The Friday, April 6, Column

“Captain” Chris Chesbrough

Local Musician Spotlight – Chris Chesbrough

Some people like to say “Let’s just sell everything and sail the South Pacific” but for Chris Chesbrough, it actually happened. Growing up in Marin County, he was always a “water guy” with his family living on boats and in 1972, they did exactly that and off to the South Pacific they went, where the young Chesbrough discovered the sounds of ukuleles and guitars and the soothing rhythm of the drums in the islands, where he spent three years just sailing around.

Back in Marin, and to reality, it was time for middle school and Chesbrough had the usual cadre of local rock bands, then into high school where the acts played the Marin circuit that was popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s; Uncle Charlies, New Georges, the 4th St. Tavern. A call to come live in Napa came from the famed Gil Nickel of Far Niente Winery to help maintain his boats and cars and off to Napa he went and has been there for 35 years.

In ’97 he started a band in the Napa Valley with locals and has been playing ever since and that has evolved into the act he is in today, Road Eleven. “If you had to put us in a box I guess you would call us Classic Rock” but we’re much more than that” says Chesbrough, and the act works in many genres of songs, including originals into their show.

You can catch the cat tonight, April 6, at the Reel in El Verano, kicking off at 8 p.m. Lets see what Chesbrough is all about.

1) Many musicians in our generation cite the Beatles or Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan as that moment when they knew music was what they wanted to do. When and what was it that made you realize you wanted to be a musician?

CC > It really wasn’t a performance or a person, but more the feeling I felt when performing. Playing music is something I always did and really love all aspects of it, but when I performed and saw the reaction from the crowds, that’s what really made me think ‘this is what I want to do.”  

2) That first instrument you owned. What was it and do you still have it?

CC > I don’t have the very first one, it was a Flamenco Spanish acoustic guitar that I bought in Spain, but in the ‘70s I picked up an Ibanez Jumbo acoustic and still have it and the tone on that guitar is still second to none.    

3) Who are you’re primary influences in your music?

CC > Stevie Ray Vaughan for sure. I like the texture of Jeff Beck’s compositions. I like Clapton but not really for his guitar, but the fact that he is always trying to improve as a vocalist. I like the drama od Queen and Freddy Mercury too but my all time favorite performer is Tommy Emmanuel. I took a lesson from him and it opened up so many doors in my mind when it came to playing and performing music. 

4) What CD or playlist is in your car or your iPod? 

CC > LP, and Buckethead. Have you ever heard of LP? (we had not) She has this amazing vibrato in her voice that I can hardly even describe. You really have to check her out. She does a cover of a Beyonce song that is out of this world. She will be at Outside Lands this year. I’m looking forward to catching that.

5) Tell us about your current acts.

CC > Road Eleven is the primary act now, for clubs and such. My wife and I do a lot of recording and have an acoustic duo called Full View that we gig with from time to time. Funny story, when I went to my wife’s house on our first date, as I waited in the living room, sitting around was a vintage Fender Bass, a classic Gretsch guitar, a black-face Fender Bassman. I literally proposed to her right there.    

6) If you could have written one song, which one would it be and why?

CC > (long pause) Jeez, there’s literally so many. I guess I would have to say “Stairway to Heaven.” It has literally everything a rock song can have and is so well written. I can’t really think of any others right off my head, I’d have to think about that one.   

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Set List – The Rundown

Friday Farmers Market, Depot Park, 270 First St W. Sonoma
Today, April 6: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.

Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St. Sonoma, 938-5277
Saturday, April 7: the Residents. 7:30 p.m.

HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway Sonoma, 935-9100
Saturday, April 7: Shelby, Texas 8 p.m.

Murphy’s Irish Pub, 464 First St. E. Sonoma, 935-0660.
Tonight, April 6: Ragtag Sullivan. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 7: Jaydub and Dino. 8 p.m.

Olde Sonoma Public House, 18615 Sonoma Hwy. Boyes Hot Springs, 938-7587
Tonight, April 7: Ryan Tatarian and Matt Silva. 6:30 p.m.

The Reel Fish House and Grill, 401 Grove St. El Verano, 343-0044.
Tonight, April 6: Road Eleven. 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 7: Karen Shook. 7 p.m.

Sebastiani Theatre, 476 First St. E. Sonoma, 996-9756
Saturday, April 7: Rue Manouche. 7 p.m.

Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall, 452 First St. E. ste. G. Sonoma, 996-1364
Tonight, April 6: Bruce Gordon and Jodie Stevens. 6:30 p.m. Atomic Cocktail. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 7: Full Circle. 5 p.m. the Sidemen. 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 8: Bo Hammer Skins. 5 p.m. Sonoma Blues Jam. 8:30 p.m.

Sonoma Valley Regional Library, 755 W. Napa St. Sonoma, 996-5217
Saturday, April 7: Rua Samba. 2 p.m.

If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it. jmberry@sonomamusic.com