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.
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
The 6th year of the Rivertown Revival, the local, arts-based, community festival that highlights the Petaluma River and all of the amazing artists who call our county home, takes place on Saturday, July 18.
This year’s party includes an art boat race and parade, floating art barges and an all-day festival which highlights local music, art, food and drink and over 40 fabulous local vendors. The Rivertown Revival is sure to be 2015’s most unique and creative summer festival. The music lineup is, of course, packed; with several stages and tents offering up something for everyone, even the kids.
The lineup features Marshall House Project, Corner Store Kids, David Luning, the Crux, Royal Jelly Jive, Circus Maximus, the Dixie Giants, Sally Haggard, and so many more. For full details check iout the Rivertown Revival web page here.
Zodiacs in Petaluma continually puts on eclectic live shows, and tonight they’re going strictly indie rock with a free jam-packed lineup of some of the most exciting young bands in the area.
Headlining is Santa Rosa rising stars Girls & Boys, past winners of the Bohemian’s Norbay Music Award, who have quickly impressed audiences around the Bay Area with a moody swagger and soulful pop jams. Their music has already hit the waves of television and film, and with a new album on the way, the band are preparing for a massive tour later in the year.
Next up are power rockers EagleWolfSnake out of San Francisco. I last saw this band perform at this year’s BottleRock Music Festival in Napa and they bring an infectious ebullience to their sets. Dedicated to spreading that joy to their audience, this young band is the most likely to get everyone jumping in unison at the show tonight.
That’s only if Lungs & Limbs doesn’t do it first. Led by the alluring voice of Karina Rousseau, the spirited ensemble describe themselves as Pink Floyd meets the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Based on their shiny demo songs, it’s hard to argue with them.
Opening the show is a personal favorite of mine, the impassioned rock group Manzanita Falls. In their few years together, the group has already faced and overcome adversity and now they’re set to head into the recording studio to follow up their debut release, Vinyl Ghost.
Zodiac’s is located at 256 Petaluma Blvd North, Petaluma. Tonight’s show starts at 8:30pm and is FREE!
Slow Gherkin was one of the best ska bands at a time when fellow skankers the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less than Jake, Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish were all over the airwaves, both on radio and television (remember when MTV shows music videos?). They were one of the top acts in the Bay Area, relentlessly touring for six years and gaining a following across the country as well as in Europe throughout the ’90s. “Trapped Like Rats in Myers Flats,” from their second album, Shed Some Skin, is still a singalong hit, as shown by their sold-out New York performance. And to this day, their version of Hava Nagila is one of the best tracks on my “These Songs Will Make Everyone Dance” playlist.
They wrote really good songs, not just fun, dancy teenage punk diddies with poppy, upstrummed guitar. If stripped down to acoustic guitar and voice, they’d be the best song of the night at any cafe’s open mic session. Their lyrics are deep and music moving; songs stands up to any by those who made it really big, and it always felt like it would just take that one catchy lick, that one un-erasable melody to cement Slow Gherkin’s place in music lore.
But, alas, they remain mostly a local memory for Bay Area music lovers who grew up in the Clinton era. Do these two shows in one year—double what they’ve played in the 13 years leading up to this point—signal a full-fledged reunion? One can only hope. But one thing’s sure: if you plan to attend their December show at the Phoenix Theater, it might be good to start polishing those Doc Martins now—they’re probably pretty dusty.
Reggae dancehall legend Barrington Levy blazed through Petaluma on Thursday night in classic dub train style. Barrington’s voice is sounding cleaner than ever and his form is looking fantastic as he approaches 50 years old. The show was part of the Road to California Roots Festival tour, a push towards spreading the word about the massive three-day event next May. There will be many more – look for J Boog and Los Rakas in January.
The house was packed at the Mystic Theater; a heady crowd leaning on the farther side of thirty and forty. Barrington paid court to his long time fans with studio-style versions of “My Time” and “Too Experienced”, letting them flow off the mic like he has played them for decades (he has). His encore of “Black Rose” hushed the crowd until everyone started singing along. But the real depth of his performance was in the heavy duty b-side takes on lesser known tracks like “A Ya We Deh” and “Bounty Hunter”.
Holding the decks was WBLK selector Jacques Powell-Wilson, founder of Monday Night Edutainment at Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol. The sound system is rounding out 12 years as the North Bay’s longest running reggae genre night. Jacques brought down some of his massive collection of vinyl rarities including the Meditations’ “Stranger In Love” and Dennis Brown’s “Come Home With Me”. If you can dig it, WBLK is hosting their first in a series of all-vinyl appreciation nights starting December 9th with Ras Gilbert of Shashamani Sound.
Opening for Barrington was former Sonoma County, now Santa Cruz transplant, band Thrive. The group recently joined forces with California Roots Festival organizers and have been touring the country spreading sunny, post-Sublime positive reggae, which they have now infused with RnB pop. I see them shying away from their reggae-rock roots in the coming months, but we’ll see where they take their sound come festival season.
