A Sonoma County outdoor performance tradition sparkled near the lower Russian River on Thursday night with the 107th staging of the Monte Rio Variety Show.
Peter Sagal of National Public Radio’s popular “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me” current-events quiz show emceed the community benefit at the woods-lined amphitheater next to the defunct Pink Elephant bar.
Rock and blues Hall of Famer Elvin Bishop and country star Kix Brooks headed up the cast of performers, who wowed a large crowd in beach chairs.
Other performers included comedian and musician Gary Mule Deer, pianist Shelly Berg, composer Paul Brady, singer Billy Valentine, songwriter Bob DiPiero, slide guitarist Roy Rogers and musician Tim Hockenberry, who was a finalist on “America’s Got Talent.”
Supporters of the show — a fundraiser for the Monte Rio School Foundation, St. Catherine’s Church and the Monte Rio Fire Services Foundation — arrange each summer for entertainers to venture out from the neighboring Bohemian Grove Midsummer Encampment, which concludes this weekend.
Guests savored a barbecue by Monte Rio firefighters and baked goods by Monte Rio school kids and their parents, then settled in for a night of world-class, family-friendly talent beneath the stars.
In years past, the Monte Rio Variety Show has featured the likes of Bing Crosby, Art Linkletter, Merv Griffin, Phil Harris, Steve Miller, Clint Black and Zac Brown.
The grand show in tiny Monte Rio is a bit like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.
Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.