Steve Winwood Plays San Francisco's First Outside Lands Fest


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Steve Winwood
Steve Winwood, Les Claypool Prep for San Francisco's First Outside Lands Festival

“Letting the monkey out of its cage" is a top priority for Primus bassist and cult icon Les Claypool next week when he plays San Francisco's first ever Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Park, August 22-25th. Claypool joins Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Tom Petty and 61 other bands at the West Coast's newest fest, which is expected to draw up to 180,000 fans to the historic locale.

Steve Winwood, who plays before Petty on the 25th, says he first visited San Fran in 1968, stopping by the Rolling Stone offices there at the time and catching a Grateful Dead show. America has entered a musical renaissance thanks to downloading, Winwood says, and Outside Lands is part of the rebirth. “The decline of the record industry is quite good for the health of music. I think it gives people other routes and avenues to get their music across, such as festivals and live music."

There's certainly no shortage of festivals this year, from Coachella to Bonnaroo to All Points West, and high gas prices and mild recession hasn't hurt sales of the $81 day-passes or $215 three-day passes, says festival organizer Allen Scott, organizer Gregg Perloff, head of maverick boutique promoting house Another Planet. An understudy of legendary SF rock promoter Bill Graham, Perloff says almost half of ticket sales to the “transit-first" event (also produced by Bonnaroo organizers Superfly) are coming from out of state, reflecting the international draw of both the famed city and bands like Cafe Tacuba or Manu Chao.

Claypool says fans should expect a wide variety of material from him and others. “It might just be anything -- it probably will be anything; as long I'm flanked by astronauts. All I can say is there will be astronauts involved if everyone did their footwork."

Three years in the making, the non-camping event takes place in a wooded series of meadows the size of three football stadiums in the heart of the San Francisco. The first-annual event will bring millions of dollars to the city in hotel and entertainment receipts and is exactly what the West Coast needs, says Claypool. “I'm surprised there aren't more festivals west of the Mississippi, because there'll be less of a mud-fest. I imagine it's going to be pretty sweet."

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