Already a highlight of live music in the North Bay, the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University has announced that it is dropping plans to build a proposed 10,000-seat outdoor pavilion on the university’s campus. The school will instead focus efforts on enhancing graduation rates, the student experience and academic programs.
In a statement, new Sonoma State University President Judy K. Sakaki said, “After reviewing the project with my new administrative team, and consulting with key stakeholders we’ve agreed that utilizing our already existing facilities at the Green Music Center, in lieu of adding an additional facility, would best serve our students, our academic mission and the surrounding communities.”
The Green Music Center already includes the dynamic Weill Hall, which features outdoor lawn seating for bigger concerts, and Schroeder Hall, housing an amazing pipe organ and used for recitals and student classes. This weekend, the Green Music Center opens its 2016-2017 season with a performance by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on Saturday, Oct 1, and Buena Vista Social Club vocalist Omara Portuondo on Sunday, Oct 2.
Fairfax songwriting partners Velvy Appleton and Anita Sandwina have spent more than a decade making harmonic folk under the moniker of Spark & Whisper. Their rhythmic tunes stand out from the crowd thanks to transformative melodies and undeniable chemistry. This month, Spark & Whisper released their third, already acclaimed album, Monument.
Available now on bandcamp, the record of 11 original compositions continues to advance the pair’s mature, eclectic songwriting and assured aural aesthetic. With Sandwina’s expressive vocals and Appleton’s sizzling guitar solos, this is a modern, rock-tinged take on traditional folk, presented in a fresh and engaging arena.
Though the band doesn’t have any live dates until the new year, you can stream Monument now and mark your calendars for February, when Spark & Whisper return to the stage.
Bay Area alternative indie band Picture Atlantic possess a rapid fire rock and roll sound that harkens back to the festive pop of British Invasion bands while repping an authentic West Coast brashness.
Recently, the band released the quick, acerbic and memorable “Billy Banker,” the second official single off the upcoming full length album, Assouf, due out October 21.
Take two minutes out of your Friday to hear the high-energy single below, and head over to Silo’s in Napa tonight to see the band perform with Napa natives and fellow indie rockers Anadel. The first fifty in the door even get that sweet show poster to take home.
North Carolina’s the Avett Brothers, aka siblings Scott and Seth Avett, have been making lovely harmonic country folk music since 2000, when they were still in college and high school, respectively. With a slew of critically beloved albums–including this summer’s masterfully emotional True Sadness–and a reputation for rollicking and heartfelt live shows, they’ve become one of the biggest ‘indie’ acts touring today.
And if their show last night at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center is any indication, their hard-working ethics and dynamic musicianship is a strong as ever. The band played a high soaring set of music from their entire 16-year catalogue in the beautiful Weill Hall, with the back wall open and fans packed on the lawn. Folks sung and clapped along for the two-hour set that saw the brothers power through dozens of their best songs.
With no opener, the band came out strong with an instrumental opener complete with kazoo solos. Backing the banjo picking Scott and guitar slinging Seth is bassist Bob Crawford, cellist Joe Kwon, violinist Tania Elizabeth, pianist Paul DeFiglia and drummer Mike Marsh. The ensemble offered lots of selections from True Sadness, though they also reached back to the earlier works and gave every member of the group a chance to spotlight their talents.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Avett Brothers play live four times now over the last few years, from the fields of BottleRock Napa Valley and under the columns of Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, to an intimate theater in Visalia, and last night’s performance stood out for it’s eclectic mix of song selections and juxtaposition of hushed acoustic and all-out electric power. At one point, Seth took his guitar into the crowd for a blazing rock and roll guitar solo, and Tania Elizabeth damn near stole the show with an amazing violin performance that sounded like a full assortment of stringed players.
Congrats to whoever is booking the shows at the Green Music Center. They’ve got a great ear for music and a great taste for a wide range of acts. For a list of upcoming concerts there, click the link.
Onstage with Jim and Tom continues to be one of the most entertaining musical series in the North Bay, a combination of interviews and performances that take place at the historic Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, hosted by Phoenix manager Tom Gaffey and music booker Jim Agius. Featuring an eclectic and talented array of North Bay musicians and bands, the video podcast always entertains.
Recent episode with rising indie pop stars Lungs and Limbs is no exception, and this week, Onstage shared a video of the band covering one of the greatest ’80s songs ever, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” by Tears for Fears. Watch the video above and marvel at the spot-on guitars by Nick Tudor, sultry vocals by Karina Rousseau and fuzzed-out backbeat by drummer Matt Power and bassist Chris Casey.
For more Onstage antics, click the link here.
