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Street Jams

Roots: Americana brings hootenanny downtown

By Leilani Clark

When Raissa de la Rosa decided to throw a hootenanny, she wasn't sure where to start. Where she ended, naturally, was with Joshua Stithem, a local musician who's been presenting North Bay Hootenanny events to wild acclaim for years.

"I really wanted to do something that fit more into the downtown brand to replace the First Friday Artwalk," says de la Rosa, who with Santa Rosa's Economic Development has organized many other on-the-street events. "I think [the Hootenanny] speaks to the flavor here and the street-life opportunities."

Once a month from July through October, Roots: Americana will fill Courthouse Square with local folk and bluegrass artists, a facilitated jam area and a music kiosk named for Aaron Milligan-Green, who pushed for the passing of the city's street-musician ordinance.

What's it like for Stithem, who got his start hosting shows in an empty barn in southwest Santa Rosa, to go city-approved after years in the underground? "Not bad, not bad. They deserve super big props for searching for this kind of thing," says Stithem, who cites the Handcar Regatta as an inspiration to go bigger. "I hope it's a trend. I've been in Santa Rosa for a while, and I feel like this is a change."

Roots: Americana features Old Jawbone, the Blushing Roulettes (above) and the Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra on Saturday, July 9, in Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square. 47pm. Free. 707.326.5274.

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