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The Arts

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HUMAN FORMS: The astounding Pilobolus Dance Company perform Nov. 6 at the Marin Center.

Fall Arts

Our highly selective guide to everything good to do this fall

Compiled by Gretchen Giles and Jackie Johansen


Seventh Annual Chautauqua Revue Sept. 10–12. Over a hundred years ago, in encampments all over the United States, lecture, debates, vaudeville, drama and storytelling took place. These gatherings became known as Chautauquas, and the tradition has set up sturdy camp in Occidental. This year's event is sure to entertain, with magician and mentalist Lawrence Lemon, rope-trick artist Cheryl Bacon, storyteller Fred Euphrat, musician Rebecca Riots, the Hubbub Club Marching Band and two children's matinees, among other delights. The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, 15290 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. $15–$30 sliding scale. 707.874.1557.

The S.F. Comedy Competition Finals Sept. 11. Worldly wits square off for a shot at $30,000 and a fairly high-profile catapult toward fame. Previous contestants include Dana Carvey, Robin Williams and Carlos Alazraqui of Reno 911. Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 8pm. 707.226.7372. Also Sept. 18 at the Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael (8:30pm; $30; 415.499.6800) and Sept. 25 at the Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa (8pm; $19.50–$39.75; 707.546.3600).

Marco Antonio Solis Sept. 11. The creator of some of Latin music's greatest hits, such as "Tu Carcel," "Como Fui a Enamorarme de Ti," "Sigue sin Mi," and "Si No Te Hubieras Ido," Solis regularly fills arena-sized venues. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $55–$125. 707.546.3600.

ArtRageous: Great Balls of Fire Sept. 12. This festival puts the heat back into a cool fall evening. With a fire-breathing dragon named Claude, food and drink that will make you sweat, and Simon Chabon's Eternal Fire Spectacular, there is no need to say goodbye to summer just yet. All this heat benefits San Rafael's Art Works Downtown. At a private Tiburon beach. 6pm. $150. 415.451.8119.

Cajun & Zydeco Fest Sept. 12. Are the days becoming bland and predictable? Infuse life with some good ol' fashioned South Pacific spice at this year's Cajun and Zydeco Festival in Sebastopol. The local rotary chapter keeps the fest at beautiful Ives Park for some last-minute summer sun, promising a bigger dance floor and more shade this year. All rumps under the redwoods are guaranteed to be shakin' as C. J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band All-Stars, Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys and many more storm the stage to take the edge off that gator sausage. Ives Park, 400 Willow St., Sebastopol. 10:30am–7pm. $20; under 12, free. 707.824.2550.

Great American Blues & BBQ Fest Sept. 12. This free downtown event celebrates two uniquely American products, and you know that's blues and barbecue. The inimitable Austin de Lone brings his cheerfully named 14th Rib Review band featuring Nick Gravenites to helm that day, while food and sauce and wet wipes and bibs inform the rest. Sept. 12, 11am–6pm, downtown San Rafael. Free. 415.383.3470.

Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival Sept. 12–13. Now in its 33rd year, the Russian River Jazz and Blues festivals have telescoped from two events into one weekend, the first devoted to jazz, the second to blues. Saturday features Al Jarreau headlining, while Sunday welcomes the Naw'lins funk of the Neville Brothers and Dr. John. Johnson's Beach, Guerneville. 10am to 6pm. $45–$170; 10 and under, free. 707.869.1595.

Open Studios at Atelier One Sept. 12–13. Since 1987, artists have had an affordable workspace to create and imagine at the 90-year-old Atelier One building that was formally used for drying fruit. Fourteen residents will showcase their work at this open studio event. Experience the eclectic collection of work that includes painting, sculpture, photography and fashion design. Atelier One, 2860 Bowen St., Graton. Free. 707.823.4766.

Jarvis Puppet Festival & Workshop Sept. 14–15. Got the world on a string? Learn the über-classified backstage secrets of puppetry, make your own Sifl or Ollie, and see the pros work their magic. Not appropriate for children under five. Jarvis Conservatory, 1711 Main St., Napa. $10–$15. 707.255.5445.

