Desert Foxes

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Arizona-based Jim Sobo (left) and friends make their way to the North Bay for the Howling Coyote Tour.

Situated within the Bradshaw Mountains in central Arizona lies the small town of Prescott (Pronounced “press-kit”). Over the years, this mile-high hamlet has earned a reputation as a place for emerging artists to find an audience, and today it draws singers and songwriters of all kinds to its many clubs and venues.

Jim Sobo was drawn there in 2003. He performed and recorded music in the Bay Area and Los Angeles for years before relocating to Prescott with his family, where he soon discovered a vibrant music scene at a venue called Coyote Joe’s.

“I started seeing some exceptional talent there,” Sobo says. “I was so taken with the talent that I decided to start this tour.”

For the past 14 years, Sobo has spent his summers curating and leading the Howling Coyote Tour, which appears at a half-dozen North Bay venues between July 16–21.

“I want to expose this talent to a larger fan base, a larger musical community,” Sobo says. “The San Francisco Bay Area is my favorite musical community. I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I think that San Francisco has a great ear for original singer-songwriters and acoustic showcases like mine.”

This year’s lineup of performers is one of the tour’s most widely varied yet, featuring instrumental guitarist Darin Mahoney, flutist Sherry Finzer and folk/blues duo Cross-Eyed Possum.

Mahoney’s roots are in folk music, though he’s performed instrumental numbers on acoustic guitar much closer to the world music-style of Windham Hill Records ever since he discovered the New Age label while battling cancer.

An internationally known flutist, Finzer is also the founder of Heart Dance Recordings—to which Mahoney is signed—and the two have collaborated on records and onstage in the past.

Joining those two, Cross-Eyed Possum is twin brothers Jonah and Jason Howard, who mix jazz, blues and alternative rock, on guitar and bass. On Sobo’s podcast, The Howling Coyote Radio Hour, Cross-Eyed Possum recently met and started jamming with, Mahoney and Finzer.

“The tour hasn’t even started yet, and they’re already starting to collaborate,” Sobo says. “I can only imagine what’s going to happen when we get out on the road and start to work on stuff with each other.”

Howling Coyote Tour performs on July 16 at Mantra Wines in Novato, July 17 at Barrel Brothers Brewing Co. in Windsor, July 18 at 256 North Restaurant in Petaluma, July 19 at Grav South Brewing in Cotati, and July 20 at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. Times vary. Free, donations welcome. howlingcoyotetour.com.
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