Small Stage, Big Sounds at HopMonk Sonoma

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The HopMonk Tavern group has four restaurants and eight real live music venues. HopMonk Novato has the largest indoor live music venue and Sonoma has the smallest. All four, including Penngrove’s Twin Oaks Roadhouse, offer fine al fresco dining and great listening opportunities.

The Sonoma HopMonk features live music in a well-lit outdoor tent and comfortable indoor space. Usually featuring solo artists, the Hop this weekend doubles as Friday night with Sharyn Paquette and Davo Farrell, aka smartly enough, “Sharyn and Davo, Acoustic Duo.”

Paquette and Farrell are two-fifths of the excellent Sonoma Sound Syndicate (SSS). The band’s instrumentalists, drummer Michael Israel and bassist John Arntz’s rhythm section, and keyboardist Bob McBain, also serve as the Live Band Karaoke, but the show at HopMonk showcases the band’s solo side. Farrell’s whimsical guitar fills and vocalist Paquette’s sweet tones make for a delicious and sultry musical meal.

The duo play Friday night at 8 p.m. in HopMonk’s intimate listening room. The tiny stage there is just big enough for the big sounds of this duo.

According to Paquette, the musical duo have been playing together for “five or six years”. They met when SSS started “back in the days of the Annex”, in reference to the now defunct Wine Bar and Tasting Room in the Annex. The couple learned to appreciate each other’s styles and their shared experience. When COVID disrupted practice schedules and erased concerts, a new duo came to life.

Satisfied with their musical product, it was time to play. Paquette said: “I was looking for something smaller. The first place I called was HopMonk. I wanted somewhere nice, light and easy.

“We learned a lot of new songs, probably about 100 new songs that we took inspiration from,” Paquette said. She explained that Farrell played guitar, sometimes with a looper (a device that allows the player to record parts, then play them back and play over them). It plays rhythm parts and loops them over it. All the while, Paquette sings and provides light percussion.

“We like to surprise our listeners. We play some songs slower than the originals, and we like to speed up the slow songs,” Paquette said. Look for familiar songs from Sting, Van Morrison, Carole King, Yardbirds, Prince and more, all performed with a different twist.

In a throwback to the usual practice of featuring solo performers, HopMonk features Scott Guberman on Saturday night at 6 p.m. Guberman is a Marin County-based musician well known to fans of the now closed Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael.

Guberman plays keyboards and sings. At Terrapin, he was one of two key guys called upon when an “all-star” was needed for a special musical night. Guberman has backed many accomplished musicians, perhaps most notably Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer. He toured the United States with a cornucopia of tie-dye musicians, and with a nod and nod to 60s and 70s improvisational music, with a minimum of Dead for the taste.

In his solo shows, Guberman plays two hours of Grateful Dead songs and a few compositions of his own. His song selection spans the entire enchilada of Dead material, from obscure early songs to beloved but under-performed songs to top hits.

Guberman first jingled the ivories on the family piano when he was 5 years old. The formal lessons were followed by playing in the bands of his home town. His keyboard soon grew to include a Hammond B-3 organ. This, coupled with his ability to play the guitar well, earned him a reputation as a solid, first-call musician.

Other solo artists performing this weekend at HopMonk are regulars James Patrick Regan (Friday, 6 p.m.), Clay Bell (Saturday, 8 p.m.) and Joel Schick (Sunday, 12:30 p.m.). Newcomer Jeremy Gorman plays the Saturday morning slot at 12:30 p.m.

Gorman is a multi-instrumentalist who chooses a guitar as his first choice. He is a veteran Bay Area musician, recently relocated to Sonoma County after years of playing in the Berkeley/Oakland area. It combines elements of jazz, blues, rock and classical styles in its musical mixer and reveals a cohesive and personal sound.

As things are likely to happen these days, check HopMonk at 935-9100 for up-to-date performance information.

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