Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment

December 31, 2008
Favorite songs of 2008

As 2008 finally fades away, I'm at work on my annual "Best of" CD mix featuring my favorite songs of the year. Since I can't send each and every one of you a disc, I thought I'd just post the list here.

There are 24 songs because 23 is my favorite number but I couldn't decide which song to cut. The list is mostly national artists but there are a couple of local acts as well (in bold).

  1. "American Boy" - Estelle with Kanye West

  2. "Oxford Comma" - Vampire Weekend

  3. "White Winter Hymnal" - Fleet Foxes.

  4. "Mercy" - Duffy"

  5. "Pretty Bird" - Jenny Lewis

  6. "Single Girl, Married Girl" - Charlie Haden, with the Haden Triplets

  7. Miniature Birds / Grand Archives

  8. "Cane Cola" - Desario

  9. "Skinny Love" - Bon Iver

  10. "Here With Me" - Jennifer O'Connor

  11. "Sunday Afternoon" - Rachael Yamagata

  12. "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here" - She & Him

  13. "You" - Two Sheds

  14. "Chasing Pavements" - Adele

  15. "The Kelly Affair" - Be Your Own Pet

  16. "4 Minutes" - Madonna

  17. "No Pause" - Girl Talk

  18. "Don't Watch Me Dancing" - Little Joy

  19. "Wishes Were Horses" - Lucinda Williams

  20. "Life Is Better" - Q-Tip

  21. "Tell Me Now" - Baby Grand

  22. "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance" - the Black Kids

  23. 'Get Better" Mates Of State

  24. "Nothing Ever Happened" - Deerhunter

That's that, time to get ready for a night out to toast the arrival of 2009. See you on the other side.

December 31, 2008
Before the ball drops...pick up on some culture

I'm sorry - did someone say "recession"? Judging by the New Year's Eve festivities planned for downtown Sacramento this evening, it seems that 2009 might just be Sacramento's sweetest year ever.

Tonight, Sacramento will celebrate its first-ever New Year's Eve ball drop, a Times Square-style tradition that only occurs in a handful of U.S. cities, none of them located on the West Coast. Mayor Kevin Johnson will oversee the ceremonies, which will shut down 10th Street between J and L streets.

And Sacramento's induction into ball drop history isn't even the half of it. Event sponsors Crest Theatre and Sacramento Film & Music Festival have teamed up to provide an evening of free music and film that includes local music videos from the Festival's Sac Music Seen program, live performances by Autumn Sky and The Dirty Feet, and a selection of some short films and music videos from the Festival's submission pool.

The event takes place at the Crest Theatre from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), so once you've gotten your Sacramento-area art & culture fix, you can stroll over to 10th Street to see performances by STOMP and Forever Plaid. The evening concludes with the ball drop at midnight, and after that, well, you're going to have to come up with your own plans.


December 30, 2008
STC Facing Crisis?

Sacramento Theatre Company managing director Mark Standriff sent an ominous e-mail to STC subsribers and patrons on Monday. Painting a much more dire financial situation than Standriff described to me a week earlier, his message read in part, "Our theater company has managed to barely survive under these circumstances, but right now we're in need of raising a substantial amount of money in a very short time before things become strained beyond the breaking point. Frankly, we're facing the most serious financial challenge in STC's 67 year history."

Standriff then asks for donations and writes, "the rest of our season is in jeopardy unless we raise a significant amount of money in the next two weeks." Contacted today about the e-mail, Standriff said he's concerned about STC's cash flow over the next few months and wants to be "proactive" in his fundraising.
"I'm looking at the general outlook, what's happening to similar theaters and not wanting to put us in a similar situation," Standriff said.

Today STC announced a "restructuring" of the Pollock Stage season that includes consolidating the New Works Festival into one weekend of staged readings and delaying the production "The Illustrated Bradbury" to the fall 2009.

The staged readings for the New Works Festival take place in the Pollock Stage Jan. 16 through Jan. 18 and will be free. The schedule is "Black Pearl Sings" at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, "Brownie Points" at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 and "Beat Aside Apollo's Arrow" at 2 p.m. Feb. 18. For information: (916) 443-6722.

December 28, 2008
Sacramento Single: James George Serrett's "Living in Slow Motion"

The last time James George Serrett put out an album he was having a rough go of it. His wife had just left him and, worse, wouldn't speak to him. So, distraught, Serrett channeled all his angst, anxiety and worry into an album, 2007's "The Most Romantic Fool."

Fast forward to 2008 and things are, well, just as emotionally rough for Serrett - he and the ex still aren't on speaking terms.

Lucky for the 60-year-old singer-songwriter, it simply meant he had another record in him.

"This last year was even harder than the last and so my songs started getting even more personal," Serrett says of his latest release, "Living in Slow Motion."