I gotta say this: The Mystic Theater hasn’t seen this much smoke in years. Ever since management started really cracking down on puffing inside the venue, Petaluma’s reggae scene hasn’t been the same. Undercover goons jam their way through the crowds, flashlights scanning for joints, grabbing hold of skinny hippies and short frat dudes with their menacing stares that promise, “try that again, so I can haul your ass out in front of everyone”. But it’s no fun when the homies can’t have none… Thankfully, Thursday was a chill alternative to the type of muscle attitude we’ve gotten used to at Sonoma County shows. Probably because the show was too expensive for the college kids to raid. Although many of them could have benefited from knowing the roots of where their beloved Cali Roots Rock comes from.
On another note: Rather than releasing full albums of new material, Barrington seems to be focusing on recent collaborations with newer generations of established artists, namely JadaKiss and Vybz Kartel, Kardinal and Busta Rhymes. Check this made-for-MTV Jams 2010 release “No War” featuring Kardinal. The original features Busta Rhymes and quotes President Obama’s inaugural speech.
Here was the moment at the Courtney Love show last night, and it was brief: right after “Violet,” there’s the usual applause and all, but then it comes back, and surges into a roar, like the crowd all agrees to just cheer the shit out of Courtney Love for, I don’t know, being through hell, most of it self-inflicted, and being murdered by the media, and having her daughter taken away once or twice, and the Kurt thing, but living through it against the odds, and now, playing a sparsely-populated show in some fuckin’ chicken town, and showing up in a silver cutaway jumpsuit and bare feet and way-fake boobs and ratty blonde hair, and actually smiling while singing lines like “I always wanted to die”—and then, during this spontaneous burst of love from the crowd, Courtney Love, 49 years old, looks out into the Phoenix Theater, coyly grins, then visibly swells with gratitude, cocks her head and blows a kiss, serious as a heart attack.
You know how you see a band that’s famous for being sloppy, or mad at each other, or too drunk, but then there’s the one night they’re super tight, or just happy, or sober, and it’s like “THIS is what this band always could be but now finally, gloriously is“? That was Courtney Love last night at the Phoenix, accepting three bouquets of roses when she hit the stage, opening the set with “Plump,” screaming the lines “IT MAKES ME SICK” like the screech of a malfunctioning tractor and, at the end of the song, looking down at the monitor and telling the soundman: “I just blew a speaker.”
Petaluma’s 2013 Rivertown Revival is slated to be its biggest party yet. Part music festival, part small town showdown, the festivities include zany art boat races, fancy old-timey costumes, and a huge array of local food purveyors to match. You can read up on the history of the event in our 2010 Bohemian feature article here.
The live music offerings include some of Sonoma County’s best talent, including 2013 Bohemian Nor Bay Award winners The Highway Poets (best rock band), Frankie Boots & the County Line (best country/Americana band), and a whole slew of nominees who are equally deserving of winning best band. Check them all out for yourself this Saturday with late-night after parties spilling into local restaurants and music venues.
The Rivertown Revival is this Saturday, July 20th from 11am-8pm, $5, babies free. Steamer Landing Park, 6 Copeland Street, Petaluma. no phone.
Sure, we knew there were some creative musicians out there who might enter our Neutral Milk Hotel cover song contest. But how could we have expected what musical treasures you, dear readers, sent in?
There was the in-the-red, gleefully distorted version of “Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone” sent in by Ted Farber, and the horn-flavored version of “A Baby for Pree / Where You’ll Find Me Now” by Chris Alarie. John Gaby’s autotuned “Communist Daughter” changed the time signature to 6/8 with a circus feel, and Brian O’Connor played with chromatics and fretboard slides in a version of “The King of Carrot Flowers, Part II.” We even got a crazy cut-and-paste edit called “Two-Headed Sex Machine Man” from Ricardo M’ohaire that chopped together samples of James Brown, Neutral Milk Hotel and various spoken-word recordings.
But when it came time to select a winner, we went with Dustin Heald’s imaginative cover of “You’ve Passed,” played on guitar, darbuka, zils and melodica. Without trying to emulate the letter of Mangum’s delivery, the version captures the slight Middle Eastern spirit of the intro lick and takes the song to another place entirely. Congratulations, Dustin, you’ve won two tickets to Jeff Mangum’s sold-out show at the Phoenix Theater on Tuesday, April 9.
Hear Dustin’s winning cover song here.
Thanks to everyone who sent in their songs!
It’s official: Jeff Mangum, frontman and musical genius behind the band Neutral Milk Hotel, will play the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma on Tuesday, April 9.
Mangum, a famously reclusive figure for a decade after releasing the landmark album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, has slowly re-emerged and performed live over the last few years. (We reviewed his show at the Fox Theater in Oakland here.) In the Aeroplane still manages to hover near the top of most “Best Albums of the 1990s” lists, and shows no sign of slowing in terms of influence and scope.
This is another show for the history books at the Phoenix Theater, which has of late hosted instant-sellout shows with Snoop Dogg and Animal Collective. (And don’t forget Hanson, which had teenage girls camping outside the Phoenix Theater for two days before the show.) My guess is tickets will sell quickly for this one, too.
Luckily, as evidenced by his recent shows, Jeff Mangum plays well-arranged setlists of classic material, and still has that same reedy, hypnotizing voice. Get ready, folks.