Just because her dad wrote many radio hits of the ’70s classic rock era, don’t expect Lara Johnston to be riding his coattails. The young singer-songwriter is blazing a musical career all her own, with her first Sonoma Plaza appearance tonight, May 23, at Burgers and Vine at 9:30 p.m. Johnston has been paying her dues by touring extensively, both as a solo act opening for acts such as KISS and Heart, and as a backing vocalist for Don Henley, Belinda Carlisle and others. Johnston has also shared the bill with Luke Bryan, Willie Nelson and Journey. In September of 2012, Johnston was selected from more than 7,500 competitors as the first Grand Prize Winner of the “Unsigned Only Competition” for her song, “K.I.S.S.” In Feb. of 2013, that song and “Here at the End of the World” were chosen from over 20,000 entries as finalists in the famed International Songwriting Competition. K.I.S.S. went on to win first place in the Adult Contemporary division. She also appeared at the 2013 SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Since then, she has been focusing on her debut album, due out soon, but you can catch a glimpse of her sound before tonight’s show by pointing your browser to larajohnston.com. There is no cover for the show.
It’s a busy weekend at Burgers and Vine, with western swing hall of fame member Tommy Thomsen taking the stage on Saturday, May 24, also at 9:30 p.m. A hometown Sonoma boy, Thomsen grew up at a time when small town values were still a way of life in the Valley of the Moon. As a child, his first instrument was the piano. He studied the classics and worked his way up to performing Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody at his last recital. After his mother, Jean, aka “Big Red,” taught him to play a mean “Boogie Woogie,” he segued into all things Americana. He leapt from Liszt to Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Runnin’” and never looked back. As a teen, he took up guitar and began his first professional band, The Headsman, incorporating Texas Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll classics. There is no cover for that show as well.
Sunday afternoon at Burgers and Vine, it’s delta blues with 3 on a Match, for an early show at 3 p.m. Describing themselves as “from Dylan to Delta,” the act is “Smokin’” Joe Herrschaft on vocals and harmonica, Paul Christopulos on guitar and Mikey Cannon on drums. There is no cover.
Muscardini Cellars in Kenwood is presenting another “Wine Down Friday” tonight, May 23, with the WildKats for a 5 p.m. show. The admission charge includes a glass of wine and picnic baskets are encouraged.
Sebastiani Winery and Vineyards has music in the tasting room tonight, May 23, with Mike Z and the Benders, kicking off at 6 p.m. There is no cover and the venue is child- and dog-friendly.
The Annex Wine Bar has Ralph Cetola and Krazy Kat tonight, May 23, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24, it’s the DaveEdJohn Quartet, also for a 7:30 p.m. show. There is no cover for any of the shows but the venue is 21 and over.
The Erik James Tasting Room has music tonight, May 23, with the Left Coast Syncopators, featuring “Snakebite” Jacobs, Tim Eschliman and Kevin Zuffi, kicking off at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 24, it’s Austin deLone, Tim Eshliman and Bowen Brown, also for a 7 p.m. show. There is no cover either night.