As with "Fool," the new record is a collection of soft rock power ballads influenced by the likes of James Taylor and Billy Joel.

And while the songs are great therapy for him, Serrett says, he's always a little surprised that other like his sad songs so much.

"I asked my shrink - 'why do people like this stuff?'," he says.

"He told me, '(because) they've been through it and made it through to the other side.'"

James George Serrett: "Living in Slow Motion"

Style: Soft rock

Behind the song: The song, Serrett says, "comes from a personal and painful experience."

"It's about denial and self-delusion and refusing to move forward," he says. "The guy (in the song) is dazed and weaving and holding on to the delusion that she might come back."

And while writing the song was therapeutic, Serrett says, the actual recording of it was eye-opening.

"There's nothing like hearing your regrets blasting from the studio's speakers."

On the Web:

Listen to the title track from "Living in Slow Motion" here:

December 24, 2008
What's Bugs Bunny have to do with Wagner?

Odds are if you watched cartoons as a child (and that's pretty much everyone, really), then it was probably your first intro to the world of Rossini, Beethoven and Wagner.

It's no secret that Warner Bros. cartoons, like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, mined classical music for its soundtracks. And On Jan. 10, the Crocker Art Museum, in partnership with the Sacramento Opera, will present a musical performance exploring how Warner Bros. cartoons introduced classical music to generations.

The performance will plumb how opera and classical music came to appear in the cartoons and how it was diffused into mainstream culture.

The cartoon masterpieces of "What's Opera, Doc?", "The Rabbit of Seville" and "Long-Haired Hare" will be shown. The program also features performances of three popular opera selections.

The free program will be given at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. at Curtis Hall in the Sierra 2 Center, located at 2791 24th Street, Sacramento. Appropriate for children ages 6-12, the program is offered in conjunction with The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons, on view at the Crocker through Jan. 18.

For more information, contact the Crocker's Education Department at (916) 808-1963. Reservations not required.

December 24, 2008
Foothill Theatre Company Lives

Nevada City's Foothill Theatre Company, the region's most economically distressed theater, has decided to carry on in 2009 with an abbreviated "demi" season of three plays, beginning in March and running through August. Executive director Karen Marinovich said the company doesn't want to obligate the board to a full season if things don't go well.

"Our hope is to earn the money we need to move forward. Then we will do two or three more plays toward the end of the year," Marinovich said.
The company has some new matching grant offers on the table and a major grant from the Irvine Foundation for an original Christmas show next year should they make it that far.

For 2009, the theater will open "Sylvia" their most requested show on March 5 at the Nevada Theatre. The one-woman comedy "Bad Dates" will run April 9 through May 16 at the Off Center Stage in Grass Valley and "The Andrews Brothers," a new 1940s style musical will run in June and August at the Nevada Theatre.

For more information: the FTC box office at (530)265-8587 or visit their Web site at

December 21, 2008
Sacramento Single: Tesla's "Pvt Ledbetter"


The members of Tesla have come a long way since their late '80s, early '90s hey day. Then, the Sacramento hard rock band, touring the world on the success of albums such as "Five Man Acoustical Jam" was forced to squeeze recording sessions in between shows.

It was an exciting time, sure, says Tesla bassist Brian Wheat - but tiring, too.

The band's latest album, "Forever More," on the other hand, was recorded in Wheat's Midtown home studio. The five-month process, Wheat says, was considerably more relaxed than all those tour pit stops.

"We were in our own beds every night - this is a much more civilized way to make a record," Wheat says.

Produced by longtime Tesla friend Terry Thomas, the album reflects the band's decades-long work ethos:

"You get the idea, you work it out and then you just go in the studio and do it," Wheat says.

It's a simple enough foundation for the band's working man's rock blues sound but, Wheat says, Tesla has definitely evolved since its early days.

"We've been making records for 22 years and have traveled the world and gone through marriages and divorces and kids and other life experiences," he says.

"Those life experiences translate into your music, of course. We're the same band but now we're seasoned like an old baseball."

Listen to "Pvt Ledbetter" from "Forever More" at


Song: "Pvt Ledbetter"

Style: Emotional, rockin' power ballad

Behind the song: "Jeff (Keith) and Frank (Hannon) wrote this one - it's a fictitious letter to a private in the army, telling him 'we're pulling for you, we support you,'" Wheat says.

"But then, he doesn't get a reply and people start to worry about whether he is alive."

Eventually, it's learned that the soldier died and, ultimately, the song "is about thanking him for that sacrifice he made," Wheat says. "It's very patriotic."

Listen to "Pvt Ledbetter" here:

On the Web:

See them: Tesla performs Jan. 30 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium (15th and L Streets, Sacramento).

Tickets ($29.50) are now available through, at the Convention Center Box Office (1301 L St, Sacramento) or by calling (916) 808-5181.

