Friday, September 7, 2018

15000 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen. 938-4064 Sunday, Sept. 9: Dan Trotta.
2 p.m.
 ELVERANOINN, 705 Laurel Ave. Sonoma. 935-
0611 Saturday, Sept. 8: Kitten Drunk, Moon Sick, Laguna Screech, Third Six. 8 p.m.
 FRIDAYFARMERS MARKET, Depot Park, 270 First St W.
Friday, Sept. 7: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.
 GUNDLACHBUNDSCHU WINERY, 2000 Denmark St. 938-5277
Saturday, Sept. 8: Angel Olsen. 7 p.m.
 HOPMONKTAVERN, hopmonk. com 691 Broadway,
935-9100 Friday, Sept. 7: Craig Corona.
5 p.m. Witherward. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8: Vardo. 1 p.m. Erica Sunshine Lee. 8 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 9: David Hamilton. 1 p.m.
 MURPHY’SIRISHPUB, 464 First St. E, 935-0660.
Friday, Sept. 7: Jon Emery.
9 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8: Dan Martin and Noma Rocksteady.
9 p.m.
 MUSCARDINICELLARS, 9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood,
933-9305 Saturday, Sept. 8: Jami Jamison Band 5:30 p.m.
 PALOOZA, paloozafresh. com 8910 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 833-4000Thursday, Sept. 13: Live Music Series. 8 p.m.
 SEBASTIANIWINERY, 389 Fourth Street East, 933-3230
Friday, Sept. 7: Poyntlyss Sistars 6 p.m.
 SONOMASPEAKEASY AND AMERICAN MUSIC HALL,sonomaspeakeasymusic. com 452 First St. E.,
996-1364 Friday, Sept. 7: Bruce and Jodi. 6:30 p.m. Sean Carscadden Trio. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8: Full Circle.
5 p.m. Arcosonics. 8 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 9: T-Luke. 5 p.m. Sonoma Blues Jam. 8:30 p.m. Tuesday,Sept. 11: Tim E., Bruce, and Lou. 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 12: Arcrosonics. 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13: King Daddy and the Prince of Thieves. 7:30 p.m.
 STARLINGBAR, starlingsonoma. com. 19830 Highway
12, 938-7442 Thursday, Sept. 6: Open Mic.
8 p.m.
 THEREELFISHHOUSE AND GRILL, thereelfishshop. com 401 Grove St. El Verano,
Thursday, Sept. 13: The Wailers. 9 p.m.
 TUESDAYNIGHT FARMERS MARKET, Sonoma Plaza Tuesday, Sept. 11: Chris Hanlin (horseshoe), Sonoma Jazz Society, Michael O’Neill Quintet (amphitheater) 6 p.m.
 VIANSAWINERY, viansa. com. 25200 Arnold Drive,
(800)995-4740 Saturday, Sept. 8: Acoustic Soul. 11 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 9: Clay Bell.
11 a.m.
 VINTAGEHOUSE, vintagehouse. org. 264 First Street East, Sonoma, 996-0311
Wednesday, Sept. 12: The Cork Puller Trio. 6 p.m.
If you want your gigs listed, email Tim Curley at eltimcurley@ gmail.
New things brewing at Olde Sonoma
Thinnes pour their hearts, and 32 pints on tap, into Springs watering hole
There is a plan floating around these days, proffered by the County of Sonoma, for an important facelift to the Springs area. The central corridor of the Springs, which parallels Highway 12, is slated for some big-time changes in the coming years. Community meetings are being held. Upon approval, monies will be spent to improve the slender strip running from Verano Avenue north to Depot Road.
About one third of the way up that corridor is the Fiesta Plaza Shopping Center, home of the Sonoma 9 Cinemas, several local shops and Old Sonoma Public House.
In 2010, Coley and Jo Thinnes took over a space that had been a Dollar Store and More, and a jewelry store called Una Joyeria before that. The space was remodeled completely. A sink and counter unit were purchased from a bar in Shelter Cove and carefully installed. A walk-in refrigerator, that has since been dubbed “Christopher Walk-In,” was installed. A beer tap system was brought in.
