Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May 15: Jimmy Webb at the Napa Valley Opera House

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Like Burt Bacharach, the Oklahoma-born songwriter Jimmy Webb is an AM-radio legend, penning hits such as “MacArthur Park,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Up, Up and Away.” Unlike Bacharach, he hardly gets his due anymore. Courageously splitting away from commercial endeavors in the 1970s transformed Webb into something of a cult figure, but whose fans include Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, R.E.M. and Willie Nelson. Webb’s genius can be heard on Isaac Hayes’ version of his “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” which Frank Sinatra called “the greatest torch song ever written,” and on the sprawling, creative and bizarre Richard Harris concept album The Yard Went on Forever, a rare but cherished LP. He performs on Saturday, May 15, at the Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 8pm. $25-$35. 707.226.7372.Gabe Meline
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May 15: Hot Rods & Rhythm at the Napa Bowl

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Electric guitars, slick cars and seven-ten splits are the daily specials on the menu for Hot Rods & Rhythm, a pomade-fueled daytime festival benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Held at Napa Bowl, where even the lanes are waxed, the waxed paint-jobs and waxed pompadours will be fired up with the sounds of the B-Stars, Kit and the Branded Men and the wonderfully-named Blue Diamond Fillups. In the lot, a fleet of classic pre-’72 cars will be on display for endless under-the-hood conversations, and the vinyl selections of DJ Vida Lee keep things hoppin’ between bands. Bring the kids—it’s all-ages—for a rockin’ good time on Saturday, May 15, at Napa Bowl. 494 Soscol Ave., Napa. 1-6pm. $10. 707.224.8331.Gabe Meline
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May 14: Smothers Brothers at the Wells Fargo Center

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:06 AM

It’s hard to imagine a time when only a small handful of channels comprised the television landscape, but in 1967, there weren’t hundreds of networks dedicated to every political view under the sun—which makes the Smothers Brothers’ sly political commentary during national tumult all the more brave. David Bianculli’s recent 400-page book Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ covers in excellent detail the Smothers Brothers’ subtle infiltration of network television and, ultimately, the clashes with CBS that led to their firing; it’s a definitive and often nostalgic guide to the hurdles Tom and Dick Smothers faced. In a rare performance, the pioneers in topical comedy appear on Friday, May 14, at the Wells Fargo Center. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $40-$50. 707.546.3600.Gabe Meline
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May 13: Bike-to-Work Day

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:02 AM

We all know that May 13 is Bike-to-Work Day, but how many of us actually ditch the car keys and strap on the helmet? “It’s easier than you think,” encourages Sonoma County’s 2010 Bike Commuter of the Year Geoffrey Skinner, “the biggest hurdle is getting out the door.” Skinner, who commutes daily from Sebastopol to work at the Santa Rosa library, is right, of course. With energizer stations set up all over Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties, dusting off and hopping on the old Schwinn is not only easy, it’s a great way to get warmed up for watching the Tour of California. Who knows—you might even make a habit of it! It’s healthy, environmentally friendly and, like Skinner says, easier than you think. Give it a shot on Thursday, May 13. Complete info. at Meline
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Across The Bridge: May 12-19

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Sonny Rollins

Unbelievably, the jazz legend still plays with spirit and fire at age 79.

May 13 at Zellerbach Hall.30 Seconds to Mars

Alt bro Jordan from “My So-Called Life” sings quasi-uplifting epics.

May 13 at the Fox Theater.Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars

West African roots and reggae in effect at free in-store.

May 15 at Amoeba SF.Converge

East Coast hardcore heroes still going strong almost 10 years after “Jane Doe.” May 15 at Slim’s.Ben Folds

Billed as ‘Ben Folds and a Piano,’ solo show covers entire career.

May 16 at the Warfield.Frightened Rabbit

Alcohol and ennui both key components of acclaimed Scottish group.

