Tu BShevat music festival slated for Sonoma County

Featuring a wide array of musicians and storytellers, "In the Spirit of Tu B'Shvat" is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 22 and 23 at the Sebastopol Community Center and neighboring Wischemann Hall, 390 Morris St.

The first-time event is being presented in part by the Jewish Community Agency of Sonoma County.

It kicks off with a short havdallah service at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 conducted by Lisa Iskin, the cantor at Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati.

The rest of Saturday night, the stage will belong to two up-and-coming acts, Yiddish-singing cowboy Scott Gerber and the San Francisco Klezmer Experience.

On Sunday, Jan. 23, the entertainment spans from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The musical lineup features: Jewish music of North Africa and the Mideast by Za'atar; Israeli and original music by Serenade; hard-driving klezmer by the Red Hot Chachkas; and a mix of klezmer, Balkan and Greek dance music by Sevastopol.

There will also be storytelling by Steve Sanfield, folk dancing (including instruction) and liturgical singing, along with a raffle and Jewish food concessions. Some of the events will take place outside if the weather is nice enough.

"There's been lots of local community interest and we're all real excited," said the JCA's Beth Goodman, coordinator of the festival. "From my understanding, it's the first Jewish music festival ever in Sonoma County. We're optimistic it's going to be terrific."

The activities Sunday will include a ceremonial tree-planting in a wetlands area adjacent to the community center. There will also be a brief explanation of Tu B'Shevat.

Goodman said she's hoping for attendance of about 1,000 over the two days. She and promoter Cloud Moss of Cumulus Productions agree that it's an ideal weekend.

"We wanted to do it on Tu B'Shevat, and fortunately Tu B'Shevat falls on a weekend this year," Moss said. "That's the first part. The second part is that it's the weekend before the Super Bowl — so nobody can say they can't come because of football."

A two-day pass is being offered for $32 or $28, with the more expensive plan including reserved seats on Saturday night.

Single-day tickets range from $5 to $20. There are many different categories, as well as some discounts for purchasing tickets in advance at several Sonoma County locations.

For more information, call the JCA at (707) 526-5571, or call (707) 829-7067.

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.