December 19, 2008
Check out Midtown's loveliest holiday decoration

If you're a Midtowner or East Sacramento resident heading home from work on the J St. "luge", you've probably already noticed the giant Sacred Heart standing outside Artworks 21, a local art and collectibles shop that lays claim to what is likely the most extensive Sacred Heart collection in Sacramento.


Photographer and store owner Trent Harger constructed the enormously cheerful holiday decoration, which stands at approximately 15 feet if you count the bright orange and yellow flames that shoot up from the heart's base. The display's surface is emblazoned with the words "Feliz Navidad," and, although not typically representative of the holiday season, Harger says the traditional Catholic image has been come to known as a symbol of "everlasting love," which we could all undoubtedly use a little more of, especially during the holiday season.

You'll notice Artworks 21's handmade creation is missing its traditional ring of thorns, because, according to Harger, "The thorns represent penance, and I didn't feel we needed to be repentant."

Hallelujah to that sentiment. And if you haven't had a chance to check out "the heart of midtown" yet, swing by the corner of J and 18th streets before January 2, when Harger's landlord will most likely ask him to take it down.


Artworks 21 is located at 1812 J St. in Sacramento. Check out Trent Harger's personal photography at

December 19, 2008
Tres chic!


Local designer Casey Sue Douglass (pictured) is revving up for yet another fashion show at one of Sacramento's newest nightspots - Tre Restaurant & Lounge, 1212 Howe Ave.

The show is geared toward night owls. That's why it's at 10 p.m. However, if you get there earlier, it's free admission with complimentary appetizers. (The regular cover charge is $10.)

Casey Sue says this 10-piece collection is titled "Ladies' Night Out.". "It's got a lot of color, and it's both fun and elegant," she adds.

Suede Salon & Spa will be handling hair and makeup.

FYI: This is a 21-and-older event. DJs will be unleashed after the fashion show!

December 18, 2008
Of Great & Mortal Men to play pre-inaugural benefit


In September we told you about the Of Great & Mortal Men album featuring 43 songs - one for each president. The 3-CD set, written and recorded by the Rockin-based Christian Kiefer, Sacramento's Matthew Gerken and Bay Area artist Jefferson Pitcher featured guest appearances from local artists such as Vince DiFiore and John Gutenberger as well as nationally known names such as Rosie Thomas and Bill Callahan.

Kiefer, Gerken and Pitcher are still at work song number 44 (for Barack Obama, of course) and we just got word that the trio will perform at a pre-inaugural benefit on January 17 at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C. (600 I St, Washington, D.C.).

Scheduled guest performers include Nellie McKay, Silver Darling, Jukebox the Ghost and These United States.

The concert is a benefit for Bands for Lands, a Colorado-based non-profit that promotes self-sustainability and social awareness.

Tickets go on sale Friday via and

December 17, 2008
DJ Rated R seriously injured in Philippines car crash


DJ Rated R, a member of the Sacramento hip-hop group Live Manikins, was seriously injured Dec, 11 in a car crash near Baguio City.

Rated - real name Ronald Florente (pictured at right) - was on tour there with Manikin-offshoot Live Audible Soul, when the brakes on the passenger van in which he was riding apparently failed, said Florente's Live Manikin bandmate Justin Brown (a.k.a "Self").

Brown was not in the Philippines at the time of the crash.

According to Brown, the vehicle was going downhill when the brakes gave out. The van crashed and flipped over when it hit an embankment. Florente, 26, was in the van's back row of seats and went through a window upon impact and sustained major head and spinal injuries as well as a broken collarbone and clavicle, Brown says.

Another member of the group, Runt Rock (real name: Gabriel Pizarro), was also injured but only sustained bruises and scrapes and is now doing fine, Brown says.

But, although he's still in a Philippines-area hospital and won't be able to transfer back to Sacramento for at least a month, the DJ is expected to make a "full recovery," Brown says.

"He wasn't paralyzed ... he will recover - it will just take a long time."

In the meantime, Florente's friends and family are trying to raise money to pay for the portion of his medical expenses not covered by insurance.

The members of Live Manikins are planning a benefit show for the end of January. We'll keep you posted on the details.

Until then you can donate via the band's MySpace page or in person at the United States Clothing Boutique (1014 24th St, Sacramento).

December 16, 2008
S.F. Film Critics Honor 'Milk'

The San Francisco Critics Circle voted "'Milk (trailer above), a biopic on Harvey Milk, the pioneering gay-rights activist and San Francisco supervisor assassinated in 1978, as the year's best film.

The group also honored Gus Van Sant as best director and recognized the film's writer, Dustin Lance Black, in the original-screenplay category

Sean Penn, who stars as Milk, was named best actor along with Mickey Rourke, recognized for his performance as a down-and-out professional wrestler in "The Wrestler" (opening in Sacramento in January). The vote in that category ended in a tie.

