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North Bay's freaky five


Petaluma farmer turned musician Arann Harris is talking about the creepy side of bluegrass and its rural origins, when he arrives at one of the all-time truisms of horror cinema:

"You know aliens always hit the farmers first. They crash into the barn and the farmer goes out there in his overalls and says, 'What's going on out here?' Then it spreads from there."

It happened in all those creepy crop circle movies. It happened with that meteor in "Creepshow." Beyond aliens, the country cringe happens all the time — from the bluegrass banjo in "Deliverance" to the "The Children of the Corn."

And that's exactly what Arann Harris and the Farm Band are going to do tonight in the Bluegrass Freakshow at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol.

"Bluegrass was made for Halloween," said Harris. "We're talking backwoods, sinister songs about dead people."

Growing up on a sheep farm outside Petaluma, he has seen the dark side of ranch life: "The farm is just like one giant mortuary. Now I go to dig and bury something, and I find something I already buried."

Not to mention, chickens running around with their heads cut off and dark barns filled with pitchforks.

But, not to worry, if twang ain't your thang, bluegrass is only one of many creepy scenes this Halloween. From reggae to indie rock, from tonight until Thursday's Hallowed Eve, here's the Top 5 list:

<strong>1. Hopmonk Tavern</strong>

No Sonoma County live music venue delves deeper into Halloween than Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol. It kicks off with the Bluegrass Freak Show, staging Arann Harris and the Farm Band, Supermule (filtering bluegrass through soul and folk) and the T-Sisters (who just came off a momentous Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest). 8:30 tonight. $10.

Spook and spectacle continues Saturday with the annual hay-bale Halloween carnival Cirque du Sebastopol, bringing in touring DJ VibeSquaD, along with Jug Dealers and Bad Apple String Band. 9 p.m. Saturday. $20-$30.

And then the Whiskers and Whiskey Halloween bash ("whatever your costume ... just add moustache") closes it out Thursday with Phutureprimitive and Cabaret de Caliente. $10-$20. 9 p.m. 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol. <a href="http://hopmonk.com" target="_blank">hopmonk.com</a>.

<strong>2. Arlene Francis Center</strong>

The Crux picks Halloween night to drop its new album "The Ratcatcher." Toss in theater, burlesque and trapeze and you've got "All Hallow's Eve — A Night to Honor the Dead" taking over every inch of the Arlene Francis Center, from the cafe to the auditorium. 8 p.m. Thursday. Check back for ticket prices at <a href="http://arlenefranciscenter.org/" target="_blank">arlenefranciscenter.org</a>. 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa.

<strong>3. Society: Culture House</strong>

You think rastafarians aren't scary? Then why did they give dreadlocks to the Alien in "Alien vs. Predator"? This Seventh Street danceclub doubles as the spooky reggae "Casa Rasta" for Kymani Marley and Spragga Benz and the Dancehall Halloween party. 9 p.m. Thursday. $20-$30 tickets: brownpapertickets.com/event/485832.

But that's not the only freak show at Society: Culture House. It all starts tonight with the 18+ Halloween DJ dance party, then Saturday gets ghoulish with turntablist extraordinaire Chris Karns (winner of the 2011 DMC World DJ Championships). Look for costume prizes every night. 528 Seventh St., Santa Rosa. 336-2582.

<strong>4. Mystic Theatre</strong>

It's Halloween every night when Wonder Bread 5 dons sky-high Afro wigs to resurrect the hits of yesteryear — from Motown to the '80s, with a little '70s funk in between. Sure it's cheesy as hell, but everybody dances at these shows. 9:45p.m. Saturday. $21-$24. 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. <a href="http://mystictheatre.com" target="_blank">mystictheatre.com</a>.

<strong>5. Trione Winery</strong>

Crazy Famous, one of the most relevant and resilient indie rock bands in the North Bay, teams up with DJ Dray Lopez for the annual Haunted Winery Halloween Benefit at Trione Winery. Look for tons of wine, costumes, photo booth, action and raffles at this benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County and the Geyserville Education Foundation. 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday. $20-$30 tickets. 19550 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville. <a href="http://trionewinery.com/events" target="_blank">trionewinery.com/events</a>.

<em>Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014, john@beckmediaproductions.com and follow on Twitter @becksay.</em>