Sebastiani Theatre celebrates 80 years

It was April 7, 1934, when the doors first opened for what would become one of the most historic icons on the Sonoma Plaza, the Sebastiani Theatre, with the first movie screened being “The Fugitive Lovers” for a mere entrance fee of 30 cents.

Built in the heart of the Great Depression under the direction of Samuele Sebastiani, it’s just one of the jewels that the Sebastiani family legacy has left Sonoma, and it’s in good shape now, but that was not always the case. In the 1960s, the popularity of television almost brought around the demise of the theatre, with many nights having fewer than seven tickets sold.

In 1983, the City of Sonoma had the chance to purchase the building from Sam Sebastiani, Samuele’s grandson, but opted to let a company from the East Bay purchase the building and entered into a lease with the new owners, who own the property to this day. The Mission Hardware building fire in 1991 almost took the theatre with it, and led to a number of building issues that in 1993, again threatened the demise of the historic single screen theatre, until in stepped Roger Rhoten.

Rhoten negotiated with the new landlords, and not always easily, to make the building repairs and installed a state-of-the-art Dolby sound system and modern projection equipment, all at his own expense.

Since then Rhoten and his wife, Diana, along with numerous “Friends of the Theatre” have kept the theatre afloat with a number of fundraisers and programs that actually make the theatre pay for itself, kind of.

This Saturday, April 19, is another one of those fundraisers, a variety show promising music, magic, dance and more. The show features performances by notable local talents including Tommy Thompson with Cliff Hugo and Gary Vogensen, Jeff Gilbert, known as “The Last Crooner.” Nathalie Tedrick of the Bellydance Superstars, Tobias Weinberger, the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance, the Defying Gravity Gals, vocalist-guitarist Laura Benward, washboard player extraordinaire Peter Babcock, Voices in Our Head, the hauntingly glorious voice of Misty and Roger Rhoten himself, billed as “The Magic Man!” The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the theatre box office. For more info, call 996-9756.

It’s being called the “Spring Celebration” at the Moose Lodge on Saturday, April 19, and will feature a number of local acts, including Fallen Anjel with Alex Garcia and Sven Berrig, Ten Foot Tone, Sue Albano, Lynne Orweller, Don Trotta and belly dancing by Nathalie Tedrick and Lilly Goessling. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the door.

The Annex Wine Bar has Dawn Angelosante and Dierdre Egan tonight, April 18, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 19, it’s Kelly Ann Miller also for a 7:30 p.m. show. There is no cover for any of the shows but the venue is 21 and over.

Burgers and Vine has two shows this weekend, starting tonight, April 18, with the No Buenos doing an electric set with a full band. Saturday, April 19, it’s Ragtag Sullivan. Showtime both nights is 9:30 p.m.

The Erik James Tasting Room has music tonight, April 18, with the Left Coast Syncopators, featuring “Snakebite” Jacobs, Tim Eschliman, Kevin Zuffi and Mark Rosengarden, kicking off at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 19, it’s Macy Blackman, also for a 7 p.m. show. There is no cover either night.

Murphy’s Irish Pub presents Out of the Blue tonight, April 18, for an 8 p.m. show. Saturday, April 19 it’s the Perfect Crime, also at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 20, it’s an early show kicking off at 6:30 p.m. with Tony Gibson and Dawn Angelosante.

The Epicurean Connection presents Keady Phelan tonight, April 18, for a 7:30 p.m. show. Saturday, April 19, it’s T-Luke and the Tight Suits also for a 7:30 p.m. start.

HopMonk Tavern Sonoma opens the beer garden stage this weekend for the season, with Nate Lopez kicking it off today, April 18, for a 5 p.m. show. Later, on the tavern stage, it’s Clay Bell at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 19, the garden stage welcomes Carb and Swarthy, for a 1 p.m. show. Later on the tavern stage it’s Jeff Campbell for an 8:30 p.m. show. Sunday, April 20, the garden stage has Craig Corona for a 1 p.m. show. There is no cover and the shows are family-friendly.

The Plaza Bistro welcomes Jeff Massanari tonight, April 18, for an 8 p.m. show. Massanari has performed with many of the Bay Area’s premier vocalists and instrumentalists, including Charles McNeil, Vince Lateano, Jeff Chambers and more. In addition to performing with his own groups, Massanari regularly plays with the Johnny Nocturne Band, the Murasaki Ensemble, Swing Fever and others. There is no cover for the show.

The Blue Moon Saloon presents the continuation of the blues jam, starting at 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 20. There is no cover.

The Cork Pullers are in Cotati at the Redwood Cafe Saturday, April 19, kicking off at 4 p.m.

If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it. Hit me up at jmberry@sonomamusic.com.

• • •

J. M. Berry knows the local music scene. He also knows website services and social media marketing. Check out his other skills at jmberry.com.


 J.M. Berry's Hot 45s

Editor’s Note: While there is no shortage of great concerts in Sonoma, sometimes it is fun to get out of the Valley. Here’s what you can hear within 45 minutes of fair Sonoma.

 Melvin Seals and JGB – Saturday, April 19;

HopMonk Tavern – Sebastopol; 829-7300

Shane Dwight – Friday, April 18; Biscuits & Blues – San Francisco;


Pat Travers – Wednesday, April 23; Biscuits & Blues – San Francisco;


Motorhead – Friday, April 18; The Warfield – San Francisco;


Cyril Neville – Sunday, April 20; Mystic Theatre – Petaluma; 765-2121

San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers – Saturday, April 19; Napa Valley Performing Arts Center – Yountville;


Jefferson Starship 40th Lightyear Celebration – Sunday, April 20;

Sweetwater Music Hall – Mill Valley;


Aimee Mann and Billy Collins – Friday, April 18;

Wells Fargo Center – Santa Rosa; 546-3600

Tudo Bem – Saturday, April 19; Rio Nido Roadhouse – Rio Nido;