Local Musician Spotlight – John Arntz
For some, a mid-life crisis lands you a Porsche or a 25 year old, as the joke goes, but not for John Arntz. For him, it was to play in an actual gigging band. “I felt it was now or never” said Arntz, who had been a closet musician most of his life, so he hired local music teacher Ralph Cetola to teach him how to play in a band, and within four months, Arntz was Cetola’s bass player, and since then he has made up for lost time, having been in almost half a dozen acts in the short time he’s been a performing musician.
Born in Bend, Oregon, music was always around, as his mother played lots of classical albums, played piano herself and young Arntz took the perfunctory piano lessons that many of us took in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In his ‘20s he moved to San Francisco and met the girl of his dreams. Her mother lived in Sonoma and they would visit frequently and in 1996, the couple decided this is where they would raise their family. Later, landing as the board president for Woodland Star Charter School, where his children attended school, talk between him and his neighbor resulted in the idea of a music festival to help the school raise money. Woodland Stock, now in it’s third year, has evolved into an event for families and friends to get together and watch some local musicians play and also raise some money for the school. This latest show featured student bands from Woodland Star and Credo High School as well. Arntz’s latest project, the Sonoma Sound Syndicate, will be playing the Starling Bar on Saturday, June 3, at 9 p.m.
Lets get to know Arntz a bit.
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?
JA > I grew up without a television in my house, so I didn’t know any of those shows even existed until I was older. In Bend there were only 2 AM radio stations and one day a song came on that I just couldn’t get over; it was, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, “In a Gadda da Vida” that made me realize I wanted to do that someday.
2) That first instrument you owned. What was it and do you still have it?
JA > No, I don’t. It was an Epiphone 6-string acoustic guitar that I had bought but I was going through a heavy Leo Kottke phase, so I traded it for a 12-string.
3) Who are you’re primary influences in your music?
JA > I would have to say classical music. My mom played it a lot. I played a lot of it on piano. I discovered pop music later but then I discovered progressive rock. Bands like Yes, Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. In fact, ELP was the first live concert I saw.
4) What CD or playlist is in your car or your iPod?
JA > Right now it’s Judith Owen from Wales, England. She’s sort of a quirky/brilliant singer-songwriter. The song that really gets me is her jazz version of “Smoke on the Water.”
5) Tell us about your current acts.
JA > Currently I’m in just two acts, Sonoma Sound Syndicate and the Mark Larson Band. The Sound Syndicate will be at Starling this weekend. We have some gigs in summer scheduled with the Mark Larson Band.
6) If you could have written one song, which one would it be and why?
JA > (without hesitation) Johan Sebastian Bach, Aria from the Goldberg variations. Bach put music and notes together that to me, is the closest thing to sacred music, I mean, he was hired by the church to write sacred songs. If you listen to most music today, especially classic rock, you can hear Bach’s influences, and they stretch far beyond Christianity, but speak to your inner self.
Set List – The Rundown
Annex Wine Bar, 865 W. Napa St. Sonoma, 938-7779
Tonight, June 2: Zachary Carroll and Todd Umhoefer. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: Cecilia Campanna & Giorgia Chizzoni. 7:30 p.m.
Barking Dog Roasters, 18133 Sonoma Hwy. Sonoma, 939-1905
Sunday, June 4: David Bingham. 2 p.m.
B. R. Cohn Winery, 15000 Sonoma Hwy. Glen Ellen, 800-330-4064
Sunday, June 4: Justin Brown. 2 p.m.
El Verano Inn, 705 Laurel Ave. El Verano, 935-0611
Saturday, June 3: Tilted Halos. 9 p.m.
Friday Farmers Market, Depot Park, 270 First St W. Sonoma
Today, June 2: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.
Hood Mansion Lawn, 389 Casa Manana Rd. Santa Rosa, 833-6288
Tonight, June 2: Funky Fridays with Rosetown Soul and R&B Revue. 7 p.m.
HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway Sonoma, 935-9100
Tonight, June 2: Jeff Falconer. 5 p.m. Matt Bradford. 8 p.m
Saturday, June 3: Nate Lopez. 1 p.m. Erika Sunshine Lee. 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 4: Black Cat Bone. 1 p.m.
Madrone Estate Winery, 777 Madrone Rd. Glen Ellen, 939-4500
Sunday, June 4: Westwind Duo. 1 p.m.
Murphy’s Irish Pub, 464 First St. E. Sonoma, 935-0660
Tonight, June 2: Closed
Saturday, June 3: Closed
Muscardini Cellars, 9380 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, 933-9305
Saturday, June 3: “Simmer Down Saturday” with Tudo Bem. 6 p.m.
Olde Sonoma Public House, 18615 Sonoma Hwy. Boyes Hot Springs, 938-7587
Tonight, June 2: Ryan Tatarian. 6:30 p.m. Reggae Night with Byron Borges. 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: Karaoke. 7:30 p.m.
The Reel Fish Shop and Grill, 401 Grove St. El Verano, 343-0044
Tonight, June 2: Acoustic Soul. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: Shakedown Choir. 8:30 p.m.
Sebastiani Winery and Vineyards, 389 Fourth St. E. Sonoma, 933-3230
Tonight, June 2: Magic. 6 p.m.
St. Francis Winery, 100 Pythian Road at Hwy. 12, Santa Rosa, 538-9463
Sunday, June 4: Z and the Benders. 2 p.m.
Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall, 452 First St. E. ste. G. Sonoma, 996-1364
Tonight, June 2: Bruce Gordon. 6:30 p.m. Junk Parlor. 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: Full Circle. 5 p.m. Solid Air. 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 4: Brandon Eardley. 5 p.m. Acoustic Blues Jam. 8:30 p.m.
The Starling Bar, 19380 Sonoma Hwy. Sonoma, 996-3055
Saturday, June 3: Sonoma Sound Syndicate. 9 p.m.
If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it. firstname.lastname@example.org