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It's time to ring in 2010 and there's no better place to celebrate than Sonoma County and the greater Bay Area. Reflecting the region's diversity, events range from belly dancing at the Russian River Brewing Company to a romp with African animals at Safari West.

For music lovers, Tommy Castro and his blues band tear down Petaluma's Mystic and the Zydeco Flames heat up Rancho Nicasio.

For a magical, ethereal entry into the new year, head to San Francisco for the new Cirque du Soleil show, "Ovo."

These are just some of the highlights for a rollicking ride into 2010. For details and more options, see the list below to find an event that will make 2009's swan song a night to remember.

McNear's Mystic Theatre: Tommy Castro Band — One of the hardest working ensembles in the Bay Area, this band brings its deep-rooted blues to Petaluma for New Year's Eve. The $50 ticket includes an appetizer buffet, a glass of champagne, and a midnight balloon drop. Showcasing his new album, "Hard Believer," Castro can turn any hall into a raucous party. Blues Review has compared Castro to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Allman. Opening is Jeffrey Halford and the Healers; 21 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, 765-2121. Tickets: $50 advance, $55 at the door, www.ticketweb.com or www.mystictheatre.com.

Marin Center: Lewis Black — A regular on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," comedian Black's no-holds-barred rants have targeted everything from the Bush administration to the institution of marriage: "You know why divorce is so f---in' expensive; because it's so damn worth it." Black is the heir apparent to such comedians as George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, whose diatribes don't just make you laugh, they make you think. The 8 p.m. show is scheduled to end by 9:30 p.m.Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, $39.50 to $99.50 plus fees, www.livenation.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

Safari West: Romp with the Beasts — If you've ever celebrated NYE in a crowded plaza, you may think you've rung in the new year with the beasts. This year, try it for real at this African theme park east of Santa Rosa. The $100 ticket includes dinner, dancing and a midnight champagne toast in the presence of the zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, kudus, warthogs and other exotic animals that roam Safari West's grounds. For an additional fee, you can book a room and spend the night. 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, 579-2551, safariwest.com.

The Fillmore: Les Claypool — The west county bassist, who rose to fame in the 1990s with his band Primus, plays his annual New Year's Eve gig. Like Tom Waits, his friend and collaborator — the two have played on one another's albums for almost two decades — Claypool plays few live gigs. He is known for his heavy bass lines and outlandish antics. If you've heard the theme to "South Park," you've heard Claypool's bass. 9 p.m., 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. Tickets: $59.50 plus $14.50 per-ticket fee, general admission, www.livenation.com.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: Furthur with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir — The Grateful Dead had a decades-long tradition of performing epic New Year's Eve shows. Surviving Dead members Lesh and Weir carry the torch by ringing in 2010 in San Francisco, where it all began in the 1960s. 99 Grove St., San Francisco. Tickets: $65 plus $11.20 per-ticket fee at www.ticketmaster.com.

Artists participating in the Santa Rosa Symphony League’s “Evening in Vienna” painted violin fundraiser include:

Jizell Albright
Rose Baker
Susan Berg
Marilyn Chiotti
Sharon Daniels-Duerr
Teresa deLao
Marylu Downing
John Farnsworth
Charles Gresalfi
Gerald Huth
Wendy Lalanne
Monica Lee-Boutz
Diane Luiz
Jill Keller Peters
James Reynolds
Emily Roeder
Sandra Rubin
Pam Simpson
Karen Spratt
Christiane Michaela Vincent
Carol Watanabe
Linda Way
Philip Wilkinson
Carolyn Wilson
Nancy Winn


Tickets are $25 and available at srsymphonyleague.org and Corrick's in downtown Santa Rosa

Rancho Nicasio: Zydeco Flames — The good times always roll with these local zydeco favorites. Following in the grooves of Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco, the Flames play New Orleans roots music. Put on your dancing shoes — this isn't a sit-and-watch band. 9 p.m., (415) 662-2219. Tickets $35 if you have dinner (not included) before the show; $45 for patrons not dining at the venue, 1 Old Rancheria Road, Nicasio, (415) 662-2219, www.ranchonicasio.com.

Cotati's Tradewinds: The Pulsators — This Santa Rosa band's blend of funk, ska and high-life music makes for a feel-good send-off to 2009. The Pulsators kick off their show at 9:30 p.m., 8210 Old Redwood Hwy., 795-7878, www.tradewindsbar.com. Tickets: $20.

Russian River Brewing Company: Belly Dancing and the 808 Band — This eclectic double bill starts with Wild Card Tribal Belly Dance at 9 p.m. After an hour of sensual hip gyrations, the 808 Band, featuring Robert Herrera, takes the stage, ushering in 2010 with hip-hop, reggae and soul tunes. Free. 725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 545-2337, russianriverbrewing.com.

The French Garden: Dinner and Dance with Out of the Blue — Start the evening with a four-course dinner, then dance the night away to the strings and horns of the Out of the Blue band. Dinner 5 to 10 p.m., $60. Dance party, 9 p.m. to midnight, $25. Both $75. Drinks and tip not included. 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, 824-2030, www.frenchgardenrestaurant.com.

Hopmonk: Juke Joint New Year's Eve Countdown — The producers of the Harmony Festival's techno-tribal dance nights join the DJ/MC duo Zeph & Azeem for a night of hip-hop and funk. Zeph & Azeem will be backed by a horn section and drummer. San Francisco DJ Romanowski rounds out the bill. Hopmonk's Patrick Malone says the festivities begin with Cirque du Soleil-style acts, including fire dancing in the garden courtyard. Must be 21 or older. $20 to $30. 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol, 829-7300, www.hopmonk.com.

The Lodge at Sonoma: The Dana Land Quartet — Jazz vocalist Dana Land and her band play The Gallery at this upscale resort. One critic says: "Dana's voice sounds somewhere between Ella's and Doris Day's — sweet but very jazzy and sexy. Her rhythm is impeccable." $25 includes party favors and a champagne toast; for those dining at Carneros restaurant, admission is free. 1325 Broadway, Sonoma, 931-2042, www.thelodgeatsonoma.com.

AT&T Park: Cirque du Soleil's "Ovo" — At press time, there were about 100 seats remaining for Cirque du Soleil's 4 p.m. New Year's Eve show, a fantastical rendering of teeming insects taking to the trapeze and performing other-worldly circus stunts. If you can't attend on New Year's Eve, the show continues in San Francisco until Jan. 24 and begins a run in San Jose on Feb. 4. San Francisco Ovo tickets $60 to $125, discounts for children and seniors, www.cirquedusoleil.com/ovo.

Michael Shapiro is author of "A Sense of Place" and an entertainment correspondent for The Press Democrat. Contact: michaelshapiro@yahoo.com.

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