Music Happenings in Sonoma County in February
by David Sason
Eclectic Choices for Valentines and Music Lovers
This winter has brought an embarrassment of riches to Sonoma County. While the rest of the country discusses snow-shovel techniques, it’s business as usual for us Wine Country folks: idyllic weather, freshly popped corks, killer cuisine, and incredible entertainment to rival any metropolitan locale.
Despite the drought, wine and incredible music are flowing this February. Music lovers from within the area and beyond have endless choices for romantic mood music or a soundtrack to Black History Month. Here’s a smattering of the top Sonoma County music picks:
Saturday, Feb. 1
The shortest month begins with one of the longest band rosters. 14 members — four singers plus a full horn section — keep the King of Pop’s legacy alive and dancing in the aisles.
The same day, an even larger group of groove-meisters brings the spirit and sound of Fela Kuti to Sonoma County. Nigerian Afrobeat veteran Geoffrey Omadhebo leads the 15-piece orchestra.
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Many types of love abound in the Sonoma County music calendar, including the brotherly love of Americana duo the Wood Brothers. Bassist and vocalist Chris Wood — of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame — celebrates a masterfully rootsy decade-plus of music with his versatile singer-guitarist brother Oliver.
Friday, Feb. 7
The North Bay’s “Best World/Reggae band” (2010 NORBAY awards - North Bay Bohemian) gets Sonoma County jamming in celebration of the legend’s birthday.
Saturday, Feb. 8
Three unique crooners work through jazz, pop, and blues standards in an evening sure to please fans of raw vocal talent. Leave the singing contents on the tube and head to Occidental for a pre-Valentine’s Day night, replete with champagne and sweets.
Sunday, Feb. 9
Kicking off Valentine’s week is the romantic British pop singer who rivals Tom Jones as the senior citizen best qualified to put an all-ages crowd in the mood for love. 150 million record buyers can’t be wrong.
The much-acclaimed French counter-tenor joins the world-renowned period instrument ensemble for “A Legendary Battle,” which pits compositions of Farinelli & Porpora against those of Carestini & Handel.
Tuesday, Feb. 11
Originally from Vermont, this bluegrass trio has graced the stage of every major festival from Bonnaroo to Lollapalooza. It’s no wonder, since their sound has been accurately described as “garage-y ragtime, punkified blues, old n’ new timey without settling upon a particular era.” Sounds like a date night to reckon with.
Thursday, Feb. 13
Since the early ’90s, country and western master Junior Brown has been entrenched in Austin’s ever-fertile music scene. He graces Sonoma County with his versatile catalogue and the “Guit-Steel,” his standard and steel string invention that keeps him nimble onstage.
Friday, Feb. 14
Old-time jazz and western swing will get you and your date off the wall this Valentine’s Day. Come early for free swing dancing lessons and stick around for bubbly and goodies.
The Grammy award-winning New Age pioneer performs some of his most beloved compositions backed by a full orchestra. Enjoy romantic soundscapes at this benefit for Sonoma Land Trust, Everybody is a Star Foundation, and local music education programs.
This ain’t your grandma’s Zep. This sexy Led-Zeppelin-themed show features burlesque dancers from Cabaret de Caliente and a dance party helmed by DJ Zack Darling.
Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma
For over a decade, this Canadian fusion-folk band has been combining everything from gospel and soul to samba and zydeco to the delight of international audiences.
New Wave luminary Dave Wakeling and company always deliver, and this Valentine’s Day should prove no different. Picture it now: dancing cheek-to-cheek to “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save It for Later” and “Tenderness” before a romantic stroll through downtown Petaluma. Sigh.
Saturday, Feb. 15
Long before his major hit “She’s Royal” became a modern reggae classic, the second-generation roots reggae singer (son of Jimmie Riley) was a dancehall DJ, and his ability to keep the crowd engaged is evident from his celebrated live show.
Friday, Feb. 21
The Blues Defenders
Twin Oaks Tavern, Penngrove
There’s simply nothing like hearing the delta blues in Sonoma Wine Country. This gritty roadhouse quintet is comprised of some of the most accomplished blues players around.
Saturday, Feb. 22
Siberian Surf Rock? No matter how kooky it sounds, the music of this Russian group has inspired devoted fans around the world. Frontman Igor Yuzov claims Elvis Presley himself came to him a dream, urging him to play rock n’ roll. Has he been touched by the king? You be the judge.
Sunday, Feb. 23
World-renowned French piano master Jean-Yves Thibaudet returns to Sonoma State’s beautiful venue. Backing him this visit is the Bahia Orchestra Project, a Latin youth orchestra making their anticipated stateside debut.
Friday, Feb. 28
It’s sad that George Harrison didn’t live to see this age of “album-in-its-entirety” treatments, but Sonoma County has the next best thing. Steve Pile and his band Lazyman play the first two records of All Things Must Pass, after the Old Soul Revue preps the crowd with early Fab Four numbers. The quiet Beatle? Not this night.
Gillette’s songs have been covered by Garth Brooks, John Denver and the great Tammy Wynette, while Mangsen has been lauded as one of American folk’s finest singers. This dynamic duo plays originals and celebrated classics to close out an amazing month of music in Sonoma County.