Friday, June 5, 2020

More North Bay Summer Camps Are Going Online

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 10:19 AM

Kids (and even adults) of all ages can virtually learn the art of bookmaking with award-winning artist C.K. Itamura through the Healdsburg Center for the Arts this summer.
  • Kids (and even adults) of all ages can virtually learn the art of bookmaking with award-winning artist C.K. Itamura through the Healdsburg Center for the Arts this summer.

Summer has started for thousands of students in the North Bay, but many families are struggling to figure out how to spend the season, as the usual array of kids’ camps and outings is largely canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, several Sonoma County arts and education organizations such as the Alexander Valley Film Society, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Transcendence Theatre Company announced their plans for offering virtual summer arts camps in lieu of in-person programs.

Now, many other North Bay groups are jumping in the digital pool to provide their own virtual art experiences for kids in Sonoma, Marin and Napa County.

Healdsburg Center for the Arts is one of many nonprofit arts hubs that are temporarily shut during the stay-at-home orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center also cancelled many fundraising events in the wake of the pandemic, including the beloved Healdsburg Earth Festival, the Healdsburg Art Festival and a number of popular art classes for adults and children.

“The past ten weeks have given us an opportunity to reflect on the benefits a community art center provides and we’ve had the opportunity to re-think about the future of the organization”, said Diana Jameson, Healdsburg Center for the Arts Board Member, in a statement. “We have discovered there is great interest and enthusiasm in the community for Healdsburg Center for the Arts to continue its creative endeavors, even during this public health crisis.”

To that end, the center is now offering online Bookmaking Summer Camps through a partnership with Book Arts Roadshow, co-founded by award-winning artist and former HCA board member C.K. Itamura. The camps are run over Zoom and offer the opportunity to explore the art and craft of making books while at home. The online sessions run select dates, June 27 to July 26, with sessions for ages 5–7, 8–12, 13–18, and even adults.

Bookmaking materials for the online sessions are provided by a grant from the Bill Graham Foundation. Packages of bookmaking materials will be mailed to registered participants ahead of the workshops.

“An online Bookmaking Summer Camp series for adults is included,” Itamura said in a statement. “Because bookmaking can be stress-free and fun and we’re pretty certain most adults can use a dose of that right about now.”

In addition to the Bookmaking Camp, local artist Jean Warren reformatted her popular Watercolor & Journaling workshop to make use of Zoom. Warren will guide students through watercolor painting lessons via video and email at a to-be-determined date. Register for camps and get more information at

When most people think “summer camp,” they think of the great outdoors, and usually the North Bay is a haven for kids to backpack, hike and explore in natural sites like the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

This summer, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation knows that gathering, even in nature, is problematic in the face of a pandemic, so the group is inviting kids to join the Laguna Explorers @ Home program to explore the wonder of nature in their own backyards.

Aimed at kids ages 6–11, Laguna Explorers @ Home includes at-home activities that engage the senses, ignite curiosity and increase environmental literacy. The activities are designed for children to do on their own without much need for parent’s interference. The program also incorporates online meetings and circle time for discussion, play, and sharing with other children and Laguna camp staff.

Environmental explorations will run July 6–10 and July 13–17. Each Monday, explorers will pick up a pack at the Laguna Environmental Center, the pack comes with the materials needed for the week, including custom field journals, nature craft supplies, activity instructions, naturalist tools, game cards and more.

A Parent Pack will also be provided with instructions, website links and supplementary materials including “rewards” for participation that parents can give their child each day. Get more details and register for Laguna Explorers @ Home at

Now in its 15th year of operation, the Napa School of Music has provided thousands of lessons to families in Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, with approximately 400 students taking lessons every week from 16 top-notch teachers. In addition to private and group lessons, the school engages budding musicians in Music Camps, which are going virtual this year.

Beginning June 8–12, and running several subsequent weeks through August, the Napa School of Music’s camp schedule is packed with small-group sessions in guitar, ukulele, music recording and other classes that are designed for all ages and all skill levels, with instrument rentals available.

Beginner guitar, bass guitar and ukulele virtual camps will start aspiring musicians on the right foot with instructions in fundamentals and exposure to a repertoire of songs they can play with minimal skill.