May 19 at the Fillmore.More San Francisco events at

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 11: Dave Barry at Book Passage

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 11:15 AM

In a long line of books about wrestling with age comes journalist/comedian/everyman Dave Barry’s latest, titled I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood. Could it be true? Could the Pulitzer Prize–winning humor columnist, who still plays in rock bands, doesn’t believe in God and talks like a pirate, actually feel the need to join the ranks of the normal grownup world? Hardly. Even though Barry ceased writing his column in 2004—causing the economy to tank, he likes to joke—he’s still a child at heart, pondering the simple things. Why do men leave the toilet seat up? Why do women have so many shoes? How can we keep the dog from crapping on the sofa? These deep insights and more are explored when Barry does the reading-from and signing-to thing on Tuesday, May 11, at Book Passage. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. 7pm. Free. 415. 927.0960.Gabe Meline
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May 9: Wine and Roses: Mother's Day Songwriter's in the Round at Cellars of Sonoma

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Folks around these parts still talk enduringly of the ‘Songwriters in the Round’ concerts which used to come through Santa Rosa, featuring Joe Ely, John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett and Guy Clark. This Sunday, the same idea is implemented by songwriters Natasha James, Jeffrey Halford and Pete Olsen for Wine and Roses: Mothers’ Day Songwriters in the Round. The Sonoma-based James continues to ride the wave of her recent album Tequila Time, and Jeffrey Halford is no stranger to local blues clubs. Keep on eye on Olson, too—the paramedic-turned-busker turned tragedy into triumph when he suffered a terrible car accident and began singing on the street in Berkeley. In an intimate wine-tasting room, the three casually tell stories, swap songs and toast the mothers of the world on Sunday, May 9, at Cellars of Sonoma. 133 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. 3pm. $35-$40, proceeds benefit Sonoma Valley Community Health Center. 707.578.1826.Gabe Meline
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May 8: Mark Growden at the North Bay Film and Art Collective

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 11:06 AM

It seems like just yesterday that Mark Growden was haunting our town, singing his ominous songs and playing his accordion at dustbowl parties, campfire get-togethers and barn revival meetings. Ever the traveling troubadour, he left within a year, but he’d made his mark. Growden and his band, including a few members that a guy named Tom Waits borrowed for a tour, recently set up shop at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center to spend a whole week rehearsing songs for their latest album, Saint Judas. Growden’s untrammeled voice, a stage player in itself, dives and rises animatedly around his songs, teasing the tremor and tempo of his crackerjack band. Just when you think he’s all rusty clamor and disarray, he switches gears with tender tunes like “If the Stars Could Sing.” He returns to town Saturday, May 8, at the North Bay Film and Art Collective. 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10. Meline
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May 8: Art and Vista Hikes at the di Rosa Art Preserve

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Hiking season is here, and there’s nothing like discovering a new, rarely used trail. That’s where the di Rosa Preserve comes in, offering guided, two-and-a-half hour Art and Vista Hikes through its outdoor sculpture gallery and up to the top of Milliken Peak, the highest summit in the Carneros region. On a clear day atop the peak, hikers can see both the Napa River and the San Pablo Bay, and there’s no other way to hike the Milliken trail than through di Rosa’s exclusive opportunity. Hikes are moderately strenuous, so bring water and good shoes while a guide gives insight into the native flora and fauna. After climbing to the top with one of the best views in the region, you’ll settle back down into one of the best collections of California art in the world. It’s a perfect springtime field trip on Saturday, May 8, at the di Rosa Art Preserve. 5200 Sonoma Hwy., Napa. 10am. $15. 707.226.5991; RSVP required.Gabe Meline
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May 7: Carlos Varela at Ramekins Event Center

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Making a return appearance to Sonoma this weekend, the Cuban singer and songwriter Carlos Varela is known as “Cuba’s Dylan,” and not without reason. Varela came up in Cuban music around the time of the nueva trova movement in the wake of the Cuban revolution, when traditional folk forms became infused with deeper and more critical social content. Varela’s songs criticize both the U.S. government and that of his home country—not the safest route to take as a resident of Cuba—though he is not immune to the lure of the love song. “Una Palabra,” an incredibly poetic paean to the miniscule manifestations of love, has been used in the movies Powder Keg, starring Clive Owen, and Man on Fire, starring Denzel Washington. Last time Varela came through, he appeared solo; this time, he plays with a full band at a concert and Cuban dinner prepared by chef Joe Vitale on Friday, May 7, at Ramekins Event Center. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 7pm. $40 includes dinner. 707.933.0450.Gabe Meline
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