Compared to What?: Better Than Ezra tear it up at the Sonoma County Fair on Aug. 7.
Have a fabulous time this summer with thousands of your closest friends
By Carey Barker, Charlie Swanson and assorted slow-footed staff
Our highly subjective notice of festivals, gatherings and out-and-abouts scheduled from May to just barely September that you won't want to miss as the summer season enfolds us in its warm, languorous, sun-blessed grasp. Oh yes, please.
Sonoma Jazz+ Tickets are still available for this large blowout in Sonoma's poetic "Field of Dreams." This year's lineup features the legendary B. B. King celebrating his 80th birthday, as well as the Steve Miller Band, Natalie Cole, Rickie Lee Jones, Herbie Hancock and a bevy of local talent. An ambitious "wine and song" program in surrounding restaurants fills out the weekend. Even those without tickets will feel the vibe, as musicians will also be out on the streets. Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-28, downtown Sonoma, Field of Dreams. $45-$95. 866.468.8355.
San Rafael Wine Festival Wine in San Rafael? You betcha. Now in its fourth year, over 50 wineries and restaurants swarm the Falkirk Estate, featuring a port and chocolate tasting, a Champagne deck and even beer pourings for those diehards. Live entertainment will get everyone grooving. May 27, 1-4pm. 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael. $40-$45. 415.453.9001.
Rancho Nicasio's BBQ on the Lawn With outdoor events in the parklike setting behind the Rancho Nicasio roadhouse, this series features Jackie Greene (May 29), the Paul Thorn Band (June 18), the Subdudes (July 4), the Kronos Quartet (Aug. 6) and Rodney Crowell and the Outsiders (Sept. 4), among stellar others throughout the summer. On the Square, Nicasio. $15. 415.662.2219.
Auction Napa Valley Celebrating the world's largest and most successful charity wine event, attracting nearly 700 guests, 500 wineries, 228 auctions, 90 parties to chose from and donating over $52 million since its 1981 inception, the Auction Napa Valley features many famous appearances as well as a bevy of live musicians. Sunday's auction will be opened by celebrity host Ryan Seacrest, while that night, celebrity chefs prepare their specialties right before your eyes. June 1-4. Meadowood, Napa Valley.
Healdsburg Jazz Festival The festivities begin June 1 with a gala fundraiser that includes an evening full of great food, an auction, an intimate performance by Louie Bellson, and dancing to tunes from the band's repertoire. Featured musicians this year include McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden Quartet West, Mark Murphy, and the Heath Brothers Tribute to Percy Heath, among stellar others. June 1-11 at various Healdsburg locations. $10-$125 per person. 707.433.4644.
Beerfest Face to Face/Sonoma County AIDS Network's Beerfest is a perennial favorite for suds 'n' grub lovers, featuring 35 microbreweries and an abundance of great food. Free Peoples, an Americana/bluegrass/jazz hybrid who recently fooled us into thinking we were hearing a loosened-up Lyle Lovett, will provide the soundtrack for this 15th annual bash. June 3 at the Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 1-5pm. $30-$35 (includes all food and drink). 707.544.1581.
Rock, Paper, Scissors Roshambo Winery hosts the fourth Pro-Am competition. Contestants of all stripes descend on the winery to make hand gestures that could result in winning a $1,700 prize. This year's twist is the "funny money" side event allowing those knocked out of official competition to continue playing for prizes. Big fun! Saturday, June 3, at noon. Roshambo, 3000 Westside Road, Healdsburg. $10-$20. 707.431.2051.
Marin Home Show & Benefit Jazz Fest Find eco-friendly alternatives for your home and garden from over 350 outdoor and indoor exhibits at this years 30th anniversary Home Show. Also enjoy jazzy and dance music, along with the annual Benefit Jazz Fest featuring big bands from Marin high schools. June 3-4. Saturday, 10am-7pm; Sunday, 10am-6pm. $6-$7 (free Sunday return). Marin Center Civic Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 415.499.6800.
Art at the Source Artists in west Sonoma County open their studios to the public during two weekends: June 3-4 and June 10-11. Maps can be found at at the SCA, 6780 Depot St., Sebastopol. 707.829.4797.
