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Beyond the Book Bash The benefit for Mill Valley's public library brings letter-wielding big shots to a local haunt, and features Mark Pitta as its master of ceremonies, along with other top-tier literary guests. Proceeds from the event will help provide funds for the library's programs, technology and services. Sept. 25. Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. 8pm. www.mvlf.org.
SRJC Theatre Arts An exciting and varied assortment of plays and musicals highlights the Santa Rosa Junior College's performance season. The quirky romantic comedy, Almost, Maine, tugs at your heartstrings in Newman Auditorium, Sept. 25–Oct. 4. And, just in time for the holidays, everyone's favorite nanny flies into Burbank Auditorium for a run of Mary Poppins, Nov. 20–Dec. 6. 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.527.4307.
Santa Rosa Toy Con Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams, headlines a roster of special guest celebrities, writers and artists who will be on hand for the all-day event. This year, a cosplay competition, Lego exhibition and other highlights join the over 200 vendors offering vintage and collectible toys and comic books. Sept. 26. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Early-bird opening at 9am. $25; regular opening, 10am. $15. santarosatoycon.com.
Earle Fest A swingin' afternoon spent in wide-open west Santa Rosa, this year's benefit for the Earle Baum Center for the Blind features John Hiatt & the Combo, Lazyman, Doyle Bramhall II, John Courage, Amy McCarley and others. There'll be cold beer, as well as local wine and veggie options to fill sun-warmed bellies. Sept. 26. 4539 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa. 11am–6pm. $45–$50; kids under 10, free. 707.523.3222.
Stepping Out to Celebrate Life Marin's premier breast-cancer gala and fundraiser returns for its 20th year with the theme "An Evening of Enchantment." Cocktails and a silent auction will kick off the festivities, followed by a fashion show featuring men and women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The Fundamentals will provide the music for dancing, and a live auction will raise money for the Marin-based nonprofit that provides support for underserved breast-cancer patients. Sept. 26. Marin Center Exhibit Hall, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 5:30pm. $250. www.tocelebratelife.org.
Much Ado About Sebastopol The sixth annual fair again partners with the many Renaissance guilds in the area to reproduce a merry autumn day in dear old Elizabeth's time, replete with fencing workshops, food and drink, vendors, turkey legs and—oh, the costumes! Sept. 26–27. St. Ives Park, 7400 Willow Ave., Sebastopol. Saturday, 10am– 6pm; Sunday, 10am–5pm. $10–$16; kids under 10, free. www.muchadoaboutsebastopol.com.
Sonoma County Philharmonic Community-based nonprofit organization celebrates a new season of orchestral performances with "¡Latin Fiesta!" Conductor Norman Gamboa leads the symphony for a program of classical and highly festive pieces from Latin American composers. Sept. 26–27. Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Auditorium, 1235 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm. $10–$15; students, free. www.socophil.org.
- HOODOO BLUES Guitar legend Buddy Guy is one of many celebrated artists returning to Johnson's Beach for the Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, Sept. 12–13.
Storm Large & Le Bonheur The musician, actor and author shot to national attention when she was a finalist on CBS's Rock Star reality show in 2006. Now Storm Large and her band, Le Bonheur, are back and performing their beautifully twisted music. Sept. 26–27. Green Music Center's Schroeder Hall, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 3pm. $30. 866.955.6040.
The 39th Annual Italian Film Festival A chance to savor the Italian experience, this festival is an often sold-out event featuring critically acclaimed Italian films shown over eight days with special guests and more. Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 26–Nov. 7. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 5:30pm. $15–$112 (series ticket). 415.473.6800.
'California's Wild Edge' Marin artist Tom Killion's woodcut prints stunningly recreate landscapes around California, depicting coastal scenes and several North Bay icons, like Mount Tamalpais, with amazing detail and color. Killion's original woodblocks, sketch journals and more will also be on display. Sept. 26–Nov. 14. Bolinas Museum, 48 Wharf Road, Bolinas. Friday, 1–5pm; Saturday–Sunday, noon–5pm. 415.868.0330.
Mavis Staples & Joan Osborne The singing legend from '70s group the Staples Sisters teams up with the platinum-selling songwriter in the highly anticipated Solid Soul tour. Sept. 27. Uptown Theatre, 1350 Third St., Napa. 8pm. $40–$75. 707.259.0123.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Singer-songwriter and occasional actor Will Oldham's musical alter ego Bonnie "Prince" Billy has remained an exciting and mysterious persona in music since the late '90s, and his experimental output of rustic Americana roots never fails to satisfy. Sept. 27. Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. 8pm. $40. 707.938.5277.
Sonoma Music Festival BR Cohn Charity Events presents a stellar lineup of music icons in the heart of wine country. Headliners include Chicago, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band and the Doobie Brothers, with America, Pablo Cruise, Michael McDonald, Gregg Allman and others also performing. Exclusive VIP and onstage packages are available. Oct. 2–4. Field of Dreams, 151 First St. W., Sonoma. $89 and up. sonomamusicfestival.com.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair Hit up the World Championship Grape Stomp competition, slurp some wine and hitch a hay ride, or simply get down to some swingin' music at this annual tradition. Oct. 2–4. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Friday, 4–9pm; Saturday–Sunday, 10:30am–5pm. Free with donation of four nonperishable food items; otherwise, it's $5 (kids 12 and under, free). Tasting Pavilion tickets (all-inclusive), $55. 707.545.4203. www.harvestfair.org.
Marin Symphony Waterfront Pops Concert Martin Herman conducts the annual Waterfront Pops outdoor concert, this year offering "Classical Mystery Tour," a Beatles tribute with more than two dozen of the band's most influential songs. Bring a picnic and a blanket, and stick around for the fireworks display at the finale. Oct. 3. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Gates at 3pm, show at 6pm. $20 and up; children under 12, free. 415.479.8100.
