First Night 2019 Performers!

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

Finale Band THE CALIFORNIA COWBOYS is one of California's most successful country-western bands!

R. W. Smith and the California Cowboys deliver a powerful sound, with the clear punch of tight three-part harmonies. With such rowdy, foot stompin' original songs as "We Ride' em We Rope' em" and "Double Shot of Hank", it's easy to see this band will always go over in a big way with the audience. As lead singer and song-writer, R.W. is the polished showman. He dances and jokes with the audience while delivering top billing entertainment. Together with drummer Hal Atkinson (CCM's Drummer of the year, 1994), guitar player Gary Potterton ( producer of "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer". bass player, Cary Atkinson and legendary Steel Guitarist, Bobby Black. These fine musicians form one of California's most successful country-western bands!
Site 22: CC/Serra Ballroom 9:15—10:00; 10:15—10:45; FINALE 11:15—MIDNIGHT
Learn to two-step! DANCE LESSONS before performances at 9:00 and 10:00 pm

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New to FNM, singer-songwriter KEITH GREENINGER paints intricate portraits of the human condition with powerful melodic images, deep engaging guitar rhythms and husky, heart-wrenching vocals.

A strong singer, song writer, and band in the style of Bruce Springsteen or Van Morrison with award winning song writing and a broad spectrum of material ranging get up and dance type anthems to deep soulful thought provoking and touching ballads, his masterfully crafted tunes and powerful presence have earned him the top songwriting awards at the prestigious Telluride Blue Grass Festival, The Kerrville Folk Festival and The Napa Valley Folk Festival. With nothing more than a guitar in hand and a song with a story to tell, Keith completely captivates his audiences!
Site 15: Golden State Theater 6:30—7:00; 7:15– 7:45; 8:00– 8:45 pm

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Also new this year, KIKI WOW AND FIELDS OF EDEN is a classic rock band that will have you on your feet dancing and singing along from the first note!

Fields of Eden is an Acoustic Rock Band that plays the classic rock hits covering the last three decades. This fun loving group delivers timeless songs just the way you first heard them and cover artists like ELP, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Coldplay, The Verve Pipe, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles; a mixed bag of songs and something for everybody. Fields of Eden's members are The Edenfields: Lead singer/guitarist, Kiki Wow, whose engaging vocals and rhythm guitar hit a delightful and familiar chord that has audiences tapping and singing along from the first song on; their emphasis is on fun!
Site 25: CC/Steinbeck-2 6:30—7:15; 7:30—8:15 pm

Band Photo

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).
Site 14: Rabobank Stage/Alvarado Street 6:30—7:15; 7:30—8:15 pm

Photo of Derek Bodkin & Hovering Breadcat

New this year, BRUCE GUYNN & BIG RAIN brings its award-winning brand of "Redwood Coast Sound" to the stage!

Sweet vocal harmonies ride on top of an excellent band. These boys dish up a full-bodied musical fare that will pick you up, and make you move. With the release of several number one, and seven top thirty songs, on both the USA and International radio charts Bruce Guynn & Big Rain has become a prolific touring and recording artist. Recognized for award winning songwriting, the music is a breezy blend of soulful rock, country rock, blues, R&B, and roots. With a heart and talent that is fused with the timeless music of the past and new songs of life today, the live experience bridges generational, social, and cultural divides. The melodies and hooks grab you, while the groove makes you move!
Site 22: CC/Serra Ballroom 6:45—7:30; 7:45—8:30 pm

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Also new this year, Monterey's SENSORY TRIBE will lift your spirits and leave you with a smile on your face!

