Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Aug. 5: Madeleine Peyroux at the Wells Fargo Center

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Madeleine Peyroux’s 1996 debut album, Dreamland, arrived at a curious time in New York, when Grand Royal magazine and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion ruled the scene. A quiet, whimsical collection of standards including covers of Patsy Cline and Edith Piaf, Peyroux’s collaboration with downtown jazz luminaries James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut and Marc Ribot failed to make a massive splash, instead hovering in cult status for eight long years. Fast-forward to the post–Norah Jones New York landscape, and Peyroux has all of a sudden received gales of attention, especially for her album of enduring classics Careless Love. She brings her voice, hued strongly with Billie Holiday, and her astonishingly demure stage presence to town on Wednesday, Aug. 5, to the Wells Fargo Center. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $20–$70. 707.546.3600.Gabe Meline
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Aug. 2: Paul Thorn at Rancho Nicasio

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:33 PM

If it weren’t for the slow but sure power of the independent music industry, Paul Thorn’s record label, Perpetual Obscurity, might actually be fitting. But as it is, Thorn, a Tupelo, Miss. Native, is far too talented to be contained by the usual languish. Since hanging up his gloves as a professional boxer, he’s been noticed by everyone from Mark Knopfler to Bonnie Raitt (“I told her that the next time she went out on tour,” Thorn joked recently, “if she didn’t pick me as her opening act, she and her dog would surely burn in hell”). A born storyteller with an endearingly halted drawl, Thorn is a pleasure to watch live; the setting is perfect for his tales of the dry South when he appears at a barbecue on the lawn on Sunday, Aug. 2, at Rancho Nicasio. Town Square, Nicasio. 4pm. $22–$25. 415.662.2219.Gabe Meline
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Aug. 2: Jess Winfield at Copperfield's Books

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:24 PM

As a founding member of the Reduced Shakespeare Co. and co-creating force behind the smash stage hit The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), Jess Winfield knows a thing or two about brevity in the face of a short attention span. So it comes as no surprise that he appears in Santa Rosa with a lecture entitled “Why TV Isn’t Evil: What Writers Can Learn from Television, Film and Theater.” The 22-minute sitcom in which life catastrophes are presented, navigated and overcome will no doubt be covered, but with the virtual demise of the sitcom, the real question is what writers could possibly hope to learn from the glut of so-called unscripted reality competition shows that clog the cable lines. Find out when Winfield appears with the Redwood Writers’ Club on Sunday, Aug. 2, at Copperfield’s Books. 2316 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa. 3pm. $5. 707.578.8938.Gabe Meline
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Aug. 1: Smokey Robinson at Robert Mondavi Winery

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:05 PM

 Where would we be without Smokey Robinson? Can any one of us imagine life without “Tracks of My Tears,” “I Second That Emotion” or “You Really Got a Hold on Me?” Just how much more lousy would music be without “Since I Lost My Baby” or “Shop Around”? Or even “Cruisin’” and “Being with You”? I could fill this entire page with Robinson’s contributions to American music. The fantastic thing is that unlike so many other living legends, he’s still in possession of a great voice. A consummate performer who tours with a full orchestra and conductor, Robinson deserves every accolade placed at his feet. If you can only afford to attend one concert this summer, make it Smokey Robinson on Saturday, Aug. 1, at Robert Mondavi Winery. 7801 St. Helena Hwy., Oakville. 7pm. $95–$125. 707.226.7372. 

Gabe Meline
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July 31: the Mermen at the Mystic Theatre

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 1:04 PM

San Francisco’s psychedelic surf-guitar group the Mermen have been awfully quiet since the 2000 release of The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show, although as far as notes to end on, that recording is in the upper range of incredible. Drenched in atmosphere, melody and tone, it’s everything that doesn’t come to mind when one thinks of “psychedelic surf guitar” (it sounds almost nothing like Man or Astro-Man? or Los Straitjackets). In the recording’s wake, the Mermen have been riding on a wave of live shows, many of which are recorded and archived by the band’s rabid fan base and posted online. But who wants to listen to Quicktime mp3s when the Mermen themselves are playing this weekend? To wit: on Friday, July 31, at the Mystic Theatre. 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 9pm. $12–$15. 707.765.2121.  

