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Marching into Spring with Music

Here in Sonoma County, we’re so darn lucky with the weather that the arrival of spring seems more like a formality than an actual event.

While other parts of the nation must deal with record-breaking freezes, it’s business as usual for the North Bay — namely sunshine always around the corner, great food, incredible wine, and the finest in musical entertainment, of course.

This month’s picks are as innovative as ever, and one that exemplifies the embarrassment of cultural riches we have here. Is your March trip to Sonoma Wine Country planned yet?

Saturday, March 7

Bettye Lavette
Mystic Theatre, Petaluma
You may have heard Bettye Lavette performing “Most of the Time” on the recent, massive Bob Dylan tribute album or perhaps bringing down the house at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Roger Daltrey.

But you might not know that the 69-year-old soul singer has been singing professionally since 1962, when she had some chart success and toured with Otis Redding and Ben E. King. After a successful career in Broadway, Lavette got back into recording, culminating in her 2005 album I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, which led to the career resurgence that’s driving her current tour. Book your trip now to see this unsung soul legend in one of Sonoma County’s best intimate venues.

Sunday, March 8

Stewart Copeland and Jon Kimura Parker
Weill Hall at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center, Rohnert Park
While many fans of the Police think of frontman Sting as the jazzy one, Stewart Copeland’s exceptional drumming was really the agile backbone of the trio’s eclectic sound. The drummer extraordinaire and master pianist Jon Kimura Parker bring their acclaimed Off the Score program to the Green Music Center.

The half-improvised show combines Copeland originals, classical music standards, and even Police hits to present something truly enthralling and original. The duo is joined by a quintet that includes the incredible Yoon Kwon, whose electric violin will surely have you seeing the spirit in Hendrix in modern form. Do not miss this show. Click here for more info.

Friday, March 13

Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen
Occidental Center for the Arts, Occidental
While you may not know Steve Gillette or his unique finger-picking guitar style, you’ve surely heard his songs, which have been covered by John Denver, Garth Brooks, Linda Ronstadt, and Tammy Wynette, among others.

If that wasn’t endorsement enough, the baritone singer is also joined by multi-instrumentalist Cindy Mangsen, who is known as one of the finest contemporary folk musicians working today. Get tickets now for a showcase that covers their six albums together and traditional folk numbers. Couldn’t you use a little more musical excellence in your life?

Friday, March 20

Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa
Bach? Vivaldi? AC/DC? It’s all the same to the Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, also known as 2CELLOS. This dynamic duo has helped drive a new appreciation for cellos in a modern context, thanks in part to their YouTube videos of renditions of songs such as Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. The buzz led to a record deal, an opening act stint for Elton John, and even a guest starring spot on TV’s Glee — which resulted in a Top 10 Billboard single.

The Santa Rosa show will center on the duo’s sophomore album IN2ITION, a stunning set that boasts guest stars like Steve Vai and Glee’s Naya Rivera. Skip the latest rock band and see this singular musical force instead.

Sunday, March 22

Mystic Theatre, Petaluma
Tribute bands are a mixed bag, but the finest ones put their own stamp on others’ material to create something truly unique. Metal-achi is that rare group that presents something original.

While the legend of the brothers Espinoza is a long and storied one, what we know is they present vibrant, mariachi renditions of some of the great heavy metal classics, from Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” complete with searing violin and scorching horns.

Metal fans watching them for the first time will be stunned, and then converted by their passion, faithfulness to the material, and their hilariously oversized hats. Trust me — you need to see this band as soon as possible. Click here for more info.

Find more info about things to do in Sonoma County.

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