Without a doubt, fall is our favorite season. The heat from summer has subsided, sweaters come out of closets, harvests commence, leaves float down from trees, and the North Bay offers up a bounty of entertainment. From Labor Day to Thanksgiving, there are huge music festivals, live theater productions, extravagant wine country weekends, festive art fairs and so much more happening in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. You can't do it all, but our annual Fall Arts Guide lays it all out.
6th Street Playhouse Housed in the heart of Railroad Square, the popular playhouse continues to engage the community with plays and musicals designed to delight and entertain. Currently, an all-female cast leads the Playhouse's revival of The Wizard of Oz, running now through Sept. 20. Next up, a cantankerous novelist is haunted by the clever ghost of his late wife in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, running Oct. 16 to Nov. 8. Just in time for the holidays, Dickens' classic Christmas Carol opens on Nov. 20. 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 707.523.4185.
Main Stage West Sebastopol's intimate theater space presents another schedule of impressive works. Running Sept. 3–27, the company stages the Northern California premiere of Amy Herzog's family drama 4000 Miles, in which 21-year-old Leo seeks solace from his 91-year-old grandmother in her West Village apartment. Next, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 8, the acclaimed Circle Mirror Transformation follows an unlikely group of strangers who form a creative unit in this charming comedy that also explores real-life drama. 104 N. Main St., Sebastopol. 707.823.0177.
Smokey Robinson As the reigning "King of Motown," Robinson has, by some accounts, written over 1,000 songs in his chart-topping career. He's an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is still as smooth as ever onstage. Sept. 4. Green Music Center's Weill Hall, 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 7:30pm. $25 and up. 866.955.6040.
Wine Country Weekend Get up close and personal with Sonoma County winegrowers, winemakers and chefs in one of America's top wine-focused fundraisers. Friday includes Sonoma Starlight, an evening of wine, dinner and live music under the stars at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Saturday's Taste of Sonoma event at MacMurray Estate Vineyards immerses you in over 200 wineries pouring thousands of glasses. Sunday's Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. John lets you take it home. Sept. 4–6. sonomawinecountryweekend.com.
Cinnabar Theater The revered Petaluma theater presents the 43rd season full of musicals, dramatic works and, of course, the annual opera. In the fall, the musical comedy City of Angels opens the season and runs Sept. 4–20. Then, award-winning playwright Trevor Allen breathes new life into Mary Shelley's electrifying novel Frankenstein with The Creature, running Oct. 16– Nov. 1. 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707.763.8929.
Sausalito Art Festival Sausalito has long been hailed as an artist's paradise, so hosting this excellent arts fest is a no-brainer. This year marks the 63rd festival, and features top-name musical entertainment on three stages, including Jefferson Starship and Jimmy Cliff. Plus, there's gourmet food and beverages—not to mention more art than most museums! Sept. 5–7. Marinship Park, Sausalito. Saturday–Sunday, 10am–7pm; Monday, 10am–5pm. $5–$25; children under five, free. 415.332.3555.
North Bay New Orleans Festival The inaugural concert event, presented by the North Bay Hootenanny and SOMO Concerts, boasts New Orleans institution Rebirth Brass Band headlining a day of traditionally spirited music that also features El Radio Fantastique and the Dixie Giants. Authentic Creole cuisine and marching-band antics will all be a part of the show. Sept. 6. Sonoma Mountain Village Event Center, 1100 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park. 2pm. $32. www.somoconcerts.com.
The Bluegrass Situation The annual Live at Lagunitas concert series picks the best in veteran performers and up-and-coming indie acts for free performances, and this year, the Brewing Company unveils its latest bluegrass-centric mini-fest, featuring Texas-based country- rock duo Jamestown Revival and San Francisco string band the Brothers Comatose. Sept. 7. Lagunitas Mini Ampitheaterette at Lagunitas Brewing Company, 1280 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma. 6pm. Free. Tickets only available through artists' websites.
Fishstock There will be fun and food at Fishstock, the fourth annual fundraiser for the Jenner Community Club. Enjoy chowder tasting, barbecue salmon, offerings from local wineries and breweries, live music, an ice cream parlor, a raffle and more. Sept. 6. 10398 Hwy. 1, Jenner. 11am–5pm. Free. 707.865.2574.
National Heirloom Exposition Dubbed the "World's Pure Food Fair," this massive expo of food providers and enthusiasts brings together chef demos, displays, live music, a giant pumpkin contest, antique tractors and plenty of good food benefiting school gardening education. Sept. 8–10. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $15–$30. theheirloomexpo.com.
Chautauqua Revue The revue is back for its lucky 13th year. New twists with musicians, dancers, storytellers, performers and clowns keep audiences on their toes while honoring the traditions of the original Chautauqua events from a hundred years ago. Sept. 10–12. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, 15290 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. Thursday–Saturday, 7:30pm; children's matinee, Saturday, 2pm. $29–$45. Kids under five, free; ages five to 15, $10. 707.874.1557.
