Are Petalumans hard-wired to like outdoor events?
In an article in National Geographic a few years back, scientist Florence Williams was interviewed about her then-new book, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier and More Creative.” The piece, titled “We Are Wired to Be Outside,” quotes Dr. Williams as saying that the Romantic poets of the industrialization period in England and France were among the first to describe the health benefits of stepping outdoors as an antidote to working (or anything else) cooped in in a building. “You see it in novelists like Jane Austen,” she said, “whose heroines always go marching our when they’re upset or need to work something out.”
Well, the Romantics (and Austen too), would love summer in Sonoma County, where there are more outside opportunities to enjoy music, food, theater, movies and community engagement than can possibly be squeezed into a single article about summer activities.
Not that we won’t try.
Here’s a list of some of the great (mostly) outdoor opportunities, events, festivals and fun times awaiting you over the next few months, in and around Petaluma.
LIVE! THURSDAY MUSIC SERIES IN THEATER SQUARE (Thursday, June 6 — late summer) — Here’s a great reason to walk, bike, mobilize or otherwise ambulate to downtown Petaluma. This summer on Thursday afternoons (4:30-7 p.m.) and Sundays (3:30-6 p.m.), great live music is happening in Theater Square. Some truly exceptional performers are scheduled throughout the summer. This week, the Thursday night event welcomes John Courage (June 13), followed by Hannah Jern-Miller (June 20), Steve Pile (June 27) and more to be announced. On Sundays, come see/hear/dance to Dirty Red Barn (June 9), Casual Coalition (June 16), Twang Ditty (June 23), Odd Job Ensemble (June 30) and more.
LIVE AT LAGUNITAS (Through Oct. 7) — One of the great pleasures of living in or near Petaluma is Live at Lagunitas, the popular free concert series, held under the open sky at Lagunitas Brewing Company. Launched a few years ago, the series (which officially kicked off 2019 on May 27) brings some of the hottest and best up-and-coming musical acts to the Eastside facility’s attractively designed outdoor amphitheater stage. This year’s lineup includes the Brooklyn-based Afro-beat ensemble Antibalas (Tuesday, June 18), and rapper/singer Thundercat (Monday, June 24) from Los Angeles. Also look for folk-rocker James McMurtry (Monday, Aug. 5), the experimental pop band Man Man (Tuesday, Sept. 3), and Philadelphia-born pop band STRFKR (Tuesday, Oct. 1). The shows play mostly on Mondays or Tuesdays, when the brewery is usually closed to the public. Though the concerts are free, reservations are required, and available “tickets” routinely get snapped up within minutes of their being put up on the brewery’s website, so look sharp. Ticket reservations and vital bits of information can be found at Lagunitas.com/live.
BROADWAY UNDER THE STARS: ‘A CHORUS LINE’ (June 14-30, Jack London State Historical Park) — Sonoma County’s Transcendence Theatre Company takes its annual series of outdoor Broadway-themed musical revues to a whole new level this year, with its first-ever full staging of an actual Broadway musical. As in the past, the summer-long season will still include the popular Fantastical Family Night (July 19 and 20), a song-and-dance extravaganza, this year titled “Those Dancin’ Feet” (Aug. 9-25), and the celebratory season closing Gala Celebration (Sept. 6-8). But the real buzz-maker is that the Broadway Under the Stars season will open with a three-week run of “A Chorus Line,” directed by Amy Miller, the company’s co-founder and artistic director. Given that the 1975 crowd-pleaser follows 17 dancers auditioning for one of eight spots in the chorus line of an upcoming Broadway show, and is traditionally performed on a bare stage, there is not a better choice for Transcendence’s first foray into full musical presentations. After all, the big selling point of these Under the Stars shows is that the talent all have Broadway experience, and the cast assembled by Miller have all experienced the very same things the characters in the play do. And based on what this company has already accomplished in its open-air “field of dreams” at Jack London State Historical Park, there is every indication Miller and company will be causing one singular sensation as they move into an exciting new phase. 7:30 p.m. For information, visit Transcendence Theatre.org.