Alt-rock band Susto
SUSTO The indie-rock band from South Carolina returns to Sonoma County in May for this year’s Cosmico, to be held at Dawn Ranch in Guerneville. (Photo by Justin Van Wicklin)

Massive music festivals are an acquired taste, as each typically runs three days and is jam-packed with stages, musicians, food trucks and all sorts of sundry goods depending on the vibe of the fest. Nothing excites like paying hundreds of dollars to enjoy one’s favorite band from 300-plus yards away with 10,000 of one’s closest friends.

However the Cosmico Music Festival is offering a much more thoughtful and chill fest as it ambles out of the summer festival gate early with dates set for May 17-19 at Dawn Ranch in Guerneville. This “boutique” music fest promises a smaller, funner community vibe than bigger fests like BottleRock or Outside Lands.

Started by Anne Driscoll and Chris Schultz five years ago among the redwoods at their home near Mill Creek, Cosmico seeks to be a more intimate affair, with a nod towards local winemakers via their “Wine Camp” attraction where aficionados can taste some of the best smaller-label wines the area has to offer.

This is the fifth year for the festival and the first at Dawn Ranch in Guerneville, which is about 20 minutes northwest of Santa Rosa near the Austin Creek Recreation Area. “While we would have loved to stay in Healdsburg, we also loved the idea of doing it in nature and having a night show outdoors—which isn’t that easy in Healdsburg,” Driscoll said.

The area came across the Cosmico radar in conversations with friends, as it’s local as well as spacious enough to fit more people. It’s also home to the rustic Dawn Ranch Lodge as well as areas where festival attendees can camp.

“We visited it last fall to see all the changes, and even under a rainy sky we knew that this was somewhere we could create magic. It would allow us to have people stay on site, which creates amazing energy and gives people such a unique opportunity to be sharing the space with our artists,” Driscoll said.

Both she and Schultz have worked alongside entrepreneurs and music festivals alike, all with an eye towards creating a “business and foundation based on the power of community and connection.”

As such, the festival is also part of a nonprofit group called The Launch Pad Foundation which in turn donates to grass roots organizations that reflect their mission to strengthen communities. Examples of these include Mill Creek COPE, Voices for a Safer Tennessee, Good Fire and Scholarship for Children of Vineyard Workers.

FOLK ROCK DUO Bassist Sam Grisman and guitar player Logan Leger will share their Dead-adjacent songs with the Guerneville audience at Cosmico, May 17-19. (Photo by Jean Frank)

Speaking towards the overall vision of the festival, Driscoll said, “At Cosmico, you are part of the experience, and you’ll be dancing next to your new favorite winemaker or band. You’ll discover new spirits and meet new friends. You’ll be part of creating the energy, and you aren’t just a number on our ticket list.”

This year’s lineup is eclectic and includes indie-rock band Susto, King Dream, and the Aravelo Brothers featuring Jackie Greene, Nikki Bluhm and Jason Crosby. Also on the bill is Sam Grisman, son of mandolin player and Grateful Dead-adjacent legend, David Grisman.

When asked about the popularity and price point for many of the larger locally based music festivals, Driscoll didn’t pull any punches. “We don’t want to go to a big fest any more, either,” he said. “Trying to find your friends, fighting the crowds. I don’t want to feel like I got dropped into a corporate machine, where I’m captive to their big brands and bigger prices.”

Explore the Cosmico Music Fest and buy tickets online at

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