Though "Milk" is a very San Francisco story, it is winning plenty of acclaim elsewhere. The New York Film Critics Circle and Southeastern Film Critics Association both named it best picture.

Judging by critics' groups awards so far -- but not by the Golden Globe nominations, which (criminally) omitted "Milk" from its best drama list -- the film is shaping up as a leading Oscar best-picture contender, along with "Slumdog Millionaire" and that animated story of the rusty robot that could, "Wall-E."

Sally Hawkins , the previously little-known British actress who plays a perpetually upbeat schoolteacher in "Happy-Go-Lucky," continued her roll with best actress honors from the San Francisco critics. Hawkins previously was honored by the New York, Boston and Los Angeles film critics.

Like Penn in the lead-actor category, Hawkins looks to be an early favorite for the best actress Oscar, though Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married"), Kate Winslet ( "The Reader" and "Revolutionary Road," opening in Sacramento on Christmas Day and in January, respectively), and a little-heralded newcomer named Meryl Streep ("Doubt") certainly are in contention as well.

Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," by contrast, already appears to be a virtual lock for an Oscar. The San Francisco critics, like almost every other critics' group to weigh in so far, named Ledger best supporting actor of 2008.

The San Francisco critics recognized Marisa Tomei as best supporting actress for her performance as a stripper who may or may not have a heart of gold in "The Wrestler."

Peter Morgan took adapted-screenplay honors for transforming his own stage play into "Frost/Nixon." The Swedish vampire/coming-of-age story "Let the Right One In" was named best foreign-language film, and "My Winnipeg," director Guy Maddin's 's ("The Saddest Music in the World") artful tribute to his Canadian hometown, best documentary.

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle consists of 24 film writers, including me and the News & Review's Jonathan Kiefer .

December 16, 2008
Not a natty dresser


OK, so the Sacramento Kings won at home last night under interim coach Kenny Natt (pictured). Great!

However, dissed and dismissed head coach Reggie Theus was - hands down - a more natty dresser. The season might have stunk - so far - but, from a strictly fashion perspective, Reggie was well-suited for the job. I'm sure folks like Grant Napear and even the Maloofs could give a goof about his wardrobe, but Kenny's debut in a mustard yellow dress shirt was hard on the eyes.

I'll take it a step further: I actually miss Rick Adelman and his turtlenecks! As the dry cleaner (Mr. Goss) on "The Andy Griffith Show" said on more than one occasion: "It always pays to look your best."

Here's wishing Reggie another shot at showing off his wardrobe in another arena.

December 16, 2008
Sacramento Single: Pus Cavern Allstars "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"


With more than two dozen musicians (and their egos), conflicting schedules and a tight production timetable, it could have been a disaster.

Lesa Johnston, co-founder of the Pus Cavern Recording Studio, admits she was worried.

In the end, however, the Pus Cavern Allstars' recording of "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" was as fun and peaceful a project as its name suggests.

"I was concerned - all those egos coming - but the recording sessions ended up being so much fun," she says. "Everyone was just so cool."

The song, recorded to benefit the Sacramento Children's Chorus, is a who's who of Sacramento musicians with, among others, members of the Deftones, Tesla, the Hoods, Far, the Skirts, the Secretions and the Snobs stepping into the recording booth.

Johnston - along with her husband, engineer Joe - had put together local Christmas CDs before but this year, as the deadline approached, she was faced with a lack of material and the gnawing need to get something done.

"We didn't get enough submissions this year (but) I had the urge, I needed to do this (because) at the end of the day we give the money to someone who needs it," she says.

So, w ith the holiday season approaching, the Johnstons called on their friend Dave Buckner. The former Papa Roach drummer, now playing with his own band Last Angels, agreed to produce and quickly decided on just the right song.

"Happy Christmas (War is Over)" is probably the coolest rock'n'roll Christmas song ever," Buckner says of the John Lennon-penned tune (alternately known as "Happy Xmas" (War is Over")).

"It's just not your average holiday tune - it goes much deeper."

With the song decided, Buckner says, everything else just fell into place even as musicians scrambled to meet their tight production schedule.

"There were some scary moments but in the end everyone was extremely easy to work with."

So, no trashed waiting rooms? No outrageous demands? No holding out for the choicest guitar solo?

Nope, not even one tantrum.

"It was one of the loosest, most fun vibes," says Daycare guitarist Sonny Mayugba (pictured above, photo courtesy

"It was just everyone learning the song together and not sweating it - we're all older, we're all professionals and it was just about getting down the best song we could."

The Pus Cavern Allstars

Song: "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"

Style: Rockin' around the Christmas tree

Behind the song: Sonny Mayugba, who plays rhythm guitar on the track, says the modern Christmas classic proved to be a difficult undertaking.

