, and now caught up in Caribbean rhythmic structures. “Those rhythms are completely compelling,” Reynolds says. “You immediately feel them in your body. When we combine them with traditional American jazz stylings it makes for a perfect marriage of head and body. Just let the rhythms take you away.”

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