Feature: Fall Arts Preview

There’s nothing like the balmy autumnal glory of the North Bay, and for this, we editorial scribes at the Pacific Sun are profoundly grateful—if not singing along with Grateful Dead classics such as “Scarlet Begonias,” which—and to the point about our delightfully temperate climatological disposition—notes that there’s “not a chill to the winter, but a nip to the air.” The lyric is playfully confounding, and readers can ask Bobby Weir about it at one or another of the events he’s playing this fall around the county—including the annual Sound Summit at Mt. Tam.

Less confounding is the lyrical department is the output of powerhouse American icon known as His Majesty and King, George Clinton, who graces our cover this week and is scheduled to pump out the funk this year at the annual Sausalito Art Festival, by the bay. Fans will recall that back in the 1990s, Clinton implored his listeners to “Get your ass in the water and swim like me”—in the song of the same title—and so please dive right in to arts editor Charlie Swanson’s annual and exhaustive fall arts preview.  —Tom Gogola





Sausalito Art Festival  Sausalito has long been hailed as an artist’s paradise, so hosting this excellent arts fest is a no-brainer. This year marks the 66th festival, and features fine art from hundreds of acclaimed artists. The weekend also includes an opening “Moulin Nights” cabaret-themed gala, a weekend of top-name musical entertainment from the likes of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Drive-By Truckers and Eric Burdon & the Animals, gourmet food and beverages and more must-see attractions. Sept. 1–3. Marinship Park, Sausalito. Saturday–Sunday, 10am–7pm; Monday, 10am–5pm. $25–$30 and up; children under 12, free. sausalitoartfestival.org.


Taste of Sonoma  Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s annual tasting event has all the looks and flavors needed to celebrate the region throughout Labor Day weekend. Taste of Sonoma once again takes over the lawn at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center, with thousands of glasses of wine on hand and chefs from around the county preparing delectable bites. Live music, chef demos, seminars and more round out the premier event on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Noon to 4pm. $180. sonomawinecountryweekend.com.

Fishstock  There will be fun and food—and of course, fish—at Fishstock, the annual fundraiser for the Jenner Community Club. Enjoy chowder tasting, barbecued salmon, offerings from local wineries and breweries, live music by Dgiin and others, an ice cream parlor, a raffle and lots more in a Summer of Love–themed day by the sea. Sept. 2. 10398 Hwy. 1, Jenner. 11am–5pm. $5; kids free. visitjenner.com.

Broadway Under the Stars Gala Celebration  Transcendence Theatre Company closes out its 2018 season of shows in the winery ruins at Jack London Park with their biggest party of the year, featuring an all-star cast of singers and dancers who will delight audiences of all ages with fresh takes on classic Broadway hits. Sept 7–9. Jack London State Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Pre-show picnic, 5pm; showtime, 7:30pm. transcendencetheatre.org.

Artists @ Issaquah  While the Sausalito Floating Homes Tour is taking the year off, the formerly annual art show, “The Artists of Issaquah,” returns from a five-year hiatus as “Artists @ Issaquah” to once again show art by both established and amateur artists on the water, in several houseboats on Issaquah Dock. The 16 exhibiting artists will display a range of works covering blown glass, jewelry, painting, photography and sculpture on Sept. 8, Gate Six Road, Sausalito. 11am to 4pm. Free, donations accepted to support art in local schools. floatinghomes.org.

Sound Summit  Roots & Branches Conservancy’s annual concert bash in the woods of Mount Tamalpais State Park always boasts headlining acts and special Bay Area luminaries, and this year’s summit is the biggest lineup yet, featuring headliners like jazz legend Herbie Hancock and rock ’n’ roll singer-songwriter Grace Potter. The daylong concert also features country artist Nikki Lane, San Francisco soul-rock outfit Con Brio—and special guest Bob Weir on Sept. 8. Take the long, strange trip to the Mountain Theatre, 801 Panoramic Hwy., Mill Valley. 11am–7pm. $55–$110. soundsummit.net.