They added a familiar looking leather sofa purchased and brought over from the old Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack. It was moved into the pool room. Some dart boards, mirrors and other wall decorations were added. And Olde Sonoma Public House was finally opened for business.
Eight years later, Olde Sonoma Public House is still serving up delicious and hard-to-find brews from all over the beer world.
“People come here looking for specialty beers, something they can’t get anywhere else,” said Coley Thinnes.
Coley Thinnes‘s beer-making career began in the early days of Lagunitas Brewery. He was on the brew team at the original Ross Street location in Petaluma for eight years. Later, he was part of the crew that brewed the first batches at its current location on McDowell Boulevard. Coley helped create interesting and unique brews, including the yummy Brown Shugga.
“I learned about the art of brewing beer during my days at Lagunitas,” the thin and wiry Coley said.
One hoppy day, Coley was giving a tour of the facility to a group of teachers. A gal named Jo caught his eye, and two lives were changed. Jo and Coley were married in 2006. They live in Boyes Hot Springs, very near their pub.
Jo is an English teacher at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma. She spends her free time at the pub with the other seven employees.
After marriage and Lagunitas, Coley ran production at Iron Springs Brewery, in Fairfax. While there, he created Sless’ Oatmeal Stout, named after the excellent Marin County guitarist Barry Sless. Coley won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup with that creation.
While dreaming of opening Olde Sonoma, Coley and Jo decided to offer something unique. They envisioned a friendly place to gather. Their motto is, “Come for the beer, stay for the people.”
Christopher Walk-In chills down 32 beers in kegs and on tap and another 50 or so in bottles or cans. Olde Sonoma also offers non-alcoholic beverages. From Europe, beer lovers can sample beers from England, Ireland, Germany and Belgium. From south of the border, Mexico is represented with a couple selections.
The pride of the big chalk board is the selection of beers from Northern California. Old favorites such as Bear Republic, Lost Coast and even Pabst Blue Ribbon are available. New, mouth-watering offerings include Dogfish Head and 101 North Brewing Company.
For those who just can’t let go of the Wine Country idea, a small but thoughtfully curated wine list is offered.
Barkeep Casey Tatarian told of the day their first shipment of Russian River Brewing Company’s heavily-hyped Pliny the Younger was delivered.
“We were given one five gallon keg,” said Tatarian. “It was gone in 12 minutes.”
While there is no hot food offered at Old Sonoma, the Mexican eatery directly next door, Taqueria Sonoma, will deliver anything on its menu. Just sit in the sunshine outside, or inside the pub itself, and the staff of Taqueria Sonoma will bring it right to you. In fact, food from any commercial kitchen can be brought in and enjoyed at Olde Sonoma.
The Thinnes had hoped to offer live music regularly for their patrons. They did for a few years, but that program is on haitus. Soon, they plan to offer karaoke every other Thursday.
Olde Sonoma is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. Seating is indoors and outdoors, and four TVs, usually showing sporting events, are trained toward the watchful eyes of patrons.
Of his role as owner of Olde Sonoma, Coley Thinnes said: “I love it. I wake up excited, thinking about the new beers we’re going to hook up. I am excited to go to work.”
Let’s hope that the county leaves the Olde Sonoma Public House alone. People love it just the way it is.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Bluhm at the Barn 

