With the producers of BottleRock Napa

The Napa Valley trio composed of Dave Graham, Jason Scoggins and Justin Dragoo will not be listed on the talent lineup in BottleRock’s program but they may very well be the most influential act at the three-year old music festival. And their entire performance takes place backstage since neither one can sing or play an instrument.

“We all love music and Jason may have played six or seven chords on a guitar but that’s about it,” said Graham about his childhood friend.

Make no mistake. Graham, Scoffins and Dragoo, who all grew up in Napa and have remained friends since their junior high school days have no need to carry a tune and are in no danger of overshadowing the likes of music headliners such as Imagine Dragons, No Doubt, former Led Zeppelin member, Robert Plant and 70-plus bands at the 2015 version of BottleRock. Their primary goal is making absolutely certain every single attendee leaves singing their praises for putting on a world-class event that captures the essence Napa Valley’s “good life” featuring great wine, great food and now, a first-class lineup of music.

The hometown threesome attended the inaugural BottleRock in 2013, and came away absolutely ecstatic about seeing a high level of artistic talent and the size of the festival. However, though the event was a huge success, if measured by attendance standards, it was a financial bust with the original backers having to file bankruptcy and leaving plenty of unhappy vendors in the dust. As a result, Dave, Jason and Justin, all successful entrepreneurs in their own right, formed Latitude 38 Entertainment and seized an opportunity to become BottleRock’s new producers to ensure the celebration remains part of the lifeblood of the community for years to come.

“What we’re trying to do is marry world-class music with world-class food, wine and weather, says Graham, who spent a decade investing in and building technology startups as the founding managing partner at ArizonaBay Technology Ventures. “In business you always look for an opportunity to provide something different and stands alone.  We want to connect the BottleRock brand to the brand promise that already exists when you mention the Napa Valley. But of course that meant we had to step it up in terms of the local food, wine and artistic talent and if you can deliver at the level of what people expect when they come to the valley, than there’s something special. Last year we jumped in without much time to deliver on that promise but now, with a full year of planning behind us, we’re very happy with where things are going.”

As the producers prepare for their encore performance, these guys are rocking and rolling to the tune of a sold-out BottleRock that will attract 35,000 people each day to listen to a diverse genre of music, from orchestral to indie pop to reggae to hip-hop, at Napa’s 26-acre riverfront Expo venue.

Although BottleRock has been fortunate to attract some major music talent during it’s first three years, it is not a boutique festival by any means but it’s also not a mega-festival like Coachella that brings in close 100,000 every day and where many fans have to rely of watching bands on a big screen far away from the stage.

“It’s not about trying to pack more people into a venue, it’s more about making sure everyone enjoys everything the festival has to offer in a very easy and intuitive way,” says Scoggins, who co-founded Jumpstart Automotive Media in 2001 (sold in 2007). “It was important for the festival grounds to be more free-flowing to allow access to all the stages so, to that end, we hired a user-experience consultant to help us study the venue and help architect how people park and get in and out of the event in the most efficient way possible. The three of us have been to almost major festival in the country and we think our venue lends itself to an extremely intimate experience with world-class music.”

Dragoo, President of Gargiulo Vineyards in Oakville, contends many food and wine festivals around the country are trying to figure out how to create the right ambiance that would appeal to the majority of attendees but at BottleRock, in their quest to offer a very endemic and authentic experience for the festival patrons, the goal is merely to embrace what’s already in the Napa Valley and highlight it. So, with all due respect to the likes of Snoop Dogg, The Avett Brothers or Passion Pit, the sounds of music won’t be the only entertainment provided.

To make BottleRock more of a “Napa” experience, in addition to the four stages where bands will perform non-stop from noon through 10:00pm each day, a fifth stage has been added this year in the Restaurant Garden where celebrity chefs and Master Sommeliers will be on hand to offer plenty of interactive entertainment. With that and by incorporating as much local businesses as possible, if anything, says Scoggins, “we’re being guilty of ‘Napatism’.”

“With so much amazing culinary and wine it’s just a matter of making it all come to life in a brand new environment and so far, our efforts have translated into the collection of 25-plus local wineries and more Napa and Bay Area chefs personally involved than ever before,” says Dragoo.
For the second straight year, a local Napa reggae band, Pion 2 Zion, will kick off the Napa-centric BottleRock at 12:00pm on Friday, May 29, and will be followed by a slew of fellow local artists, as well as many top names in the music industry, including some Grammy winners so, there will be more than enough noise over the weekend to satisfy the ears of any Millennial, Gen-xer or Baby Boomer.
So, what bands are Graham, Scoggins and Dragoo and their wives looking forward to seeing? Well, that would imply them even having that opportunity.
“We’re hoping to attend maybe the last performance on Sunday but probably a better way of putting it is that there are a lot of bands we will lament not seeing,” says Graham. “We all joke that we wish we could attend our festival, because it would be pretty fun.” NVL