Mill Valley Film Festival offers nine nights of live music

One of the most exciting aspects of the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) is the event’s ever-expanding offerings. Last year, the popular annual fest debuted its newest addition to the fun in the form of the MVFF Music series.

This year, MVFF Music returns with an eclectic array of artists, showcasing musicians featured in MVFF films, as well as concerts that perfectly pair with particular screenings. Beginning on Friday, October 7, nine concerts come to Mill Valley’s Sweetwater Music Hall in a dynamic program.

Kicking off the series is longtime San Francisco songwriter and bandleader Thao Nguyen. The infectious performer and longtime frontwoman of indie band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down is featured in the film A Song for You: The Austin City Limits Story, and audiences will catch an up-close-and-personal glimpse of what the film captures—Nguyen’s energetic brand of folk-pop and alternative rock.

The next night, Oct. 8, Jamaican roots reggae artist Prezident Brown and reggae veterans The Itals perform as part of the festival’s Cannabis Focus day, highlighting a conscious and entertaining day of mind-expanding films and events that go green.

Sunday, Oct. 9 features Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Juilliard-trained cellist Natalie Haas in an evening of beautiful music. Featured in the MVFF selection The Groove Is Not Trivial, Fraser has been heard on several soundtracks, including Titanic and Last of the Mohicans.

Returning thematically to the Austin scene, songwriter Erika Wennerstrom, known as the leading force behind rock ’n’ roll outfit Heartless Bastards, makes a solo appearance on Monday, Oct. 10.

Celebrating the release of the documentary Bang! The Bert Berns Story, MVFF Music’s biggest concert event honors the amazing body of work by songwriter Bert Berns on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Beloved soul singers Betty Harris and Linda Hart, who both worked extensively with Berns, headline the night, which also features Marin favorites Shana Morrison, Matt Jaffe, rock duo HUGElarge and many others.

Other concerts on the MVFF Music program include jazz pianist Fred Hersch, subject of a new documentary, acoustic performer Trevor Hall, punk rocker Alejandro Escovedo and the Oct.15 closing night blowout with Narada Michael Walden and the Great Mill Valley Gospel Show.

MVFF Music, Oct. 7 through Oct.15; Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley; mvff.com/music.

By Charlie Swanson, Pacific Sun