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Green Music Center fundraiser brings New Orleans to Sonoma County

The Green Music Center in Rohnert Park felt a little more like a jazz club in New Orleans than the Sonoma State University campus during Party for the Green, an annual fundraiser held Saturday.

Cocktails, dancing, funk, soul and jazz music all added to the night’s “New Orleans Style” theme. Two hundred attendees were encouraged to dress with “NOLA and funky blues” in mind, whether that be colorful beads, elaborate masks or wild patterns.

“It’s not formal. It’s not casual. It’s funky New Orleans,” said Jacob Yarrow, executive director of the Green Music Center.

The party’s main attraction was Jon Cleary, a New Orleans-based keyboardist, vocalist and guitarist whose album “GoGo Juice” won a Grammy in 2015 for best regional roots music album.

After an hourlong reception where guests mingled, Cleary took the stage at Weill Hall to perform a “survey of New Orleans piano styles,” from popular tunes to personal favorites, Yarrow said.

“I think of John’s music as being ‘of New Orleans,’” he said. “He’s one of the foremost practitioners and examples of the great lineage of New Orleans piano players. ... I think it’s like New Orleans soul music.”

Afterward, guests relocated to Trione Courtyard for drinks and dancing as Cleary performed again — this time, with his three-piece band, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. New Orleans-inspired bites and desserts from Sonoma State Culinary Services also were served.

Tickets for the event cost $125, and proceeds raised money for the Green Music Center’s programming.

“Party for the Green is a special night because it gives us a chance to celebrate our accomplishments and talk about the little bit of impact we have on the region,” Yarrow said, adding that the event also recognizes the center’s donors as well as its corporate and academic partners.

“It’s one of the great parties of the year and great food and nothing but fun,” he said.

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