Remember when James Brown would come to town and pack the Memorial Auditorium? Or when the Beach Boys were regulars in Sacramento, spreading their good vibrations? Or when the Rolling Stones played here and then bowled a few games in West Sacramento after the gig?
Well, don’t sweat it if you don’t. Many Sacramentans have forgotten – or perhaps have never known – about the city’s headlining glory days. But for those looking for enlightenment about our area’s rich musical heritage, West Sacramento’s “Rock and Radio Remembered” exhibit has got you covered.
Running through March, “Remembered” will be hosted in the West Sacramento Community Center, and will feature a walk-through gallery with rock ’n’ roll memorabilia from Dennis Newhall’s Rock and Radio Museum – located on I and 20th streets, and usually open to the public during Second Saturday season.
The exhibit kicks off with a live performance at 6 p.m. Saturday put on by an all-star lineup of West Sacramento musicians, including blues legend (and Capital Public Radio host) Mick Martin, Lew Fratis, Jeremy Springer of Joy and Madness, and former mayors Mike McGowan and Cindy Tuttle, among others. Local food, beer and wine will be available at the event.
West Sacramento native and promoter Rudy Martinez, who’s sponsoring the happening through West Side Presents in partnership with the West Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department, says he wanted to honor the area’s musical roots – particularly West Sacramento’s – with both a nod to the past and an eye toward the future.
He says that with the recent residential and retail developments on the riverfront area, and the surge of festivals and events that have taken place nearby, “Rock and Radio Remembered” was a perfect opportunity to billboard West Sacramento’s renewed arts-driven focus that he hopes will become a permanent part of the city’s profile.
Newhall, another West Sacramentan, agrees that West Sac is becoming a burgeoning arts town, especially with the success of last year’s TBD festival, which was staged near the city’s new Bridge District.
“It’s nice to see somebody want to do something like TBD, do it right, and to see a town like West Sacramento step up and say, ‘Well, we want to help make this work,’” Newhall says.
Newhall adds he was more than happy to offer some of his historic posters and handbills to the cause; many of them are tied to shows in West Sacramento, Davis and other Yolo County cities. Some of the big-name acts to have graced the stages and leave mementos behind include Van Morrison, Dire Straits, the Police and Elvis Costello.
But even with the powerhouse groups that would sporadically come around, West Sacramento, Newhall says, had always been somewhat deprived when it came to live music – until recently, that is.
“There have never been many good venues over there, especially early on,” Newhall says. “So they started realizing that and they started building really cool (infrastructure). … And I think part of that has brought over some younger people who now say, ‘We want some amenities. We don’t want to just be a sleepy town with a bunch of beer bars. We want some good restaurants over here and we want something to do.’”
West Sacramento’s first mayor, McGowan, who will be playing drums at the reception ceremony, says Sacramento and West Sacramento ideally will soon sync up in providing entertainment to residents, and that “Rock and Radio Remembered” is just one of many upcoming events that help showcase the strong artistic presence west of the Tower Bridge.
“That’s what you really want to see,” McGowan says. “You want to see people flowing back and forth across that river and enjoying the amenities and the benefits of both sides without really thinking about it.”
Rock and Radio Remembered
What: A gallery exhibit featuring select memorabilia from the Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum, kicked off by a live musical performance
When: 6 p.m. Saturday; exhibit runs through March
Where: West Sacramento Community Center (1075 West Capitol Ave.)
Cost: Free for the gallery exhibit; a $10 donation is requested at the live performance, and proceeds will go toward funding a portable stage in West Sacramento.
Information: (916) 715-8067