Advanced virtual camps, designed for older tweens and teens, take the basic concepts of guitar, bass and ukulele to another level with new strumming concepts, advanced arrangements of popular melodies to learn and more. Other virtual camps include Musical Theater Camp and Songwriting Camp. Get details and sign up at

In Mill Valley, the Marin Theatre Company is renowned not only for their stage productions, but for their commitment to community engagement. That includes the company’s Drama Conservatory, which provides classes, camps, workshops and performance opportunities for Bay Area children and teens. Approximately 8,5000 students participate in the company’s programs each year, and while the MTC’s doors closed in March due to Covid-19, they continued to engage with young actors and playwrights remotely in online classes through the Spring.

Now, MTC is introducing a new concept, Summer Camp in a Box, which was created as a way to bring summer camp activities directly to younger students so they can participate from the safety of home. The format is literally a box of theatrical supplies that can be picked up or dropped off. Boxes range from $50-$75, and scholarships are available.

Each box is themed and targeted at Kindergarteners-through fifth graders, and each box includes instructions and materials needed to complete drama activities, arts and crafts, games, recipes and more.

Themes range from “Living Literature,” which lets young ones act out classic kids books like The Magic School Bus, The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Dr. Seuss stories, to boxes based on Disney movies like The Secret Life of Pets and Frozen that let kids run wild with their imagination.

In addition to the Summer Camps in a Box for the young ones, theater kids in middle and high school can sign up for summer camps conducted virtually through Zoom, with an emphasis on acting and improvisation. All virtual camps for tween and teens are $100 and, again, scholarships are available. Register for MTC’s summer camps and boxes at
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Music Industry Goes Silent for Blackout Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2020 at 6:56 AM


Tuesday, June 2, is going to be a quiet day meant to send a loud message from those in the music industry. On this day several major record companies and artists join a national media movement, Blackout Tuesday, that intends to shine a light on the “long-standing racism and inequality” in the music business and American society in general.

With participants ranging from producer Quincy Jones to MTV, Blackout Tuesday is a daylong planned media blackout led by The Show Must Be Paused, an initiative created by black music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang in response to the killings of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.

For the last four days, Black Lives Matter protests have erupted around the country, beginning in Minneapolis where George Floyd, an African American, was killed in police custody on May 25. The day after Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department fired all four of the officers involved in the incident, and Hennepin County announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who was filmed pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee down on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Joining those Black Lives Matter protests, The Show Must Be Paused selected Tuesday, June 2, as Blackout Tuesday specifically to interrupt the work week for a day of reflection and conversation about “what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”

In addition, The Show Must Be Paused notes that the billion-dollar music industry has “profited predominantly from Black art,” and they want to hold the industry accountable for supporting those Black artists whose work has benefited others, writing “To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.”

Thomas and Agyemang note that Blackout Tuesday is not just a 24-hour event, adding that a larger plan of action will soon be announced. “In the meantime,” they write, “to our Black friends and family: please take the time for you and your mental health. To our allies, the time is now to have difficult conversations with family, friends and colleagues.”

Announced this last weekend, Blackout Tuesday has already gained major industry allies. On Instagram, producer Quincy Jones joined the movement, writing “It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life. That said, it’s rearing its ugly head right now & by God it’s time to deal with it once & for all. My team & I stand for justice. Conversations will be had & action will be taken.”

Other high-profile musicians and companies participating in the June 2 initiative include Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, Mumford & Sons, Def Jam Recordings, Interscope, Sony Music and Columbia Records.

In the North Bay, where Black Lives Matter protests are entering their fourth day in cities including Santa Rosa and Napa, BottleRock Napa Valley announced on Twitter that it was joining Blackout Tuesday “for a day of reflection,” adding that it will not be airing “(re)LIVE BottleRock” online this Friday as scheduled.

Music-industry meetup group Balanced Breakfast, which began in the Bay Area and features Santa Rosa and Napa networking meetings for musicians and promoters, is also joining the blackout, posting on its Facebook page, “Due to recent events, please join us as we take an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change. As gatekeepers of the culture, it’s our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during a loss.”

