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Geneva Anderson digs into art

Goat Rodeo Sessions, at Green Music Center this Friday, September 23, 2013 —the concert everyone’s buzzing about….plenty of ticket options still remain

The Goat Rodeo Sessions with special guest vocalist Aoife O'Donovan perform at Green Music Center this Friday. (L to R) bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolin master Chris Thile, cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma, and bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan join together create a unique, genre-breaking sound that’s part composed, part improvised and uniquely American. The music is so difficult to pull off, the group likens it to a Goat Rodeo – an aviation term for a situation in which 100 things need to go right to avoid disaster.  Photo: Jeremy Cowart

The Goat Rodeo Sessions with special guest vocalist Aoife O’Donovan perform at Green Music Center this Friday. (L to R) bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolin master Chris Thile, cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma, and bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan join together create a unique, genre-breaking sound that’s part composed, part improvised and uniquely American. The music is so difficult to pull off, the group likens it to a Goat Rodeo – an aviation term for a situation in which 100 things need to go right to avoid disaster. Photo: Jeremy Cowart

The Goat Rodeo Sessions, joined by singer Aoife O’Donovan, wraps its first tour with just three West Coast performances including Friday night at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall and Lawn.  It wasn’t too long ago that we had to trek down in traffic to Berkeley’s Greek Theatre for big name concerts.  All that’s behind us now—nestled right here we’ve got the acoustically stellar Weill Hall with its back doors that open out to expansive terraced patios and lawn seating, giving audiences a wonderful way to connect with performers on stage while enjoying the magic of late summer in the wine country.

If you were lucky enough to get tickets to Yo-Yo Ma’s January 26 concert at Weill Hall with Kathryn Stott on piano—a program of cello masterpieces that brought us to tears and introduced us Ma’s extraordinary humbling humanity—chances are you were first to snap up tickets coveted inside-the-hall seats for Friday’s performance.  In a 2005 article for Smithsonian magazine, Bay Area music critic Josh Kosman summed it up “If Yo-Yo Ma didn’t exist, no novelist in the world would have dared invent him. The combination of virtues—musical, intellectual, personal—is simply too implausible.”   At the press conference for the summer season we learned that our new hall and enthusiasm had impressed Ma too and that he was excited to come back with the innovative ensemble The Goat Rodeo Sessions and show us another side of his musical expression.  He’ll be sharing the stage with bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Edgar Meyer, and mandolin master Chris Thile—each Grammy winners and virtuosos in their own right and with Aoife O’Donovan, lead singer for Crooked Still string band and the folk-noir trio Sometymes Why.

Call it what you will—bluegrass, chambergrass or just plain good grass for string quartet, The Goat Rodeo Sessions combines a variety musical styles and traditions while leaving plenty of room for improvisation.  Immensely popularized by their Grammy Award-winning 2011 album for Sony Masterworks, the ensemble has reunited outside the studio just once for a January 2012 concert at Boston’s House of Blues that was simulcast to theaters around the country and later released as a DVD.

What’s a “goat rodeo,” you might wonder?   The term is from the world of aviation where so many things go wrong that a right move needs to made for it all not to end in disaster.  The group feels kinship with that concept and the name has suits highly their improvisational approach to music and life.

I’ve been to several of GMC’s summer performances, with seats inside and outside the hall, and they’ve all been spectacular in their own right.   Truth be told, it can get chilly when the fog rolls in, but there’s an exciting crowd vibe that emerges when you’re outdoors. I’m trying a table seat for this concert.   There’s something about Ma’s personality and his profound ability to from a connection with his audience that came through in his January performance that touched me—I can’t wait to see him as part of this group and to experience the give and take vibe that this type of intense collaboration requires.   With over 15 songs on the program, with plenty of opportunity for improvisation from all four of the players, it’s bound to be a goat rodeo to beat all.

Members of the Goat Rodeo Sessions—cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolinist Chris Thile, and fiddler Stuart Duncan— performing “Attaboy,” from the Goat Rodeo Sessions Live.  

The Goat Rodeo Sessions performs at Google New York in 2011 (Presented by Google on YouTube)

Details:  Goat Rodeo Sessions is Friday, August 23, 2013, at 7:30 PM at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall and Lawn.

Ticket Availability:  As of Tuesday (August 20, 2013) there were approximately 100 Table Seats available at $45 and 2,000 lawn places available at $25.  Tickets inside Weill Hall sold out almost immediately when they were listed.  There may inside seating available ($55 to $100) due to ticket returns: check with the Box Office in person 30 minutes prior to Friday’s concert.  Ticket purchases can be made online at www.gmc.edu, or over the phone with the Sonoma State University Box Office at 866.955.6040. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The Box Office is located in the interior of the Sonoma State University campus – ticket windows adjacent to the Green Music Center are only open prior to performances.

Dining:  It is too late to order from the selection of special Whole Foods dinners.  Concessions at the Green Music Center are offered all year in the Person Lobby and during the summer on the south end of Weill Lawn. Offering everything from small bites to full meals, the concession offerings can help complete your Green Music Center experience. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages (unopened, must be sealed) into the venue but no alcohol.  All alcohol must be purchased on-site.

Directions: Green Music Center is located on the campus of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, at the intersection of Rohnert Park Expressway and Petaluma Hill Road.

From the south, take U.S. Highway 101 north to the Rohnert Park Expressway exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn right onto Rohnert Park Expressway. Drive 2.2 miles to the Sonoma State University entrance on your right.

From the north, take U.S. Highway 101 south to the Rohnert Park Expressway exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left onto Rohnert Park Expressway. Drive 2.2 miles to the Sonoma State University entrance on your right.

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August 20, 2013 - Posted by | Green Music Center | , , , , , , ,

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