"I thought I could just play it by ear but the song is really not that easy - Beatles' chords in general are pretty tricky," Mayugba says. "I had to get the sheet music to learn it and was totally just cramming to learn it in time for the session."

But with the chords finally figured out and parts learned, the gathering became relaxed, filled with impromptu covers and jam sessions.

"Recording studios are usually kind of nerve-wracking but this was almost like playing a live show," Mayugba says. "Everyone was playing - you had five or six guitarists, totally solo-ing their heads off. I think that's why the song comes out sounding so fun - those guys are just having a good time."

Listen to "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" here:

Download "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" for 99 cents at All proceeds benefit the Sacramento Children's Chorus (

For more information and a complete list of participating musicians visit

December 15, 2008
"Jack FM" part of CBS station swap deal...

Local radio station KQJK, better known as "Jack FM", has been included in a multi-radio station swap between CBS Radio and the Clear Channel Network. The swap is part of CBS Radio's bid to shed middle market stations in favor of large market ones.

KQJK, based out of Roseville, programs the "Jack FM" format which touts the slogan "Playing What We Want". The format offers hits from the 1970's to current adult hits. The station broadcasts on 93.7 FM, and was the former KHWD before it changed format and call letters in the fall of 2005.

Clear Channel will add KQJK, to four stations it already operates in Sacramento, including KGBY-FM 92.5, KFBK-AM 1530, KHYL-FM 101.1 and KSTE-AM 650.

The swap, which must undergo regulatory approval, also satisfies U.S. Department of Justice conditions placed on Clear Channel Communications' merger with Thomas H. Lee Partners, and Bain Capital Partners. Clear Channel was bought by both entities this past July in a deal valued at $17.9 billion.

"This deal represents a financially advantageous opportunity for us to shed some of our mid-size market stations while expanding in a Top Ten market, which is our focus," said Les Moonves, president and CEO of the CBS corporation, in a written release.

As a result of the swap, Clear Channel not only gets KQJK, it will also add CBS Radio stations in Seattle, Baltimore, and Portland. In return, CBS acquires two Clear Channel stations in Houston.

Clear Channel Communications is the number one radio station owner in the U.S. It owns, operates or programs for nearly 1,200 radio stations in the U.S. and also has equity interests in 240 stations worldwide.

December 12, 2008
Remember the Night

One of my favorite under-the-radar Christmas movies gets a rare airing this week end. The Preston Sturges written "Remember the Night" starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray screens tomorrow night at 6 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies (It also shows again Christmas Eve at 11:15 p.m. and Christmas morning at 6:15 a.m.)

The romantic comedy isn't available on either DVD or VHS which is a little odd considering the pedigrees of all involved. Stanwyck and MacMurray are iconic stars who would team up again more memorably in 1944's "Double Indemnity." Sturges would use Stanwyck in arguably his greatest film "The Lady Eve." In "Remember the Night" the great actress is a petty thief and MacMurry's an assistant D.A. who throws her in the slammer for Christmas. Then thinking better of it MacMurray decides to takes her to his midwestern home for the holidays. While romance ensues - this movie being written by the great Sturges there is also clever wit and surprisingly affective pathos as well.

Sturges' success and a writer and director included a nearly unmatched string of artistic and commercial hits from 1939 - 1944. After watching Mitchell Leisen direct "Remember the Night" Sturges sold his next script "The Great McGinty" (1940) for $10 so he could direct it himself. The films which followed "Christmas in July" (1940), "The Lady Eve" (1941), "Sullivan's Travels" (1941) "The Palm Beach Story" (1942), "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" and "Hail the Conquering Hero" (both 1944). Sturges' career would slide from that point but his best work is some of the best ever.

There are several Sturges biographies including "Between Flops: A Biography of Preston Sturges" by James Curtis. The title comes from a Sturges quote, "I've had a few successes between the flops."

December 11, 2008
Go to Italy with Dave and Lois

Dave Walker and Lois Hart are off the air, following their November retirement, but if you want to see them, you can travel with them to Florence and Rome in 2009.

Angela K. Nickerson, a Sacramento photographer and author of the book, "Michelangelo's Rome," will take Walker and Hart and 16 other people on a February tour of the Eternal City, where the artist spent most of his time, and Florence, Michelangelo's home town.

Walker and Hart will host four dinners during the tour, giving fellow travelers a chance to know them better.

For more information about the tour, see Nickerson's blog by clicking here.

December 11, 2008
The era of recording has arrived for the Choral Society...


To a musician there's nothing quite like a recording to add a feather in the proverbial cap.

And if it is your first, all the better.

For the 185-member Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra the release of its first-ever commercial recording, entitled "Eternal Light," is a milestone. It not only marks its entry into recording, it celebrates its first tour with its very own orchestra.