The Show Must Be Paused website urges those directly impacted by police violence in recent days to take a break for Blackout Tuesday, writing “there is a lot going on and sometimes we all just need a minute. Take that minute.”

The website also directs visitors to links to help George Floyd’s family and others, and provides information on ways to donate to community bail funds for jailed protesters and additional anti-racism resources.
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Friday, May 29, 2020

North Bay Bands Go Online for Weekend of Virtual Concerts

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 11:54 AM

North Bay star Buzzy Martin kicks off the weekend with a Friday evening web concert on HopMonk's Facebook page.
  • North Bay star Buzzy Martin kicks off the weekend with a Friday evening web concert on HopMonk's Facebook page.
It’s Friday, and that usually means dozens of live events in the North Bay—especially concerts—are gearing up to rock audiences in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties.

Of course, things are not usual right now, and while venues across the region remain closed and Covid-19 cases continue to mount, the best way to get that earful of local talent you’ve been craving is to go online with these live-streaming shows coming up May 29–31.

HopMonk Tavern’s three locations in Sebastopol, Sonoma and Novato usually host weekly concerts featuring local and touring stars. Yet, the Covid-19 sheltering has kept all three stages empty since mid-March. So for the last month, the folks at HopMonk have made do—in the absence of live events—with the online concert series, “In the Meantime.”

This weekend, the “In the Meantime” series packs in several virtual shows, beginning with a set by longtime North Bay–musician Buzzy Martin tonight, May 29, at 6pm. Martin’s beloved brand of “Baby Boomer Rock ’n’ Roll” has won him fans and friends around the country, and he has performed with members of the Doobie Brothers, Pablo Cruise, Journey, Santana, Les Claypool of Primus and Huey Lewis and the News. Martin is also known for his offstage acts of selfless citizenship—such as teaching music programs to at-risk youth in juvenile halls and inmates at San Quentin Prison—which have earned him official civic recognition.

Tomorrow, May 30, HopMonk presents a virtual concert at 4:30pm with Evan Fraser and Vir McCoy, accomplished multi-instrumentalists who have been recording and performing music together in bands like Dogon Lights, Dirtwire and others over the last 20 years.

On Sunday, May 31, HopMonk gives the virtual floor to North Bay singer-songwriter Stella Heath. Before the stay-at-home orders went into effect in March, Heath was one of the busiest musicians in the region, averaging four gigs a week with her bands the Billie Holiday Project, Bandjango Collectif and others.

Since the sheltering, Heath has remained busy, only this time online. In addition to her Sunday afternoon set for the “In the Meantime” series, Heath can be heard singing with Bandjango Collectif bandmate Skyler Stover on Saturday, May 30, with Spicy Vines Winery’s live streaming show at 6pm. The two will perform stripped-down versions of their band’s blended jazz-and-folk tunes for that Saturday evening stream.

Also on Saturday, the second episode of Living Room Live, the free online venture from the organizers of Rivertown Revival and Friends of the Petaluma River, continues to present all of the best parts of the canceled Rivertown Revival. Starting at 7pm on May 30, the streaming showcase, hosted by musician and music promoter Josh Windmiller, will feature performances by the purveyors of San Francisco soul Royal Jelly Jive, world music masters La Gente SF, the original North Bay bad boy Frankie Boots and Petaluma singer-songwriter Hannah Jern-Miller.

Finally, several North Bay stars come together this Sunday, May 31, at 11am, for the latest installment of UnderCovered, a concert series hosted by newly formed artist initiative Social Distance Live. The UnderCovered series so far has featured local musicians performing covers of their favorite songs by groups such as the Velvet Underground and artists such as Bob Dylan (specifically Dylan’s work from 1979–1989).

This weekend, UnderCovered sets its sights on the songs of Joni Mitchell, and scheduled artists include Alison Harris performing “Come in Out of the Cold,” Dawn Angelosante performing “River” and Gowdey Caitlin and Jeremy Lyon teaming up on the song “California.”
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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

San Francisco’s Punk Pioneers Tell Their Stories in Online Exhibit

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2020 at 12:47 PM

Stannous Flouride in the Financial District, Montgomery BART Station, 1980. - JEANNE HANSEN
  • Jeanne Hansen
  • Stannous Flouride in the Financial District, Montgomery BART Station, 1980.
“In the 1980s, San Francisco grew blander, wealthier and more corporate almost by the day, but a resilient multi-cultural underground thrived in nooks and crannies.”

