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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Monday, June 1, 2020

Meet Sonoma County's First Youth Poet Laureate

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2020 at 2:00 PM

Zoya Ahmed will make her first appearance as Sonoma County Youth Poet Laureate at the California Poets in the Schools Virtual Poetry Symposium, June 26-28.
  • Zoya Ahmed will make her first appearance as Sonoma County Youth Poet Laureate at the California Poets in the Schools Virtual Poetry Symposium, June 26-28.

Zoya Ahmed, an incoming senior at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, has been named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Sonoma County. Nonprofit organization California Poets in Schools and Phyllis Meshulam, current Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, spearheaded the historical selection, and a local panel of poets and literary experts chose Ahmed from an esteemed pool of local student applicants.

Following in the footsteps of other California counties such as Alameda and Los Angeles counties, Sonoma County’s inaugural Youth Poet Laureate search began in March and aimed to recognize a local student who “achieved excellence in poetry” and who showed commitment to the arts through writing and engagement in clubs or afterschool activities.

The panel of judges tasked with selecting the youth poet laureate included Meshulam, outgoing Poet Laureate of Sonoma County Maya Khosla and other county poets and teachers.

“Zoya Ahmed is a brilliant performer,” Meshulam said, in a statement. “Empowering a young person with a microphone to reach out and address the many special concerns that others of her age may experience, is a very significant gift to the community.”

Before becoming Sonoma County Youth Poet Laureate, Ahmed was the 2019 winner of Sonoma County’s Poetry Out Loud recitation contest and went on to become a finalist in the California State Poetry Out Loud contest.

Ahmed’s one-year term as Sonoma County’s Youth Poet Laureate begins today, Monday, June 1. As the Youth Poet Laureate, Ahmed will lead or participate in at least five public appearances, including readings and workshops. While those events were originally planned to be in-person and ideally spread out over the county’s supervisorial districts, virtual events are now the likely and encouraged mode of engaging with the community until the Covid-19 pandemic retreats.

Ahmed’s first scheduled virtual appearance will be at the California Poets in the Schools Virtual Poetry Symposium happening June 26–28. Founded in 1964, California Poets in the Schools is one of the nation’s largest school literary programs and boasts over 100 trained, professional poet-teachers leading poetry sessions throughout the state.

Sonoma County schools and community organizations are encouraged to contact Ahmed through the California Poets in the Schools with inquiries about hosting her at a public event.

Along with the public and virtual events, Ahmed will be awarded a $500 prize and given the opportunity to publish a collection of her own poems or lead a similar youth-publication project of her choosing.

In a statement, Ahmed thanked her family and acknowledged poetry as her way of connecting to her heritage and staying resilient in difficult times. Read her full statement below:

“I embrace my diverse background as a first generation South Asian American, having both roots in Pakistan and India. This colorful heritage is my drive. Every day I am empowered to work hard towards achieving my goals, humbled by the opportunities I am given, and inspired to give back to the community.

My biggest motivators are my parents and my family, who encourage me each and every day. They are my muse; they symbolize the meaning of sacrifice in my life. Their stories, especially those of the women in my family, are what give my writing a spark of creativity and perspective.

My dad has really been one of my biggest supporters and has fueled my passion for poetry. Being a poet himself, he taught me Urdu as my first language along with Hindi, and that became the foundation of who I am as a desi American teen. Urdu is such a vibrant and poetic language as it embraces the rich tradition of poetry called shayari.

Having this background in poetry, I knew it was going to have a role in my life and thus I picked up writing a few verses in my free time. I find poetry to be a vehicle to connect with my own experiences and surroundings, a way to voice issues and topics that I want acknowledged. However, I never thought that I would have achieved as much as I have. Now, I am more motivated than ever to be resilient and persevere through my journey as a human being.”
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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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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Safely Shop & Dine at These North Bay Markets

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 10:47 AM

Stay socially distant while enjoying shops and dining at the Barlow in Sebastopol.
  • Stay socially distant while enjoying shops and dining at the Barlow in Sebastopol.

As stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions are slightly relaxing in parts of the North Bay, many are looking forward to returning to the shops and restaurants they love. Yet, a recent surge in Sonoma County cases of coronavirus has shown local leaders that we are not quite ready for a full re-opening just at this moment, meaning take-out and curbside shopping is still the norm going into this weekend.

If you’re itching to get out, the best way to do so and support local businesses is to visit the shops and eateries at local outdoor markets like the Barlow in Sebastopol, Oxbow Market in Napa and Marin Country Mart in Larkspur.

The Barlow
Situated on a 12-and-a-half acre district in downtown Sebastopol, The Barlow open-air "maker's marketplace" features dozens of retail and dining spots with Sonoma County chefs, vintners and other artisans creating local products and experiences.

Since the March shelter-in-place orders closed the physical locations for these artisans, many have transitioned to online ordering with options for curbside pick-up and take-out. Recently, the Barlow announced that the marketplace’s restaurants and eateries are now open for outdoor dining.