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Rooted in ranching and farming traditions, this touring event intersects the cowboy life with music and entertainment. Performers include Gail Steiger, Stephanie Davis, Amy Auker and Rodney Nelson, all of whom embody the history and modern relevance of cowboy culture. Yee-haw! Sept. 8. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. 7pm. $20. lincolntheater.com.

National Heirloom Exposition  Dubbed the “World’s Pure Food Fair,” this massive expo of food providers and enthusiasts brings together chef demonstrations, pure-food displays, live music, a giant-pumpkin contest, antique tractors and plenty of tasty tidbits, all to benefit school gardening programs. Sept. 11–13. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $15–$30; kids free. theheirloomexpo.com.


Chautauqua Revue  The revue is back and still finds ways to include new twists with musicians, dancers, storytellers, performers and clowns to keep audiences on their toes while honoring the traditions of the original Chautauqua events from a hundred years ago. This event always sells out, so act fast. Sept. 12–15. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, 15290 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. Wednesday–Saturday, 7:30pm; children’s matinee, Saturday, 2pm. Evenings, $25 and up; matinee, $10 and up. 707.874.1557.

Sonoma Film Institute  The oldest film repertory in the North Bay hosts another season of screenings featuring classics of contemporary cinema. The Academy Award–nominated German film In the Fade screens on Sept. 14 and 16. Renowned documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman appears in person to screen his classic doc High School on Sept 28. Several experimental-animation films show in the “Music for the Eyes” program on Oct. 5 and 7, and other films on the fall schedule include 1953’s Tokyo Story, 1997’s Eve’s Bayou and the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis. See you there. Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Fridays, 7pm; Sundays, 4pm. Free admission; $5 donations welcomed. sfi.sonoma.edu.

Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival  As its namesake implies, this event is all about the beer—the crafty stuff from our parts. A short list of North Bay brewer participants includes HenHouse, Lagunitas, 101 North, Fieldwork, Headlands, Heretic, Plow, Fogbelt and Bear Republic. Quaff a pint, eat some food and listen to the live music. Then go jump in the river—this event is guaranteed to be hot and full of hops. Sept. 15, Water Street, Petaluma (21 and over only). 1–5pm. $40; $20 for designated drivers. petalumarivercraftbeerfest.org.

Old Grove Festival  It’s hard to find better acoustics in the heart of the Armstrong Woods than the 1930s-era, open-air Redwood Forest Theater, home of the annual Old Grove Festival. New Monsoon headlines the event, with the Kathy Kallick Band opening the night. Do you need still more music? Well, this year, San Francisco’s Noise Pop is bringing veteran indie rockers Built to Spill to the redwoods for a concert—with surprise guests also on tap. Bring flashlights, seat cushions and warm clothes. Sept. 15–16. Redwood Forest Theater, 17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville. 5pm. $35–$80. 707.869.9177.

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival  Sculpture, paintings, ceramics and photography from some 150 artists are on display under the redwoods at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. This 62nd annual festival also includes live music by Wendy DeWitt and Kirk Harwood, Jinx Jones, Jeffrey Halford & the Healers, among others, with a children’s grove of activities to make this a true family-friendly festival. All profits go to local schools and charities. Sept. 15–16. Old Mill Park, 352 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. 10am–5pm. $8–$12; kids under 12, free. mvfaf.org.

Petaluma Poetry Walk

The popular bipedal-powered literary event is back for its 23rd year. More than 20 regional poets and authors offer readings throughout downtown Petaluma, all within easy walking distance of each other. The day kicks off at Hotel Petaluma’s Ballroom and wraps up at Aqus Cafe. Sept. 16. 11am–8pm. Free. Check website for full list of venues and schedule. petalumapoetrywalk.org.