North Bay Pride Music Festival The LGBT community takes over Juilliard Park with a free fest of music by Lipstick Conspiracy, Trusting Lucy, the New Hope Choir and others, replete with a kids area, food and drink, shopping and the like to begin the celebration of Gay Pride Month. Sunday, June 4, 1-5pm. 210 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.538.2390.
NORBAY Awards Opening the Harmony Festival, the North Bay Music Awards (NORBAYs) second annual bash celebrating musicians in the North Bay this year salutes the work of Bruce Cohn of the Doobie Brothers and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, as well as a multitude of other artists. Some 12 North Bay bands--including the Velvet Teen, Trailer Park Rangers, Stiff Dead Cat, Santiago, the Lemon Lime Lights and others--occupy three outdoor stages for the event's first half. Winners of the Bohemian's NORBAY voting to be announced! As night falls, the event moves inside to the Grace Pavilion, where Bob Weir and RatDog and the Hot Buttered Rum String Band hold court. The hosting Harmony Festival officially begins at midnight with Sound Tribe Sector 9's arrival onstage. Celebrity emcees include Taj Mahal and Maria Muldaur. Surprises guaranteed. Friday, June 9, from 5pm. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $10, fairground admission with 12 bands outdoors. $35, fairground addmission plus Grace Pavilion show. $100 VIP "Friends of the Festival" admission includes drinks and dinner, special access and celebrity guests.
Harmony Festival With the addition of camping and an emphasis on music that's quickly eclipsing its lifestyle focus, the Harmony Festival continues to evolve. In addition to hosting the NORBAYs on opening night, Harmony has a stellar musical lineup including Cake, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and many other faves. The "Techno-Tribal" Saturday night dance party features cutting-edge DJs and live musicians, along with entertainment outside on the festival grounds. More than 400 exhibitors and entertainers. June 9-11; Friday, 5-9pm; Saturday, 11am-midnight; Sunday, 11am-8pm. $10-$50. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Dance, Saturday at 8:30pm. $35, separate admission. 707.861.2035.
Novato Festival of Art, Wine & Music Two-day live music fest with in 23rd year features area crafters and good things to eat and drink. Musical highlights include AC/DShe, Junior Brown, Zoo Station and Commander Cody, as well as many other great bands. Saturday-Sunday, June 10-11. Saturday, 1am to 7pm; Sunday 10am to 6pm. Old Town Novato, DeLong Avenue exit. Free. 415.897.1164.
Italian Street Painting Festival See some 200 street painters transform the very streets of downtown San Rafael into works of art, this year celebrating the beauty of Italy. Also features the "Chalk It Up for Chair-ity" exhibit and silent auction showcasing outrageous, colorful, artistic and even functional chairs. June 10-11. Fifth and A streets, San Rafael. 9am-7pm. Free. 415.457.4878.
Cotati Jazz Festival Now in its 26th year, the fest draws some 40 jazz artists to infiltrate downtown Cotati, from La Plaza Park to every club in town. June 17, noon-midnight. Downtown Cotati. Free. 707.795.5508.
Marin Art Festival A self-described "lawn party for the arts," with over 250 professional artists in all media including prints, jewelry, ceramics and art glass, as well as live jazz, Taiko drumming and food galore. June 17-18, 10am-6pm. Marin Center's Lagoon Park, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $8. 415.388.0151.
Russian River Blues Festival The Blues Fest this year sees the Chicago Blues Reunion (June 17) and the Taj Mahal Trio (June 18) headlining their respective days. Al Kooper, Sista Monica Parker, Pine-Top Perkins, Floyd Dixon, Corey Harris and Larry McCray are just some of the other highlights. Soul man Earl Thomas holds down the wine garden stage. And you know that the shopping is great, too. June 17-18. Doors open at 10am to 6pm. Johnson's Beach, Guerneville. $47.50-$190. 295.866.9599.
Aimee Mann A special acoustic performance after touring with a five-piece band, Aimee Mann comes to Sonoma County ready to give audiences a more intimate performance of songs from her Grammy-winning disc, The Forgotten Arm. June 17. Mystic Theater, 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707.765.2121.
