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Sonoma’s Reel Fish Shop and Grill to expand its live music programming

Upcoming show dates at the Reel:

4/20 - Achilles Wheel

4/21 - Don Carlos

4/22 - Jazz Brunch (2x monthly)

5/4 - Ray Charles Project

5/11 - Music of Jerry Garcia: Joe Craven and the Sumptimers

5/25 - McKenna Faith

5/26 - The Wailing Souls

A full house of locals and visitors welcomed New Orleans band Dumpstaphunk to the Reel Fish Shop and Grill in March. The seven piece band, fronted by a couple of Nevilles – a kinda famous musical family – kicked and thumped its way through a full set of lively, funk-infused tunes. Two bass players (!) and a drummer provided a relentless Crescent City beat, two horns spiced the arrangements, and guitar and keys colored the songs. Yep, they tore it up. The Reel was jumpin.’

When the Reel venue was called Little Switzerland under its former ownership, the place was also jumpin.’ The difference was that the Little Switzerland crowd was digging the polka music for which the place was so famous.

Recently, at Reel Fish Shop’s spacious dining room, owners Aiki and Hillary Terashima and burgeoning music empressario Howard Sapper talked about their goals for one of Sonoma’s largest indoor music venues.

The trio recently formed a partnership with the expressed goal of bringing lots of music to the Reel – four nights a week, as a matter of fact.

They promise more of the Dumpstaphunk-level of reknown: well-known national acts who are lured to Sonoma for the night. They also plan on hosting the great local bands that call Sonoma home.

And, once a month on a Sunday… polka!

The Terashimas opened the Reel in January of 2017, saying their focus was on the restaurant end of the operation.

Their laser focus has certainly panned out. Aiki has a knack for selecting the freshest seafood, and preparing it in delicious and creative ways.

They have a bar that rivals the best in the Valley, with Enrique Padilla supervising the operation. New sound equipment has been installed, including baffles on the ceiling.

There are plans to bring in curtains, enabling smaller, more intimate performance spaces to be created.

And with an ample stage and the biggest dance floor in the Valley, they are now poised to begin bringing in bands that will delight local music lovers, and those from miles away.

Sapper has more than 40 years experience in the music industry. He has been the honcho of record companies, including Domo Music Group, and CEO of the Harmony Festival.

Sapper has extensive experience in the entertainment business, has managed artists, and worked with producers from all over the world. To the trio, Sapper brings years of experience presenting live music, particularly rock and roll.

His connections with other promoters and agents are going to prove invaluable, as the Reel seeks out and subsequently books bands that have traditionally passed Sonoma by.

Sapper and the Terashimas intend to make The Reel a clubhouse of sorts, with “you belong here,” a quote of Sapper’s, being the catchphrase. Sapper also said that they want it to be an “incubator of great creative stuff.” They want the community to feel that the room and the stage is open to whatever needs they have. School presentations, musical club meetings, perhaps even an open mic night. They plan to offer a monthly “jazz brunch.”

Up next? On Friday night, the Northern California roots and world music/rock and roll jam band Achilles Wheel takes the stage.

Upcoming show dates at the Reel:

4/20 - Achilles Wheel

4/21 - Don Carlos

4/22 - Jazz Brunch (2x monthly)

5/4 - Ray Charles Project

5/11 - Music of Jerry Garcia: Joe Craven and the Sumptimers

5/25 - McKenna Faith

5/26 - The Wailing Souls

On Saturday night, legendary Jamaican raeggae artist Don Carlos is expected to pack the room.

The Reel is the second largest venue in town, after Gundlach Bundschu’s Redwood Barn. Capacity for shows at the Reel is 288 seated, and 325 for a standing or dancing show. Being a restaurant, they allow minors, but Sapper said that some shows that start later in the night, will be 21 and over.

Some of the shows, particularly the Thursday night local acts, will be free. For the other shows, the ticket prices average between $12 and $35, and can be purchased online at thereelfishshop.com.

The Terashimas and Sapper hope to offer live music four nights a week going forward. Thursdays will be for local and regional acts. Fridays and Saturdays will feature more well-known national acts.

And polka will be back once a month.

The Terashimas are aware that, in the Reel, they are stewards of a wonderful musical history dating back to Little Switzerland and more recently Rossi’s 1906. They have spoken with people who held weddings there, who held wakes there, who held memorable celebrations there.

In keeping with that history, they want to make the Reel a vibrant community place, a “center of the community,” as Hillary put it.

They want to address the needs of the locals, both patrons and musicians. They want to make the Reel the real deal.