Santa Rosa Toy Con  Nerd-tastic convention offers three buildings stuffed with comics, toys, games and collectibles from over 200 vendors. Special guests include original Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow star LeVar Burton, cult actor Lou Diamond Phillips, Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte, former Creature Features host John Stanley—and dozens of award-winning comic book writers and artists. There’s also the annual cosplay competition, the Lego exhibition and more in store. Sept. 22. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Early-bird opening at 9am. $25; regular opening, 10am. $15. santarosatoycon.com.


Sonoma County Philharmonic  Community-based nonprofit organization revels in its 20th season of orchestral performances—and has a full season of fun and fanfare in store. First, conductor Norman Gamboa leads the symphony in the “Celebration!” program, with mezzo-soprano vocalist Sonia Gariaeff on Sept. 22–23. Next, special guest oboist Jesse Barrett joins the philharmonic for “A Hero’s Life” on Nov. 17–18. Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Auditorium, 1235 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm. $10–$15; students, free. Socophil.org.


Sonoma Harvest Music Festival  The music lovers at B.R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma Valley teamed up with the festival aficionados at BottleRock to conjure up this intimate weekend of live music, food, wine and communal vibes. Saturday’s lineup includes music by indie-folk sibs the Avett Brothers and upbeat ensemble Lake Street Dive, while Sunday’s lineup features sets by harmonizing indie-rockers the Head & the Heart and instrumental duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Sept. 22–23. 15000 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen. Tickets are sold-out; ticket exchange information is available at sonomaharvestmusicfestival.com.


Italian Film Festival  Short of booking a flight to Naples, this long-running event is your best chance to savor the Italian experience and features a raft of critically acclaimed Italian comedies and dramas. The festival runs on the weekends, Sept. 22–Nov. 3. Marin Center Showcase Theater, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Showtimes vary. $16 per day; $120 for a series ticket. italianfilm.com.


Sonoma Bach Choir  ​Led by musical director Robert Worth, the classical collective presents a season titled “Light Out of Darkness,” which sets out to celebrate music as a torch of inspiration amidst troubled times. And, boy, are we living in those. The opening recital, “Tokens of Peace,” features the Live Oak Baroque orchestra and countertenor Christopher Fritzsche on Sept. 23. For Thanksgiving, the Sonoma Bach Choir joins the orchestra for “I Fear Namore (No More) the Night,” which features several selections from the Bach man himself on Nov. 16–17. Schroeder Hall, Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park. 707.303.4604.


Whistlestock  The annual benefit concert for Marin’s Whistlestop has a reputation as a not-to-be missed event. The 2018 lineup includes legendary local performer Elvin Bishop fronting his Big Fun Trio, with other local favorites Matt Jaffe and Bella B opening. Lots of food trucks, beverage options and groovy vibes round out the benefit. Sept. 24. Marin Center Fairgrounds, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 12:30pm. $69 and up. tickets.marincenter.org.


Stepping Out to Celebrate Life  Breast-cancer foundation To Celebrate Life’s gala fundraiser returns for its 23rd year with the theme “Hollywood: An Evening of Glitz & Glamour.” Cocktails and a silent auction kick off the night, followed by a fashion show featuring men and women diagnosed with breast cancer. Vybe Society provides the music for dancing, and a live auction will raise money to support underserved breast-cancer patients. Sept. 29. Marin Center Exhibit Hall, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 5:30pm. $275. tocelebratelife.org.


Mill Valley Film Festival  Presented by the California Film Institute, this 41st annual event is always full of stars, and features the best of indie- and world-cinema screenings at several Marin venues. Films in the festival can include a presentation of a new independent film Wildlife and a Q&A with director-writer Paul Dano and actress Carey Mulligan. Several musical acts are also in the works, complementing the on-screen program with concerts each night at Sweetwater—including an appearance by Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, who will introduce his documentary JARV IS. Oct. 4–14. mvff.com.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair  Hit up the World Championship Grape Stomp competition, sip some wine in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, go local and peruse the Wine Country Marketplace or simply get down to some swingin’ music at this 44th annual event. Oct 5–7, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Friday, 4–9pm; Saturday–Sunday, 11am–5pm. $5; kids 12 and under, free. Tasting Pavilion tickets, $60. harvestfair.org.

