Over the last year, the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma has risen from the ashes of a spotty concert history and is bringing a slew of exciting and immensely popular bands to the historic venue, courtesy of booker Jim Agius.
This last summer, the venue sold out for 90’s alternative act Neutral Milk Hotel, and in the last month, news of concerts from a variety of acts, like hardcore punks the Misfits and scene-shaking reggae band The Green, have further boosted the Phoenix’s standings in North Bay music purveyors.
Oberst first burst onto the national music scene as the wunderkind behind Omaha-based Bright Eyes. He has also played in hardcore acts like Desaparecidos and, since 2008, has produced several acclaimed albums under his own name.
M. Ward rose to prominence as a solo artist in the Portland, Oregon music scene at the turn of the century before teaming up with actress and vocalist Zooey Deschanel for the poppy indie duo She & Him. His alt-country styling and deep drawl make him an instantly recognizable voice.
Both Oberst and Ward are also part of the Monsters of Folk super group that’s been on-again-off-again since 2004 and also features Jim James from My Morning Jacket.
As if these two powerhouse performers were not enough, the Felice Brothers are opening the show, offering up a country-tinged rock that was born busking the subways of New York City.
Conor Oberst and M. Ward perform on Thursday, Oct 1, at The Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St, Petaluma. 8pm. $30. 707.762.3565.
Marin singer-songwriter Audrey Auld-Mezera died at her home in Stinson Beach after a battle with cancer on Sunday, August 9, surrounded by family and friends. She was 51. Auld was a beloved figure in the North Bay country music scene, a gifted lyricist and vocalist who was generous with her time and talents.
Born in Tasmania, Auld spent most of her music career living in Marin County, until she moved with her husband Mez Mezera to Nashville in 2007 to be a part of the music business there. Though she was never far from Marin, returning often to perform and visit with friends. Diagnosed with cancer last year, Auld returned to her “American home” as she called it to spend her final months in the North Bay.
In the wake of Auld’s passing, the community has praised her music and her character. On the KRSH’s weekly Monday night program ‘Evening Muse,’ host Robin Pressman spoke of Auld’s ” irrepressible and radiant” spirit; and she echoed those sentiments in an email to the Bohemian. “Audrey’s smile entered the room first, followed closely by her laughter, and then that sassy Aussie accent. And she used her joyous nature to help others,” said Pressman.
Auld built up an impressive resume of music over the course of 11 albums and three EP’s on her own Reckless Records label. Her last album, Hey Warden, especially highlights her authentic and generous personality. Released in November of 2014, the album was recorded with inmates at San Quentin Federal Prison, a passion project for the songwriter who had lead workshops and offered performances at the institution since 2006. Her ability to connect to others, no matter the circumstances, and to positively impact those around her will be remembered as fondly as her music.
Santa Rosa’s experimental noise rockers Secret Cat make some of the most head-spinning, mind-altering rock and roll music in the North Bay, taking cues from Zappa, early ‘Discord’ bands and dystopian robot romance novels. The band just wrapped recording their latest batch of garage rock with a twist, Smiling Songs, and released it online last week. Now, the cats are looking to take their tunes on the road with a tour, and they need your help.
The band, which consists of Ian Shoop(vocals, guitar), Melati Citrawireja(bass), Emile Rosewater(drums) and Charlie Davenport(guitar), have a Kickstarter page for the occasion; and though generous donations have already streamed in, there are several special rewards for anyone still looking to donate, from handmade art to photo studio sessions with Citrawireja and more.
For this tour, Secret Cat is also bringing a new visual element to the live show in the form of a live mask and puppet performance developed with the help of Quenby Dolgushkin, and the band is hoping to traverse the Pacific Northwest freaking out unsuspecting audiences along the way. Today is the last day to donate, so head over to their page now and click the button.
You can listen to Smiling Songs right here.
Remember way back in June and July, when the four remaining core members of the Grateful Dead played five concerts dubbed “Fare Thee Well” that were billed as “the original members’ last-ever performances together,” or something like that? Well, it took all of a month for three of the four to come back together once more for another round, this time under the moniker Dead & Company.
And this time, Bob Weir, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann are bringing along guitarist John Mayer, yea “Your Body is a Wonderland” John Mayer, to round out the crew. Only Phil Leash is sitting out the Company, to continue playing at Terrapin Crossroads as Phil & Friends.
Dead & Company have also already announced their first gig, performing on Halloween at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Not a bad debut, as the venue has been a popular spot for the Dead through the last five decades.Tickets for the concert go on sale to the general public on Friday, August 14.