Sonoma Lavender Festival Open to the public for two days only, the Sonoma Lavender Barn invites guests to come and see a five-acre farm in full bloom, with farm tours, lavender massage, craft making, lavender cuisine and a lavender marketplace. The free seminars will teach you how to cook, grow and craft with lavender. June 17-18, 10am-4pm. 8537 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood. $5 per car. 707.523.4411.
Rodney Strong Concert Series Now in its 16th year, this cozy winery festival kicks off on Father's Day with Mindi Abair and David Benoit (June 18), continuing with Kenny Loggins (July 8), the Candy Dulfer Band with Brian Culbertson and Eric Darius (July 29) and an afternoon of guitar and sax (Aug. 12), among others. Rodney Strong Vineyards, 11455 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg. $40-$65; season pass, $245-$400. 707.433.0998.
Ringo Starr & His All Star Band Former Beatles drummer and all-around star collector, Ringo is making this year's tour a true classic. Featured in his constantly rotating cycle of musicians is Rod Argent of the Zombies, Hamish Stuart of Average White Band, Richard Marx, Billy Squier, Edgar Winter and the fabulous Sheila E. This circus of the stars plays June 21 at the Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $49-$149. 707.546.3600.
Sonoma-Marin Fair "An American band is coming to your town" promises the tagline to the Sonoma-Marin Fair. Bands this year include Little Texas, Restless Heart, Black Hawk, Tracy Lawrence, Uncle Kracker, Grand Funk Railroad and the jazz/blues festival featuring Craig Chaquico. Also on the fairgrounds is one of the largest wine competitions in the state, featuring over 800 wines. Wine Competition Gala, June 3. $35. Sonoma-Marin Fair, June 21-25. Petaluma Fairgrounds, 75 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma. $8-$14; under four free. 707.283.3247.
Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival A fantastic lineup hails this festival's 11th year of honoring the work of the late singer-songwriter Kate Wolf, including a star-studded musical tribute on Saturday night. Artist highlights include performances by Steve Earle, Bruce Cockburn, Utah Phillips, the Wailin' Jennys, Buddy Miller and an exhaustive list of others so stunning that they should never be lumped together as "others." Plan to camp. June 23-25. Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville. Full festival pass, including three nights camping, is $140; $150 at the door. Daily tickets available. Under six, free. 707.823.1511.
Glen Campbell Rhinestone Cowboy helps Napa Valley Symphony kick off new pops series on Saturday, June 24, at the Lincoln Theater. 100 California Drive, Yountville. 8pm. $35-$110. 707.226.8742.
San Anselmo Art & Design Festival Over 50,000 folks converge on downtown San Anselmo each year and given the recent flooding, the town needs those visitors more than ever. As usual, a section of the fest will be devoted to cooking and home and landscape design, and will include demonstrations, displays and hands-on projects. Also be a part of the winetasting event, featuring wines from Marin County. June 24-25. San Anselmo Avenue between Bolinas and Tamalpais streets. 10am-6pm. Free. 800.310.6563.
Marin County Fair Celebrating its 61st year, this granddaddy of North Bay fairs is adding a new contest for all to enjoy: Marin Fair Plein Air. Artists may choose any location on the fairgrounds to paint for later competition. Some of the music this summer includes appearances by Rick Springfield (June 30), the Nelsons and Stone Canyon Band (July 1) and others. The Rhythm and Roots festival returns featuring Café R&B, Roomful of Blues, the Subdudes, the Hacienda Brothers and Lara Price. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band make their annual July 4 appearance. June 30-July 4, 11am-11pm. Marin County Civic Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $11-$13; under four, free. 415.499.6400.
Summer Nights Osher Marin JCC makes a hot summer buzz featuring the David Grisman Quintet (June 10), Tito y Su Son de Cuba (July 15), African music by the Nigerian Brothers, Samba Ngo and the West African Highlife Band (July 29) and Quetzal (Aug. 5). Swig Field, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. $20-$35, students half-off. 415.444.7000.
Painting by Chris Grassano
Pop(py) art: Feasting the eyes as well as plain old feasting are part of the Duncans Mills Festival of Wine and Art, July 22-23.
Napa County Fair Classic small-town country fair, including Mexican-style rodeo and live music. Musical highlights include JL Stiles, Shane Dwight Band and Little Texas. Celebrate Independence Day with a parade through downtown Calistoga. July 1-4, noon-11pm. 4135 Oak St., Calistoga. $3-$7, under six free. 707.942.5111.