The recording was made during the SCSO's tour performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall last June. That performance saw the chorus and orchestra tackle Mozart's "Requiem" and Morten Lauridsens "Lux Aeterna". It was one of the SCSO's best performances to date, and showed how the organization took to the stellar acoustics at Disney Hall. Both works are included in the recording.

The release of the CD (cost: $15) will be announced during its 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. "Home for the Holiday" concerts this Saturday at the Mondavi Center for the Arts.

The CD will be available for purchase at both concerts, and also on its SCSO's website:

And it will soon be a purchase item at, said Lee Blachowicz, vice president of the SCSO and its board. A total of 2,000 CDs were made of the Disney Hall performance. And it is the SCSO's intention to work out an arrangement with iTunes to allow the download of the recording, he said.

The recording comes way of a collective bargaining agreement that it entered with its orchestra musicians, and the American Federation of Musicians union in 2007. That agreement allows for the creation and selling of commercial recordings, and also stipulates how musicians will be paid for them.

That agreement also allows the orchestra to stream its music on KXPR and KXJZ, though Blachowicz said the details of any such streaming has yet to be worked out.

December 11, 2008
Lots to do today through the weekend

MAX WHITTAKER/Sactown magazine

OK, for the sake of argument let's say you've got everything in good order for the holidays and there's spare time to take advantage of local events. Well, 21Q has you covered.

Here's what's going on, starting today through the weekend - even into January for one event!

1. The Wardrobe boutique in Davis is hosting its first-ever "Share the Joy" after-hours holiday event from 7 to 9 tonight at the store, 206 E St. So if you're out and about, the store will feature the largest selection of Sorrelli jewelry on the entire West Coast. Looking for gifts? Local designers/artisans will have homemade hats and scarves, and journals and candles. And there's complimentary gift wrapping. A bonus? You get 10 percent off your purchases.

2. I saw a commercial for Town & Country Village, which I guess is now The Collection at Town & Country (Fulton and Marconi avenues). Today, from 4 to 8 p.m., several stores in the shopping complex will be collecting diapers for the Sacramento Junior League - and offering up to 40 percent off purchases. The stores include Taylor James Clothing, Bonney & Gordon and Siters' Boutique. Local stylist Stephanie Cumberland will be on hand to answer fashion questions. Santa Claus will make an appearance. And Kings fans can meet and greet player Bobby Jackson at Bonney & Gordon. There will be a drawing for two Kings tickets.

3. In midtown, Krazy Mary's and the Sugar Shack boutiques will host a local artists' trunk show from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday featuring a variety of jewelry designers, including Jenjems, Renee Kwong, Pork Chop Rules, Anise and McKenzie Jewelry. Both stores, which are within walking distance of each other (between 24th and 25th on J), will offer 25 percent off all purchases from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. You'll also save $10 on any gift certificates over $30. And the meters will be free in front of the stores for this event.

4. Rob Turner, co-editor in chief of Sactown magazine, shot me an e-mail about a photo exhibit that opens Saturday at the Viewpoint Gallery, 21st and J streets, to mark the second anniversary issue of the local magazine. Rob says in two years the magazine has picked up national awards for its photography, including images by photographer Max Whittaker, who did the portrait of Sacramento musician Jackie Greene (pictured). Rob says the exhibit, which will run through Jan. 3, will feature 40 of the magazine's best images, ranging from celebrities to politics, war, travel, religion and - my personal favorite - fashion. In addition to Whittaker's work, other photographs were taken by photogs from San Francisco to New York and right here in Sactown. Rob is hoping for a big turnout for the exhibit's Second Saturday reception and opening.

December 11, 2008
Calling all choirs...

A $1000 gift certificate at Skip's Music is up for grabs for the winning performance in a radio choir competition hosted by co-hosts of the Pat Still and Tom Mailey's morning show at New Country 105.1 KNCI.

For the second year, Still and Mailey are soliciting one holiday song from any area school choir (or even just a classroom). The ten best entries will be posted on the KNCI website and there will be an online voting system in place for 24 hours. Some of the entries will be aired during the show's 7:10 a.m. daily slot, said Mailey.

The winner earns a $1000 gift certificate for use at Skip's Music.

Interested groups can sign up by going to, then clicking on the "Pat and Tom" page, then clicking on the "Holiday Idol 2" icon.

Last year's co-winner, a choir from Christian Brothers High School, has their winning entry posted. A choir from Victory Christian School was the other co-winner.

The deadline is Dec. 16. Winners will be announced by the following Friday. For more information call (916) 338-9256.

December 9, 2008
Reminder: Chi Cheng benefit tonight at Harlow's


Don't forget, tonight there's a benefit for a very good cause.

Musicians and friends will gather at Harlow's tonight (2708 J St., Sacramento) for the One Love for Chi show.