Lizann Bassham & Darryl Fenley Sept. 18. The voice of Bassham and the piano sounds of Fenley create a cloud of nostalgic bliss. They will perform songs from the '20s, '30s and '40s, creating an eclectic and fun evening. This is a swinging event not to be missed. Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 6780 Depot St., Sebastopol. 7:30pm. $12. 707.829.4797.

Hawaiian Tropical Nights Sept. 18. Would you rather be lying on a beach in Hawaii with a purple drink in hand, but can't quite make it to the Islands? Hawaiian Tropical Nights at the Napa Valley Opera House is just the solution. This fundraiser for the Manaleo Hawaiian Cultural Foundation pulls out all the Hawaiian flair. Look for hula performances along with the music of Kumu Hula Kawika Alfiche and Halau o Keikialii. Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 8pm. $30–$35. 707.226.7372.

Sonoma County Book Festival Sept. 19. The ninth annual book fest features readings and workshops by both local and national authors, a sure bet for any bookworm. Authors such as Izzy Rose, Dale Dougherty, Gerald Rosen, Barbara Baer and many more will be reading their work. Poetry and drama will also be featured throughout the day. Events located in downtown Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Central Library, the Cultural Arts Council Gallery and Courthouse Square. 10am–4pm. Free. 707.527.5412.

Ceres Community Project's Celebration & Fundraiser Sept. 19. The mission of the Ceres Community Project is to make good, nutritious and organic meals to those with serious illness while training and educating youngsters on how to cook and eat nourishing good food. The fundraiser event will take place in the gardens of Lynmar Winery while the jazz sounds of the Urban Professionals are carried on the air, and of course, there will be food provided by the organization, and plenty of wine from Lynmar, as well as Iron Horse, Skipstone, Alexander Valley Vineyard and many others. 6–9pm. Lynmar Winery 3909 Frei Road, Sebastopol. $50–$100 sliding scale. 707.829.3374.

Napa Valley Aloha Festival Sept. 19. OK, so some of us have been there (or at least drooled over Aloha Travel commercials), but aside from the beautiful beaches and fruity drinks, what do we really know about Hawaii? The Manaleo Hawaiian Cultural Foundation hosts the first annual festival to celebrate and teach about Hawaiian native culture. Live music and dance, authentic foods, arts and crafts and a variety of vendors provide a bounty of delights for the senses. As this is a family event, alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Napa Valley Exposition, 575 Third St., Napa. 9am–6pm. Free; bring a canned food donation. 707.966.4017.

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival Sept. 19–20. The sculpture, painting, ceramics and photography of some 150 different artists is on display under the beautiful trees of Mill Valley. This festival, produced by artists, makes sure that all profits go to local schools, and charities. Also enjoy the music of Maria Muldaur and Her Red Hot Bluesiana Band, Tom Rigney and Flambeau and much more, all while taking in the sights and smells of fall as the majestic redwoods tower above. Old Mill Park, 320 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. Sat. 10am–6pm, Sun. 10am–5pm. $5–$8; under 12, free.

The 22nd annual Napa Valley Open Studios Sept. 19–20 and 26–27. Artists throughout the valley open their doors to the public. Sponsored by the Napa Valley Arts Council, the tours allow art lovers to peruse among various locations in and around gorgeous Napa Valley.

The Beach Boys Sept. 20. Old faces and new bolster the familiar harmonies of this ultimate surf band. 8pm. $29.50–$82.50. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 707.546.3600.

The 12th Annual Petaluma Progressive Festival Sept. 20. The San Francisco Mime Troupe celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a special performance of Too Big to Fail, while speakers include Antonia Juhasz (The Tyranny of Oil), Michael Parenti, Project Censored's Peter Phillips and other authors and informed folks. Steve Seskin is among the entertainers. Walnut Park, Sixth Street and Petaluma Boulevard South, Petaluma. Noon to 5pm. Free. 707.763.8134.

Glendi International Food Fair Sept. 20–21. Basically, this is the place to find chefs and other food-lovers walking around salivating like kids in a candy store. Accompanied by live Balkan music, this internationally influenced food festival rises to new heights. Ever been to Eritrea, Kenya or Romania? Be transported with just one bite at the Protection of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church, 90 Mountain View Ave., Santa Rosa. $6–$10; under 12, free. Those in the know plan to take food home. 707.584.9491.

