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Prince’s Passing Signals the Rapture

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016
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Prince at Coachella in 2008.

Today, April 21, legendary songwriter, singer, guitarist and music icon Prince died at his home in Minnesota. The Purple One was only 57. Millions of fans worldwide are in mourning, stunned by the latest loss in a 2016 that has seen too many entertainers go too soon.

In a year that began with the death of David Bowie, a year that has also taken monumental musicians like Lemmy, Merle Haggard and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg as well as stars of stage and screen like Alan Rickman and Garry Shandling, Prince’s untimely passing confirms what I already believed to be true. 2016 is the Rapture.

We’ve long been led to believe that the Rapture, the biblical end-times event where good souls depart for the Heavens while the wicked remain behind, would be an instantaneous one. Yet, evidence is starting to pile up that it’s a gradual ascension, and now the forces of good can include Prince in their swirling legions.

Of course, that’s not an actual or literal theory of mine, it’s just that this year has simply seen too many great and inspiring figures leave us forever. Truly, this is what it sounds like when doves cry.

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A Look Back at Next Level

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016
Santa Rosa's Manzanita Falls show off new material at Next Level on Friday, April 15.

Santa Rosa’s Manzanita Falls show off some new songs at Next Level on Friday, April 15.

This past weekend, April 15-17, some 28 bands and hundreds of fans came together for Sonoma County’s inaugural Next Level Showcase and Conference, with two days of music and a daylong seminar covering the business of creativity all aimed at helping local musicians get the information and assistance they need to take their music to, well, the next level.

Organized by the folks at Creative Sonoma (a program under Sonoma County’s economic development board) as well as the North Bay Hootenanny and Second Octave (both local promoters and event producers), the Friday and Saturday showcase took place at Arlene Francis Center next to Railroad Square, and the Sunday conference commenced down the block at Chop’s Teen Center.

In short, the two-day showcase was a fun-filled inspiration to anyone who’s a fan of North Bay bands, with a variety of genres and styles on display. Friday featured several folk acts alongside indie rockers. The crowd cheered along with harmonious groups like Rainbow Girls and emotionally-resonating rockers like Manzanita Falls.

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Sonoma County folk veteran Kevin Russell (second from the right) brought his So-Called Friends with him to perform at Next Level.

Pop band Lungs and Limbs got a dance party going in the classroom stage, one of three performance spaces that featured bands, and the eclectic Oddjob Ensemble closed out Friday with a fantastic performance that included horns and accordions a plenty.

Saturday was a decidedly louder affair, what with experimental noise rock outfit Antiphony blasting the small saloon stage to pieces as the evening’s opening act.

Secret Cat balanced high-energy and tight grooves at Next Level on Saturday night.

Secret Cat balanced high-energy and tight grooves at Next Level on Saturday night.

Other spirited Sonoma County bands, like the quirky and solid Secret Cat, reminded the crowds that you can be both silly and sensational, and several San Francisco acts showed up as well, like Travis Hayes & the Young Daze, who were joined onstage by Petaluma singer Emily Whitehurst of Tsunami Bomb and Survival Guide fame.

Petaluma's Emily Whitehurst shares the spotlight with San Francisco alt-rocker Travis Hayes at Next Level.

Petaluma’s Emily Whitehurst shares the spotlight with San Francisco alt-rocker Travis Hayes at Next Level.

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BottleRock Napa Valley is Sold-Out

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016

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We are still six weeks away from the fourth annual BottleRock Napa Valley, yet today festival promoters have announced that all passes have officially sold, meaning that those who snoozed on this getting tickets to year’s event indeed lose the chance to grab them from the festival itself.

While it’s not necessarily surprising that BottleRock sold out, what with musical headliners like Stevie Wonder and an array of culinary masters once again slated to appear in downtown Napa, May 27 through 29, it does seem like this year’s tickets went faster than ever, solidifying BottleRock’s stake as the largest and most popular music event in the North Bay.

For those who waited too long, your only hope now is to go online in the dreaded secondary ticket market. Fear not, though, as BottleRock has teamed up with Lyte, a ticket exchange platform that allows fans to buy or exchange tickets for sold-out events. Fans looking for BottleRock passes can visit uselyte.com/bottlerocknapavalley.

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Watch the Music Video for the Sam Chase’s “There For Me”

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016
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San Francisco folk ensemble the Sam Chase & the Untraditional have a new album, Great White Noise, on the way and this week premiered the music video for the record’s first single, “There For Me.”

For the video, the band invited several musical friends to listen to the song for the first time and-as the video description says-do whatever they want. The result is a montage of pure joy expressed in myriad ways. Look closely and you’ll see popular North Bay luminaries like Josh Windmiller rocking out to the epic Americana ballad.

The Sam Chase & the Untraditional perform in the Bay Area next on April 29, sharing a bill with Dead Winter Carpenters and Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

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Huichica Music Festival Announces Dates & Lineup

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016

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Set upon the rolling hills of Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the annual Huichica Music Festival has been a refreshingly intimate and eclectic gathering of hot indie bands and performers from the Bay Area and beyond. This year looks to be no different, as the fest has announced its most extensive lineup yet for two days of music, food and wine taking place Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11.

Headlining the festival is Los Angeles psychedelic rockers Mystic Braves, who cast powerful spells on their brand new album, Days of Yesteryear. Also taking a top spot is popular party band Dengue Fever, blending Cambodian-influenced rock and roll and danceable indie pop.

Huichica organizer Eric D Johnson will be taking the stage this year with his newly reformed melodic indie rock band Fruit Bats. Another major player in this year’s festival is longtime New York electronic act Silver Apples, fronted by the enigmatic Simeon since the 1960s.