Santa Rosa Symphony  The acclaimed symphony’s 91st season features new music director and conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, who takes the baton and leads the orchestra in the classical program “Passion & Power,” with guest violinist Arnaud Sussmann, on Oct. 6–8, followed by “Dancing Across Time,” with guest guitarist Sharon Isbin, on Nov. 3–5. The performances include a pre-concert talk with the conductor. Weill Hall at Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Times vary, $24 and up. srsymphony.org.

Mill Valley Chamber Music Society  In addition to the ever-popular outreach programs in Marin schools and the Marin Music Chest gala, the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society has presented its annual chamber concert series for 46 years. This season opens with a performance by the internationally renowned Zemlinsky Quartet on Oct. 14, followed by a concert featuring the ATOS Trio on Nov 4. Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, 410 Sycamore Ave., Mill Valley. 5pm. $35, subscriptions available. 800.838.3006.

The Best of San Francisco Solo Series  Known for his one-man shows, Brian Copeland presents the Bay Area’s most critically acclaimed, award-winning and beloved solo shows for an exclusive run, starting with his own show, The Waiting Period, which explores depression from a deeply personal perspective. Oct. 14. Marin Center Showcase Theater, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Tickets available as a series only. 415.473.6800.

National Bioneers Conference  Learn about groundbreaking ideas and discuss building a blueprint for sustainable systems with other innovative environmental and sustainability visionaries. Notable speakers include acid-head author Michael Pollan, Google Earth director Rebecca Moore, #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, and others. Oct. 19–21. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. conference.bioneers.org.

Marin Symphony  The orchestra marks a new season of Masterworks concert performances with a program titled “Brilliant” that features renowned violinist Dylana Jenson performing works by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. Oct. 27–28. Marin Center’s Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm. $25 and up; kids, $20 and up. 415.473.6800.


Marin Homeless Aid  The second-annual benefit concert to help alleviate homelessness in Marin County promises a fun-filled, musically packed evening with live performances from throwback tribute bands and North Bay favorites Fleetwood Mask and the Illeagles. Nov. 3. Marin Center’s Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 7pm. $20–$50. 415.473.6800.

Wine & Food Affair  Nearly a hundred local wineries from the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys open their doors for another delicious extravaganza featuring two of the best things in the world. Wine samples are met with a special food pairing to go with the pours. Hosted by Wine Road, the event always sells out, so nab tickets as early as Aug. 29, when they go on sale. The affair commences Nov. 3–4. Various locations in Sonoma County. 11am–4pm. $30–$80. wineroad.com.

New Century Chamber Orchestra  The 19-member string orchestra comprised of acclaimed Bay Area musicians kicks off its 2018–19 season with a guest appearance by British violinist Anthony Marwood as concertmaster in a program that features Dvorák’s beloved “Serenade for Strings,” and more, on Nov. 4 at Osher Marin JCC. Performances continue through May 2019. 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 3pm. $29 and up, season subscriptions available. 415.392.4400.


Napa Valley Film Festival  The North Bay’s top film-food-wine triumvirate of joy returns to Napa Valley with 120 films playing in four towns over the course of five days. Do the math: it’s awesome. Red-carpet screenings, sneak previews, industry panels, gala parties and appearances by A-list Hollywood types are only the beginning. The festival also boasts several culinary and winery events to satisfy any taste. Nov. 7–11. nvff.org.

Mill Valley Philharmonic  With the retirement of founder Laurie Cohen in May, the Mill Valley Philharmonic features three prominent guest conductors for the 2018–19 season, all of whom are candidates for the artistic director position. First up, Paul Phillips leads the orchestra with guest flutist Carol Wincenc on Nov. 9–10. Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, 410 Sycamore Ave., Mill Valley. Free admission. 415.383.0930.

