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The Highway Poets Rock Out For Fire Relief This Weekend

Posted by: on Oct 12, 2017 | Comments (0)

Last month, Petaluma’s longtime indie-soul rock band the Highway Poets were celebrating the release of their new album, Chasing Youth, and planning for a exciting new chapter in their musical journey.

This month, the Highway Poets–like thousands of others in the North Bay–are watching wildfires rip through their region and looking for ways to help. In that regard, the band has announced that they are donating all proceeds from their shows and album sales this week to the fire relief fund started online by Jake Kloberdanz, a vineyard and winery owner living in Napa.

On his Facebook page, songwriter and frontman Sebastian St James announced the Highway Poets’ plan to donate to the fund with a heartfelt statement:

In times like these we need to be strong for the ones that are hurting and I can’t express enough how much my heart truly aches for everyone who has lost or is losing a home this week. As entertainers we can offer a little escape that hopefully turns into the strength to rebuild. Help us raise money for the victims by taking in a bit of joy even if it’s just for the night.

Tonight, Thursday Oct 12, the Highway Poets play with Night Animals at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco. Tomorrow, Friday Oct 13, the band takes the stage at Papermill Creek Saloon in Marin. On Saturday, Oct 14, the Highway Poets come to their hometown for a double dose of music, performing a set at Jamison’s Roaring Donkey between 3pm and 6pm, and then moving over to the Big Easy to join acoustic zydeco band Left Coast Syncopators late into the night. In addition to donating their earnings and sales, the band will be collecting donations at each show.

Help Oddjob Ensemble Record Their Debut LP

Posted by: on Jul 11, 2017 | Comments (0)

If you need a musical job done in the North Bay, Kalei Yamanoha is the man to do it. The multi-instrumentalist is a seasoned touring and recording musician who plays hundreds of shows a year, often on the accordion, with acts like the Crux, Sharkmouth and many, many others.

In addition to that musical resume, Yamanoha is also the founder and frontman of avant-garde, Vaudevillian-inspired folk troupe Oddjob Ensemble, who are embarking on a massive mission to record, produce and tour with their forthcoming debut full-length album, “The Silver Sea.” Described as “12 songs that tell a story of a distant land,” the ambitious project is not without its costs, and Oddjob Ensemble is reaching out to the community for support with an Indie GoGo campaign aimed at raising $7500 for the endeavor.

The band is offering several gift packages for backers of the project, ranging from downloads of the album to private concerts and even an option to have them write a song just for you. The group plans to use the funds to record at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati with several guest musicians and vocalists. After producing the album, the band hopes to take the album on the road for a six-week national tour. Lend a hand if you can, and get in on the shenanigans.

Next Level Conference Connects Local Talent & Industry Insiders

Posted by: on May 8, 2017 | Comments (0)

This past weekend, Creative Sonoma hosted its second annual Next Level Music Conference at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, engaging local musicians with keynote speeches, panel discussions and workshops. As with last year, the conference flew in music industry professionals and highlighted local luminaries on Sunday, May 7. This year’s offering also included a pre-conference day on Saturday, May 6, of additional workshops with Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer Sam Hollander and recording engineer and producer Glenn Lorbecki, who each worked one-on-one with a select number of musicians at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati.

The Bohemian was on hand for Sunday’s event as a resource roundtable participant. The day started with a welcome from Sonoma County supervisor Shirlee Zane, who shared her roots in the creative community as an oil painter, and praised Creative Sonoma’s innovative approach to promoting the arts on a county-wide scale.

Then, unfortunately, Lagunitas Brewing Company founder Tony Magee experienced car trouble and couldn’t make his scheduled opening keynote. In his place, Lagunitas’ director of national sponsorships and events Jim Jacobs stepped in to speak on behalf of the company’s community service and generous donations to nonprofits.

In addition to the conference, Next Level offers a grant program that last year gave $2,500 to five Sonoma County artists. Those artists shared the stage on Sunday to talk about their year in music and the varied creative and business projects that the grant funded.

Creative Sonoma’s director Kristen Madsen helps Shaun Hunter Wagner show off the records his grant funded.