Don't miss this chance to see this up and coming local band. Sensory TRiBE brings Collaborative Reggae Fusion Music with a message, an exhilarating blend of good vibes, reggae, soulful rhythms and cheerful music collaboration. The band is a harmonious fusion of six diverse voices: Samra Asrat, Glenn Bell, Zack Benbich, EL Kallpa, Sean McGill, and Nathan Osterman. Sensory Tribe has performed the Winter Warm Up Battle of the Bands at The Catalyst Atriu, Colton Hall Evening Music Series, the Monterey Museum of Art and the West End Celebration. With multiple members writing original music for the band, their performance promises fresh tunes that will make you dance and feel the vibe!
Site 15: Rabobank 8:45—9:30; 9:45—10:45 pm

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Finale Band JONAH AND THE WHALEWATCHERS, the Monterey Bay's premier reggae and world music group, are guaranteed to get you up and dancing!

Jonah and the Whalewatchers was formed by soulful Jamaican bassist and singer Alex Shirley. The Whalewatchers have been constantly active on the live music scene since 1990; and are still building on the foundation of a message of peace and love for humanity. It's not surprising to see young and old people alike connecting with this heartbeat music that fuses Caribbean and African beats with American jazz, blues and soul to create a very unique sound that is most often identified as reggae. The band's playlist also includes styles like calypso and soca and more modern dancehall reggae and ska and hip-hop tunes which are guaranteed to get people up and dancing!
Site 22: Golden State Theater 9:15—9:45; 10:00—10:45; FINALE 11:15—MIDNIGHT

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Perennial FNM favorite BLACK IRISH BAND opens the night with their highly entertaining Folk, Americana, and Celtic Pub-Rock!

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 band's musical style captures the spirit of the immigrants of this land, the men and women who tamed the Wild West.
Site 22: CC/Serra Ballroom 6:15—6:45; 7:00– 7:30; 7:45—8:15 pm

Photo of Black Irish Band

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

Dancing-in-the-streets fun! SAMBA LEGAL (pronounced 'leh-gao', meaning "cool, hip") plays rhythms from Bahia and Rio de Janeiro.

Most of the members of Samba Legal have been playing their brand of Brazilian rhythms for the better part of two decades in the Monterey area. Samba Legal (pronounced "Leh-gao", meaning cool or hip) plays at major events throughout the year like First Night, Parade of Lights, Good Old Days and West End. Often accompanied by the Samba Legal dancers, in full regalia, to help usher you into the spirit of Bahia.
Site 18: Alvarado St./Wells Fargo Stage 9:30—10:00; 10:15—11:00 pm

Photo of Samba Legal

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 Conant, as a group of drummers interested in studying the art of Japanese drumming. Taiko is a traditional form of Japanese drumming that incorporates those elements of martial art which focuses on centering oneself in the grounded position, and the concentration, direction and controlling of energy and breathing.
Site 2: Pacific Street Stage 3:15— 3:45; 4:15—5:00 pm

Photo of Shinsho Mugen Daiko

With a unique spin on Bluegrass, 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!
Site 20: CC/Colton Room 8:45—9:15; 9:30—10:00; 10:15—10:45 pm

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.
Site 7: City Council Chambers 3:15—4:00; 4:15—5:00 pm

Photo of Heartstrings

Enjoy a joyful evening of song! I CANTORI DI CARMEL opens the evening program 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.
Site 10: Carleton Hall/Monterey Center for Spiritual Living 6:30—7:00; 7:15—7:45; 8:00—8:30 pm

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, 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 Council Chambers 8:00—8:30; 8:45—9:15; 9:30—10:00 pm

Photo of Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen

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

Original acoustic folk-rock with a Celtic twist. Grumbling Ginger 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!
Site 7: City Council Chambers 6:15—6:45; 7:00—7:30 pm

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

Singing Wood plays the Shona style of marimba. 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. A glorious learning experience and playing experience is what Singing Wood aspires to be; come be a part of it!
Site 9: MIIS/Irvine Auditorium 9:00—9:30; 9:45—10:15 pm; 10:30—11:00

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You're invited to sing along with the MONTEREY BAY BELLES women's barbershop-style chorus!

Come and enjoy the beautiful a Capella sounds of the Bay Belle as they harmonize about many colors of love. This group of the bedazzled barber shoppers has song for every occasion. You can join in with the Chorus and bring in the New Year with song because "Harmony Loves Company!"
Site 8: Monterey Museum of Art 3:30—4:15; 4:30—5:00 pm

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ALONG CAME BETTY is "one of the best jazz bands to come out of Monterey!"