So writes former Sonoma State University professor, prolific author and longtime Bohemian- and Pacific Sun–contributor Jonah Raskin in his introduction to the new virtual exhibit, “Alternative Voices.”

The show, originally scheduled to open at the San Francisco Main Public Library’s Jewett Gallery this month, looks back on the city’s ’80s punk scene with intimate and grandiose black-and-white images taken at the time by Jeanne Hansen that are paired with recollections from the subjects as told to Raskin in interviews over the last few years. Raskin also wrote the introduction for the show.

“It was very interesting for me to find out about San Francisco and this underground culture in the 1980s,” Raskin says. “This was a way for me to get connected to a generation that was not my own generation, and to see the way that counterculture gets reinvented as each new generation comes along.”

Luckily, almost all of the individuals Hansen photographed in the ’80s were still alive to tell their stories, and they all still embody their younger, DIY personas in their work and their ethos.

Those subjects include Stannous Flouride (real name Kevin Kearney), who now works as a local historian leading Haight-Ashbury walking tours. Back in the day, Flouride worked the door at punk venues like Deaf Club and Target Video and was part of the Suicide Club, a group of urban spelunkers who went on outings at abandoned sites in the city.

Raskin writes the interviews from a first-person perspective, allowing each “Alternative Voices” subject’s personal experiences to come through in the writing as well as the photos.

“At first, I wasn’t sure about the title of the exhibit, because it started with the photographs,” Raskin says. “Though I think the two of them, the photos and words, go really well together. It’s a good combination.”

Raskin’s main challenge in writing these 500-word stories was the editing.

“Some of these people’s interviews started as a manuscript with, like, 10,000 words,” he says. “I was really wrestling with the text to get it down to a manageable length while being true to the people and using some of their language and their expressions to keep them as distinct individuals.”

Of the sample interviews that are available to view online now, Raskin’s words paint detailed and imaginative memories from people including Mia Simmons, leader of punk band Frightwig, whose story includes gems like this paragraph:

“In the ’80s we could work our crappy little jobs and get minimum wage, which was, I remember, $3.25 an hour at the Egyptian and the Strand on Market Street. Our studio was opposite the Sound of Music; we had to carry our equipment at three a.m. downstairs in spiked heel shoes and really blotto drunk.”

In addition to revealing details about the city in the ’80s, the interviews also tell the story of how San Francisco remained a hub for creative and nontraditional people after the ’50s Beat movement and the ’60s hippie movement, as all but one of the exhibit’s subjects were San Francisco transplants who moved there from across the country.

“It’s about people who want to spread their wings and do something different and not be knocked down the way that can happen in so many other places in the country where there’s more conformity than in San Francisco,” Raskin says.

Even today, as tech companies continue to push San Francisco towards a bland corporate epicenter, Raskin says there’s still some subterranean culture left in the Bay Area.

“There’s people still doing their thing, Jeanne (Hansen) is still taking photographs,” Raskin says. “There are still pockets of alternative voices.”

“Alternative Voices” is available to view online now, with an in-person exhibit opening at the San Francisco Main Public Library at a later, so far undetermined date. Visit for more details.
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Friday, May 22, 2020

Tune In: Santa Rosa Symphony Hits North Bay Radio Waves

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2020 at 2:15 PM

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin's collaborative performance with the Santa Rosa Symphony airs on local radio this weekend. - J. HENRY FAIR
  • J. Henry Fair
  • Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin's collaborative performance with the Santa Rosa Symphony airs on local radio this weekend.

Had enough of logging onto Facebook Live for all your stay-at-home concert needs?

Well, close the laptop and turn on the radio this Sunday, May 24, at 3pm,when Northern California Public Media’s radio station, KRCB, broadcasts a Santa Rosa Symphony concert featuring special guest guitarist Sharon Isbin on 91.1FM and 90.9FM in Sonoma County.