Bay Area born singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm pulls into Gundlach-Bundschu Winery this Saturday, Sept. 1.  The Folk(YEAH!) produced show begins at 8 p.m. in Gun-Bun’s old Redwood Barn.

Bluhm’s Sonoma appearance is the first night of an extended US tour, hop-scotching around California, then the Midwest, culminating with a show at famed Tipitina’s in New Orleans. “Over the last year or so, I have been playing with a few different formations,” Bluhm explained.  “For the Sonoma gig, I will be with Scott Law and Ross James. They play guitars, so I may be playing some mandolin, banjo, maybe even a little snare.”

Law and James are no strangers to the North Bay music scene. Both are regulars at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads. It is there that they began playing with Bluhm, often times in the Grate Room, typically with Terrapin owner Phil Lesh playing bass.

Bluhm made her mark in Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, the band she founded in 2008. She had been musical partners with then husband Tim Bluhm, and the Gramblers – with Tim Bluhm-kept busy playing clubs and festivals up and down the West Coast. They had an unlikely “hit” on YouTube in 2012 when their version of Hall and Oates’s “I Can’t Go For That”, recorded as part of the Van Sessions, had over 3 million views. The series of live recordings were all done while she was driving the band’s van. The innovatively simple videos were filmed with a dashboard mounted smart phone. The videos are fun and give insight to her varied musical influences. They also give the viewer a taste of her easy charm.

A somewhat abrupt 2017 move from San Francisco to Nashville followed the breakup of The Gramblers and of her marriage to Tim Bluhm. On her website, Nicky said, “I feel like I’ve been through the carwash!”

Nicky was inspired to write a slew of material based on those turbulent experiences. She has recently released a new album called “To Rise You Gotta Fall”. The songs were all recorded in Nashville, at legendary Sam Phillips Recording. Bluhm said, “These songs are quite personal. They are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn’t have survived without.”

In preparation for the Gundlach-Bundschu show, Bluhm, James, and Ross took a recent trip down the Snake River, in Idaho. “Floating down the river, and camping along the shore, was a cool way to work out songs,” Bluhm said. Some new songs were written on the trip, and “…there are still no titles for some of them.”

James said about Bluhm, “She is one of my absolute favorite songwriters around right now and her passion and energy is truly inspiring.”

As for the Gundlach-Bundschu show, there may be performers besides Law and James. “You know how musicians are,” Bluhm said, leaving the barn door open to possible special guests. 

“The barn at GunBun has become one of my favorite places to play in Northern California. It’s absolutely beautiful, with uniquely California vibe,’ said James.

Bluhm will be bringing along with her a 1967 Martin 0018 that she bought recently at Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville.  “My friend Scott took me in there one afternoon.  I spotted this little Martin, and I just had to have it. I traded my own guitar in for it.” (for a drool-inspiring experience for guitar fans, visit

Nicki said of her upcoming stop in the Sonoma Valley, “It is always nice to be back in California.  It’s home. And Sonoma… I love drinking wine!”

When asked about the new direction that living as a solo artist in Nashville affords her, Bluhm said, “I am not going to try to control the wind.  I am going to let the wind take me.” 

Let’s all hope she catches a good breeze Saturday night.    