Gabe Meline
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 25: Far West Fest at Point Reyes Station

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Nothing says “community radio” quite like KWMR, Marin County’s only radio station, and nothing helps KWMR quite like the annual Far West Fest. Held in the “Love Field” just outside Point Reyes Station, the festival in years past has raised money with appearances by Camper Van Beethoven, Vinyl and Poor Man’s Whiskey. This year things get especially funky with Bay Area legend Lyrics Born tearing up the stage with songs from his latest joint, Everywhere at Once. Once blazing up nightclubs as part of the hip-hop duo Latyrx, Lyrics Born underwent a reinvention as a soul singer around the turn of the century and has since strode full-bore into a syncopated blend of gravel, swagger and spit. Also on the lineup is established songwriter Sean Hayes, whose softer tones should provide a calm before Lyrics Born’s storm, as well as Albino, Red Meat, the Green String Farm Band and others. Food, drink and circus acts round out a lovely way to spend an afternoon in West Marin on Saturday, July 25, at Love Field. 11171 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Point Reyes Station. 11am–7:30pm. $10–$30. 415.663.8068.Gabe Meline
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July 23: Justin Hellman at Bluewater Bistro

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 12:59 PM

We all watched it, and we all felt our hearts sink like rocks. Tom Watson’s missed putt on 18 at the British Open ended a weekend of improbable hopes and unbelievable excitement, as the 59-year-old golfer maintained a constant lead throughout a weekend that seemed too good to be true. Suddenly, it was pre-Tiger golf, with none of the club-swatting or fist-pumping. Golf as it was played 30 years ago. You know, Watson’s game. Steady, level-headed and gracious even into the brutal unraveling playoff, Watson kept his cool while losing ground out in the rough. Was he thinking about how close he’d been to being the oldest golfer to win a Major? Was he thinking, possibly, about being young again, the way that everyone hopelessly glued to the tournament thought about having one more shot at greatness? Either way, he gave us a hell of a ride. So here’s to Tom Watson. Be sure to raise a glass to him when jazz bassist Justin Hellman performs among the fairways on Thursday, July 23, at Bluewater Bistro. Links at Bodega Harbour Golf Course, 21301 Heron Drive, Bodega Bay. 707.875.3519.Gabe Meline
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July 23: At All Costs record release at the Last Day Saloon

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 12:48 PM

No ghetto blaster in 1986 was complete without three breakdance staples: “Jam on It” by Newcleus, “Roxanne Roxanne” by UTFO and “Rumors” by Timex Social Club. Led by the exasperated narration of the group’s gossip-addled singer, Michael Marshall, “Rumors” was the only one out of the three to fly up the Billboard charts and become a smash hit across the Atlantic. Marshall appears as part of the At All Costs record release show this weekend, which is sure to be a hot time as the Santa Rosa group’s newest album, Delusions of Grandeur, is feted at an all-night party. Special guest Rappin’ 4-Tay, who dominated ghetto blasters in 1994 with “Playaz Club,” will be on the mic, as well as Myra, whose emancipation from her former squeaky-clean Disney girl image has resulted in some relieving electropop from the 22-year-old, locally based Latina singer. It gets crackin’ on Thursday, July 23, at the Last Day Saloon. 120 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. 9pm. $10. 707.545.2343.Gabe Meline
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July 23: Renée Fleming at Castello di Amarosa

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Whether they’re aware of it or not, even non–classical music fans know about Renée Fleming. Ever the people’s soprano, she’s been on Sesame Street, was featured in The Lord of the Rings, made albums with Joe Jackson and Brad Mehldau, and sang at the Lincoln Memorial Inaugural Celebration earlier this year. Classical music fans, of course, know her for her silvery, easy operatic voice, which she brings this week to Napa’s Festival del Sole. Fleming was forced to cancel her appearance in Napa three years ago due to last-minute sickness, an unfortunate situation with one silver lining: this year she’ll be singing in the outdoor courtyard at Castello di Amarosa. The castle’s Old World atmosphere is as calming as it is intimate (at last year’s festival, Joshua Bell casually mingled with fans among the masonry), and should be the perfect place to hear one of the finest voices in the world on Thursday, July 23, at Castello di Amarosa. 4045 N. St. Helena Hwy., Calistoga. 6:30pm. $125. 888.337.6272.Gabe Meline
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 12: Serf and James at Silo's Jazz Club

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Among the plentiful new crop of bands from the burgeoning Napa scene, Serf and James sticks out like a sweet, pleasant thumb. Often playing shows with louder, more abrasive bands, the young group is catchy and engaging enough to garner admiration from both teenaged screamo fans and older college-rock aficionados. Whether he knows it or not, singer Serf falls somewhere between M. Ward and Ed Droste, with a voice that soars and contracts with such natural nuance and falsetto control over well-written songs that it’s a wonder his band is still playing local shows. Silo’s has been wonderfully expanding their music schedule in recent months, and worth applause is the booking of Serf and James, appearing on Sunday, July 12, at Silo’s Jazz Club. 530 Main St., Napa. 5pm. Free. 707.251.5833.Gabe Meline
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