Robert Mondavi Summer Festival With proceeds benefiting the Napa Valley Symphony, music in the schools programs and Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, this summer lineup is good, and good for us, too. Featured performers this year include the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in a cherished tradition, their 35th consecutive festival appearance with a special fireworks display (July 2), as well as Air Supply (July 8), Shawn Colvin and Brandi Carlile (July 29), Norman Brown's Summer Storm (Aug. 12) and Dave Brubeck, making his 11th appearance (Aug. 19). Robert Mondavi Vineyards, Oakville. $50-$85. 1.800.RMW.JAZZ.
Green Music Festival This sixth season kicks off, as always, with the red, white and boom of Independence Day, with patriotic, Dixieland, mariachi and Cajun favorites and fireworks led by guest conductor Adam Flatt leading the Santa Rosa Symphony. The popular four-event chamber-music series returns July 7-25 to celebrate Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Dohnanyi, Debussy and concludes with an all-Schumann solo program with maestro Jeffrey Kahane. July 4-25. Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 707.546.8742.
The Great Race Over a hundred vintage automobiles manufactured before 1961 conclude a cross-country race by motoring into downtown San Rafael on Saturday, July 8. Fourth Street, San Rafael.
Cotati Philharmonic Orchestra Family, friends and fun featuring the Cotati Pops in this years pair of free Cotati Philharmonic outdoor concerts, July 8-9. Both concerts are held outdoors and begin at 7pm. Saturday, La Plaza Park in Cotati; Sunday, Windsor Town Green in Windsor. 707.792.4600, ext. 664.
Petaluma Arts & Garden Festival Local gardeners, artists and chefs convene to support the arts. July 9, 11am to 5pm, Fourth and A streets parking lot, Petaluma. Free. 707.762.9348.
Kids Day Parade Cotati hails its kids for 14th year in a row, with theme of "Wild, Wild West." Event kicks off with parade and includes games, arts and crafts and live entertainment. Saturday, July 15, 10am-3pm. La Plaza Park, downtown Cotati. Free. 707.665.3625.
Linda Ronstadt Linda Ronstadt created a legendary career over the last 30 years with over 50 million albums sold worldwide. She's proving to audiences new and old that she's still got that signature voice and a persona to match. She appears Monday, July 10, at the Wells Fargo Center. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $69-$149. 707.546.3600.
Sonoma County Showcase of Wine & Food Experience the best food and wine from Sonoma County in one glorious weekend. This benefit fundraiser features the annual live auction as well as a tour of the late actor Fred MacMurray's private ranch. Dinners, tastings and luncheons abound with the San Francisco Symphony bringing it all to a close. July 13-15, for details, call 800.939.7666.
Festival del Sole Napa Valley's may be the most diverse and unique festival in the North Bay. Performers over a week go from Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter to pianist Christopher Taylor. Others include Emerson String Quartet and the Russian National Orchestra. July 16-23. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. 707.944.1300.
Napa Valley Summer Musicals Celebrating the newly completed renovation of the Lincoln Theater, this first annual fest features leading Broadway stars singing the best of Broadway from the last 100 years, a tribute to Frank Sinatra and the work of Ennio, the Italian "super mime." July 16-23. 100 California Drive, Yountville. $25-$55. 707.944.1300.
An Evening with Lyle Lovett Country's strangest crossover gentleman sings and plays for you--twice! Monday-Tuesday, July 17-18. Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $45-$85. 707.546.3600.
Festival of Art & Wine in Duncans Mills The ever-popular duck races are back, along with music by Stompy Jones with Zizoo playing Cajun zydeco and Hurricane Sam on his boogie-woogie piano and other performers as well. A dance floor has been added for all guests to get up and move to the beat. Fifteen wineries and eight breweries will be featured in this year's Wine and Microbrewed Beer Tasting. Five tastings cost $10, with each additional taste for $1. Benefiting the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, this is all about food, wine, community and the arts. July 22-23 at 10am. Downtown Duncans Mills. $6-$8; under 12, free. 707.824.8717.
