It’s been happening since 1897 in some form or another. Debating whether it’s been happening continuously since then will likely get you into a fist fight with an old-timer, but one thing is for sure. The second longest running festival in the State of California celebrating the harvest of the grapes, second only to the Tournament of Roses, the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival begins tonight, Sept. 27, in and around the historic Sonoma Plaza.
The festival is dear to us, having spent two years on the all-volunteer board recently, and frankly were shocked to find that the festival had fallen out of favor with many locals, who look at the festival as “just another money making event on the Plaza for someone” – and they’re mostly right. The “someone” is the numerous nonprofits in the Sonoma Valley. The festival foots the bill for renting the entire Plaza for the weekend and provides space for many nonprofits in the Valley to raise money, some capturing close to their entire years budget by being at the festival. Tens of thousands of dollars are raised by the more than 20 nonprofit groups that will be selling everything from sno-cones to hamburgers and even that chance to hit a salami with a potato and take it home. In addition, all money raised, other than operating expenses, is also donated back to a worthy charity.
There will be wine tasting, art, a re-enactment of the Bear Flag Revolt and even live music, kicking off tonight with the ’80s tribute act Tainted Love rocking the Patrons Night Gala in the Sonoma barracks. Saturday, Sept. 28, it’s country western day, with locals Train Wreck Junction starting the music at 11:30 a.m., followed by the Shannon Rider Band at 2 p.m. Then it’s the Buck Ford Pure Country Band at 4 p.m. with the California Cowboys wrapping it up at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, kicks off at 11:30 a.m. with Dginn followed by Beso Negro at 1:30 p.m. followed by It’s a Beautiful Day, featuring David and Linda LaFlamme at 3:30 p.m. For more info you can point your browser to valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com or just show up and help out some local nonprofits and have a good time. Attendance to the festival, other than tonight’s patron’s gala, is free and open to the public and is family-friendly to boot.
HopMonk Tavern Sonoma welcomes Matt Bradford tonight, Sept. 27, to the garden stage for a 5 p.m. show. Later on the tavern stage it’s Tommy Thomsen, starting at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, the tavern has Gypsy Jazz Caravan on the garden stage for a 1 p.m. show and Ten Foot Tone inside on the tavern stage at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, the garden stage presents Adam Traum, for a 1 p.m. show. There is no cover for any of the shows.
The Annex Wine Bar has Michael L. Castle, tonight, Sept.27, for his debut at annex, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, it’s 2 friends and a Benz, also starting at 7:30 p.m. There is no cover either night.
The Rolling Blackouts will be at the Sebastiani Winery and Vineyards tonight, Sept. 27, starting at 6 p.m. It is also a food truck Friday event, with several food purveyors in the parking lot. The venue is family- and dog-friendly and there is no cover, but no outside alcohol is allowed, even beer.
Murphy’s Irish Pub has the Noma Rocksteady band tonight, Sept. 27, for an 8 p.m. show. Saturday, Sept. 28, the pub welcomes the Mark Larson Trio, also for an 8 p.m. show. Sunday, Sept. 29, it’s an early show with the Vanguard Jazz Ensemble where local jazz cats are welcome to sit in, kicking off at 2 p.m. Later the same night, it’s the Wind-up Monkeys for a 7:30 p.m. show. There is no cover for any of the shows.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery is presenting its DJ in residence series on the courtyard at the winery on Saturday, Sept. 28, with the recording artist and DJ duo Com Jr. from the Bay Area, consisting of Graham Lebron and Shanna Mahan. The act pulls from their extensive vinyl collection. The show kicks off at noon and reservations for the courtyard are strongly encouraged and can be made at gunbun.com/courtyard.
The Swiss Hotel wraps up its summer music series on the back patio on Saturday, Sept. 28, with an appearance by the Jamie Clark Band, starting at 2 p.m.
The Erik James tasting room has music tonight, Sept. 27, with Nelson Lunding, Snakebite Jacobs and Tim Eschliman, kicking off at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, it’s Macy Blackman also for a 7 p.m. show. Sunday, Sept. 29, the room presents Sonoma Satchmo and the 9th Ward Playboys, also kicking off at 7 p.m. There is no cover any night.
The Epicurean Connection has the Butter Dishes tonight, Sept. 27, for a 7:30 p.m. show. Saturday, Sept. 28, the connection offers a harvest celebration with Sonoma singer-songwriter Garen Patterson and poet Lin Marie deVincent, also for a 7:30 p.m. show. Sunday, Sept. 29, Girls and Boys start at 1 p.m. There is no cover for any of the shows.
B. R. Cohn Winery has music in the courtyard on Sunday, Sept. 29, with Frobeck from 2 to 5 p.m. There is no cover.
Swedes Feeds in Kenwood is having a customer appreciation day on Sunday, Sept. 29, with live music from the WildKats, starting at 1 p.m.
The Plaza Bistro presents Bryan Girard tonight, Sept. 27, kicking off at 7 p.m. A native San Franciscan, Girard majored in music at San Francisco State University and has performed in and around the Bay Area for more than three decades. There is no cover.
The El Verano Inn presents Fallen Anjel for their debut at the venue on Saturday, Sept. 28, kicking off at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, it’s time for “Blues and Brews” in the afternoon, starting at 4:30 p.m. with blues legend Levi Lloyd and the 501 Blues Band. There is no cover for either show.
The Blue Moon Saloon has Rap and Roll DJ’s on Saturday, Sept. 28, kicking off at 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, it’s the continuation of the blues jam, starting at 10 p.m. There is no cover either night.
The Cork Pullers will be in Santa Rosa at the Redwood Empire Food Bank on Saturday, Sept. 28, for a 12:30 p.m. show.
The WildKats will be in Santa Rosa at Christy’s on the Square tonight, Sept. 27, starting at 6 p.m.
If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it. Hit me up at email@example.com.
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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.
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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.
Elvin Bishop – Friday, Sept. 27; Napa Valley Opera House; 226-7372
Mother Hips – Saturday, Sept. 28; Sweetwater Music Hall – Mill Valley; 415-388-3850
Pulsators – Saturday, Sept. 28; HopMonk Tavern – Novato; 415-892-6200
Herbie Hancock – Saturday, Sept. 28; Donald and Maureen Green Music Center – Rohnert Park; 866-955-6040
Midnight Sun Massive – Friday, Sept. 27; Redwood Cafe-After Dark – Cotati; 795-7868