Bill Murray, the 66-year-old actor, is also the leader of a very large cult that scrutinizes and adores his every weirdo project. The next one to obsess over will be in Napa this summer at Festival Napa Valley: There, with Jan Vogler, an acclaimed classical cellist he met on an international flight, plus violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez, he'll perform New Worlds on July 20.
The eclectic program has Murray crooning a few Gershwin numbers like "It Ain't Necessarily So," Van Morrison tunes, and reading passages from Whitman and Hemingway as the trio plays behind him. Of Murray, Vogler told NPR that "He is so musical and would whistle a tune as soon as I would mention it. We found our common favorites and started talking about literature. It was surprising how much we agreed on the choices of both literature and music."
Sonia Tolbert, the general manager of Festival Napa Valley, tells the Times that "nobody sees it as a stunt of any kind,” although demand has forced her to move the New Worlds show to a larger venue. From Napa, the group will tour North America, playing Carnegie Hall in October. An album is also in the works.
Murray has graced the Bay Area with some frequency in the past few years. He threw a fan's phone off a roof at a Carmel restaurant last year, for example, while in the area for a Pebble Beach golf tournament (he agreed to pay for a new one). In 2014, Murray met another musician in transit — a taxi driver who picked up the actor in Oakland. When the driver told Murray he had a saxophone in the trunk, Murray insisted the cabbie pull over and let him drive so he could play. That's how they got to Sausalito after stopping for barbecue.