Americana duo The Easy Leaves used their money for the specific purpose of marketing themselves at last year’s Americana Music Conference in Nashville, and have seen spots at midwestern festivals and increased radio play coming from the effort. Petaluma songwriter Avery Hellman, under the name Ismay, is utilizing her money for an adventure along the Klamath River, where she will record a documentary about writing music in and inspired by nature. Shaun Hunter Wagner divided his grant money into releasing several cassettes and vinyl records on his Goth Horse record label and funding a tour to Europe with his own band the Acharis. Black Sheep Brass Band shot a “Tiny Desk” video for the annual NPR contest, and Bootleg Honey crafted a new promo package. Members from both of those bands noted that the grant money, and the consultations that came with it, motivated them to focus on new goals and new objectives.

After lunch, Hollander and Lorbecki took the stage to share their experiences from the previous day’s workshops. Hollander shared two songs in particular with dynamic before-and-after presentations. Lorbecki showed off his work with local songwriter Jimmy Cramer, where he recorded Cramer’s pop demo and helped transform it into a fully-realized work that got the crowd cheering. The conference rounded down the day with breakout sessions that focused on specifics related to booking venues and social media tactics and concluded with casual roundtables. At its core, Next Level Conference excelled as a networking opportunity for musicians and music lovers, and a motivating day of shared passions and enthusiasm.

Sheila Groves-Tracey shares tips from a lifetime of booking music and managing performers in the North Bay.

Next Level is offering another grant program this year, and any music artists interested in applying should attend the information session on June 6 at Creative Sonoma’s office in Santa Rosa. Get more information by clicking here.

Listen to the Drought Cult’s Debut EP, “Moon Lust”

Posted by: on Nov 7, 2016 | Comments (0)

Dark and drenched in reverb, the experimental indie rock coming from new Sonoma County trio the Drought Cult mixes engrossing hooks and fuzzed-out psychedelics for a lush dreamscape of sound.

Featuring long-time North Bay rockers–Francesco Echo on guitars and vocals, Jef Overn on bass and Anthony Vaccaro on drums–this is a new incarnation of music from the trio, who originally got together under Echo’s name earlier this year. Now armed with a forlorn edge and undercurrent of gloom, the Drought Cult have released their debut EP, Moon Lust, on bandcamp.

See the band live for the first time this weekend, as they join fellow Sonoma County rockers Manzanita Falls and San Francisco soul rock outfit Doncat for a show on Saturday, Nov 12, at HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol. Copies of the Drought Cult’s EP will be available at the show, and you can get a listen right here, when you click on the player below.

Listen to Become the Villain’s New Single, “Slip Away”

Posted by: on Jan 22, 2016 | Comments (0)

Sonoma County songwriter Neem Wood mixes together shimmering electronics, soulful guitars and heartfelt lyrics for a compelling, emotional blend of indie rock and pop under the name Become the Villain.

Wood has a new album due to be released this weekend with a show at HopMonk in Sebastopol, and he has a preview of his latest work in the form a new single, “Slip Away,” that’s available to listen to right now.

Stylistically and sonically sophisticated, “Slip Away” features Wood’s soaring vocals and dark percussions with strong pop hooks and a cathartic chorus. Click on the track below; and catch Become the Villain tomorrow, Saturday Jan 23 at HopMonk, with other local luminaries Lungs and Limbs, Horses Heaven and Charley Peach. Details are here.

Ezra Furman Plays Santa Rosa Last Minute

Posted by: on Dec 3, 2015 | Comments (0)

Garage rock and glam pop songwriter Ezra Furman is a fierce and fearless indie music maker who’s been gathering steam for his irresistible tunes and infectious personality. His most recent release, “Perpetual Motion People” is as groovy as it is restless, as personal as it is catchy. And, Furman has also been making headlines lately for identifying as gender fluid. We last wrote about Furman’s awesome cover of the Replacements song, “Androgynous,” and we’re happy to have another excuse to highlight some amazing music once again.

That’s because, this week Furman is playing a last minute concert on Saturday, December 5, at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, as part of a west coast tour. With Furman’s star shining brightly and musical momentum perpetually gaining speed, this might be the last time anyone will get to see the songwriter in such an intimate setting as this, and the rest of the lineup is fully stacked with local wonders. Music from the Corner Store Kids, Don Kennemer and Plastic Ghost joins a masked performance art piece by Quenby, comedic antics from Be The Clown, a gallery of works from local artists and Lagunitas beer on tap.

This is one not to miss. The show happens on Dec 5 at Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa, 8pm, $12 suggested donation.