Warren Miller Film Tour  Warren Miller Entertainment releases its annual winter-sports film at the Mystic and the Marin Center. The 69th edition of the touring film series, “Face of Winter,” offers an inspiring celebration of wintertime sports, as the world’s best skiers and snowboarders cast shadows on the world’s biggest mountains. Nov. 17 at the Marin Center (10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael) and Nov. 23 at the Mystic Theatre (23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma). skinet.com.

Art & Exhibitions

Marin Society of Artists  A juried exhibition, “Coast to Coast,” brings work from around the country to Marin, as chosen by plein air painter Kay Carlson. Reception: Sept. 14. 1515 Third St., San Rafael. 5pm. 415.454.9561.


MarinMOCA  A new solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Zio Ziegler, “The Fourth Wall” is inspired by his study of mythological, classical and contemporary themes and is filled with intricate patterns and vivid colors. Reception: Sept. 22. 500 Palm Drive, Novato. 5pm. 415.506.0137.


Gallery Route One  The popular West Marin art gallery is currently packed with over a hundred wooden works of art in the annual “Box Show,” which features local artists utilizing a plain box for an original art piece that will be auctioned off in a closing party on Sept. 30. Next, graphic designer, monoprint and altered-book artist Dorothy Nissen, performance and visual artist Diana Marto and others come together for an exhibit that opens with a reception on Oct. 6. 11101 Hwy. 1, Point Reyes Station. 415.663.1347.

ArtWorks Downtown  Several Latino artists take issue with First Lady Melania’s recent fashion statement with a group show, “I Really Do Care, Don’t You?” that highlights humanity in the face of oppression. Reception: Oct. 12. 1337 Fourth St., San Rafael. 5pm. Free. 415.451.8119.

Clubs & Venues

Sweetwater Music Hall  Mill Valley’s historic venue continues its musical traditions with headlining performers and indie darlings all season. The Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band holds down the Nola vibe for a mini-residency, Aug. 30–Sept. 2. Continuing with the Nola rollers, Dr. John’s debut album Gris Gris gets a 50th anniversary party—with a guest list on hand to play the album, on Sept. 8. The third annual Sammy Hagar Family Acoustic Benefit for Mill Valley Schools gathers an all-star lineup on Sept. 11. John Oates performs on Sept. 27, minus Hall. And the venue hosts its own music festival this fall with the inaugural Sweetwater in the Sun, featuring Bob Weir, Steve Kimock, the Skiffle Players and many more on Sept. 23. 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley. 415.388.3850.


Gundlach Bundschu Winery  Hard to pronounce and easy to love, Gun Bun winery makes the most of its outdoor space, redwood barn and wine cave to bring the best indie rock acts from today and yesterday. Bay Area singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm, best known for leading the rock band the Gramblers, performs a solo show in support of her latest album, To Ride You Gotta Fall, on Sept. 1. Synth-pop mainstays Future Islands gets the beat going on Sept. 14. Guitar god—and founding member of the Smiths—Johnny Marr plays a solo show on Sept. 28. Indie-rock veteran Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band return to Gun Bun on Oct. 7. Eclectic indie stars Ty Segall and White Fence share the show on Oct. 11. Swedish pop sensation Lykke Li gets a groove going on Oct. 18. 200 Denmark St., Sonoma. 707.938.5277.


Fenix  The popular supper club and music venue packs in an eclectic schedule of musicians from near and far. Will Russ Jr. & the Force of Will Band salute Sam Cooke and the sound of Motown Sept. 1. Marin musical vets the Tazmanian Devils play an end of summer show Sept. 8. Guitar virtuoso Harvey Mandel, aka “the Snake,” deploys his distinct blues style Sept. 21. 919 Fourth St., San Rafael, 415.813.5600.