Recorded in November 2018 at the acoustically immaculate Weill Hall at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, the concert, “Dancing Across Time,” features the Santa Rosa Symphony, led by conductor and music director Francesco Lecce-Chong, performing musical selections as varied as “Dances of Galánta,” a 1933 orchestral work by Zoltán Kodály; “The Mephisto Waltz No.1” composed by Franz Liszt in 1859; and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, extracted from his own musical score in 1960.

Isbin joined the symphony for the 2018 concert to perform the “Guitar Concerto,” written by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro in 1951. A multiple Grammy-Award winning guitarist, Isbin has been acclaimed for expanding the role of the guitar in classical and contemporary music, earning her Guitar Player magazine’s Best Classical Guitarist award.

In addition to this weekend’s broadcast, Isbin is premiering two new recordings of works. One album, Affinity, features multi-faceted works created by leading composers from three continents. Isbin’s other new album, Strings for Peace, is steeped in the North Indian classical tradition of ragas and talas, with help from sarod-master Amjad Ali Khan and his virtuoso sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash.

In addition to the May 24 KRCB radio broadcast, Santa Rosa Symphony is keeping up with the community through a series of other online offerings. Francesco Lecce-Chong, who took over as the Santa Rosa Symphony's fifth music director in 91 years with his first full season in October 2019, is hosting live watch parties on his Facebook page, (I know, Facebook is still the main source for online events), where he touches upon several educational and musical topics.

The maestro has also created three music playlists on Spotify with some of his favorite compositions by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Vivaldi, Prokofiev, Mahler and more. Find those playlists now and check back often; they are updated every week.

Also available for your listening pleasure, groups from the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra recently collaborated on a virtual performance, featuring the world premiere of Michael Murrin’s “Fuel for the Soul,” which was commissioned by the youth orchestra to celebrate its 60th anniversary. That virtual chamber concert, sponsored by Santa Rosa’s Stanroy Music Center, features a whopping 14 separate chamber groups from the youth orchestra performing various selections, and the whole video can be seen on Santa Rosa Symphony’s YouTube channel.

Finally, a challenge grant from Dr. Richard and Barbara Ferrington has given the Santa Rosa Symphony the opportunity to raise $10,000 through matching donations for their education programs, and they invite patrons to double their support of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s ongoing community work.
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Five Ways to Stay Connected in the North Bay This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2020 at 10:41 AM

Vocalist Eliott Peck leads an online cook-along dinner and show from her living room tonight, May 22. - JAY BLAKESBERG
  • Jay Blakesberg
  • Vocalist Eliott Peck leads an online cook-along dinner and show from her living room tonight, May 22.

Though Memorial Day weekend is customarily a time for gatherings, Covid-19 has put a halt to all the parties and festivals that usually take place in the North Bay over the three-day weekend.

Even with some North Bay parks opening back up, most folks may still want to stay at home—but that doesn’t mean they have to be bored. Many arts groups have ramped up their online offerings in recent weeks as venues and artists alike adapt to the new era of social distancing get-togethers.

San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads is one such venue, having expanded their digital offerings since closing down in March. Terrapin co-founder and Grateful Dead–icon Phil Lesh leads the way on the new Terrapin TV, performing with his son Grahame Lesh and friends from their respective living rooms to raise funds for the venue’s 100-plus staff members who are feeling the financial strain since the stay-at-home orders shuttered the space.

This evening, May 22, Terrapin Crossroads hosts a special cook-along dinner and show from vocalist Elliott Peck and guitarist Jesse Barwell, live from their kitchen and living room at 5pm. First, join the pair in making “Something like a Stroganoff” before enjoying some comforting music.

Deadheads can also enjoy live and recorded concerts streaming on Deadheadland. The long-running, Marin-based Grateful Dead fan site is hosting over 10 different streaming sessions this weekend, including performances by Marin musicians Scott Guberman and Stu Allen, as well as classic sets from Mark Karan and friends. Visit for a full schedule.

