Tickets to Ride

Fresh headliners for live music in the North Bay this fall


Billy Corgan isn’t one to play hits and make succinct patter, so when the Phoenix Theater proudly hosts the Smashing Pumpkins (Sept. 8)—aka Corgan and some hired hands—don’t expect a run-of-the-mill set heavy on Siamese Dream and Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Do, however, expect long rambles from the famously egomaniacal ex-alternastar and copious new material, which no one will be familiar with, from an upcoming solo album.

Tickets to the instantly sold-out show at the relatively tiny venue are $70&–$100 on Craigslist, or one can simply stroll the sidewalk out front on the hallowed night. As always, the closer the show approaches, the more second-hand prices drop.

The Phoenix also brings back DIY-stalwarts-turned-overproduced-major-label-slicksters Against Me! (Sept. 25) for a recital of the ’70s FM harmonies prevalent on their latest mystifying release, White Crosses. The last time the band visited the former egg capital of the world, the set ended with a dogpile onstage; that’s not likely to happen for the mellow John Vanderslice show at the Phoenix (Sept. 18), although things heat up there for E-40 and Tech N9ne (Oct. 6), two hip-hop heavyweights together on one bill at last.

Rhythm and soul thrives as Bay Area hip-hop agitators the Coup bring their guitar-flavored activism to the Hopmonk Tavern (Oct. 1), while “afropean” duo Les Nubians smooth out the venue the week prior (Sept. 25). Unclassifiable vocal-loop soul singer Jamie Lidell sets things aflame at the Mystic Theatre (Oct. 2)—he basically performs a live exorcism every night—and B. B. King, whom everyone should see at least once, plays a Halloween show at the beautifully restored Uptown Theatre (Oct. 31).

Rock legends thrive at the Uptown, such as Foreigner (Sept. 22) and Hot Tuna (Oct. 1), while the Wells Fargo Center has Heart (Sept. 23) and, surprisingly, the John Fogerty&–less Creedence Clearwater Revisited (Sept. 15). Of course, the real hair of the dog for the hangover of the 1970s is at B.R. Cohn Winery, who host their annual charity show with the Doobie Brothers, Eddie Money, Cheap Trick, Loverboy, Grand Funk Railroad, Night Ranger, War, the Turtles and the Greg Kihn Band (Oct. 9&–10). The Doobies also headline the Russian River Blues Fest (Oct. 12), preceded by Jimmie Vaughn with Lou Ann Barton and of course, our own Charlie Musselwhite. In all cases, original members not guaranteed; khaki pants and Tony Bahama shirts, a slam dunk.

At the Marin Center, a most curious pairing of the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir with the Marin Symphony (Oct. 22) takes this season’s “biggest surprise” award. One set will feature rearranged versions of Dead classics, while the next presents Weir trying to pull classical musicians out of their sheet-music mindset and into the jammy outer planes of psychedelic improvising in an evening titled “First Fusion.” What’s no surprise? Tickets are $50&–$350.

Folk and Americana live at the Napa Valley Opera House featuring Joan Baez (Sept. 28), Emmylou Harris (Sept. 29) and the Cowboy Junkies (Oct. 8), while across town at the Uptown it’s Roseanne Cash (Nov. 13), singing the songs her father taught her. Renegade songwriter Fred Eaglesmith serenades Studio E (Oct. 9), and NPR darlings the Carolina Chocolate Drops return to the Mystic Theatre (Oct. 3), as does the Texan who took the “no” out of “no depression,” Bob Schneider (Oct. 10). Local faves Poor Man’s Whiskey record a live album at the Mystic (Nov. 12), and the Devil Makes Three play across town at the Phoenix again (Oct. 1). Heck, even Tift Merritt plays a free KRSH-FM show by the lake at Latitude (Sept. 9).

Santa Rosa Symphony director Bruno Ferrandis continues his love of Luciano Berio by presenting the composer’s Rendering in a program with Paganini’s Violin Concerto and Respighi’s Fountains of Rome (Oct. 9&–11); in November, the orchestra plays Lizst’s Piano Concerto no. 1 and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. Mill Valley Chamber Music brings in the Takács Quartet (Oct. 10) and dazzling pianist Jon Nakamatsu (Nov. 21), and the American Philharmonic tackles Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (Oct. 2-3) and Bernstein and Gershwin (Nov. 20&–21) in their laudably free performances. The New Century Chamber Orchestra brings in double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer (Sept. 26) and violinist Mark O’Connor (Nov. 21), both at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center.

Now that Konocti Harbor up in Lake County has closed, major country singers have trickled our way to both Napa and Sonoma counties. The Lincoln Theater has massively huge country singer Tim McGraw (Nov. 13), which is just crazy, and down at the Uptown Theatre there’s a night with Randy Travis (Oct. 24). Earlier this summer, Miranda Lambert came to town; her fiancée, whom you’ve seen in supermarket tabloids, is Blake Shelton, and he’s coming to the Wells Fargo Center (Oct. 17), as is bluegrass-turned-CMT-star Vince Gill (Oct. 26).

Jazz lovers still reeling from the disappointing news from the Healdsburg Jazz Festival’s board of directors can take slight comfort in the Wednesday afternoon series presented by Doug Leibinger at Sonoma State University, including angular pianist Denny Zeitlin (Sept. 15) and excellent experimental quartet Slumgum with the Brian Walsh Set Trio (Oct. 6). The Napa Valley Opera House continues to honor jazz with Mose Allison (Sept. 26) and Diane Reeves (Oct. 1), and their annual fundraising gala features Ramsey Lewis (Sept. 19). And is it OK if I include Tony Bennett playing the Wells Fargo Center (Sept. 21) in with this jazz paragraph too? If you’ve ever seen him live, you know what I mean.

Smooth jazz is represented at the Russian River Jazz Festival (Sept. 11), with David Sanborn, Fourplay and Jeffrey Osborne, and, strangely, there are many options this fall for easy-listening singers, as the Wells Fargo Center has Englebert Humperdink (Sept. 16), the master of love. But the vintage vocalist prize goes to Yountville’s Lincoln Theater, located next to a retirement home, which sees not just Kenny Rogers (Oct. 21), and not just the flowing mane and unsensational vocal stylings of Michael Bolton (Sept. 28). No, they had to go and book the over-the-top, amazingly gaudy, lovably insane Charo (Sept. 10)! Will retired veterans ever recover from her gyrating, Adderall-fueled version of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”? Probably not. Or, in the native tongue: Cuchi-cuchi!

Sonoma County Library