Mystic Theatre & Music Hall  Petaluma’s historic venue and former movie house offers a lineup of headlining performers from across the musical spectrum. Santa Rosa rock ’n’ roll veteran John Courage leads his trio in a single-release show on Sept. 1. Iconic British psychedelic pop legends​ the Zombies​ perform Sept. 8. L.A. folk-rockers Dawes hit the stage on Oct. 4. Former New York City subway “Brasshouse” buskers (and now nationally touring trio) Too Many Zooz roll in on Oct. 9. Pioneering classic-rock outfit Y&T return to the Mystic Nov. 17–18. 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707.775.6048.

Rancho Nicasio  West Marin’s favorite spot for live music is celebrating 20 years of barbecues and concerts on the lawn with a lineup that keeps things hot into the fall. The Sons of Champlin carry on their musical legacy Sept. 3. Singer-songwriter Shana Morrison joins Danny Click & the Hell Yeahs! on Sept. 9. The Mad Hannans rock out with Junk Parlor on Sept. 16. Commander Cody and His Modern Day Airmen roll into the North Bay for a rare West Coast appearance Sept. 30. 1 Old Rancheria Road, Nicasio. 415.662.2219.


Terrapin Crossroads  Founded by and often featuring Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh onstage, Terrapin features multi-talented performers and nightly shows that jam out the positive vibes. Singer-songwriter Steve Poltz makes his Terrapin debut Sept. 7. Nashville star Langhorne Slim gets down to business Sept. 13. Holly Bowling, a classically trained pianist best known for transcribing the music of Phish and the Grateful Dead, offers an intimate solo show Sept. 23. Local luminary Melvin Seals celebrates his birthday with two nights of concerts featuring Melvin & JGB and the Rock Collection Sept. 28–29. Minneapolis based singer-songwriter Mason Jennings plays in support of his new album, Songs from When We Met, Oct. 19. 100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael. 415.524.2773.


Green Music Center  Sonoma State University’s world-class music center, centered by the stunning Weill Hall, hosts another season of top-tier artists from around the world. Lyle Lovett brings his Large Band to perform on Sept. 8. Americana act Bumper Jacksons headline the Banjos & Bourbon benefit for music programs at the center on Sept. 15. R&B powerhouse Tower of Power celebrate their 50th anniversary, with special guest the Average White Band in concert on Sept. 22. Afro-Mexican outfit Las Cafeteras moves to the rhythm on Sept. 28. South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir returns to Rohnert Park on Oct. 12. And last but definitely not least, folk icon Joan Baez appears as part of her Fare Thee Well Tour on Nov. 11. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 866.955.6040.

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts  The Burbank welcomes an array of veteran talent from the world of music and more this fall. Music-producer extraordinaire T Bone Burnett takes audiences on a tour of his work and collaborations with musicians across all genres, in a special storytelling program on Sept. 9. Nineties rockers Gin Blossoms and Big Head Todd & the Monsters share the bill on Sept. 13. Singer-songwriter Norah Jones croons to the crowd on Sept. 20. Roots and country star Alison Krauss appears Oct. 6. Dance and pop superstar Paula Abdul returns to the stage in a new tour that stops in the North Bay on Nov. 7. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 707.546.3600.

Uptown Theatre  Napa’s Art Deco landmark welcomes musicians and comedians from all parts to the region, through the fall. Genre-defying rockers the Mavericks perform Sept. 12. Late-night TV host Craig Ferguson appears as part of his Hobo Fabulous tour Sept. 16. Guitar virtuoso Robben Ford lays down the blues on Sept. 22. Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and ’60s pop icons Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes throw it back to the good old days on Oct. 9. Filmmaker Kevin Smith, recently recovered from a heart attack, and Ralph Garman appear for a live recording of their podcast Hollywood Babble-On, rescheduled form earlier this year, on Nov. 16. Todd Rundgren gets characteristically unpredictable in concert, Nov. 18. 1350 Third St., Napa. 707.259.0123.