Food and drink options in the Barlow currently includes Acre Pizza, Barrio Cocina Mexicana, Community Market, Crooked Goat Brewing, Fern Bar, Golden State Cider Pax Wines, Seismic Brewing, Spirit Works Distillery, Sushi Kosho, Taylor Lane Coffee, The Farmer’s Wife, The Nectary, Two Dog Night Creamery, WM Cofield Cheesemakers and Woodfour Brewing.

Shops in the Barlow include Barge North apparel and home goods store, California Sister floral arrangements, Elsie Green décor and gifts shop, JG Switzer textile and bedding shop, the Lori Austin Gallery, Rust Clothing Boutique and Scout West County gift and home accessories store.

Oxbow Public Market
In Napa County, where dine-in restaurants and retail are both seeing restrictions lifted in terms of social distancing, the Oxbow Public Market is reopening its spacious and recently remodeled outdoor Oxbow River Deck, which now includes retractable shade structures and lighting.

Beginning Saturday, May 30, open-air, socially distanced communal tables and seats will be available for visitors on the deck, and Oxbow merchants will continue to offer online and over-the-phone ordering and pickup options for guests. The market is soon creating a designated curbside delivery area in the parking lot east of the main market hall as a drive-thru option for those who want to dine at home.

For guests who want to shop at the Oxbow Public Market, the new deck is part of the market’s new set of health and safety protocols made in accordance with all state and Napa County health requirements. The market will continue to also track and regulate the number of customers on hand to comply with social distancing regulations.

Oxbow Public Market merchants that are open for dine-in, takeout and retail include Anette’s Chocolates, C Casa, Fatted Calf, Fieldwork Brewing Company, Five Dot Ranch, Gott’s Roadside, Hog Island Oyster Company, Hudson Greens & Goods, Kara’s Cupcakes, Kitchen Door, Live Fire Pizza, Model Bakery (re-opening May 30), Olive Press, Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, Ritual Roasters and Whole Spice. Additional merchant re-openings will be announced soon.

Marin Country Mart
Located adjacent to the Ferry Terminal in Larkspur, Marin Country Mart’s assortment of organic eateries, boutique shops and other services are coming back online after closing down in March. The village-style shopping center’s new model, which it’s calling Dutch Door Shopping, allows for curbside and social distant services like online classes in lieu of in-person events.

Shops and services that are open for pick-up, take-out or local delivery at Marin Country Mart include Poppy Store children’s boutique, Clic women’s clothing store, Toy Crazy, George pet store, Hudson Grace décor shop, Sarah Shepard Gallery, Flora & Henri artisanal home and gift shop, Jenni Kayne wardrobe and home goods store, Hero Shop luxury women’s store and Copperfield’s Books.

To-go dining options at Marin Country Mart include Farmshop’s nightly dinner specials, Hog Island Oyster Company, Johnny Doughnuts, Pressed Juicery, Rustic Bakery, Shake Shack, Sushi Ko, the Siam and El Huarache Loco.

Visit each of these markets online first for full details.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

North Bay Students Curate Online Art Show on Theme of Belonging

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2020 at 11:20 AM

"Galaxy of Colors" by St Helena High student Jesus Garcia is viewable in a virtual youth art exhibit via Napa Valley Museum.
  • "Galaxy of Colors" by St Helena High student Jesus Garcia is viewable in a virtual youth art exhibit via Napa Valley Museum.

Located on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, the Napa Valley Museum closed its doors in mid-March to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. What’s more, due to the virus-vulnerable residents who live at the Veterans Home, it’s unlikely that the museum will be able to open on the same timeline as other venues.

“They haven’t had any (Covid-19) cases among the veterans which is wonderful, but they’re understandably very protective,“ says Laura Rafaty, Executive Director of Napa Valley Museum. “And then there’s a lot of (Covid-19 related) retrofitting that has to get done before we can reopen; things like the elevator, stairwells and the gift shop, we can’t have people touching things. It’s going to be a very different environment and we are going to work our way through that.”

The closure means the museum’s current exhibit of visual works by actor and activist Lucy Liu, “One of these things is not like the others,” is currently sitting in the dark until the museum reopens, at which time the exhibit will run through October.

The closure also means that the museum’s planned student-curated youth art exhibition in April was delayed until now; transformed into a virtual exhibit available to view on the Napa Valley Museum website.

“We had this student exhibition scheduled for April, but suddenly the kids were out of school and most of this artwork was stranded in the school building without a way to physically get at it,” Rafaty says. Once the museum could get the works in hand, the plan became to show the artwork virtually and, if possible, to display the pieces physically at the museum once it can reopen.

“The opportunity to have your work seen in a museum is so impactful for kids,” Rafaty says. “We don’t want to miss that, and at the same time, this is maybe a chance for people who would never physically get to our museum to see the work of these talented artists from the North Bay.”

The now-virtual exhibit, titled “Not From Around Here,” is the fourth annual youth art show that the museum presents in partnership with Napa’s Justin-Siena High School visual arts department.

The goal of the annual exhibit is to present diverse artwork centered on a timely or personal topic, and this year’s theme aims to raise questions within the student artists’ minds, “about our sense of belonging somewhere or to something.”

