Escape the bubble: Ian McFeron and SONiA visit Walla Walla

Clara Bartlett

Acclimating to a new school year, living space and variety of classes, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and resulting exhaustion that is the beginning phase of September. So, rather than self-medicate your September strain with too much chocolate, Facebook time, excessive room rearrangement or other unnamed pastimes (illegal and otherwise), why not venture outside the Whitman bubble and check out some unique and new musicians?

On Friday, Sept. 7, both folky singer/songwriter Ian McFeron and cultural critic/vocalist SONiA will grace Walla Walla with their melodious presence.

“When Ian wrote me about playing Walla Faces, I was more than anxious to have him play at our tasting room,” said Rick Johnson of Walla Faces. “I feel fortunate he is passing through this area.”

McFeron’s innate gift for music has made for a busy year. His sixth and newest album, Summer Nights, was released in 2011, and was produced by Patty Griffin’s long-time guitarist and musical collaborator Doug Lancio. The album also features musical performances by Lancio as well as Ryan Adams.

“[McFeron’s] lyrical prose has been compared to Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams. I grew up listening to Bob Dylan and find listening to a unique approach to Dylan’s songwriting style very interesting,” Johnson said.

After concluding his venture overseas, McFeron is now scheduled to perform over 200 shows in 2012. Included in his lengthy tour itinerary is a stop at Walla Faces, performing alongside Alisa Milner, a fiddler, cellist and vocalist. The show begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4.

Performing on the same night, SONiA, singing in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and English, will take the stage of Sapolil Cellars at 9 p.m. Performing in an intimate solo setting, SONiA is known for her energetic performances, insightful cultural commentary and ultimately hopeful messages.

Abigail Schwerin of Sapolil Cellars describes SONiA’s music as “heartfelt folk-rock,” adding that “she’s got a lot of passion with what she does.”

“She’s got this great kind of folk-rock voice. It’s just tender and sweet, but with power behind it. I kind of appreciate that, something with a little more passion,” Schwerin said. She, along with the Walla Walla community, eagerly anticipates seeing SONia perform.

So, once again, feeling overwhelmed? Take a break: Enjoy some unfamiliar yet enjoyable tunes while dancing it up in a Walla Walla winery with some mid-thirty- to mid-forty-year olds.