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[whitespace] Big Bad VooDoo Daddy
Paternity Suits: Spiffy swingers Big Bad VooDoo Daddy play Montalvo's Front Lawn on Sept. 23.

Mansion Expansion

Villa Montalvo remodels its image and hits the road for its 2001-2002 season

By Heather Zimmerman

MONSTER HOMES are reviled for their overpowering sprawl, but the late Senator James Phelan's Saratoga estate, Villa Montalvo, has recently undergone a "remodel" that reaches as far as 140 miles away and yet casts nary a shadow--quite the opposite, in fact. Since 1953, Phelan's mansion has served as the handsome headquarters for a nonprofit arts organization which now includes a gallery, artist-residency program and children's outreach programs, but is best known for its popular performance series.

Although in the past the series has stepped outside the villa's walls to other nearby venues, this year, the South Bay institution spreads its cultural wealth throughout the Bay Area--and beyond--in partnerships with four new venues: the Fox Theater in Redwood City, Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos, Flint Center in Cupertino and Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, located 140 miles away in Calaveras County. Mission Santa Clara remains on the roster, but Vasona Lake County Park and longtime Montalvo venue Mountain Winery have disappeared from it, with the park subject to a ban on concerts in Santa Clara County parks imposed by an incoming House of Blues project, and Bill Graham Presents taking over booking at the Mountain Winery.

In a reflection of its now-widespread geographical diversity, the organization has dropped the "Villa" from its name, although the estate itself will retain it. The newly christened Montalvo organization announced its revised image and its 2001-2002 season last week, with favorite TheatreWorks/USA opening the season on May 6 at the Carriage House Theatre. Young jazz lion Terence Blanchard follows on May 10; quirky favorites the Bobs (May 13) and blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite (May 17) help round out May at the Carriage House. Classical guitarist Christopher Parkening ushers in the season at Mission Santa Clara on May 23 and the Russian National Chamber Orchestra christens Ironstone Vineyards on July 21. Cuban legends the Buena Vista Social Club make for an auspicious first date on Villa Montalvo's Front Lawn (July 12). Feb 26-27, 2002, marks Montalvo's debut show at Flint Center, with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Anchoring the season is a benefit gala with Tony Bennett Sept. 14 at the Garden Theatre.

The Flatlanders & Dan Hicks plus the Hot Licks heat up the first show at the Garden Theatre on June 1, followed by cool jazz-folkie Rickie Lee Jones (June 8). Bluesman Keb' Mo' plays both the Garden Theatre (June 21) and the Fox Theatre (June 22) and likewise, Tom Jones woos Garden Theatre-goers one night (June 22) and Fox Theatre patrons the next (June 23).

A number of familiar favorites make return visits, and to venues new and old: Vince Gill countrifies the Garden Theatre on July 1; July 29 is the "right time" for soulful R&B queen Etta James to perform at the Garden Theatre, followed by The Rippingtons with Russ Freeman (July 30-31). Dave Brubeck treats the Garden Theatre to his quartet (Sept. 19) and then mixes it up with David Benoit and Taylor Eigsti at the Fox Theatre (Sept. 20). The Robert Cray Band plays the first date at Oak Meadow Park (Sept. 29) and then heads to Ironstone Vineyards (Sept. 30). Swingers Big Bad VooDoo Daddy seem sure to get the Front Lawn jitter-bugging Sept. 23 and legend Ray Charles will rock the intimate Garden Theatre (Aug. 31).

Other schedule highlights include folk-rock with Tom Rush, Nanci Griffith, Janis Ian and Catie Curtis on the Front Lawn (Aug. 5); crooner Johnny Mathis at the Garden Theatre (Aug. 30); Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove at the Garden Theatre (Sept. 20); author/humorist David Sedaris at the Carriage House (Oct. 25-26) and classical luminaries Anonymous 4 at the Carriage House (Nov. 1).

Ticket prices fall into a wide range, but average about $30-$60. Call the box office at 408.961.5858 for more information. A complete schedule is available online at www.villamontalvo.org.

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From the March 22-28, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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