Twangfest brings music, clogging and yodeling to Sebastopol
Some festivals are held annually, and then there’s Twangfest. The first one was in 2009 at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma. The second one will be May 15 at the HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol.
That’s a hiatus you can’t blame on COVID.
“I don’t know why it went away, but I’m glad Sheila Groves-Tracy said, ‘Let’ do it again,’” said veteran local deejay Bill Bowker, now semi-retired and one of the organizers of both the old and new Twangfests.
It’s an impressive group of organizers. Groves-Tracy, who has booked acts for the Mystic, Twin Oaks Tavern in Penngrove and the Uptown in Napa, has run her own Notable Talent agency for the past 34 years.
“Bill and I are friends and we were looking for a project to do together now,” Groves-Tracy said. She and Bowker were partners for several years in the Notable Arts Management, a secondary business for her.
Her other partner in this venture, Frank Hayhurst, bandleader of the Legendary Bronze Hog, has organized numerous other fundraising events.The team also includes longtime bandleader Kevin Russell and musician, educator and concert promoter Jim “Mr. Music” Corbett.
For the new Twangfest, they’ve assembled a lineup of Sonoma County’s most popular musical acts, including Petty Theft, Danny Sorentino, Josh Windmiller, Sebastian Saint James, David Luning, Kevin Russell and Sherrie Phillips. The Redwood Country Cloggers also will perform.
And, as it if that weren’t enough, there’ll be a yodeling contest, judged by Bowker, Luning and Sorentino.
There was a battle of the yodelers at the first Twangfest 13 years ago, also emceed by Bowker, but with Santa Rosa native Dan Hicks, nationally known singer-songwriter and proponent of American roots music, as a judge.
“I had a weekly show with Dan Hicks on KRSH,” Bowker recalled. “That’s how the yodeling contest came to be. He thought it would be perfect if he could be a judge.”
Hicks died in 2016 at age 74, but the yodeling contest lives on. This time, contestants have been calling during the past week into Andre de Channe's KRSH morning radio show to audition, and the five finalists will battle it out at the festival.
“The radio yodeling is a preliminary to the ‘yodel-off’ at the festival,” Hayhurst said.
In addition to the yodeling, clogging and live music, Twangfest will include a raffle and silent auction. Prizes include trips, hotel stays, a harmonica signed by blues star Charlie Musselwhite, a Fender Squire Stratocaster and one of David Luning’s trademark hats.
Like the original Twangfest in 2009, the new event is a fundraiser for the Redwood Empire Food Bank, which is “needed more than ever,” Hayhurst explained.
“Food insecurity is at an all-time high, and people on marginal budgets can’t keep up,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at email@example.com or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.
Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat
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