Born in Chicago on Valentine’s Day in 1968, guitarist and songwriter Toronzo Cannon has recently taken a place among other Second City bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. On his latest album, The Chicago Way, Cannon bears his soul and blazes on the axe for a hot and heavy debut on Alligator Records, the classic blues label that he grew up listening to. Making his way across the country this summer, Cannon fires into the North Bay as part of radio station the Krush’s backyard concert series and demonstrates the Chicago way on Thursday, July 21, at 3535 Standish Ave., Santa Rosa. 6pm. Free. 707.588.0707.
This summer marks 40 years for Wine Road, the association of 200 wineries and 50 lodgings located throughout the Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander valleys. The group is throwing a birthday bash this weekend called 40 Years of Cheers. Aside from a full supply of local restaurants and wineries serving and pouring, live music, arts and crafts vendors, local authors and community organizations like the Healdsburg Museum and the Wine Library will be on hand. Kids will enjoy the face painting and craft tents, and adults will enjoy everything else on Saturday, July 23, at Healdsburg City Hall, 401 Grove St., Healdsburg. 11am to 4pm. Free admission. wineroad.com.
Known for his dynamically colorful landscape paintings, Sonoma County artist Jack Stuppin is getting a career-spanning solo show, ‘Past Tense, Present Tense,’ through Aug. 22. Stuppin, who spent many years as part of the Sonoma Four, a group of plein air landscape painters, hasn’t shown in the North Bay for five years. This new exhibit assembles work from throughout his career, all of which practically leaps off the canvas with exceptionally vibrant and engaging scenes of forests, meadows and coastlines. The show’s reception happens on Saturday, July 23, at IceHouse Gallery, 405 East D St., Petaluma. 5pm to 8pm. 707.778.2238.
The 36th annual Napa Valley Writers’ Conference returns with a week of focused writing workshops and fellowships in a picturesque setting. But it’s not just for authors. The conference presents several public readings throughout the next week. On Sunday, July 24, Harvard Review poetry editor Major Jackson joins UC Davis writing instructor Yiyun Li at the Napa Valley College Campus. On Monday, July 25, Philadelphia-based author Brian Teare reads alongside University of Iowa professor Lan Samantha Chang at Beringer Vineyards. Merryvale Vineyards and Domaine Chandon in Yountville also host readings on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 26–27, and the conference continues until July 29. Readings take place at 7pm. $15. More info at www.napawritersconference.org.
Think video games are just Italian plumbers rescuing princesses? Think again. Opening this weekend, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ exhibits 10 innovative and independent video games in fully playable stations to offer a look at a whole new world of gaming aesthetics. On display are time-bending puzzlers like Braid, world-exploring art games like Horhokum and true-life plot based narratives like Coming Out Simulator and That Dragon, Cancer, telling personal stories through games. More than a simple wine-and-cheese reception, “Down the Rabbit Hole” opens with a daylong celebration on Friday, July 15, at the Napa Valley Museum, 55 Presidents Circle, Yountville. 11am to 4pm. $7 adults; $2.50 kids. 707.944.0500.
On the heels of their massive two-year anniversary, the daring and darling monthly variety troupe North Bay Cabaret opens its second year of shows with a new performance, ‘Flirtin’ with Burton,’ that celebrates the wildly weird worlds of director Tim Burton. From Beetlejuice burlesque by Eva D’Luscious to an Edward Scissorhands dance routine from Chacha Burnadette, the many bizarre facets of Burton’s extensive filmography are highlighted with live music, circus acts, poetry and other fiery performances. Dress as your favorite Burton character, peruse original art and dance the night away on Friday, July 15, at Whiskey Tip, 1910 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa. 7pm doors. $10–$15. flirtinwithburton.brownpapertickets.com.
Originally from Buenos Aires, Los Pinguos are known for a hot and spicy mix of rock, reggae, rumba and flamenco. Performing since 1999, the group moved to L.A. in 2001. In addition to being heard on television and in films, the group has released 10 albums and performed with the likes of Paul Anka, Taj Mahal, the Neville Brothers and Ozomatli. Bookending an appearance at the California WorldFest in Grass Valley on July 17, Los Pinguos get their groove on with two North Bay shows, on Saturday, July 16, at 8pm at the Throckmorton Theatre (142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley; $21–$35; 415.383.9600.), and Tuesday, July 19, at 6pm at Plaza Park (217 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg; free; 707.431.3301).
Full-time traveler, writer, photographer and graphic designer Sharon Pieniak has explored the back roads, hiked the hidden trails and found the secret spots throughout Napa Valley, and she shares these experiences in her new guide book, ‘Truly Napa Valley.’ Not just for tourists, this guide offers tips and trips that even locals will find illuminating. Whether you’re on a budget, bringing along a canine companion or hoping to get well off the beaten path, this book is worth its weight in new discoveries and fun-filled adventures. Pieniak shares her travels with a reading on Sunday, July 17, at
Velo Vino Tasting Room, 709 Main St., St. Helena. Noon. Free. 707.968.0625.
A summer tradition that’s eight years strong, local theater company the Imaginists take to their bicycles and pedal to several Santa Rosa parks to present free, bilingual performances in the annual Art Is Medicine tour. This year, the group is presenting a modern and daring take on Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s classic play La vida Es Sueño (“Life Is a Dream”). Kicking off the tour this weekend, the Imaginists invite the public to a fundraiser event on Friday, July 8, before they perform at Juilliard Park on
July 9 and Howarth Park on July 10, and other dates this summer. The fundraiser happens at 461 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa. 7pm. $5–$25. 707.528.7554.
When Dixieland and ragtime jazz fans talk about their preferred genre, they call it “trad jazz,” short for traditional. If you’re a trad fan, then this weekend’s Wine & Dixieland Jazz Festival is your ticket to old-time fun in a laidback setting. Hit the lawns around Cline Cellars to hear Bay Area bands like Beyond Salvation, Devil Mountain Jazz Band, Jambalaya Big Swing Band and the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra among others. There’s food, wine and beer on hand, though you can bring your own picnic as well. Spend the afternoon getting jazzy on Saturday, July 9, at Cline Cellars, 24737 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. 11am to 6pm. $40–$45. 707.940.4025.