American River Music Festival, Coloma, CaliforniaThe sound of the South Fork of the American River chuckling through riffles and tumbling in whitewater rapids isn’t the only sound that flows through the Coloma-Lotus valley. The area is home to a variety of amateur and professional musicians, as well as music lovers of all ages.

When you’re in town, look for live music anywhere that folks gather to eat and drink — the Coloma Club, Gringo’s, Marco’s, the River Shack, and the Sierra Nevada House. You can also enjoy live music at events like TrailFest in June and the American River Festival in September. Events at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park often feature groups like Coloma Celtic, who play old-time favorites on fiddles, banjos and vintage instruments.

And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Valley’s three major music events, each of which draws visitors from around the state. In June, it’s Coloma Blues Live!, an all-day outdoor blues festival. It is held at Henningsen-Lotus Park, along the American River. This year’s event featured the Robert Cray Band, Charlie Musselwhite, Coco Montoya, and other top talent.

If you’re yearning to write and play music, come to the American River Acoustic Music Camp in August. Each year Joe Craven and other expert Northern California musicians offer professional instruction, guidance and encouragement to musicians and songwriters. For 2010, the camp is located at the beautiful riverfront American River Resort, and runs from August 1-5.

The music season climaxes with the annual American River Music Festival, featuring acoustic, Americana, folk and blues. This year’s dates are September 17-19, 2010. Though the biggest shows are staged along the river at Henningsen-Lotus Park, shows and activities are also held at campgrounds around the Valley. This year’s performers include Jesse Winchester, Slaid Cleaves, Karla Bonoff with Kenny Edwards & Nina Gerber, and lots more. There’s something for every age and interest, including workshops, kids activities, art, vendors, food, and wine tasting.

You’ll find all these and other events listed in the Coloma Valley Calendar. And look in the Coloma Valley Business Directory to find locations and contact information for the local restaurants and bars that offer live music.