"It felt as if I'd split my skull into two pieces," writes Rodney Crowell in Chinaberry Sidewalks, a memoir published last year. "I saw stars. Drunken birds tweeted, chirped, and crash-landed on the seat next to me."
That might sound like a guy recovering from a car crash, but the truth is far more dysfunctional. In the passage, he's just smashed a bottle over his own head in an attempt to split up what was a constant ugly scene in his house—a brutal fight between mom and dad.
Crowell would leave his broken Houston home to become one of country music's best performers and record producers. But for his headlining set at EarleFest this week, expect Crowell the storyteller to take center stage. Laid out in an open field just west of Santa Rosa, EarleFest offers the sort of casual atmosphere conducive to chatting with the crowd—and the guide dogs.
Guide dogs? You read it right: EarleFest is a fundraiser for the Earle Baum Center of the Blind, which provides support and instruction for those with sight loss. Also on the bill is Carolyn Wonderland, Poor Man's Whiskey and the David Luning Band. Park in the orchard and bring your sunscreen on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Earle Baum Center. 4539 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa. Noon–6pm. $25–$30. 707.523.3222.—Gabe Meline