According to a Billboard article, Weir says, “Those songs weren’t done with us.” Billboard also reports that Mayer has been jamming with “select members” of the Dead and learning Jerry’s parts of the songs since March, meaning this new incarnation has been in the works for awhile now. No telling if the $50 million payday all those “Fare Thee Well” shows generated was involved in the decisions as well, but fans online have already noticed a striking similarity in Dead & Company’s logo to that of another group of innovators.
Led by the tireless efforts of Santa Rosa’s Josh Windmiller, the North Bay Hootenanny has become a powerful proponent of live music in the North Bay, hosting gigs at small venues, farmers markets and recently throwing the wildly successful Railroad Square Music Festival in downtown Santa Rosa last June.
Now the Hootenanny is heading into the city to host a monthly residency of shows at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. This Friday, Aug 7, Northern California singer-songwriter bandleader and creative speller Misisipi Mike headlines the Lab, showing off why he’s considered one of the best in the Bay area right now and laying down a Delta Blues inspired rock and roll with his new ensemble The Gilroy Tall Boys. Local favorites Frankie Boots & the County Line open the show.
Next Friday, Aug 14, the Hootenanny is back at it, with Windmiller’s own group of outlaws, the Crux topping the bill for a rollicking night of chain-rattling and boot-stomping. San Francisco’s own the Vivants start the show with their Southern brand of showmanship and swing.
Get ready to celebrate Halloween twice this year, as the classic horror punk band the Misfits are scheduled to make their way to the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma on Friday, November 20.
The show is sure to sell out, so you’ll want to grab tickets when they become available tomorrow, Aug 5, at 10am.
An eerie entity since their formation in 1977, the Misfits are known for their dark, raging live shows complete with handcrafted instruments, painted faces and intense visuals. Currently on their 2015 “Static Age Revisited” world tour, the band is celebrating their classic debut album Static Age, recorded in 1978 and released as singles and EPs, but unreleased in its entirety until 1997.
This year, the Misfits are playing Static Age all the way through on stage, as well as a full set of the band’s fiendishly frightening catalog of classic and current material. This year, the Misfits’ line up has gone generational as founding member Jerry Only (bass/vocals) is joined by his son Jerry Caiafa Jr on guitar and Eric “Chupacabra” Arce on drums.
Misfits play on Friday, November 20, at the Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St, Petaluma. 8pm. $25. 707.762.3565. http://www.thephoenixtheater.com
San Francisco string band the Brothers Comatose are beloved in the North Bay and beyond for their stirring original tunes and striking vocal harmonies. Formed four years ago by siblings Ben and Alex Morrison, the band imbues their traditional roots folk music with an infectious and accessible modernity that’s been drawing in crowds young and old alike. Already a mainstay on West Coast music fests and a headlining act in California, the Brothers this year have decided to take things to the hills and host their own festival in the Sierra Mountains. They’ve dubbed it “Comatopia.”
Taking place throughout the weekend of August 14-16, Comatopia is billed as a string summit at the Sierra Valley Lodge in Calpine, CA, about an hour north of Truckee. Joining the Brothers are a cavalcade of other Bay Area and North Bay folk, rock and jazz acts, giving the fest a versatile sound.
Comatopia kicks off on Friday, Aug 14, with headliners Hot Buttered Rum String Band joined by Steve Poltz and the Easy Leaves. Saturday, Aug 15, sees the Brothers Comatose headlining with support from the Sam Chase, Dixie Giants and Steve Poltz once again. Sunday, Aug 16, includes an All Star Bluegrass Jam in the afternoon with all the players taking part and getting down in the picturesque setting.
Comatopia takes place August 14-16 at the Sierra Valley Lodge, 103 Main Street, Calpine. $25 and up. 503.562.7051. Tickets are available now, with optional VIP, camping and room packages.
Looking at the music listings in this week’s Bohemian, it struck me that there are a host, a horde, a gaggle, a ton, just a whole lot of music legends playing in the North Bay this weekend. From Nicasio to Napa, here’s a breakdown of the who’s who of musicians playing live concerts in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties over the next three days.
Tonight, rock and roll power couple Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo storm the stage at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. This summer marks 35 years of partnership for the singer and guitarist, who have been married since 1982 and who still tour constantly, bringing the battle cries and ballads to the North Bay with a 35-year Anniversary CD/DVD package available.
