A not-so-secret event for Sonoma Speakeasy

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Mikey Lee Cannon opened his Cannon School of Music a few years ago, and holds classes in drumming, guitar and singing at 254 First St. E.

The building has a large space where Cannon can present his many recitals showcasing the talents and accomplishments of his students. This Sunday, Feb. 10, that space opens up to the greater Sonoma community when a “Fundraiser for and Celebration of Sonoma Speakeasy” is held. The event features many local musical acts and begins at 2 p.m.

Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall owners Jodi Stevens and Gary Bazzani have begun work on an expansion of the diminutive space they occupy in the little alley just off the Plaza at 452 First St. E. But like pulling that loose thread on a sweater, things quickly got out of hand, and the popular night spot has been closed since mid-December while they work on the envisioned changes.

The closure has impacted local musicians and their fans, as the Speakeasy had been offering live music five nights a week. There was the regular bunch of players that might set up rigs once or twice a week. There were also seasoned musical veterans living in the area who looked to the Speakeasy as a cool spot to play mid-week.

Cannon is one of the musicians effected by the temporary closure of the Speakeasy. Cannon is a mighty fine drummer and can be seen keeping time with many bands in town. He typically played the Speakeasy at least once per week. When he heard about a possible event to benefit the Speakeasy, he nailed a rim shot, raised his hand, and offered the performance space at his music school.

Well-known bass player, and ex-Sonoma resident Tim Eschliman has been another mainstay at the Speakeasy. He is the mastermind behind the fundraiser. He decided that he “wanted to do something to help Jodi and Gary… who are a little embarrassed by all this attention,” Eschliman said via telephone. “I called Mikey, because he has this big stage where we can play.” Eschliman explained that they will provide a “back line,” an already set up drum set and bass and guitar amplifiers, and have a “plug-and-play kind of thing.”

Eschliman explained his motivation for spearheading this event by saying, “Jodi and Gary have been carrying the torch of keeping this great spot going that enables the community to gather and connect and celebrate.” Under their ownership, he said, the Speakeasy has become one of the better places in Sonoma County to see and hear live music.

The entertainment lineup for the day includes a list of many of the temporarily displaced musicians: Mario Ramirez and Mark Willson, Sonoma Sound Syndicate, the Big O and JMB, Ruben Valtierra and VLO, Scarlett Letters, Sean Carscadden, R&B&Z House Band, Dave Aguilar, Jodi Stevens, and others.

While there are no plans for the sale of food at the event, there will be light refreshments available. Tickets can be purchased at the door and will start at $10. A shiny donation bucket will be present and will be a great place to put your unnecessary cash.

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