Marin Theatre Company Producing provocative and passionate works from the best playwrights of the 20th century and today, the company starts its season with the West Coast premiere of Sarah Ruhl's The Oldest Boy, running Sept. 10 to Oct. 4, about a family whose son may be a reincarnated lama. There's also the Bay Area premiere of Elizabeth Irwin's fast-paced and funny My Mañana Comes, running from Oct. 29 to Nov. 22. 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. 415.388.5200.
Wine Country Ukulele Festival The festival starts on Thursday, Sept. 10, with a rollicking campfire jam at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (3801 St. Helena Hwy., Calistoga). The fun continues on Friday, Sept. 11, first at the St. Helena Farmers Market, followed by the Happy Hour String-Along, with lots of ukulele fun, and finishing with an acoustic set by duo the Quiet American at Farmstead Restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch (738 Main St., St. Helena). Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, the festival will host jam sessions, flea market and ukulele lessons. The festivities conclude on Sunday, 10am–2:30pm, at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College. $15–$20; kids under 12, free (extra charge for workshops). 707.226.7372.
Sebastopol Village Building Convergence Annual community event is all about collaborating neighbors, groups and civic partnerships working to beautify public spaces in Sebastopol through "placemaking projects" that involve building and landscaping projects happening over the course of 10 days. Sept. 11–20. 707.228.8400. www.sebastopolvbc.org.
Raven Players The 2015–16 season at the Raven Theater, in Healdsburg and Windsor, is a lively concoction of plays that run the gamut from farcical to frightful. First, in Healdsburg, sidesplitting slapstick lends itself to a production of Lend Me a Tenor, Sept. 11–27. Then, three talented actors zip through the Good Book in The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), Oct. 9–25 in Windsor. And don't miss history's greatest vampire in the Healdsburg production of Dracula, Oct. 16–Nov. 1. 115 North St., Healdsburg, and 195 Windsor River Road, Windsor. 707.433.6335.
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts The fall lineup is sure to please, beginning with the astutely abrasive standup of Lewis Black on Sept. 11, a solo show from prolific grunge and rock frontman Chris Cornell on Sept. 24 and classic bad boys George Thorogood & the Destroyers on Sept. 25. Two famous musical family torchbearers appear in October when Frank Sinatra Jr. presents a multimedia concert as a centennial celebration of his father's legacy on Oct. 8, and Rosanne Cash is joined by John Leventhal on Oct. 16. And don't overlook Motown stars Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who play on Nov. 3. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 707.546.3600. www.wellsfargocenterarts.org.
Sebastopol Cajun Zydeco Festival This marks 20 years of old-fashioned New Orleans spice. All rumps under the redwoods are guaranteed to be shakin' as Lil' Buck Sinegal, Mark St. Mary & His Louisiana Blues and Zydeco Band, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble and others take the stage, with drinks and fine Cajun cuisine on hand. Sept. 12. 11:30am–7pm (rain or shine). Ives Park, 400 Willow St., Sebastopol. $22–$25; kids under 12, free. www.winecountrycajun.com.[image-2
Floating Homes Tour The Sausalito water-bound community invites visitors into some of the world's most unique and beautiful homes for this 30th annual tour. On offer are food and drinks, local music and an art show and sale, but it's the houses that are the main attraction. Sept. 12. Kappas Marina, Sausalito. 11am–4pm. $40–$45. 415.332.1916.
Letters from Russia Under musical director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the New Century Chamber Orchestra returns with a debut appearance by soprano and Metropolitan Opera star Ailyn Pérez, in a program that features masterworks by Russian composers. Sept. 12. Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 5pm. $29–$61. 415.444.8000.
Petaluma Craft Beer Festival This event is all about the beer. A short list of the breweries participating includes Henhouse, Petaluma Hills, Lagunitas, 101 North, Moylan's, Baeltane, Woodfour, Fogbelt and St. Florian's Brewery. There's also music from Randy & the Special Agents and Sugar Moon, Sept. 12, Water Street, Petaluma (21 and over only). 1–5pm. $40; $20 for designated drivers. www.petalumarivercraftbeerfest.org.
Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival A rich tradition of blues and jazz continues with Dave Koz, Buddy Guy, Rick Braun, Taj Mahal Trio, Kenny Lattimore, Jackie Greene, War and others performing at the best little beach on the Russian River. A wine garden, international food court and kayaking and canoeing await. Sept. 12–13. Johnson's Beach, 16241 First St., Guerneville. 10am–6pm. $55 and up; kids five and under, free. 707.869.1595. www.russianriverfestivals.com.