Along Came Betty was formed in 1998 to celebrate the spirit of hard-bop, a seminal movement of 50s and 60s jazz music. The quintet has become much more than an homage to an important era of jazz history. Pianist and prolific composer Biff Smith's sophisticated yet highly accessible compositions blend elements of that era with modern sensibilities. The rich sound of harmonized sax and trumpet backed by the classic piano, bass, drums rhythm section result in fun, fresh, straight-ahead jazz!
Site 9: MIIS/Irvine Auditorium 9:00—9:30; 9:45— 10:15 pm; 10:30—11:00

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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 Opening Ceremony 3:00—3:15; 3:45—4:15 pm

Photo of Yaocuauhtli Cultural Dance

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. In conjunction with the lion dance team program, Monterey Bay Healing Tao Tai Chi members perform traditional Tai Chi martial hand & weapons forms for self-defense application as well as health and wellness.
Site 13: Alvarado Street/Galleria 9:00—9:30; 9:45—10:15; 10:30—11:00 pm

Photo of Lion Dance Team

AZAHAR FLAMENCO DE MONTEREY will bring us to the southern cities of Spain where Flamenco was born!

Azahar Flamenco de Monterey is a local flamenco dance ensemble. The group has performed at many events throughout Monterey County since its formation in 2014. The ensemble performs lively and colorful group and solo numbers which feature traditional and contemporary flamenco dance in a variety of forms, such as sevillanas, rumba, gypsy tango, and fandango. The group's director and founder travels annually to Spain to study, returning with knowledge to ensure the authenticity of the performances. You will be mesmerized by the colorful costumes, fast turns, rhythmic footwork, and passionate music!
Site 24: CC/Steinbeck-1 7:45—8:15; 8:30—9:00 pm

Photo of Dancers

Learn folk dancing with GREEK VILLAGE DANCERS OF THE MONTEREY PENINSULA!

The lively and vibrant Greek Village Dancers will perform vigorous, intricate, graceful folk dances of Greece, wearing authentic costumes. Audience participation is welcome: simple dance steps will be taught. Opa!
Site 13: Alvarado Street/Galleria 4:45—5:15; 6:15—6:45 pm

Photo of Greek Village Dancers

Learn to Two-Step with HEIDE DEE from Tuesday Night Country!

Ok, it's not Tuesday, but West Coast Swing and Country Two-Step dance instuctor Heide Dee will be bringing the art of country dance and teach us all how to two-step! Pull on your boots and come on up and dance!
Site 22: CC/Serra Ballroom Floor 9:00—9:15; 10:00—10:15 pm

Western Dance Lessons Photo

FLASHPOINT ENTERTAINMENT will entertain you with their LED light shows incorporating dance and juggling!

This power trio has a Modern Circus type act focusing on dance with LED illuminated prop manipulation, juggling and eye popping colors. You will be wondering how did they do that! These light artists and street performers juggle to music, dance to lights and have a circus type fun act! A show stopper in the street! Look for their STEGATRON Art Car! The Art Car (is it a car?) is a post-historic pre-apocalyptic robot dinosaur from the future! Music, lights, this car has it all!
Site 16: Alvarado Street/Roving Artists 6:15—10:00 pm

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Published author and activist ROSA ELENA ESPINOZA MENDOZA will share readings of her poetry .

Rosa Elena Espinosa Mendoza has been writing poetry since she was four years old. She now uses poetry to tell her life story as a migrant woman and mother, of her struggles with undiagnosed mental disorders, and who has emerged as a published poet, participating at events at Hartnell Authors Day, Noche Bohemia at Sherwood Hall, Steinbeck Library and King City library.
Site 28: CC/Stevenson-1 6:30—7:00; 8:00—8:30 pm

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Community focused poet and rhymesayer from Salinas, JOTA EFFECTUS will get on stage and throw the truth!