Blue Note Napa  The Napa emporium of fine music offers close-up and personal performances by an array of musicians from genres that include blues, jazz, funk and soul. Chart-topping vocalist Brian McKnight offers three nights of musical harmony Sept. 27–29. Acclaimed jazz experimenter Rachel Eckroth plays an album-release show on Oct. 18. Songwriter-producers Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, who’ve worked with the likes of Celine Dion and Bruno Mars, step behind the mic for the first time as Louis York for a Halloween party Oct. 31. Comedy vet and actress Sandra Bernhard appears for two nights as part of her latest “Sandemonium” standup tour, Nov. 16–17. 1030 Main St., Napa. 707.880.2300.


Main Stage West  The Sebastopol theater house kicks off its fall season with a world premiere of the raucous comedy Savage Wealth, in which two brothers run into all sorts of obstacles trying to sell their Tahoe home, Aug. 31–Sept. 16. Then, David Lear directs the warm and humane drama The Night Alive, about two rundown individuals who try to make more of their lives together, Oct. 12–28. 104 N. Main St., Sebastopol. 707.823.0177.


Cinnabar Theater  The revered Petaluma theater presents the infamous Kit Kat Klub in pre-WWII Germany, which serves as the backdrop to the blockbuster musical Cabaret, Aug. 31–Sept. 16. Then, director Taylor Korobow returns to Cinnabar to helm the deeply emotional story of The Great God Plan, Oct. 12–28. 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707.763.8920.


Left Edge Theatre  Continuing in the tradition of the longtime Santa Rosa company Actors’ Theatre, Left Edge presents a season of imaginative productions that push the envelope on a local level. British comedy hit The Naked Truth makes its U.S. premiere Sept. 7–30. Multi-award-winning comedy Hand to God, featuring a hand puppet possessed by the Devil, runs Oct. 19–Nov. 11. Unhand me, Satan! 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 707.546.3600.


Novato Theater Company  The community theater group, whose local roots date to 1919, break out the 2018–19 season with arguably the most celebrated American musical ever, A Chorus Line, Sept. 7–30. Then things take a turn for the confrontational in the tightly constructed couples’ comedy God of Carnage, running Oct. 26–Nov. 18. 5420 Nave Drive, Novato. 855.682.8491.


6th Street Playhouse  Housed in the heart of Railroad Square in Santa Rosa—and right on the SMART line—the popular playhouse continues to engage the community with plays and musicals designed to delight and entertain. Classic Broadway musical Guys & Dolls rolls the dice and rocks the boat Sept. 14–Oct. 7. Everyone’s favorite orphan, Annie, sings about tomorrow, the sun and how it’s coming out, Nov. 23–Dec. 16. 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 707.523.4185.

Marin Theatre Company  MTC produces provocative and passionate works from the best playwrights of the 20th century and today. The season opens with the West Coast premiere of Oslo, about the true yet widely unknown story of a young Norwegian couple’s negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords. Sept. 27–Oct. 21. Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon continue the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the world premiere of The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, Nov. 15–Dec. 9. 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. 415.388.5208.

Ross Valley Players  The players present a season packed with classic works, and open with two of the most beloved comedies in the history of theater. First, Shakespeare’s classic of mistaken identity, Twelfth Night, runs Sept. 28–Oct. 21. Then, Neil Simon’s side-splittingly funny The Odd Couple runs Nov. 16–Dec. 16. 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. 415.456.9555.

College of Marin Performing Arts  The school’s cultural intersection of dance, theater and art makes for truly inspired performances. This season, the college presents a unique tale of love and folklore from Bay Area playwright Marisela Treviño Orta, The River Bride, part of a series of fairy tales inspired by the Latino mythology that’s part of Orta’s heritage. Sept. 28–Oct. 14. College of Marin Studio Theater, 835 College Ave., Kentfield. 415.457.8811.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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