Sonoma County Musicians Reunite for Woody Guthrie Musical Tribute at Cinnabar


Jim Peterson of Rohnert Park has been performing as a musician and actor for over 25 years. More recently he's served as musical director for the wildly successful musical tributes "Always...Patsy Cline" and "Hank Williams: Lost Highway."

Peterson is serving as musical director again, this time for "Woody Guthrie's American Song," opening Dec. 31, 2010 in Petaluma. He's has rounded up fellow musicians Dave Zirbel of Sebastopol and Chris Rovetti and Tim Sarter, both of Santa Rosa for the musical which features over two dozen of the Oklahoma troubadour's most famous ballads and folk songs including "Bound for Glory" and "This Land Is Your Land."

The musical tribute, presented by Cinnabar Theater (in association with Heritage Music Theatre) follows the legendary singer-songwriter on the cross country travels which inspired his songs about American life and events during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era. Elizabeth Craven directs the production which runs through Jan. 23, 2011.

It's a special onstage reunion for the four musicians, who delighted audiences in the original 6th Street Playhouse and recent encore presentations of "Hank Williams: Lost Highway." Zirbal will perform on pedal steel, dobro, guitar and banjo; Rovetti on fiddle and mandolin; and Sarter is back on bass.

"The four of us are certainly a band at this point," said Peterson, who plays guitar. "We've played together quite a bit. After all the 'Hank Williams' shows, we kind of understand how to work with one another. The 'Hank Williams' experience has made us feel like were a tight little company."

For this musical tribute, Peterson says the challenge is the score of complex musical arrangements and close harmonies. Peterson says the rich, harmonic blend of voices and instruments is stirring in the way it highlights the beauty of Guthrie's music.

Peterson, who also provides vocals in the Guthrie tribute, will be joined by theater veterans Mary Gannon Graham of Sebastopol, Brent Lindsay of Cloverdale and Shannon Rider and Tyler Costin, both of Santa Rosa.

"We're all working hard on the 'blend' and doing the arrangements justice," said Peterson. "The musicians play transitions between the scenes and bring tremendous versatility. As vocalists, we definitely feel supported by them."

"It will be a rich experience. Audiences will hear Woody Guthrie's songs in a way they haven't heard them before," said Peterson.

For more information about Cinnabar Theater's production of "Woody Guthrie's American Song" call 707-763-8920 or visit

Musician bios:

Jim Peterson - (Musical Director / Vocals/ Guitar) Jim Peterson has been performing in Sonoma County for over 25 years as a musician and actor. A founding member of Western Union Theatre Company, he performed with the company in productions including "True West." He traveled with Tak Theatre to Poland and worked on developing the original play and music for "One Turn of the Wheel," which toured in Europe and was presented in Sonoma County. Jim has been a guitar and mandolin play for many years, performing in many local bands including Catalyst, Big Blast and Hut-Hut. He is currently performing with roots/rock n' roll band Stony Point. Jim has been musical director for several Theater Productions including "Hank Williams: Lost Highway," "Always...Patsy Cline" and "The Grapes of Wrath" at the 6th Street Playhouse and has served as sound designer on several productions at Cinnabar Theater and Porchlight Theatre Company.

Chris Rovetti - (Fiddle/Mandolin) Chris Rovetti started playing violin at the age of four. He was a member of Poorman's Whiskey for seven years. He also performed with Robert Earl Keen, Elmo, Flowmotion and the Shannon Rider Band. A self-taught mandolin player, Chris has performed with renowned mandolin players Mike Marshall and Chris Thelie. He is a singer/songwriter and head of "The Rovetti Experience," a high energy rock, swing and blues band. In his stage debut in "Hank Williams: Lost Highway" at the 6th Street Playhouse, Chris received high praise from critics for his musicality and comical portrayal of Leon.

Tim Sarter - (Bass) After moving to Sonoma County in 1996, Tim Sarter has performed hundreds of shows with the Shannon Rider Band. He has also worked with other local bands and artists including Kate Van Horn, Boudicca, Eugene, Hand Me Down and the West County Jazz Collective. When he lived in San Francisco, Sarter played "just about every South of Market club with too many groups to keep track of." Sarter considers himself, first and foremost, a bass player, but absolutely relished his stage debut in the 6th Street Playhouse production of "Hank Williams: Lost Highway."

Dave Zirbel - (Pedal Steel, Dobro, Guitar, Banjo)
Dave Zirbel has been performing on the pedal steel guitar in Sonoma County for the past 20 years. Musical career highlights include appearances with artists including Sammy Hagar, Boz Skaggs, Commander Cody, Dave Alvin and 6th Street Playhouse productions of "Always...Patsy Cline" and "Hank Williams: Lost Highway."

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