Deftones bassist Chi Cheng was seriously injured in a November car accident and all proceeds from the show will benefit Cheng's family.

On the bill: Will Haven, Tinfed, Death Valley High, Last Angels and Eightfourseven. DJs Frank "Nitty" Delgado and Crook One will also spin records.

The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $12 at the door.

For more information: (916) 441-4693 or

December 8, 2008
A notable Grammy nod...

Well, it's Grammy time again. And as always, this year list of classical music nominees offers an impressive combination of newcomers and heavy hitters, each of them deserving an award.

And among the nominees is one of my favorite opera recordings of the year.

That work is the "Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny," (released by EuroArts).

That opera (or is it a musical?), debuted in 1930, and is a collaboration between Weill and playwright/librettist Bertold Brecht.

The recording is up for two Grammys this year - one in the Best Classical Album category, the other for Best Opera Album.

The Grammy nods are well deserved.

In the hands of the LA Opera, "Mahagonny" gets a modern and Broadway-like treatment. Much of that due to the inspired direction of Tony award-winning director John Doyle.

There's so much to like about this super-talented cast, which includes Audra McDonald in one of the most sizzling turns by a woman in any opera in recent memory. And Patti Lupone and Anthony Dean Griffey give strong acting and singing performances. And, as always, when James Conlon conducts, its top notch work.

One of the most striking things about this work is how it seems so topical.

With "Mahagonny" Brecht and Weill spin an elegant and jazzy moral parable about a cynical and corrupt society. It's both breezy and deep.

During its time the tale was seen as an analogy for the Nazi regime.

These days, it is easy to fill in the blanks.

December 7, 2008
Sacramento Single: Christopher Fairman's "Pages"

Inspired by his musical hero Neil Young, Sacramento's Christopher Fairman always knew he wanted to be a musician.

He just didn't want to sing.

"I was really against it, I was really stubborn," Fairman says.

The reason? Simple: He didn't think that he could.

"I was pretty bad for a while," he insists.

The 23-year-old Rio Americano High School graduate, however, had one very important fan who thought otherwise.

"My mother encouraged me to do it," he says. "Now I think I'm pretty damn good."

And while his sentiment is, he admits, a little "cocky," it required more than a lot of practice to get to this point - it took a little ease.

"I think, just in life, I let go - and once I let go I didn't care about a lot of things that other people care about, " he says.

"I think that helps, if you don't care what other people think about you then you can let loose."

Fairman released the "Born Broken" EP in 2007 and plans to release a new CD ""85, 87" in the spring.

Produced by David Houston, the music is dark and reflective with a sound akin to Americana crooner Ryan Adams.

"It's like a diary of a year in my life," he says. "The songs are more personal than anything I'd done before."

The album's feel was also inspired by another piece of art, a ghostly, abstract image in shades of moss green, gold and orange that was painted by Fairman's friend Michael Pitcher.

"I don't know what it was, but I saw that picture and it just brought something out in me," he says.

The painting will be the album cover for "85, 87" and the fit, he says, is perfect.

"It's dark and there's so much going on - there are different characters there."

Christopher Fairman

Song: "Pages"

Style: Slow, meditative Americana

Behind the song: Written in just 20 minutes, the song epitomizes Fairman's loose, carefree approach.

"The song is very fluid and when I was writing this, I really didn't know what it was about for a while."

Eventually, the words came into sharper focus.

"It's just very confessional, talking about how I see the world and how I don't always believe in myself," he says. "It's about the pages of the books I could write, I've got a lot to say."

"It's about how sometimes I don't believe in myself really just about the 'pages and pages' of things I have to say."

See him:

Dec. 12 at the Javalounge, 2416 16th St, Sacramento.
The 9 p.m. show is all-ages.

Dec. 19 at the Blue Lamp, 14000 Alhambra Blvd.
The 10 p.m. is 21-and-over only.

On the Web:

Listen to "Pages" here:

December 4, 2008
Black Nativity at CSUS

Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity" receives a special production this weekend at Sacramento State. The production features direction by T. Michael Gates, a former CSUS theater professor and original Sons and Ancestors player, and choreography by Linda Goodrich, chairwoman of the theater and dance department .
"Black Nativity" is a gospel-based retelling of the Nativity story with a black cast and traditional and original music. The show was first performed on Broadway on Dec. 11, 1961.
There will be only one performance at 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Sacramento State University Student Union Ballroom. Tickets are $10-$25. For information contact the box office at (916) 278-4323 or Voices of California for Arts, Culture & Diversity at (916) 616-9698.

December 4, 2008
A "Messiah" to sing along with...


Let's face it, having a holiday season without a sing along "Messiah" is like having turkey without the trimmings and stuffing.

