The second Hangtown Halloween Ball in Placerville will offer camping, face-painting for kids and, most important, musical innovation.
Railroad Earth, the New Jersey "newgrass" band that headlined the festival last year, returns for three nights of performances. This evening, the band will play and probably compose a score to the silent film "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" as the movie plays on an outdoor screen.
Last year, Railroad Earth performed a live score to the 1922 classic "Nosferatu." It was the band's first film score. Tonight marks its second.
"We had written a couple of themes for each character that was the only preparation," before the "Nosferatu" performance, Railroad Earth violin player Tim Carbone said last week by phone from the East Coast.
"Jekyll" is likely to be fully improvised.
"We will have seen the movie at least once" before the festival, Carbone said. "But we might put it together extemporaneously."
Much later tonight, after the music moves from outdoors to inside a fairground hall, funk and R&B saxophone player Karl Denson, his band Tiny Universe and members of the rock-reggae band Slightly Stoopid will offer a tribute to the Beastie Boys.
Denson "was out on tour with Slightly Stoopid" when the idea for a tribute arose, Hangtown Halloween Ball co-founder Ryan Kronenberg said. Tonight's tribute honors late Beastie Boy Adam (MCA) Yauch, who died of cancer earlier this year.
Delta Spirit, the Del McCoury Band, ALO and Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers also will appear at Hangtown, which will present three full nights of music this year, compared with two last year.
Kronenberg and producing partner Adam Northway are collaborating this year on their festival with organizers of the long-running High Sierra Music Festival, held each July in Quincy.
The inaugural Hangtown Halloween Ball drew about 1,700 people.
"It was successful enough for us to come back this year and get the interest of High Sierra," Kronenberg said. "In the scheme of arts and culture in Placerville and El Dorado County, this is way different" than most events, he said.
The weather appears likely to cooperate, though high temperatures will be about a dozen degrees cooler than last year, when daytime highs reached the 80s. But music fans can combat potential chill with their Halloween costumes.
"We have some really cool costume things," Kronenberg said. "One is Gold Rush zombies."
Zombies, superheroes and makeshift Mitt Romneys will roam other music and film venues in the region as well over the weekend and on Wednesday, Halloween night.
Here's a selective list of clubs, theaters and other spaces where one can celebrate Halloween while also taking in music, a movie or perhaps bowling a few games.
Hangtown Halloween Ball, Friday-Sunday, El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville. Three-day ($160) and two-day passes ($120) include camping. Single-day tickets are $50 for today and $60 for Saturday or Sunday. www. hangtownhalloween.com.
It is not clear if thrash-metal band Death Angel's performance at Ace of Spades will offer Halloween components. But opening acts include Deadlands, Chernobog and Damage Over Time. So, close enough. Plus, Death Angel is playing its 1987 debut album, "The Ultra-Violence," in its entirety. 1417 R St., Sacramento. 7 p.m. All ages. www.aceofspadessac.com.
"Star Trek"-inspired band Warp 11 plays its annual Halloween-time gig at the Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento. 9 p.m. $8. www.bluelamp.com.
The PowerHouse Pub in Folsom starts its "All Hallows Eve Zombie Weekend" tonight with beloved cover band Tainted Love. The 1980s terror continues Saturday night with the Spazmatics. 10 p.m. each day. $20. 614 Sutter St., Folsom. (916) 355-8586, www.powerhousepub.com.
Teenage-sister punk rockers Dog Party, as well as Little Medusas and Pets, will perform at an all-ages Halloween party. $5. 8-11 p.m., Shine coffeehouse, 400 E St., Sacramento. (916) 551-1400. www.shinesacramento.com.
"Fright Night" is the annual fundraiser for the Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City. This year's event offers a chance to dress up and groove to the all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella. $20 advance/$25 door. 8 p.m. At Miners Foundry, 325 Spring St., Nevada City. (530) 265-5040, www.minersfoundry.org.
It's a jam-bandy fear fest at the Torch Club, where a performance by the Coalition highlights the annual Halloween party. $10. 9 p.m. 904 15th St., Sacramento. www.torchclub.net.
The "Monster Mash" at Capitol Bowl encourages costumes for all ages and also the toppling of bowling pins. The surf and the pompadours will be up, thanks to musical acts Sniki Tikis, Lava Lamps and Rockabilly Love Cats. No admission charge. 1-4 p.m. Capitol Bowl, 900 W. Capitol Ave., West Sacramento. (916) 371-4200. www.capbowl.com.
The Davis "treat trail," on which families trick-or- treat at local businesses, includes a stop at the Varsity Theatre, where "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will show at 2 p.m., 2:35, 3:10 and 3:45 p.m. The screenings are free. 616 Second St., Davis. www.davisvarsity.net.
"Nerd Night: Dorktoberfest" celebrates the kids who never got the good candy, at Bows & Arrows. 7 p.m. 1815 19th St., Sacramento. There will be costumes, prizes, karaoke and clips from scary movies. The event is free, but cash and prize donations are welcome. www.bowscollective.com.
Trash Film Orgy presents "A Nightmare on Trash Street" at the Crest Theatre. The event will include a live stage show, games, prizes and a showing of the 1984 film "A Nightmare on Elm Street." 9 p.m. 1013 K St., Sacramento. 18 and older. $10, or $9 with a costume. Horizontal stripes and fedoras welcome. www.thecrest.com.