As many of you know, I’ve been sojourning in Seattle over the winter, an experience that’s affirmed my gratitude for Napa’s benevolent climate. The Emerald City makes up for its wet-weather season by fostering the arts all year round–but guess what? Napa is well on its way to having BOTH the climate AND the full-spectrum arts scene. Read on for my picks over the next seven days, and find more choices at www.nvarts.org.
Feb. 15: Is your phone handy? You may wish to call right away to assure yourself one of the 75 seats available for tonight’s intimate presentation of the documentary film “They Came to Play,” chronicling the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. After the 7 p.m. screening at Silo’s Jazz Club, producer Lori Miller will answer questions and Ken Iisaka, a finalist featured in the film, will play several selections on Silo’s grand piano. $20 in advance, $30 at the door (if available), including wine and small plates served starting at 6 p.m. (707) 251-5833, www.silosjazzclub.com.
Feb. 16: When is a municipal meeting an arts event? Find out tonight when Napa’s arts and culture community comes out in force as the city council considers a proposed public-arts ordinance. (Seattle has one, and it makes the place a constant marvel of discovery; for yours truly, it’s like finding money on the ground every time I go out.) City Hall, 6:30 p.m.; agenda, www.cityofnapa.org
If you’re Upvalley and in a musical mood, Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena hosts an unusual concert tonight: The Hutchins Consort is an octet performing on eight scaled violins, from the tiny treble violin to the gigantic contrabass violin, tuned one octave lower than a cello. The program will include music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Mozart, Bach, Gershwin and more. 7 p.m., 1314 Spring St., St. Helena; $25 general admission, $40 family: (707) 632-0554, www.hutchinsconsort.com
Feb. 17: They’re at it again! Lucky Penny, Napa’s upstart community-theater ensemble, opens Neil Labute’s wicked comedy “The Shape of Things” tonight on the historic second-story stage of the Napa Valley Opera House. This biting social commentary–featuring some of the valley’s most talented young actors–challenges the American obsession with outward appearance and asks “How far will you go for approval? For love? For art?” The five-show engagement runs at 8 p.m. through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $25, www.nvoh.org
Feb. 18: Thursday is bluegrass night at the Pizza Hut on Jefferson Street in Napa, where members of California Bluegrass play from 7 to 9:30 p.m. 3150 Jefferson St., (707) 318-1913; free. Or if you prefer banging on the skins to hearing twanging strings, the Thursday-night drum circle at Napa Glass is open to newcomers as well as experienced percussionists; leader Art Cavagnaro will lend you a drum if you need one. 7 to 9 p.m., 2895 Solano Ave., Napa; free.
Feb. 19: Another great place for free live music is the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, where guitarist Dallan Santos plays a mixture of rhythm & blues, Brazilian, pop and standards on a classical guitar from 6 to 8 p.m. Free admission, plenty of seating, no minimum purchase; (707) 226-6529, 610 First St., Napa, www.oxbowmarket.com.
Feb. 20: This one’s a must! The Lincoln Theater in Yountville is throwing a benefit for victims of the Haiti earthquake, with all proceeds headed directly for the American Red Cross effort in Haiti. Musical performers will include Dave Smallen, Diego Jameau (from Port-au-Prince), the Buttercream Gang and the Johnny Smith Group. A silent-auction table will offer additional opportunities to contribute. Doors open at 5:30, music to start at 6:30: $15, $10 for card-carrying students.
Feb. 21: Three little words that contain many millions of ideas: Library book sale! Today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and during normal library hours thereafter, browse among thousands of books assembled by the Friends of the Napa Library. The library’s aptly-named Community Room will overflow with volumes on every subject you could name: mystery, history, poetry, cooking, gardening, biography, art, philosophy, religion … hmmm, no comic books? Proceeds from the sale will benefit library programs.
Phew! Another week of events–more than one on some days–and so many things still unmentioned … You can find it all in the Master Arts & Culture Calendar, brought to you by Arts Council Napa Valley at www.nvarts.org.