I could go on. Seriously, this lineup is stacked with awesome acts. The full lineup can be found below. And don’t forget that several food vendors and plenty of libations will be on hand for a complete weeknd experience. Check out tickets and get more details by clicking here.

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Railroad Square Music Festival Confirms First Bands for 2016

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016

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Taking place in the cultural heart of Santa Rosa, last year’s inaugural Railroad Square Music Festival, presented by the North Bay Hootenanny, was hands down one of 2015’s best days of music in Sonoma County. With two stages of bands belting out folk, rock and country music and wild acts from performance art groups like Circus Maximus, the free-admission and all-ages event perfectly captured the freewheeling, laid back and friendly way most people around here like to live their life.

Now, the Railroad Square Music Festival is in the planning stages for round two, set to take place once again in the historic square on Sunday, June 5, 2016. And the first wave of acts has already been announced. 

Slated to appear at this year’s fest are the Easy LeavesRoyal Jelly Jive, the Dixie Giants, the Bootleg Honeys and John Courage; an eclectic blend of traditional country, gypsy jazz, New Orleans jazz, Americana and rock and roll. And that’s only the ones we know about so far. To stayed tuned to the happenings with 2016’s Railroad Square Music Festival, check the website here. To see highlights of last year’s event, click on the video.

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The Velvet Teen Tours Japan in New Music Video

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016

 

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Last summer, Sonoma County indie pop outfit the Velvet Teen released one of the best albums of their career, All Is Illusory, and celebrated with a tour of Japan. Luckily for us, they brought along talented filmmaker Timmy Lodhi of Khan Videos to shoot footage and set it to music.

Now, that footage accompanies the All Is Illusory song “You Were the First” in a frenetic and fun music video. Shot in black-and-white, the video captures the band as they navigate Japan, play in front of the dedicated fanbase they’ve built there, and eat lots and lots of Japanese delights. Seriously, it looks like these guys scarfed down a ton of street food on that tour. Watch for yourself, below.

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VHS Plays in Santa Rosa

Posted by on Feb 18, 2016

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Seattle punk band  Violent Human System is ok with you just calling them VHS. It helps that the acronym harkens back to a vintage, primitive design, much like way the gritty four-piece makes their music. After a handful of self-released 7″ records and EPs, VHS signed to Seattle-indie label Suicide Squeeze last year and are releasing their debut full-length, Gift of Life, later this year.

This week, VHS is taking their dark, rowdy and infectious punk rock on the road for a West Coast tour that lands them in Santa Rosa this Saturday, Feb 20, for a show at Atlas Coffee Company. Joining them on the bill is excellent experimental Oakland post-rock band Teal and Santa Rosa’s own doom-synth scamps Service. This one’s going to be a blast, so get down to Atlas Coffee early, doors are at 6:30pm. $6. 300 South A St.

Below, listen to VHS’s new single, “Wheelchair,” off the upcoming Gift of Life. You can pre-order the album here.

Get the New Trust’s “Best of Decade One” Cassette

Posted by on Feb 15, 2016

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Santa Rosa indie power trio The New Trust have been a staple of Sonoma County music going on 13 years now, formed by Velvet Teen bassist Josh Staples, guitarist Sara Sanger and drummer Julia Lancer. From their 2003 debut release, “We are fast-moving motherfuckers. We are women and men of action,” which saw the band as a four-piece outfit with guitarist Michael  Richardson (Benton Falls); to their latest full-length, 2013’s “Keep Dreaming,” which found the band recording with studio legend Steve Albini, the New Trust has kept up a frenzied pace and sharp sound, the best of which is on display in their new cassette-only release, “These Motherfuckers: The Best of Decade One.”

Available now online and at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa, the cassette boasts 27 tracks and over 80 minutes of music. Side A  is composed of 15 of the band’s most beloved songs. Side B switches it up with rarities, B-sides, demos and live recordings to offer a fully rounded listening experience. There’s no downloading this album, so if you’re a die-hard New Trust fan, you’ll want to grab a copy of this cassette and dust off your walkman.

Below, click on the 2003 music video for “All Things Are Moving Toward Their End,” the opening track of the cassette, and marvel at how young these kids looked. Here’s to another decade of The New Trust.

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In News

Yountville Live Announces 2016 Line Up

Posted by on Feb 11, 2016
Goo Goo Dolls photo by Chapman Baehler

Goo Goo Dolls photo by Chapman Baehler

Last year’s debut Yountville Live event was a huge success, and the organizers are back for a sophmore year of pairing chart-topping recording artists, world-class chefs and the finest in Napa Valley wine. Scheduled to take place March 31 through April 3, Yountville Live’s 2016 lineup of musical and culinary rock stars came out today. And it’s a doozy.

The Goo Goo Dolls, “American Idol” winner Kris Allen, Mayer Hawthorne and Plain White T’s are all slated to appear in special up-close and personal sets, with a bevy of emerging artists once again sprinkling the weekend’s entertainment schedule.

On the culinary side, dozens of Napa valley’s vintners, including Trinchero Family Estates, Jessup Cellars, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Priest Ranch, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Somerston, among others, are matched with culinary creations by Michelin-rated chefs. Napa Valley favorites Michael Chiarello (Bottega Napa Valley in Yountville) and Bob Hurley (Hurley’s Restaurant in Yountville) join other nationally recognized chefs in demonstrating the latest and greatest in cuisine.

All of these awesome events take place at wineries and restaurants in Yountville and include the “Taste of Yountville” event, a red carpet gala and more. For full details and tickets, visit the Yountville Live website here.