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Sonoma’s Jerry Seltzer has the ticket to success
| Updated 6 hours ago.
Way back in 1976, Fleetwood Mac played a tremendous show at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. It marked the public debut of a new addition to the band, the duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Fans heard “Landslide” for the first time that night. Tickets were $5. Two tickets, $10.
Now that Lindsey Buckingham is gone, and the oft-out, oft-in-again Nicks is back, fans have a chance to see them in November at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Two tickets for pretty good seats at the Sunday night show will run you $552.45.
How did this happen? It’s more than simple inflation: According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your $10 in 1976 is now worth $44.29. So, again, why are concert tickets so expensive? Well, things have changed. People aren’t buying records like they used to, and touring is the primary income source for bands these days.
And then, of course, there was Jerry Seltzer.
Jerry Seltzer, 86, has lived in Sonoma Valley for 25 years. And he’s a man with keen insight into – and his finger prints all over – the reason your 2018 Fleetwood Mac tickets will lend whole new meaning to the chorus, “yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”
After a long and storied career as the commissioner of Roller Derby, promoting the sport his father created in 1935, Seltzer moved from roller skates into the ticketing business. He launched the BASS (Bay Area Seating Service) ticket agency in the early 1970s. From 1983 until 1993, Seltzer was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ticketmaster. Locally, he co-founded the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, now the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF).
Legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen used to use the term “ducat” when referring to tickets. Seltzer, who knew Caen, knows a thing or two about ducats. “The ticket business was 30 years of my life,” Seltzer said.
“Ticketing is the key to any event.” Still, Seltzer believes today’s ticket-selling and buying process “is so subverted now.”
As the owner of the San Francisco Bay Bombers roller derby team, he had an inside track to promoting the other events held at the Cow Palace. There, he met the Beatles, as he handled the ticket sales to their show at the famed arena on Aug. 19, 1964. (That concert was the opening night of the Beatles’ first-ever concert tour of North America.)
Seltzer recalled the early days of home-grown rock ‘n’ roll in San Francisco, and a young Bill Graham, the late concert promoter who died in 1991 when his helicopter crashed into an electric tower above Highway 37 near Sonoma Creek. Graham’s concert promotion company, Bill Graham Presents, was just getting going in the 1960s, and Seltzer wanted a piece of the action. Seltzer met with Graham at his office in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District. Graham said to Seltzer, “Give me your best honest con.” And that Seltzer did.
Until that time, the promoter kept the value of the ticket price, minus about 25 cents. Seltzer proposed a deal to Graham, which would give him exclusive rights to sell Bill Graham Presents tickets. It gave Graham the entire value of the ticket, and introduced a 25-cent “service charge” to the customer – meaning more money to the promoter, and a new service-charge revenue stream to everybody else, and the creation of a lucrative incentive for ticket-selling businesses everywhere.
The deal changed the face of ticketing in North America. Promoting tickets sales increased attendance. It brought more money to the artist, the event promoter and the ticket seller.
Seltzer also recognized the potential of smaller events. He cut a deal with nightclub owner David Allen of the Boarding House in San Francisco to presell tickets to his events. What had been a “walk-up” event became a pre-sale ticketed event. BASS sold tickets to events at the Boarding House headlined by Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Steve Martin and Bob Marley, to name but a few. Seltzer shook all their hands, too.
Soon all concert venues were selling tickets in advance. But the pre-sale ticket, sold in advance, created another problem, one that is still with us today: Scalping. 
Seltzer has no shortage of stories about Bill Graham’s hatred of scalpers, and his efforts to thwart their attempts at reselling tickets. Graham would approach the people selling tickets outside a sold-out Grateful Dead show at Winterland and ask them to “…name two Dead songs.” If they could not, they were given the bum’s rush. 
Computerized tickets sales helped Seltzer begin to understand the buying habits and tendencies of concert goers. He noticed that most ticket sales occurred in the few days just before an event. One concert, by a young Willie Nelson, was booked into the Oakland Arena. Ticket sales seemed strong, and Seltzer convinced the promoter to move the show from the relatively small, 4,500-seat arena to the Oakland Coliseum, now Oracle Arena, of 14,000 seats. Bingo. Sold-out show, and several thousand extra fans saw Willie early on.
Seltzer supervised tickets sales to the Band’s legendary “Last Waltz” farewell concert on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. He worked with Steve Wozniak on the US Festival, held on Labor Day weekend in 1982. The last day of the US Festival opened with “Breakfast with The Grateful Dead,” and it closed with Fleetwood Mac – that same Fleetwood Mac playing in Oakland in November. 
They will bring with them massive sound gear, state-of-the-art video equipment, stage hands and film crews, and more guitars than you could play in a week. 
Why have tickets gotten so expensive? That’s a simple question with a complicated answer. As Fleetwood Mac and Jerry Seltzer can attest: Yesterday’s gone.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Chris Hanlin, Luthier

Originally appeared in the July 27, 2018 issue of the Sonoma Index-Tribune

Casual concert goers at this summer’s big shows are probably very excited about seeing the headliner perform.  Before the show begins, they might notice the little army of people dressed in black swarming around the stage; lighting guys, sound guys, and technicians. One of those technicians, the “guitar tech”, does all the stuff that the headliner used to do before he or she hit the big time, like tuning guitars and changing strings.

