Normally, when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, crowds of friends and strangers gather together to celebrate.
In the North Bay, those gatherings usually include concerts, gala dinners, masquerade balls and more. Yet, 2020 is determined to go out kicking and screaming, and with the Covid-19 pandemic still firmly spreading in the region, this year’s parties will all be virtual events.
Luckily, several local organizations and entertainers are going digital to ring in the new year, and the public can join in the New Year’s Eve festivities from home.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa is the first stop for families celebrating the New Year with young ones, as the museum annually hosts afternoon balloon drops with root beer and activities. While the museum remains closed to the public due to the pandemic, the staff has kept the events going online, and this year, the Charles M. Schulz Museum presents a virtual version of its beloved “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!”
The special “Noon-year’s-eve” event meets online Thursday, Dec. 31, at 11am. Snoopy and Woodstock will be there, and kids can enjoy partaking in “Peanuts”-themed craftings. Pre-registration is required at schulzmuseum.org.
North Bay music lovers have several virtual options for ringing in the New Year. First, a North Bay icon will broadcast live from San Rafael when Bob Weir and Wolf Bros play a New Year’s Eve concert on Dec. 31. The show will stream from Weir’s Tamalpais Research Institute (TRI Studios), a world-class streaming venue and recording facility, at 7pm. A rebroadcast will follow at 10pm. Tune in at Fans.Live.
Weir needs no introduction, but for the record: He is a founding member of Bay Area legend Grateful Dead, and his musical resume includes bands like Kingfish and Ratdog. In the Wolf Bros, Weir teams up with bassist Don Was and drummer Jay Lane to perform songs by the Grateful Dead and more.
For this live-streaming show, fellow musicians Jeff Chimenti and Greg Leisz join the trio on piano and pedal steel respectively for a high-energy performance. Tickets for Bob Weir and Wolf Bros’ New Year’s Eve show and more are available online at Fans.Live.
“We’re back and we’re here to light y’all up,” Weir says in a statement.
One of the North Bay’s best online summer concert series was Living Room Live. The weekly streaming showcase premiered in May as a virtual alternative to the annual Rivertown Revival in Petaluma. Presented by nonprofit group The Friends of the Petaluma River, Living Room Live featured local bands and artists performing from their homes, with host Josh Windmiller—founder of the Railroad Square Music Festival—acting as a Johnny Carson–style host on the couch.
Now, Living Room Live returns for one final concert to help ring in a new year. “Living Room Live: the New Year’s Eve Edition” streams on Rivertown Revival’s Facebook and Youtube pages on Dec. 31 at 7pm. The show will once again feature Windmiller as the musical master-of-ceremonies, with performances by Royal Jelly Jive, Sebastian St. James and other local favorites.
“Music will always find a way, and it rises to the challenge wherever we find adversity and a need for spirit,” Windmiller says in a statement. “I love to shine a light on the music emerging from the community because it gives me hope.”
“Living Room Live: the New Year’s Eve Edition” is free to watch, and audiences are encouraged to make donations to support Friends of the Petaluma River’s conservation and environmental education programs that range from outdoor nature programs for local youth to cleanup outings that have helped remove over 7,000 pounds of trash from Petaluma’s waterways this year.
“A core part of Friends’ work in the Petaluma Watershed is around celebration, celebrating the River and the natural world, our community and coming together,” Stephanie Bastianon, executive director of Friends of the Petaluma River, says in a statement. “If there is ever a time when our community needs lifting up, it is now. We felt it was important to bring back the Living Room Live concerts to offer some joy and light during this dark winter.” Facebook.com/RivertownRevival.
For those looking to jazz up New Year’s Eve, Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse will virtually host “Barbara Dixon’s New Year’s Eve Jazztacular” on Dec. 31 at 8pm and 11pm. The online show features “Broadway legend” Barbara Dixon, a.k.a. Los Angeles–based actor and writer Leah Sprecher, hosting a cabaret-style evening of musical comedy that satirizes the song-and-dance days of the past.
In addition, 6th Street Playhouse artistic director Jared Sakren and managing director Anne Clark will host a live fundraising event for the theater, which continues to offer online performances and a socially distanced school of drama while working to make the space safe for in-person events once gatherings begin again. Facebook.com/6thStreetPlayhouse.