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News: 11/01/2016

Funky Fridays finds success in new home

More than $50,000 raised for Regional Park projects by Bay Area musicians

Crowd gathered to hear outdoor concert
The summertime Funky Fridays concerts at the Hood House on Pythian Road raised $50,000 for the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation. Photo by Lynda Wilson.

It’s official. Funky Fridays summer concerts has continued to be a popular and successful undertaking at its new home at the spacious Hood House grounds on Pythian Road. Fifteen Friday concerts by some of the Bay Area’s top R&B and blues groups kicked off mellow weekends for over 6,000 people between May and September.

The events are family-oriented – designed for kids and adults of all ages – with live music, dancing and picnicking. Oakmont residents and other neighbors can walk to the venue, crossing Highway 12 at a controlled intersection, or can park at one of three parking lots in the county complex. The Los Guilicos complex on Pythian Road is home to the historic Hood House, Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, the Sonoma County Juvenile Detention Center, a shooting range for police organizations, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

The financial success of Funky Fridays was established during a three-year run at Sugarloaf, a state park at the end of Adobe Canyon Road, that has modest facilities for entertainment. Over the three-year period, Funky Fridays founders Bill Myers and Linda Pavlak raised over $86,000 in donations to the state park.

The move down the mountain seems to have opened up the event to more people, providing easier access, more parking and more room to enjoy music in an intimate, comfortable setting, with wine and food readily available.

For 2016, the 15 concerts pulled in over $50,000 in net proceeds for the Sonoma County Parks Foundation, according to Executive Director Melissa Kelley’s recent report.

The modest $10 entrance fee pays the bands for their time, covers a little bit of overhead, and the remainder goes to a special “Funky Fridays Fund” and will be used for projects at the Hood House, Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, and other county parks in Sonoma Valley. Specific projects will be detailed by next year.

Kenwood residents Pavlak and Myers have organized and promoted Funky Fridays since the beginning, first at Sugarloaf and now at Hood House, after outgrowing the limited facilities available at the less accessible state park. Myers, the “Bill” half of the well-known “Bill and Dave Hikes,” is happy to pursue a retirement full of music and nature.

The events are possible with the help of dozens of volunteers, parks foundation board members and staff, the county’s General Services and the county parks department, Kelley said.

Funky Fridays also partnered with the Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood and the Santa Rosa United Soccer Club to provide parking attendants, event staffing, and beverage service.

“In addition to revenue from ticket sales, parking, merchandise and beverage sales,” Kelley said, “the (fund) received generous donations from the event’s food vendors – TIPS Tri Tip Trolley, Rainy Day Chocolate, and California Funnel Cakes – along with the series’ beer provider, HenHouse Brewing of Santa Rosa.

A welcome side benefit was increased revenue from the sale of county park passes, which provides free parking (a $10 benefit) for park patrons.

“Between the first concert and the last, our parking attendants noticed a significant increase in people using their parks passes,” Kelley said.

The modern concerts are a fortunate union for the restored historic Hood House, a property that has a romantic and storied history. It was part of the vast Los Guilicos Rancho owned by Mariano Vallejo, covering most of the north Sonoma Valley, from Adobe Canyon to Los Alamos Road. The property was first given to Vallejo’s brother-in-law, Captain John Wilson, who later sold it to a wealthy Scottish carpenter/lumberman and adventurer William Hood. Hood built the mansion in 1858 with his Gold Rush fortune (one of several won and lost in his lifetime), planted grapes and ran a full-featured ranch estate.

Through the vagaries of time and misfortune, the property shrank to 2,000 acres and was dedicated to grapes and orchards, including oranges. Hood’s young wife, Eliza, eventually took over the farm and became a major force in California’s burgeoning wine business until phylloxera wiped it out before the turn of the century. Following that, the property was owned by Thomas Kearns, a U.S. Senator from Utah, and by the Knights of Pythias, and later became a girls home after WWII.

Sen. Kearns set the tone for entertainment during his tenure, expanding the house to accommodate his many guests and parties. As Kearns was a friend of three U.S. Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt may have spent time there.

Hood House got a million dollar seismic upgrade in time for its 150th birthday celebration in 2008, but the house and grounds require upkeep, maintenance and some further restoration, and the income from the Friday concerts will go a long way toward making that happen.

For more information about Funky Fridays, contact Bill Myers or Linda Pavlak at 833-6288, or


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