But not to worry... lovers of Handel's great and joyous work will have the chance to sing along when the Camellia Symphony and the Camerata California Choir team up for a performance of the "Messiah" on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 4:00 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (2620 Capital Ave., Sacramento).

Audience members will be encouraged and expected to sing- along with the choir at the performance.

Tickets are $15 (ages 18 and under are free).

Ticket information: (916) 929-6655 or

December 3, 2008
Handmade treasures and more at IndieSacramento

This Saturday, the handmade renaissance will manifest itself to crafty Sacramentans by way of IndieSacramento, the area's largest trunk show and craft bazaar, featuring one-of-a-kind products from local fashion designers, jewelry makers, graphic artists and more.

Just in time for holiday shopping season, the festival of all things handmade will offer creative and unique holiday gifts, which, according to event organizer Amy Cluck, gives locals an opportunity to "bypass the crowds at the mall and support local artistry."

In its second year, IndieSacramento will feature the work of over 40 exhibitors--most of them hauling their wares from Sacramento, Elk Grove, Davis and surrounding areas--and the products for sale range from paper goods to t-shirts to home d├ęcor. Jewelry comprised of recycled treasures, like guitar picks or old buttons, for example, isn't uncommon, and most of the vendors view their businesses through a playfully sustainable lens.

Cluck, who herself is an artist of the homemade persuasion, launched the Web site and spearheaded the event on her own last year. "I wanted to create an event like the ones the Bay Area has, similar to traveling national shows like The Bizarre Bazaar."

Handmade art and the trunk shows by which it is distributed have gained tremendous popularity since the proliferation of, an intuitive, user- and buyer-friendly site which allows crafters to sell their products independently, without having to shell out cash for their own Web sites or retail stores.

This year's event is going to be even bigger and badder than the last, featuring live music from local bands, a fashion show by Atelier Co-Op, free hot cocoa and, most importantly, free swag bags to the first 200 attendees.

Cluck's own projects include PeptoGirl Industries, a collection of handmade and vintage goods, and Pimp Stitch, a clever collection of embroidery patterns that buyers can transfer to the medium of their choosing. Pimp Stitch bills itself as "The cutest embroidery patterns this side of the information super highway," and with designs like "The Breakfast Club," featuring a smiling pancake and his syrup jar mistress, Cluck and friends are helping work up a healthy appetite for imagination.

What: IndieSacramento Trunk Show & Craft Bazaar
When: Saturday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: 2409 J St., Midtown, Sacramento
Cost: $2, or $1 with boxed or canned food donation

Don't forget to bring cash!

December 3, 2008
Prop 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Tony Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman ( "Hairspray") is doing what he does best. The songwriter, who helped initiate the Internet furor over donations to the Yes on 8 campaign, has created a satire on the episode that engulfed California Musical Theatre, its former artisitc director Scott Eckern, and numerous others on both sides of the issue. The piece called "Prop 8: The Musical" is now online and set on stage at Sacramento Community College and stars John C. Reilly, Allison Janney, Jack Black and Maya Rudolph among others with Shaiman at the piano.

December 1, 2008
Want to join the world's first online orchestra?

The world's first collaborative online orchestra, (known officially as "The YouTube Symphony Orchestra Project") is now a reality...

... and it has a Northern California angle.

That angle comes in the form of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, who are participating in the groundbreaking project.

The project calls for online auditions, musician selection and a musical summit at Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

Here's how it will work: From Dec. 1 through Jan. 28, 2009, musicians from around the world are invited to submit videos showcasing their personal style. This will be accomplished by participants performing in two different videos - the first is their interpretation of an original Tan Dun composition that has been written specifically for this program. The second will be a talent showcase video designed to demonstrate musical and technical abilities.

A panel of musical experts from the San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and other leading orchestras around the world will narrow the field of entries down to semifinalists.

Also, the YouTube community will be invited to vote on the semifinalists from Feb. 14, 2009 through Feb. 22, 2009.

Musicians who are selected will be announced on YouTube on March 2, 2009.

Partners signed on as part of the project include pianist Lang Lang, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall. As an initial orchestral partner, the San Francisco Symphony will helpichoose candidates for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, as well as contribute educational content to the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Web site. The SFS and New York Philharmonic are the only two American orchestras reviewing online auditions in the project.

For official rules of entry and more information, consult the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Channel (

December 1, 2008
Tesla to play January 30th at Memorial Auditorium

You may have noticed that Tesla was playing a string of December dates everywhere but Sacramento. Now, finally, the Sacramento-born band has a local date on the schedule but you'll have to wait until 2009 to bang your ever-lovin' head.

Tesla, which released a new album in October, is scheduled to perform Jan. 30 at the Memorial Auditorium.

(If you're a die-hard fan, you could also check them out Jan. 31 at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno.)

Tickets to the Sacramento show are $29.50 and now available via

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