Lang Lang The world-famous pianist, who has appeared at the Grammys and the Olympics, brings his fiery and inspirational performance style to classical selections from Bach, Chopin and others when he opens the Green Music Center's 2015–16 Performance Series. Oct. 3. Green Music Center's Weill Hall. 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 7:30pm. Subscription purchase required. 866.955.6040.
Richard Dawkins Book Passage presents the evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist on the occasion of his new book (due Sept. 29), Brief Candle in the Dark, in which the author looks back on his life in the intellectual spotlight. Oct. 4. Angelico Hall, 50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael. 4pm. $35 (includes signed book). 415.927.0960.
Calabash The 15th annual benefit supporting Food for Thought, the Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank, features a selection of fine food and wine, a silent auction of gourd art, tours of Food for Thought's organic gardens and live music played on hand-made gourd instruments. Oct. 4. 6550 Railroad Ave., Forestville. 1–5pm. $45–$50. 707.887.1647.
Mill Valley Film Festival Presented by the California Film Institute, this 38th annual event is always full of stars, with a complete lineup to be announced early in September. Known for its contributions to the upcoming Academy Awards, the fest features the best of independent and world cinema screening at four venues in Marin, and this year the fest adds live music to its offerings. Oct. 8–18. mvff.com.
ArtQuest The long-running program at Santa Rosa High School nurtures talented youngsters from Sonoma County in seven different artistic disciplines and offers an above-and-beyond experience for students. Each fall, the students of ArtQuest present a showcase of their studies and work, including music, live theater, digital arts, dance and more. Oct. 8. SRHS Auditorium, 1235 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. artquestonline.org.
Dean Ween Group One half of Ween, Dean Ween, aka Michael "Mickey" Melchiondo, is a wild man on the guitar and an infectious performer who's spent the last two decades shredding on stages and amassing fans around the world. Oct. 9. Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley. 9pm. $40–$42. 415.388.1100.
Cloverdale Performing Arts Center The nonprofit center continues its 2015 theater season with the political farce Sin, Sex & the CIA, written by the bawdy playwriting duo of Michael and Susan Parker. Poking fun at American diplomacy and hypocrisy, this entertaining romp runs Oct. 9–18. 209 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale. $12–$18. 707.894.2214.
- PEARLY WHITES Her comedy is as biting as ever, but standup star Janeane Garofalo will be all smiles when she performs at City Winery Napa on Nov. 21.
Cooks with Books: Jacqués Pepin The celebrated French chef shares over 200 recipes in the companion book to his final PBS series, Heart & Soul in the Kitchen. In the book, Pepin shows his close relationship to the land and sea as he cooks for close friends and family, and now he comes to Napa to cook up a couple of the book's best meals, with wine and conversation. Oct. 10. Peju Winery, 8466 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford. 5:30pm. $145 (includes signed book). 800.999.7909.
Petaluma Whiskerino The Brothers of the Brush have an old saying that goes, "Whether pencil thin or full Ozark-ian, any mannered whisker makes you brothers kin." Their 57th annual Whiskerino embraces that ideal with facial-hair competitions ranging from peach fuzz to sideburns to full growth, with live music and family-friendly fun. Oct. 10. Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St., Petaluma. 2pm. Admission for onlookers is free; contestants pay $5–$10. 707.762.3565.
Twin Stars Conductor Bruno Ferrandis and the Santa Rosa Symphony open their 88th season with a performance of Pax Universalis, a world premiere commission by renowned Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz, followed by twin sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton playing like mirror images on two pianos for two enchanting concertos. Oct. 10–12. Green Music Center's Weill Hall, 1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Saturday and Monday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm. 707.546.8742. www.santarosasymphony.com.
Sonoma County Art Trails With more than 170 participating artists, this annual tradition offers a self-guided opportunity to enjoy the abundance of creative local talents and to buy directly from artists while peeking into their workspaces. Oct. 10–11, 17–18. 10am–5pm. Free. Preview exhibit, Sept. 26–Oct. 19, at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. Tuesday–Friday, 10am–4pm; Saturday, 1–4pm. 707.829.4797. sonomacountyarttrails.org.
'Black Artists on Art: The Legacy Exhibit' Group show features nearly 40 fine artists celebrating the vibrant creativity that black artists, musicians and performers have given to American and world culture, as first chronicled in the Black Artists on Art book series dating back to the 1960s. Oct. 10–Nov. 22. Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St., Petaluma. Thursday–Monday, 11am–5pm. 707.762.5600.
'Adela Akers/West Coast Fiber Arts' Spanish-born textile artist Adela Akers, now living in Guerneville, reflects on her career at a group exhibit of West Coast artists, including Gertrud Parker and Rachel Brumer, while taking the medium of textiles in several exciting directions. Oct. 10–Nov. 29. Art Museum of Sonoma County, 505 B St., Santa Rosa. Tuesday–Sunday, 11am–5pm. 707.579.1500.
Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival The SCJFF returns for its 19th year of showcasing films about Jewish life the world over, featuring documentaries, dramas and comedies. Oct. 13–Nov. 17. Rialto Cinemas, 6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol. 707.528.4222. www.jccsoco.org.
Bioneers Summit Conference Learn about groundbreaking ideas and discuss building a blueprint for sustainable systems. Notable speakers include activist Sister Simone Campbell, writer Kim Stanley Robinson and filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg, with performances and workshops. Oct. 15–17. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $175–$495. 877.246.6337. www.bioneers.org.