Nearly 30 student artists are participating in this year’s online exhibit, representing Justin-Siena High School, Vintage High School, The Oxbow School, Saint Helena High School, Marin Catholic High School and Novato High/Marin School of the Arts.

The works on display include paintings, photography, collage and assemblage and drawings that explicitly or abstractly tackle the topics of identity and society as it relates to the theme. In addition to the art, students write an accompanying artist statement that speaks to their intent.

“When you look at the statements, you get that sense of some of them asking, ‘Who am I?’” Rafaty says. “Being different, being out of place, that seems to be a theme that goes through this.”

Led by a panel of student jurors and curatorial teams, this is a youth exhibit through and through. The young artists even decide where to hang the work in the museum normally.

“Our team gets to work with the kids and see how they envision this, and sometimes they do things that we might not have thought to do that are really impactful,” Rafaty says. “We’re really missing that with the virtual exhibit.”

In addition to viewing the work online, virtual visitors are encouraged to vote online for the exhibit’s “People's Choice” award and to donate to the museum’s efforts to reopen its galleries and educational programs.

Napa Valley Museum’s fourth annual student-curated exhibit, “Not from Around Here,” is on view virtually now through July 31 at napavalleymsuem.org.
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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 sfpl.org 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 Deadheadland.com 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 cameocinema.com.

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 baybookfest.org.
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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. Avfilmsociety.org; lutherburbankcenter.org; bestnightever.org.
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Rivertown Revival Comes to Your Living Room

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2020 at 2:03 PM


During the past 10 years, Petaluma’s Rivertown Revival has become one of the North Bay’s most beloved annual events of the summer.

Dubbed “the Greatest Slough on Earth,” and held on the Petaluma River to benefit the conservation and education organization Friends of the Petaluma River, the one-day festival annually attracts thousands of attendees to the river to enjoy live music, art, kid-friendly entertainment and even weddings, all done up with avant-garde revivalist flair and boasting communal creativity.

The organizers of the planned 11th annual Rivertown Revival were just beginning to map out the details of the event in early April, when Sonoma County went into shelter-in-place mode meant to stop the spread of Covid-19. Given the current pandemic’s uncertain timeline, Rivertown Revival—like many other popular summer offerings—was forced to cancel the show this year in the name of public health and safety.

“It was going to be awesome,” says Rivertown Revival music director Josh Windmiller. “Every year, it always is a mind-blowing event.”

Windmiller, who also organizes the annual Railroad Square Music Festival in Santa Rosa, not only laments the loss of the Rivertown Revival’s festivities this summer, he realizes how much funding the Friends of the Petaluma River will fail to receive as a result of the cancellation.

“I’m sure so many people can relate to how devastating this is, not just in terms of having parties, but in terms of fundraising,” he says. “It’s kind of a bleak summer for a lot of people. So, we thought, ‘What could we do?’”

To answer that question, Windmiller and the other festival organizers asked themselves, what is Rivertown Revival besides that one-day festival each summer?

“It’s about celebrating the arts, celebrating the community and supporting our natural resources, our environment, through raising awareness and funds,” Windmiller says.

With those goals in mind, Rivertown Revival and Friends of the Petaluma River are teaming up for a new, free online venture, Living Room Live, which will present all of the best parts of the festival in a streaming weekly showcase.

Living Room Live kicks off at 7pm this Saturday, May 23, and will run for four weeks, with new performers and new surprises each week. Windmiller will play Johnny Carson for the show, hosting and interviewing musicians, artists and others from the comfort of his living-room couch.

The streaming production will feature three to four musical performances each week, starting with May 23’s lineup featuring rock ’n’ roll giant John Courage, spirited singer-songwriter Sebastian St. James (Highway Poets) and melodic indie-folk performer Ismay.

Each week, kid-friendly musician, artist and author Gio Benedetti will lead a family-oriented segment, “My Town Is Magical,” that will be a show-within-a-show, and Living Room Live will also feature videos from visual artists, comedy segments and even a mass vow-renewal for stay-at-home married couples who may or may not have tied the knot at a previous Rivertown Revival.

“Basically, it will be a mix between a variety show and late-night talk show,” Windmiller says. “We’re trying to fit in what people love about Rivertown into something we can get right into their living rooms.”

Living Room Live will stream for free on the Rivertown Revival Facebook page and YouTube page, and audiences are encouraged to engage in the show through the online chat that will be available.

Windmiller hopes folks will also hit the donate button that will accompany the stream to support the Friends of the Petaluma River, which connects the community to the Petaluma watershed through hands-on educational activities as well as artistic events like Rivertown Revival.

“Stuff like Rivertown, it’s these crossroads, these meeting points, where you get to encounter your own community, and we still want to be that,” Windmiller says. “I’m really happy, and Rivertown is really happy, to provide another place where people and the artists can meet and build something stronger. That’s what the event has always been, so this is the same thing. A different time, different conditions, but the same thing.”

Rivertown Revival and Friends of the Petaluma River present Living Room Live Saturdays, May 23, May 30, June 6 and June 13, on Rivertown Revival’s Facebook page and YouTube page. 7pm. Free, donations welcome.

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