For the casual musician, things are considerably different. Changing strings is one thing, but the fine adjustments that string instruments sometime require calls for a skilled individual.  The adjusting of a neck, re-gluing of a bridge…better take it to a pro.

Chris Hanlin is such a pro, and a local guy at that.  More than a “guitar tech”, he is a “luthier”, one who “builds or repairs stringed instruments” (Wikipedia). Hanlin is skilled enough at repairing fine wooden instruments that he is authorized by one of the most revered American guitar manufacturers to repair their guitars. When the call went out on social media for the name of a reputable local luthier, his name came up on top.

Soft spoken yet passionate, Hanlin is also an accomplished musician who has toured and played throughout the United States. With two solo albums available, and at least five more available with his various bands, Hanlin is comfortably balancing the life of a musician and craftsman. His guitar playing takes him all over the greater Bay Area, and his guitar repairing keeps him in his cozy workshop located down a shady lane in El Verano.

Born in rural Indiana to a four generation retail family, Hanlin’s first instrument was the drums. “In Indiana, what do you have to play? Drums!” He played in his high school band. He says, “I was the littlest bass drummer.” One summer while at band camp, during the free time in the evening, he came across two older band camp attendees, and his life was changed by the discovery of a new passion.  These two fellas were playing guitar and singing Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel songs.  He found what they were doing to be “absolutely fascinating.” He soon became enthralled by guitars, and later all fretted instruments. 

Hanlin moved to California in 1989, and “although I had not been a ‘tool guy’ prior to that”, he landed a position working at World of Strings, a fine instrument repair shop in Long Beach.  He apprenticed under Bob Mattingly, the most renown luthier in Southern California. Working with wooden instruments that are all slightly different sometimes required specific tools.  Mattingly once told him, “If you don’t have the right tool for the job, make it yourself.”

He has some tools that were handed down to him when Mattingly died.  “His bridge clamps, they’re worth everything to me.”

His shop in El Verano is packed with tools.  And instruments.  Some are waiting to be repaired.  Ohers are waiting to be picked up and reborn in the hands of their owners.  His bench is orderly, full of the kind of hand tools not seen in hardware stores.  He has special clamps, files, straightedges, and gauges.  Guitar necks and bodies hang from the ceiling.  Cases are stashed under benches. 

Fifteen years at the work bench has made him an expert, but he stillplaysthe guitar, too.  Very recently, Hanlin was in an Oakland recording studio “playing acoustic guitar like Keith Richards” on songs by his friend, David Marquette.

Years ago, Hanlin fronted a band called “Bourbon Jones”.  They toured extensively throughout the Midwest.  “We lived in a van.  It was fun, but it was a young man’s thing.” It was a tough lifestyle, all spent “in the service of those two hours onstage.”

Now living in what he calls “the American Tuscany”, he said, “Why wouldn’t you want to be home?” He lives with his wife Kelly, whom he met at a gig in Long Beach, and their 5 year old son.  He spends a lot of time writing music and has recently contributed music to an independent film.  

After discussing performing music with a band on the road, and trading it for life at the bench, Hanlin turned reflective, and said, “Maybe that is a shortcoming on my part, maybe it was a copout.” But he feels very fortunate to have the “home, family life, heath, and security” that a performer’s life lacks.  

Repair this guitar, play that one.  He seems to have found a perfect balance. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ry Cooder, Uptown Theater, July 21 and 21.

Also appearing in the July 20 Sonoma Index Tribune


Famed guitar player and musicologist Ry Cooder and his band pull into Napa’s Uptown Theater this weekend. Hot on the heels of his new release, “Prodigal Son”, Cooder will bring his son Joachim along to back him up on drums. Rob Francis on bass and Sam Grandal on saxophone will round out the ensemble.