Patsy Cline would have been 84 this week. The legendary country star and Hall of Fame vocalist was born September 8, 1932, in Winchester, Virginia. In her brief 30 years on Earth, Cline would become one of the most recognizable voices in country music and would achieve crossover success with hits like “Walkin’ After Midnight” and her iconic version of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”
Cline was killed in an airplane crash in 1963, though her memory lives on in generations of fans and fellow performers who keep her voice alive. One of those performers is Santa Cruz-based Carolyn Sills, whose vintage country combo is a 2016 Ameripolitan Award nominee and Academy of Western Artist nominee for Western Swing group of the year.
This weekend, the Carolyn Sills Combo revisits Patsy Cline’s classic catalogue of tunes with authentic honky tonk sounds and swinging energy. The group gets up to the North Bay on Sunday Sept 11, with a birthday bash celebration at Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave, Mill Valley. 4pm. $15. 415.388.3850.
In what was to be its 30th anniversary, officials behind the Sonoma Music Festival announced last week they have cancelled the 2016 fundraising concert weekend, scheduled to happen Oct 7-9.
Despite a schedule that featured headlining acts like John Fogerty and Steve Miller, the nonprofit concert event was scrapped due to very low ticket sales. From the festival’s website:
Unfortunately, with the addition of an enormous festival at Coachella the same weekend and the following weekend with the Rolling Stones et. al., it is apparent that many of our long-time patrons chose to attend those events rather than our event. That circumstance has put our non-profit at a large financial loss jeopardizing our charitable efforts, therefore, we had no choice but to cancel. Our extreme thanks go out to the artists and others who have been willing to work with us in this crisis.
The Sonoma Music Festival is run by Bruce Cohn Charity Events. Patrons can visit the festival’s website for ticket refund information starting October 1.
Santa Rosa folk-punk band Buck-Thrifty has been around less than a year, and though their new album is titled “The Slacktivist,” the band is anything but slackers. Already, their bluesy and swinging brand of music has put them on the North Bay map. With the new record, these young bucks are taking things to another level.
This week, Buck-Thrifty unveils “The Slacktivist” with a show in Sonoma. Joining them on the bill is an eclectic lineup that includes Oddjob Ensemble and the Timothy O’Neil Band. Below, check out a live performance video of the band playing “Sweatin’,” featured on the new album, from a house show last April.
Buck-Thrifty gets the crowds dancing once again on Friday, Aug 26, at Rossi’s 1906, 401 Grove St, Sonoma. 7:30pm. $10. 18 and older. 707.343.0044.
Knights are so hot right now, from Game of Thrones fandom to sword and sorcery video games and comic books that abound. Tonight, local troupe North Bay Cabaret commences with their second annual Hot August Knights burlesque and variety show featuring shining armor and damsels in distress.
This medieval affair features live sword fighting, sketch comedy, acrobatics and several sideshows from a bevy of local talent. Local DJs keep the beat going with a late night dance party, and costume contests and photo booths get the crowd involved. Dress up and show up tonight, Aug 19, at Annie O’s Music Hall, 120 Fifth St, Santa Rosa. Doors at 7pm, 21 and over only. $15.
Now in its 5th year, summer concert series Live at lagunitas is for lovers, especially when Portland, Or, folk pop band Blind Pilot plays an intimate and emotionally resonant concert at the Petaluma brewery’s LaguMiniAmphitheaterette. That was the case last night, as couples and friends cuddled close while the sun dipped behind redwood trees and the harmonizing six-piece band wowed with their infectious music.
Blind Pilot closed out the first leg of their summer tour, playing in support of their brand new album, And Then Like Lions, which came out just last Friday. The band played a perfectly balanced setlist of both the new material and the best selections from their last two albums, 2008’s Three Rounds and a Sound and 2011’s We Are the Tide. Seeing as how it’s been five years since Blind Pilot’s last release, And Then Like Lions is a welcomed record for fans of the band who’ve patiently waited while singer-songwriter Israel Nebeker and the rest of the crew honed the new music.
Marin-born and New York City-based songwriter Peter Murray, of the duo John Heart Jackie, opened the show with a solo set that burned slowly and showcased Murray’s melancholy lyricism and forlorn delivery to good effect, though the crowd was still in conversation mode, sipping on beers in metal pint glasses (Lagunitas has done away with plastic cups) and catching up with friends.
By the time Blind Pilot took the stage, the sun was setting and the breeze was cooling the crowd, bringing them in close to the stage to sing along with the band’s effortless pop melodies. Seeing a band of this artistry, up close and personal in a relaxed setting like the LaguMiniAmphitheaterette, is a special occasion. I can’t wait to do it again next week, when Brooklyn indie rockers Parquet Courts play the next Live at Lagunitas show on Tuesday, Aug 23.