Rain can't chase away music

  • The Pete Stringfellow band performs on the main stage during Saturday's Sonoma Stampede in Windsor, September 21, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

The sun edged out rain clouds on the last day of summer in Sonoma County, and thousands of people turned out for a smorgasbord of sound served at four venues featuring rock, country, jazz and classical music.

Light morning rain fell at the start of the Fall Music Festival at B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen, the Sonoma Stampede in Windsor's Keiser Park and the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival on Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, but all three events went on largely undeterred.

Capping the county's eclectic day of music mixed with beer, wine and belly flops in the mud was the magic of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman playing to an indoor and outdoor audience at Sonoma State University's Weill Hall.

Russian River Jazz And Blues Festival


"Can you believe we actually get to see this world-class musician in Rohnert Park?" asked Dr. Sandy Handley of Santa Rosa, during the intermission. "It's thrilling."

Brandon Roberts, 26, a musician from Napa, raved over British rock group Bad Company, a headliner at the B.R. Cohn Winery. "It's real music," he said of the band formed before he was born. "They actually have things to say. My boss offered me the tickets, and I jumped on the chance."

Jerry and Rosie Johnson, a married couple for 39 years from Lufkin, Texas, flew up for both days of music on a gravel beach beside the languid green Russian River. "Love jazz, love blues," she said. "Love music," he said, finishing her sentence.

The Lufkins, eating fish and chips between sets, said they also love the scenery and the people of Sonoma County. "If it weren't for the grandbabies we'd move here," Rosie said.

"I love country music," said Terrie Maynard of Santa Rosa at the Stampede. "Country people are the best. They're so laid back and friendly."

Light rain forced cancellation of two opening acts at the Cohn Winery, where nearly 3,000 people sat on blankets lining the side of a hill above the stage.

Bruce Cohn, winery owner and longtime Doobie Brothers manager, said this year's lineup was one of the best in the festival's 27 years, pairing the Doobies with Bad Company and others.

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