Elizabeth Gilbert Sept. 24. Eat, Pray, Love writer discusses her writing and spiritual adventures. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 8pm. $20–$45. 415.499.6800.

Old Grove Festival Sept. 25–27. It's hard to find a better acoustic amphitheater than the one located at the heart of Armstrong Woods—exactly why the folks behind the third annual Old Grove Festival put it to good use. Chanticleer, known as an "orchestra of voices," make the redwoods sway on Sept. 25, while Maria Muldaur's Garden of Joy Jug Band performs on Sept. 26, and Don Neely and the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra get down on Sept. 27. Bring flashlights, seat cushions and warm clothes to the Redwood Forest Theatre, Armstrong Redwoods State Preserve, 14107 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville. $25–$40. 707.869.9403.

Sebastopol Celtic Music Festival Sept. 25–27. The greatest Celtic musicians this side of the Emerald Isle do more than just fiddle around. The talent-packed lineup already includes Dervish from Ireland, Väsen from Sweden and Old Blind Dogs from Scotland. Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill team up for the 15th year in a row! Sept. 25–27, 11am–6pm, Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St., Sebastopol. $10–$500; 10 and under, free. 707.823.1511.

Taste of Petaluma Sept. 26. Wine and food enthusiasts unite for a day of upscale culinary trick-or-treating at the third annual Taste of Petaluma event. Over 70 of Petaluma's finest restaurants, wineries, breweries and food purveyors gather to tempt guests with their talents. All profits go to benefit the Cinnabar Theater. Begin treating the taste buds at any of these three Petaluma locations: Putnam Plaza on Petaluma Boulevard; Gallery One, 209 Western Ave.; Haus Fortuna, 111 Second St. in the theater district. 11:30am. $40. 707.763.8920.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair Awards Night Gala Sept. 26. Before the Harvest Fair kicks off, get a sneak peek at the best of what this year's festival has to offer. Sip and taste unlimited amounts of award-winning wines, olive oil and food. Admission price includes a commemorative glass and other schwag. Sonoma County Fairgrounds 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $65. 707.545.4203.

Earle Fest Sept. 26. A celebration of American music, this benefit for the Earle Baum Center livens up Santa Rosa with the music of Johnny Rawls and the Blues Defenders, Houston Jones, the Rhythm Rangers and the Mighty Chiplings, among others. There will be good old-fashioned barbecue and crisp beer provided by Lagunitas, as well as local wine and veggie and children's options to fill sun-warmed bellies. The Earle Baum Center of the Blind, 4539 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa. 12:30–6:30pm. $15–$18; children under 10, free. 707.523.3222.


Pink Martini Oct. 1. Mighty little orchestra from Portland melds jazz and cinema for a Hollywood-style spectacle. Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $19.75–$49.75. 707.546.3600.

Tap Dogs Oct. 2. Australian urban dance company that specialize in raw, high-energy performances do 90 minutes of what Seattle TV describes as "pure joy." Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 8pm. $20–$50. 415.499.6800.

Carlos Mencia Oct. 2. "Observational" comic comes straight outta TV to the former LBC. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 7:30pm. $41.50. 707.546.3600.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair Oct. 2–4. Hit up the World Championship Grape Stomp competition, slurp some wine, hitch a hay ride or just get down to some swingin' jazz music at the Harvest Fair. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1375 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $7. 707.545.4203.

The 23rd Annual B.R. Cohn Charity Events Fall Music Festival Oct. 3–4. Vintner and philanthropist B. R. Cohn has raised over $5 million for various charities. This year's list includes the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs Sonoma Valley, Bread and Roses and the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance. The charity auction dinner and Sunday-afternoon concert are already sold-out, as are the VIP tix for Saturday's show with the Doobie Brothers, Pablo Cruise, Little Feat and others, but general admission for Saturday is still available. Feel good while bobbing in time to the tunes and putting a perfect triple-eagle at the B.R. Cohn Winery Amphitheater, 15000 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen. Oct. 3–4, noon–6pm. $95. 707.938.4064, ext. 127.

Marin Symphony Oct. 4. Opening-night gala focuses on "Rhapsody in Blue" replete with classy cocktails and Gershwin-era attire. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 5pm. Also, Oct. 6. 415.499.6800.