Reached on the tour bus driving southbound somewhere in Oregon, Joachim was very enthusiastic about the new album, touring with his buddies, visiting new places, and playing with his dad.  

As a native Californian, Joachim was named after historical figures, and quite possibly after Joachim Murrieta himself. And despite being raised in a household with guitars to spare, and a dad who played them very, very well, he gravitated towards drums. “Guitars made no sense to me, and it’s just as well.” says Cooder.  At an early age, Joachim Cooder was heavily influenced by his dad’s friend, and drummer’s drummer, Jim Keltner.

The new album is another in a long string of wonderful Ry Cooder recordings, dripping with great, loose guitar playing, and moods and sounds from long ago. The set list for the Napa shows will feature material from Ry’s career and the new stuff.

Ry Cooder, Uptown Theater, 

Dylan Black

Dylan Black Project

Also appearing in the July 20 edition of the Sonoma Index Tribune.

The Dylan Black Project plays the Funky Fridays event at Hood Mansion Friday, June 20, with a 7pm showtime.  They have played this event several times, and Terry Sanders says, “Bill and Linda are why we love playing Funky Fridays!”  

Bill Myers and Linda Pavlak are the people who created and produce the Funky Fridays event, and run it with their enthusiastic and personable style.  Terry Sanders is the leader of the Dylan Black Project. 

Sanders and his band had been successfully playing the in the Bay Area for many years when a real sour chord hit them hard.  Sanders lost all his musical equipment in the Fires.

Sanders, ironically enough, is an Oakland Fire Fighter / Paramedic. While driving home that fateful Sunday back in October, he saw local counterparts doing something he considered to be foolhardy.  “I made fun of the fire fighters outside the house because they were blowing the leaves on a super windy day.”

Little did anybody know that those winds would lead to a series of major fires in the area.

Sanders woke up during the night and moved his sleeping family into the front of their house, fearing that the wind might topple a nearby tree.  By 1 am, his wife Debra was grabbing their important papers, and he was grabbing their son.  They bolted, as the orange sky was just too close by.

They moved from parking lot to parking lot, trying to stay ahead of the flames. They ended up in a stranger’s home in the SRJC neighborhood, watching TV and seeing their own neighborhood burn down.

Sanders also sent hours helping others to safety.  He and a friend went up the hill to Varenna at Fountaingrove and assisted with their evacuation efforts. He and his friend Lou Ratto delivered a water tanker to Calistoga to protect five rural homes. He also looked for stray cats.

Months later, his band is back at it, using a bunch of new gear.  His favorite guitars lost, they have been replaced by donated models. Loud and Clear Music in Cotati gave him a guitar.  “A retired cop in LA made a guitar, and gave it to me,” says Sanders.  Two Rock Amplifiers of Rohnert Park gave him a new amp.

The Funky Friday show by the DBP will showcase some excellent band work.  Not one to exaggerate, Sanders did say, “Our musicianship in incredible.” The band features Sanders on guitars and vocals, Greg Saunders on drums, bass player Elmar Kurgpold, and Steve Seydler on keys.

The band plays mostly original songs, and Sanders will sing a new composition called “Sonoma
Shine”, written after the fires.  They play some familiar covers, as well. He teases with the promise of them performing a “…Deep Purple to Beatles mashup.”

Of the band, Sanders says, “We are a big stage band, that’s where we shine. But we also like to maintain intimacy with the crowd, communicate with the crowd, and entertain.”

The name of the band comes from Jimi Hendrix and his early days in the “Jimmy James and the Blue Flames” band.  While touring in England, witnesses to Hendrix’s fiery playing style referred to him as “the black Dylan” because of their shared unkempt hair style..

Sanders and his Dylan Black Project will undoubtedly tear up the Funky Friday stage. Just don’t count of any Hendrix inspired on-stage guitar burning.  Sanders has had enough of that.

Funky Fridays at Hood Mansion, 389 Casa Manana Road, Santa Rosa.  Doors open at 5:30, tickets are $10, kids under 18 free.