Catalan Festival The fastest trip to Barcelona ever, the annual festival at Gloria Ferrer features live flamenco guitarists and dancers, the winery's own sparkling wine and tastings from many Spanish-influenced eateries, along with cooking demonstrations. July 22-23, 11am-4pm. Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, 23555 Carneros Hwy., Sonoma. $40; minors, $9; under five, free. 707.933.1999.
Sonoma County Fair In an unintentionally ironic salute to $3 gas and the abrupt ending of the American way, the fair this year hails the automobile with lots of car displays, a destruction derby, car-related contest and car stuff everywhere. Headliners include Kris Kristofferson (July 26), Josh Turner (July 27), Fiesta! (July 30), Darryl Worley (July 31), SheDaisy (Aug. 1) and Better Than Ezra (Aug. 7), as well as the annual blues festival (July 29) and a terrific lineup of local talent on the smaller stages. July 25-Aug. 7. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $2-$7; free for kids six and under. 707.545.4200.
Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film Fest This cutting-edge celebration of cinema and cuisine is now presenting international and independent films in Downtown Napa, Los Carneros and Downtown Sonoma. July 24-Aug. 20, packages available. 707.935.FILM.
Sonoma Salute to the Arts Benefiting art in the schools, this yowza blowout comes of age this year! Turning 21, everything this year, from the art, food, wine and music, is at the "Peak of Perfection." July 28-30, on and around the Plaza, Sonoma. 707.938.1133.
Sirens: The Jennys are among the stellar acts gracing the fields at the Kate Wolf Memorial Festival, June 23-25.
Olivia Newton-John Grease gets mentioned a lot in Olivia Newton-John's biographies, though we do have to agree that she and Rick, er, Travolta are so cute together. However you feel about Grease, "Olivia" is the word on Thursday, Aug. 3. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $45-$85. 707.546.3600.
Boz Scaggs Sought-after friend of Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs has a new album due this summer, and a new tour to match. His blend of roots sounds and his impressive career aside, Scaggs' recent unplugged sound offers something new for the most devoted fan. Friday, Aug. 4, at the Wells Fargo Center. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $45-$65. 707.546.3600.
Music in the Vineyards Retreat to the coolness of barrel rooms in the dog days of August for a soothing dose of chamber music. Beginning in the late afternoons or early evenings, winetasting is included at intermission. Nationally known artists in residence perform chamber music in intimate winery settings, parks and churches. Aug. 9-27. 707.258.5999.
Reggae on the River Ziggy Marley, Barrington Levy, Don Carlos, Ozomatli, Dezarie and Elan are just some of the performers at this annual event. This year, the festival will be held at a new location, Dimmick Ranch in Humboldt County, Piercy. Aug. 4-6. $165 for three days. 707.923.4583.
All Nations Bigtime The Petaluma Adobe's eighth annual celebration of Native American culture offers dancers, flutists, basket-weavers, artists, crafts and food. Features the Traditional Maidu Dancers and children's hands-on activities. Aug. 5, 10am-7pm. Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, 3325 Adobe Road, Petaluma. Adults, $5; 16 and under free. 707.762.4871.
Solar & Good Living Festival SolFest combines fun with being eco-friendly. Aug. 19-20, 10am. Real Goods Solar Living Institute, Hopland. $15-$40. 707.744.2017.
Cotati Accordion Festival The Golden State Accordion Club kicks off this year's two-day tribute to the squeezebox. Both days are full of performers beginning at 10am and going until 8pm. Look for the Great Morgani, Ginny Mac, and Tango No. 9, among other great acts. The Lady-of-Spain-a-thon is not to be missed. Aug. 26-27 from 9:30am. Cotati Town Square, Cotati. $17-$25; children under 15 free. 707.664.0444.
Seafood Art & Wine Festival Bodega Bay celebrates with seafood deluxe and music by jazz vocalist Sony Holland, guitar alchemyst Scott Huckabay and the outrageous Incendio among others. Showcases the best of California's wineries and breweries, artists and craftspeople that even Hitchcock would want to join. Benefits Stewards of the Coasts and Redwoods and also the Bodega volunteer Fire Department. Aug. 26-27 from 10am. Watts Ranch, Highway 12, just east of the town of Bodega. $8-$10; under 12, free. 707.824.8717.
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