Calabash! Oct. 4. A celebration of gourds, art and the garden, Calabash takes place at Food for Thought in Forestville. A silent auction and lovely exhibitions and demonstrations go on from 1pm to 5pm. Enjoy music played upon handmade gourd instruments while supporting a great cause. 6550 Railroad Ave., Forestville. $35–$40. 707.887.1647.

Classic Film Series Oct. 4. Spreckels honors the classics beginning Oct. 4 with Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman moving giddily on to Frank Capra's Oscar-winning comedy It Happened One Night, (Oct. 11) starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, and finishing the month with the Dashiell Hammett story of deception, greed and murder, The Maltese Falcon (Oct. 18), starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. $6. 707.588.3400.

Emmylou Harris & Her Red Dirt Boys Oct. 6. Country songbird brings special guest Buddy Miller and the legacy of her 12 Grammys to town. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $29.75-$69.75. 707.546.3600.

Zoppé Italian Family Circus Oct. 8–11. Get ready for a good old-fashioned circus full of canines, comedy, clowns, audience participation and a slew of different circus characters and tricks. The Zoppé family sets up a 400-seat tent and puts on a one-ring circus that comes straight out of the Italian tradition. Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 8pm. $30–$35. 707.226.7372.

Annual Mill Valley Film Festival Oct. 8–18. Now in its 32nd year, this prestigious festival showcases over 150 independent films and bigger features destined for the multiplex. This year, British heartthrob Clive Owen is honored on Oct. 9, which means that British heartthrob Clive Owen will be walking our very streets. Sigh. Settle in for popcorn and fun at the Smith Rafael Film Center and [email protected] 415.383.5256.

Big Oktoberfest Bash Oct. 9. The Sonoma County Museum gets down to our hop-growing/beer-drinking roots with a microbrew tasting fundraiser. A ticket gets you all the beer tastes you want, plus munchies and more. The DJ and the band have been sorted out; it's time to par-tee! Also, a raffle will be held for a chance to win a home brewing kit, among other awesome prizes. Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1315 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. 5–9pm. $30–$40. 707.579.1500.

House of Floyd Oct. 10. The Ultimate Pink Floyd Tribute band pulls out all the stops with live renditions of Floyd's trippiest Wall-based stuff, as well as lasers, video and everything needed to recreate a classic music experience. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. 8pm. $20–$30. 707.944.1300.

Joni Morris Oct. 10. Morris and After Midnight band play the songs of legendary ladies in country music, featuring the treasured songs of Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Montana, Tammy Wynette and others brought back to life. Spreckels Performing Arts Center 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. 8pm. $23–$26. 707.588.3400.

Santa Rosa Symphony Oct. 10–12. Bruno Ferrandis conducts and former S.R. Symphony maestro Jeffrey Kahane plays piano as the symphony performs pieces by Miaskovsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $27–$55. 707.54.MUSIC.

ARTrails Oct. 10–11 and 17–18. Self-guided opportunity to buy directly from artists and peek into their workspaces. Throughout Sonoma County. 10am to 5pm. Free. 707.579.2787.

Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt Oct. 14. Two of the best, funniest, most lyrically clever and smartly deep singer-songwriters team up for a stellar night of jokes, stories and song. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $29.75–$69.75. 707.546.3600.

Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers Oct. 16–17. Gorgeous scoop of ice cream with a dreamy voice and a vixen spirit brings her big band of hepcats in for a two-night stand in the intimate environs of the Carston Cabaret. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $20. 707.546.3600.

Bioneers Conference Oct. 16–18. Hear about groundbreaking ideas and discuss building a blueprint for sustainable systems at the 18th annual Bioneers Conference, a meeting of environmentally focused minds. Featured speakers include Dr. Andrew Weil, Michael Pollan and myriad others. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $140–$410. 877.246.6337.

American Philharmonic Oct. 17–18. The 11th season of this semi-pro orchestra opens with a tribute to Russian, featuring John Kendall Bailey as the guest conductor leading the band in works by Shostakovich, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Stravinsky Borodin and others. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Free. 707.546.3600.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Oct. 21. Multicultural dance company founded by former Alvin Ailey dancer melds classical with the popular, the modern with the hip-hop. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $25–$45. 707.546.3600.