In Petaluma, the retro-swing and big band sound of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy can be heard as the opening night concert of the annual Petaluma Music Festival. A first this year for the event, the show tonight features a special VIP dinner and drinks package available at 5pm as well as general admission tickets just for the show, which starts at 7:30pm. The Petaluma Music Fest continues all day Saturday as well, with headliners Nahko & Medicine for the People, the Woods Brothers and ALO all on hand.
Also in Petaluma on Saturday is longtime ska and funk ground breakers Fishbone, playing Aug 1 at Zodiacs downtown. Now celebrating 25 years together, the band has cultivated a following for their dynamic one-of-kind sound and electrifying live shows.
Saturday also sees several talented singers and songwriters appearing throughout the area. At the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, Natalie Cole keeps the torch of her family’s musical dynasty burning brightly with a concert at Weill Hall. Cole will be performing hits from her 40 years as a singer, including the “Unforgettable” tracks she famously recorded with her late father, Nate King Cole.
Over in Napa, the Uptown Theatre presents Nashville Hall of Fame member Mary Chapin Carpenter in a show that is very nearly sold-out. After performing with full orchestras last year, Carpenter returns to the acoustic intimacy of her country folk roots, joined on stage this time by longtime friends Jon Carroll (piano) and Austin Nevins (guitars). Give the Uptown a call at 707.259.0123 to reserve spots or get on the wait list.
Sunday boasts a couple of shows so popular, they’re already out of tickets. Rancho Nicasio’s pairing of guitarist Elvin Bishop, harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and BBQ on the lawn was too irresistible for patrons to pass up. It’s totally sold-out.
In Petaluma, Lagunitas Brewing Company’s annual “Coahoma to Sonoma County Blues Festival” is already sold-out for early admittance, meaning that you can show up, but it’s going to be crowded in front. Still, there’s no problem with listening to veteran Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard while enjoying a tasty brew in the back. Bill Abel, Markus James and Layla Musselwhite also play that show, which is free and open to the general public at 11:30am.
Santa Rosa guitarist and songwriter Francesco Catania is a bit of a musical chameleon, able to rock a melodic soul jam as easily as a post punk anthem. He’s been seen playing alongside local favorites like John Courage, and recently went on the road with Arizona garage rock duo Burning Palms.
This weekend, Catania dusts off his gold cape and shiny shoes to show a different side of his musical personality when he performs under his solo electronic outfit Frances Wolfe. An ongoing project since 2013, Frances Wolfe allows Catania to go deep into his inner cosmos, producing synth and reverb-soaked atmospheres that blissfully explore ambient sounds and abstract melodies for a down-tempo chill wave head trip.
In anticipation of a new EP this fall, Frances Wolfe has released his latest single, “Portrait.” The tune wanders in and out of a trippy guitar riff as building feedback menacingly encroaches and Catania’s voice floats like an out-of-body experience. Listen to “Portrait” below:
On Sunday, Aug 2, Frances Wolfe performs at the Arlene Francis Center as part of an eclectic showthat also includes face-melting jazz from InOverOut, rock and roll from Sleepwalk Sunday, dreamy punk from Plastic Ghost, groovy pianos from Saffell and more. 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 7pm. $5-$10. For more details, click here.
The musical minds running Gundlach Bundschu Winery are at it again, working with Bay Area concert curators (((folkYEAH!))) to bring the best in indie-minded bands and songwriters to Sonoma Valley. Today, the two partners announced a pair of new shows, with Gun Bun welcoming Cat Power on Wednesday, September 2, and Bonnie “Price” Billy on Sunday, September 27.
Enigmatic singer and songwriter Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, has evolved from a lo-fi punk singer to an acclaimed and eclectic songwriter in her 20-year career. Her most recent album, 2012’s Sun, was praised for its passion and pop sensibility. This summer marks the famously introspective artist’s first live dates since announcing she gave birth to a baby in late April.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy is the stage name for songwriter and occasional actor Will Oldham. Since 1998, Oldham has released the majority of his musical works under the pseudonym, crafting a traditional roots rock and Americana folk with a gutsy, avant-garde approach that always satisfies. His latest LP, 2014’s Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues, exemplifies Oldham’s willingness to bend the rules by acting as a covers album to his own previous material with rollicking reworkings and stark new translations of his older tunes.
These two shows are in addition to Gun Bun’s already highly anticipated upcoming concert with Seattle grunge legends Mudhoney and the excellently loud San Francisco garage rockers Fuzz, featuring Ty Segall. That show is scheduled for Friday, October 16.