Napa’s Blue Note Jazz Club, another venue renowned for hosting nightly concerts, has also been dark for two months. In the meantime, it is participating in “Blue Note at Home,” a daily streaming showcase hosted by the original Blue Note in New York City. The live-streaming series showcases artists in their homes, and this weekend’s schedule includes a set from influential jazz-guitarist Marcus Miller, who will be talking about Miles Davis and playing bass on May 23 at 5pm. The next day, on May 24, Soul Rebels’ trombonist Paul Robertson streams at 1pm, followed by a set from harpist Brandee Younger and double-bassist Dezron Douglas at 3pm.

Up the road from Napa, St. Helena’s Cameo Cinema is one of several local theaters streaming on-demand films. In addition to offering streaming movie rentals, Cameo takes the online concept to new heights with its upcoming Zoomfari, in cooperation with Santa Rosa’s Safari West wildlife preserve.

The live virtual experience will feature a meet-and-greet with Safari West’s resident giraffes, and Safari West’s expert rangers will be on hand to answer questions. This Zoomfari pairs with Cameo’s streaming of the documentary The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, which follows 23-year-old biologist, Anne Innis Dagg, on her unprecedented 1956 solo journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild. The documentary is available to stream now, and the Zoomfari, presented as part of the theater’s “Science on Screen” series, happens on Saturday, May 23, at 10am on Zoom; RSVP links available on

In addition to this family-friendly event, kids will also get a kick out of a pair of online readings being offered this weekend through the new virtual version of the Bay Area Book Festival.

First, bestselling children’s author Colin Meloy—who’s other talent is leading the rock band The Decemberists—and illustrator Shawn Harris appear on YouTube together to discuss their newest collaboration, Everyone’s Awake. The read-aloud book for families is a fun new bedtime-routine for kids who have trouble getting to sleep. That program happens on May 23 at 10am, and is immediately followed by another kid-centric event, as the Bay Area Book Festival hosts author Brian Weisfeld on May 23 at 11am for a lemonade-making session aimed at inspiring kids to get that lemonade stand ready for summer.

Both of these events are part of a massive online pivot for the Bay Area Book Festival, which presents its #UNBOUND series of engaging conversations and readings through June at
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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Local Arts Groups Coordinate on Virtual Summer Camps

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2020 at 3:34 PM

Students can take an online filmmaking class with Alexander Valley Film Society, one of several virtual camps happening this summer. - PHOTO COURTESY ALEXANDER VALLEY FILM SOCIETY
  • photo courtesy Alexander Valley Film Society
  • Students can take an online filmmaking class with Alexander Valley Film Society, one of several virtual camps happening this summer.
Three Sonoma County arts and education organizations are coordinating their summer schedules this year to collectively provide North Bay students with seven weeks worth of virtual summer arts camps, June 22 to August 7.

The Alexander Valley Film Society, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Transcendence Theatre Company are each engaging local youth with online arts experiences in their respective disciplines this summer, with the AVFS Filmmaking Bootcamp, the LBC Summer Arts Sampler Camp, the Transcendence Virtual Kids Camp and then a final AVFS Editing Bootcamp running consecutively to keep the kids busy all season.

“The collaboration is in the scheduling,” says Ashleigh Worley, director of education and community engagement at Luther Burbank Center. “The camps are independently run, and we’re working together so kids can participate in all three.”

Worley and the LBC have been offering virtual arts programming since a week after the shelter-in-place orders took effect in late March, and by meeting with several other arts organizations, it became apparent that everyone was worried about the status of summer camps in the North Bay.

“We started talking about how we can uplift and support each other’s work, whatever form it ended up taking,” Worley says. With so much unknown about the evolution of social distancing rules through the summer, LBC quickly made a plan to host a virtual summer arts camp, and Worley found likeminded groups in AVFS and TTC, which aligned their individual virtual camp schedules so students could attend all three camps.

First, the AVFS Filmmaking Bootcamp, running June 22–26 and led by Sonoma County–based writer/director and film educator Malinalli Lopez, welcomes students grades 5–12 to learn the basics of filmmaking over Zoom, using smartphones to creatively capture their story. The idea is for students to then continue to film themselves and their families during the rest of the summer camps for the final Editing Bootcamp that happens in August.

