Concerts in the Plaza
Saturday, September 9th
The Carolyn Sills Combo is a multi-award winning five-piece band from Santa Cruz, CA. Lead singer and bassist, Carolyn Sills, writes songs with vivid lyrics, one moment sweet with nostalgia, the next playful humor, inspired by the likes of Cindy Walker, Roger Miller, Del Reeves and Robert Service.
With their many western swing awards, one would think they have The Combo pegged, but that genre’s just the tip of the iceberg. From their critically acclaimed Marty Robbins-inspired album ‘Return to El Paso’ to their spaghetti western anthems, Americana roots numbers or twin harmony instrumentals, The Combo keeps putting out fresh and original material. They are gearing up to release their fourth album in 2023, with new tales of the Yukon gold rush, mustachioed Cowboy motorcyclists and #2 pencils, told by their dueling guitar and steel leads and three-part vocal harmonies.
Laura Benitez and the Heartache use the three chord tools of country music to tell the simple, unvarnished truth about love, too much whiskey, and the call of the road. Their new album, "California Centuries," finds the band delving deep into themes of collective denial ("Bad Things"), gaslighting ("Invisible" and "Gaslight") and romantic lessons learned ("I'm the One" and "Are You Using Your Heart"). Their twangy honesty shines through in straightforward arrangements, crystalline harmonies, and spare instrumentation. Beware their catchy hooks and sweet melodies - these stray puppy tunes will follow you home and become your most steadfast companions.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2018, The Deep Rivers is an enchanting acoustic folk duo that effortlessly blends soulful harmonies and evocative storytelling. Comprised of Keeley Valentino and Tim Arnett, this talented pair creates a musical experience that resonates deeply with audiences.
Drawing inspiration from the ebb and flow of life, The Deep Rivers infuse their music with a sense of introspection and emotional depth. Their songs explore themes of love, loss, beauty, and betrayal, inviting listeners to embark on a heartfelt musical voyage.
Having honed their craft through years of collaboration, Valentino and Arnett have developed a seamless musical chemistry that shines through in their live performances. Whether performing in intimate venues or on larger stages, their genuine connection and undeniable talent create a poignant and engaging experience.
Based in Marin County, the Starduster Orchestra is a unique and beloved traditional 17-piece big band, with vocalists, specializing in swing and other dance music from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Since they first organized in 1996, they have provided audiences the highest quality music and dance experience possible while staying true to their original goal of playing the very best original and custom arrangements available. In the Starduster Orchestra’s own words, “Audiences get to enjoy the sound of the Big Band Era the way it was played. The excitement of our music compels audiences from eighteen to eighty to get up and dance.”.
Sunday, September 10th
Los Mendoza y Friends was formed in the summer of 2016 by guitarist, Jose Mendoza, his brother/drummer, Nic Mendoza, and Jose's daughter/vocalist, Julie Mendoza-Lollar. They named the band Los Mendoza y Friends to purposely be "Spanglish" in honor of their dual rooted upbringing. They also anticipated that it would be the three of us with a lot of different "Friends." There have been times when the "Friends" on stage have included more than one Grammy award recipient.
Their eclectic Latin fusion based style has its roots in the mid 70's. It was during that time that Jose and Nic played in a family band called Anaconda. Besides having a lot of fun, our highlight was as an opening act for Latin American recording artists. Thereafter, Nic continued to have success performing with elite local artists. Jose performed in a San Francisco Public Defender band called Guilty as Charged.
Julie began singing at the age of four. She is classically trained as a graduate of the internationally acclaimed San Francisco Girl's Chorus. During her high school years, Julie was the lead vocalist for the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble which is directed by Bay Area great composer and musician John Calloway.
Regulars at well-known Bay Area clubs such as the Seven Mile House, Iron Gate, Building 43, and the Ramp. They have also performed at a live event on KPFA and last year were invited to perform at the Corte Madera Summer Concert Series. They started this year out with a bang with a New Year's Eve performance at the Corinthian Yacht in Tiburon and have been working hard this year with mixing and editing their live event recorded in Corte Madera. Their CD "Latin Fusion with a Pinch of Funk" is now in the production stage.
Ralph Woodson Blues Band's lead guitar and vocalist Ralph Woodson is the youngest of nine. He grew up in Richmond, CA, and was initially struck by the sound of the “Band of Gypsys” record. Ralph has toured with Hedzoli Sounds (of which Hugh Masekela was a member), as well as The Mighty Diamonds, Lady Bianca, Faye Carol, and a Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead)/Sy Klopps (Herbie Herbert) collaboration called the Trichromes. With the Trichromes Ralph toured from California to New York. and later with the Sy Klopps Blues Band, Ralph played on big stages opening for Tower of Power, James Brown, ZZ Top, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others. He’s appeared at the College of Marin and on KFOG-FM with author/Hendrix expert Steve Roby, demonstrating the sound and techniques of Jimi Hendrix.
Ralph formed the Ralph Woodson Experience in 2001 (which became Purple Haze in 2010), Purple Haze has performed all over the western United States focusing on the Hendrix material that he grew up with and always loved. Purple Haze has gained a steady following in the Bay Area and knock people out wherever they go. Ralph’s showmanship and command of the Blues and Hendrix material is second to none. See it for yourself!
Jenny Kerr is one of few active contemporary artists who fully embody the breadth of the Americana idiom, mining the roots of folk, blues, country, bluegrass and rock to produce a catalog of original work that is respectfully steeped in tradition while still fresh, modern and immediately identifiable as her own.
An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Kerr deftly traverses guitar, dobro, banjo, piano and harmonica over the course of a show, but it’s her deeply soulful, powerhouse vocals that define her sound and connect with audiences worldwide. Kerr and musical partner/producer/guitarist Phil “Philbillie” Milner are the core of a rotating collective of the Bay Area’s top session players, so every live show is fresh and unique, centered around Kerr’s songwriting and vocal delivery and accentuated by some of the finest soloists and support musicians in the business. Milner, a highly sought-after producer and session guitarist, had an extended tenure as guitar tech for Bob Weir & Ratdog as well as Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt and Primus.
Kerr is as much at home in the local music scene of Marin County which she now calls home as she is on major festival stages nationally and worldwide, bringing the same power, energy, heart and rootsy soul to every performance.
Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88s have been the torchbearers of a great American blues musical heritage, not for three years but three decades. Taking their inspiration from the great jump n’ boogie outfits of the late 40s and early 50s, they breathe fresh life into the music that gave birth to rock n’roll. Woods styled his group after the jumpin’ n’ jivin’, shoutin’ n’ honkin’, pumpin’ n’ poundin’ bands of Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, Joe and Jimmy Liggins, Amos Milburn, and Roy Milton. Adding a healthy dose of New Orleans rhythm and blues, piledrivin’ piano, and some of his own contemporary playful lyrics, Woods and His Rocket 88s forge their own brand of music they call “rock-a-boogie.”