Jota Effectus shares experiences through his poetry, showcaing the struggles of a young male of color who identifies as a native from the Ñuu Savi nation as he grows and evolves as an artist and human being. He aims to induce a sense of ownership and pridefulness to youth who also carry native blood.
Site 28: CC/Stevenson-1 7:15—7:45; 8:45—9:15; 9:30—10:00 pm

Photo of Jota

Bellydancers from LA-TI-DAH DANCE COMPANY will put smiles on your faces!

La-Ti-Dah Dance Company is a provisional belly dance troupe performing American Tribal Style belly dance. Performances are always family-friendly, colorful and perfect for adding mystery, artistry and joy to your New Year's eve! Playing finger cymbals, they are costumed in a glamorous style that evokes cultures along the Silk Road.
Site 24: CC/Steinbeck-1 9:15—9:45; 10:00—10:45 pm

Bellydancers

GUITARS NOT GUNS will perform a selection of music ranging from children's classics to contemporary rock and blues.

Guitars Not Guns is a non-profit program that provides instruments and instruction free of charge 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 may take their guitars home with them and are asked to practice 30 minutes each day; instructors volunteer their time. The Guitars Not Guns Band is made up of students , age 7-17, who meet at the Marina Teen Center.
Site 18: Wells Fargo Stage/Alvarado Street 6:15—6:45; 7:00—7:30 pm

Photo of Guitars Not Guns class

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 is a group of dedicated young dancers who bring their talent and love of dance to the community. The SpectorDance vision is to utilize dance as a vehicle to open doors, ignite creativity and fuel the human spirit.
Site 24: CC/Steinbeck-1 6:15– 6:45; 7:00– 7:30 pm

Photo of Spector Dancer Russell

ACAN MARCHING WINTER PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE is composed of standout students from the AUSD after-school drumline teams!

Joshua Alfaro, Founder of the Alisal Community Arts Network, thinks big. Even the acronym provides inspiration: Alisal CAN! The AUSD Marching Drum Line is a performing group composed of standout students from the AUSD after school drumline teams. The groups are sponsored by ACAN, which holds classes for over 1500 youth in East Salinas, Greenfield and Gonzales. Come hear them play!
Site 18: Wells Fargo Stage/Alvarado Street 7:45—8:15; 8:30– 9:00 pm

Photo of ACAN Drumline

Local dance troupe DI FRANCO DANCE PROJECT will present a program of dance.

The DiFranco DanceProject, Dianne Lyle's company of dancers, ranging in age from 8 through 17 years, will offer a fun-filled, eclectic and exciting program of dances, inspired by cultures from around the globe.
Site 13: Alvarado St/Galleria 6:45—7:15; 7:30—8:00; 8:15—8:45 pm

Photo of Di Franco Dance Project

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

Students ages 2 yrs. to adult are warmly welcomed into a creative atmosphere of passionate mentorship at The Dance Center —owned by Tia Brown and Laura Jeselnick. Classes include ballet, pointe, hip-hop, tap, jazz, contemporary, acrobatics, and musical theater. Thirteen competitive teams in different genres and 5 musical theater performance companies complement a curriculum that includes both recreational and pre-professional offerings taught by an exceptionally-talented faculty. TDC is proud to recognize and host the new affiliated nonprofit organization, Monterey Peninsula Ballet Theatre. MPBT promotes arts outreach and dance education with performance opportunities to the youth on the Monterey Peninsula.
Site 22: CC/Serra Ballroom 6:15—6:45 PM

Photo of Dance Center

You're the star! BEST BUY PRESENTS "JUST DANCE!" VIDEO GAME

Step to the beat and get into the rhythm as you play the Just Dance video game! From Bruno Mars to Disney's Coco to Ariana Grande to Elton John —get ready to dance!! You're the star! There's something for all ages. Presented by Best Buy.
Site 17: Best Buy Stage/Alvarado Street 6:45—9:15 pm

Just Dance