Help Manzanita Falls Record Their Second Album

Posted by: on Oct 30, 2015 | Comments (0)

Sonoma County indie rock outfit Manzanita Falls makes compelling, emotionally-charged and infectiously addictive music. They’re also some of the nicest guys in the North Bay. So, when they ask for a little help in getting their sophomore album recorded and released, we’ll take up the call.

Right now, the band is hard at work trying to get their music to tape. This second album is a follow up to the band’s excellent 2012 debut, Vinyl Ghost. The songs on this upcoming release were written in the aftermath of a violent car crash the band suffered while touring in Texas on November 1st of 2012. Rising from the ashes of that event, this album promises to be an inspired and expressive collection.

First, Manzanita Falls needs your help in getting the record done. They’ve got an Indiegogo campaign online where you can donate and pick up some awesome perks, like wine tasting packages, green room and studio access and more. You can even get the whole band to come to your house for a day of landscaping. That’s worth it right there. Its also nice to help an authentically talented group make their art happen. Check out the video below and give the guys a couple of bucks! You’ll be glad you did.

Four Reasons to Go to Hopmonk in Sebastopol Tonight

Posted by: on Aug 27, 2015 | Comments (0)

Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol is consistently one of the best live music venues around, showcasing local talents and traveling bands alike in the intimate space of the tavern’s Abbey and outdoor courtyard. One of the highlights of the venue’s schedule is always the “Songwriters-in-the-Round” series, happening the last Thursday every month, and always featuring a bevy of North Bay musicians performing solo, original songs.

This month is no different, as songwriter Jon Gonzales hosts a night of folk, rock and throwback pop music presented by four players, Jeremy McCarten, Jen Tucker, Ken Risling and Georgia Ruth, rotating on stage for an eclectic night. If you’re not familiar with these songwriters, click on the videos below to preview what’s sure to be an engaging show.

First up is Jeremy McCarten, best known as the front man of Sonoma County indie rockers Manzanita Falls, a singer with deep emotional reservoirs and a magnetic stage presence.

Railroad Square Music Festival Makes Its Mark

Posted by: on Jun 9, 2015 | Comments (0)

John Courage rocks at the Railroad Square Music Festival.

It seemed like an improbable dream; organize a music festival in downtown Santa Rosa with multiple stages and a stellar lineup of the Bay Area’s hottest folk and revival acts, and make it free for all to attend. Yet, this year’s inaugural Railroad Square Music Festival was an outstanding success that brought together a friendly, communal and musical vibe that was positive as it was invigorating.

The all-day lineup of bands featured a host of performers who are beloved in the North Bay and beyond with headliners like the Brothers Comatose, T Sisters and the Sam Chase all on hand. I arrived just in time to see Santa Rosa’s own John Courage fronting his blues rock trio the Stone Cold Killers and playing an electrified set of sizzling solos and groovy jams on the Traveling Spectacular Stage, a vaudeville-inspired mobile set up that transforms from a truck into a full-on stage experience.

The main stage, donated by the city of Santa Rosa, saw Santa Cruz’s Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra perform the slowest burning set of the day. The young, but experienced group took traditional rhythms and infused them with a emotional and strained energy for supremely satisfying pay offs. The Old Soul Orchestra will be back in the North Bay on Saturday, June 20, performing at the Big Easy in Petaluma to raise funds for a European tour they have planned in the coming months.

The neighborly feeling at the festival extended from audiences to the bands, with special appearances and pairings; such as when enchanting singer Sally Haggard jumped in with Frankie Boots and the County Line for a ditty, or when the main stage was packed full of performers at the close of the show. The Brothers Comatose held crowds captive with their fast fiddling and multi-part harmonies, and many attendees stayed past the 7pm end time to contribute to an ebullient sidewalk chalk jamboree.

The Festival’s ultimate success was due to the tireless work of the North Bay Hootenanny’s Josh Windmiller and an army of volunteer staff who made the whole thing a smooth and easy experience. Food and drink lines moved quickly (even as 32 kegs of Lagunitas beer sold out in the early evening), kids and families hung out in the shade of the Big Tree kids area, and Wilson Street turned into an art walk with live art sessions by Luddart artists and wares from local vendors. Kudos to all involved. Here’s hoping the Railroad Square Music Festival returns next summer. If you’d like to contribute to the local music scene and events like this, you can donate to the North Bay Hootenanny, a nonprofit group, by clicking here.