Pinot on the River Oct. 22–25. Fully immerse yourself in a weekend of Pinot Noir, including in-depth tastings and seminars, vineyard tours and sumptuous food. Various venues in the Russian River Valley. Sunday boasts a grand artisanal tasting. $65; all-access ticket, $750. 707.922.1096.

Stephen Sondheim Oct. 24. One of the most important artists of the American stage appears in conversation with Peter Stein to hash his past accomplishments and his creative process in a wide-ranging discussion. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $49–$69. 707.546.3600.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra Oct. 27. Grammy-winning big band featuring vintage salsa and a full-bodied big band style. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $20–$40. 707.546.3600.

David Sedaris Oct. 29. Famed humorist is even more fun in person, and whatever he chooses to talk about is OK with us. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 8pm. $35. 415.499.6800.

Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon Oct. 31. Explore the hearts of Alexander and Dry Creek valleys by fleet foot. The crisp fall weather is ideal for running, and Halloween enthusiasts are encouraged to don costumes. Finish at Lake Sonoma and recreation area for the Wine and Music Festival. 300 Via Archimedes Road, Geyserville. 7:15am. $25–$80.


MacHomer Nov. 1. Rick Miller's seriously goofy adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth is sure to make Shakespeare roll over in his grave—not out of horror, but because he is tickled with delight. Miller performs the classic tragedy using the voices of some 50 Simpsons' characters, in an assured crowd-pleaser. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. $29–$39. 5pm. 707.944.1300.

Marin Symphony Nov. 1 and 3. Violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn performs evening of Vivaldi on her 1720 Stradivarius. Novelist Barbara Quick joins maestro Alasair Neale preconcert to discuss her novel Vivaldi's Virgins. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 7:30pm. $29–$70. 415.499.6800.

Pilobolus Nov. 6. Amazing human forms form and reform into all manner of witty and poignant configurations when this unique dance company performs. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 8pm. $20–$75. 415.499.6800.

Festival of Harps Nov. 7. Now in its 20th year, the festival this time features multicultural lineup from China to Ireland to Paraguay to West Africa, featuring Youssoupha Sidibe on kora, the Bindi Society, Dinana Stork, Teed Rockwell and others. Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. $22–$26. 707.588.3400.

The 11th Annual Food & Wine Affair Nov. 7–8. Russian River Wine Road gathers 64 local wineries for another delicious extravaganza. Various locations in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys. 11am–4pm. $25–$60. 800.723.6336.

Santa Rosa Symphony Nov. 7–9. Cellist Julie Albers joins the symphony in an all-Dvorák slate that includes his "New World Symphony." Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $27–$55. 707.54.MUSIC.

Ian Anderson Nov. 10. Freaky flutist performs an all-acoustic night of major Jethro Tull soundage. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $29.75–$69.75. 707.546.3600.

John Cleese Nov. 11. The Monty Python star, writer, actor and comedian makes a sure-to-be memorable appearance this fall. Cleese has been an active comedian and actor for decades in such films as A Fish Called Wanda and, recently, James Bond and Harry Potter movies. Importantly, this iconic, dynamic, tall British fellow will make us laugh on a chilly November evening. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. $39–$69. 7pm. 707.944.1300.

Buddy Guy & Elvin Bishop Nov. 13. Hall of Famer performs lightning in a bottle—and auditorium—with West Marin's own Elvin Bishop. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 8pm. $25–$75. 415.499.6800.

Champions of the Dance Nov. 16. Professional hoofers from Dancing with the Stars, American Ballroom Challenge and Strictly Come Dancing perform live show, featuring everything from Latin to waltz. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $25–$45. 707.546.3600.

Lisa Lampanelli Nov. 20. The Queen of Mean is proud of her website address: Be sure to get a seat well back from the stage. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $42.75. 707.546.3600.

Judy at Carnegie Hall Nov. 21–22. We might have preferred to hear Rufus Wainwright do it, but understand how most would prefer Debbie Gravitte's impersonation of Judy Garland's historic comeback concert, with support from the Santa Rosa Symphony as part of their Pops series. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $30–$70. 707.546.3600.

Denis Lindsay contributed to this roundup.

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