“The reason the three of us collaborated to get these programs out was to give families a sure-fire schedule that they could put into their calendars now and count on in the months to come,” says Alexander Valley Film Society founder and executive director Kathryn Hecht. “Even though we might be dealing with a little bit of screen fatigue, we want kids to stay engaged, meet new people and try to prevent much of that learning slide that is supposed to happen in the summer anyways.”

After the initial AVFS bootcamp, students are invited to participate in LBC’s Summer Arts Sampler Camp, a weeklong virtual experience for students grades 5–12 that will explore music in the form of ukulele, percussion and hip-hop dance. Available in three sessions, June 29–July 3, July 6–10 and July 13–17, the camps rotate through all three activities. The center’s massive instrument lending library will be open for students who don’t have a ukulele, and Worley adds there is no skill requirement to attend the virtual camps.

From there, students ages 7–12 can also choose to attend Transcendence Theatre Company’s virtual camp, July 27–31, that focuses on musical theater, improvisation, dance and movement. TTC is also hosting a Virtual Teen Intensive Camp for ages 13–18 a week earlier.

“Each day, they’ll have an hour of instruction and it’ll culminate in a 10-minute musical and solo concerts,” says Transcendence Theatre Company director of education and community engagement Nikko Kimzin. “It’s taking our in-person experience that we’ve had and seeing what works virtually and what can we amend for the virtual experience.”

The AVFS filmmaking bootcamps and the LBC sampler camps are free to attend. Transcendence Theatre Company is charging a modest fee, $35–$100, to pay the Broadway professionals who will be leading their camps, though Kimzin adds that TTC has several need-based scholarships available for students on their website.

“This is a collective mission of our arts organizations in the county,” says Kimzin. “I think arts are sometimes viewed as the side dish and not the main meal. We are trying to band together to say, especially in this time, connection and creating things as a group, as an ensemble, is a necessity for the mental health of our youth. The arts can be a main meal when it comes to that.”

The Alexander Valley Film Society, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Transcendence Theatre Company virtual summer arts camps run June 22–Aug 7. Registration is required for each camp.;;
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Monday, May 18, 2020

Healdsburg Jazz Festival Stays Connected with Online Listening Party

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2020 at 2:50 PM

Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto joins Healdsburg Jazz Fest for the upcoming Jazz & Samba class and listening party. - RHONDA STEWART
  • Rhonda Stewart
  • Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto joins Healdsburg Jazz Fest for the upcoming Jazz & Samba class and listening party.

The board of directors of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival have decided not to hold the festival as scheduled this summer due to the Covid-19 outbreak, though they are looking for ways to keep jazz alive in the North Bay in 2020.

Those ideas are currently taking shape in a series of "Staying Connected" online events, starting with April’s jazz-history class on the legacy of Duke Ellington. This month, the lessons continue with a free history class and listening party celebrating Jazz & Samba music on Sunday, May 24, at 5pm via Zoom.

The class will specifically explore the beginnings of Bossa Nova in Brazil and chart its growth within the world’s jazz-music scene through a curated playlist of music and insight from several expert guests.

Dr Sherry Keith, an associate history professor at San Francisco State University, leads the online gathering. Dr Keith lived and taught in Brazil for many years, and she also teaches classes on social sciences, women's history in Latin America and more.

Professional percussionist and educator Ami Molinelli accompanies Dr Keith in leading the class. Molinelli specializes in Brazilian and Latin percussion and co-leads the Brazilian and Jazz ensemble Grupo Falso Baiano.

Joining Dr Keith and Molinelli in discussion will be special guest artists Jovino Santos Neto and Claudia Villela. Santos is a Latin Grammy-nominated pianist and composer, and Villela is a five-octave Brazilian Jazz vocalist.

All together, the artists and experts will  follow how Brazilian Jazz made its way to the West Coast Jazz scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the playlist will highlight artists like Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.

The Jazz & Samba class on May 24 is free and open to all ages, though registration is required to receive the Zoom Invite.

In addition to this ongoing jazz history series, Healdsburg Jazz Festival is staying connected to the community during the stay-at-home orders with several other online offerings.

For students–and their parents–grades K-5, Healdsburg Jazz created the Virtual Jazz Village Campus on its website. The virtual campus contains classes from musicians and educators like Molinelli, who offers a digital lesson for kids grade 2-5 on how to use cups around the house as instruments, with techniques and tips on keeping rhythm, using drumsticks and more.

Other virtual classes include a history of call-and-response music by multi-faceted musician Brian Dyer; a bilingual class on son jarocho–a music genre from Veracruz, Mexico–with award-winning artist and educator Maria De La Rosa; and more.

For jazz fans, the festival's website also boasts a series of videos featuring musicians performing their favorite tunes, such as Sonoma County native and tenor sax master Rob Sudduth playing Thelonius Monk’s “Ask Me Now” and New York City-based jazz pianist and Healdsburg Jazz Festival friend George Cables performing several songs from his living room.

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival "Staying Connected" campaign also offers audio playlists, and forums for fans and musicians alike to keep the discussion going. Click here to get connected now.
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Friday, May 15, 2020

Celebrate Wavy Gravy's Birthday with a Quarantine Concert

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2020 at 12:06 PM

Poet, activist, cultural icon and lifelong clown Wavy Gravy always makes a big deal out of his birthday, often hosting massive concert events that raise money for his beloved SEVA Foundation.

Those popular concerts draw hundreds of friends and fans together at venues like the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley and the SOMO Events Center in Rohnert Park. Obviously, those concerts are not going to be possible during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Instead, Wavy Gravy invites the public to help him celebrate his 84th birthday this weekend with a special online "Quarantine Concert." Featuring a collection of never-before-seen archival videos from the past 12 years of shows, the "Quarantine Concert" is viewable online now through Sunday, May 17, at

Folks who have attended Wavy's previous birthday parties can attest to the massive array of stars that are always on hand, and the performances collected in the video include David Crosby and Graham Nash's intimate acoustic rendition of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Guinnevere;" Dr. John and Buffy Sainte-Marie's spirited piano/tambourine duo that begins with "When the Saints Go Marching In," goes into Dr. John's hit song "Iko Iko" and ends with a "Happy Birthday" outro; and an extended jam with Chris Robinson, Bob Weir and others playing the Grateful Dead's song "Sugaree."

The two-hour concert video, introduced by Wavy Gravy, also includes appearances by Ani DiFranco, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bonnie Raitt, Hot Tuna, Jackson Browne, Jason Mraz, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Poor Man's Whiskey, Roy Rogers, Rising Appalachia, Ruthie Foster, Steve Kimock and Steve Earle.

Funds raised from donations will go to SEVA Foundation, which Wavy Gravy co-founded in 1978 with Dr. Larry Brilliant (a leader in the World Health Organization's smallpox-eradication efforts), spiritual philosopher Ram Dass and others. The foundation provides eye care to communities around the world with little to no access, partnering with doctors and hospitals to perform acts like cataract surgeries that restore sight for as little as $50.

Catch the "Quarantine Concert" this weekend at Happy birthday, Wavy!
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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

North Bay Favorites to Play Heartfelt Virtual Variety Show

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2020 at 1:30 PM

Bay Area bluegrass star Laurie Lewis is one of several artists participating in the 'Arts In Our Hearts Show' on May 16. - PHOTO BY JEFF FASANO
  • Photo by Jeff Fasano
  • Bay Area bluegrass star Laurie Lewis is one of several artists participating in the 'Arts In Our Hearts Show' on May 16.

West Sonoma County’s beloved Occidental Center for the Arts often hosts live music, readings, art exhibits and more, though the sheltering orders have shuttered the nonprofit venue and others like it.

This weekend, the OCA takes to the web to connect with the community with the Arts In Our Hearts Virtual Variety Show, featuring a cavalcade of performers. Hosted on Youtube, the free streaming show will feature popular North Bay artists like Stella Heath, Emily Lois, Kevin Russell, Laurie Lewis and a dozen others live from their homes.

This event is free to all and will be shown on YouTube. Tune in on Saturday, May 16, at 8pm, and get more details at Occidental Center for the Arts' website.
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