Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

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

April 30, 2009
Young filmmakers' work showcased

The future of the film industry lies in digital filmmaking, and no one recognizes that more than the young people embracing the medium. On Friday, the Tower of Youth filmmaking program will pay tribute to those young talents with its Teen Digital Showcase & Awards event at the Crest Theatre.

The event will include 28 digital shorts by area students, with awards -- and prizes of computer software and hardware -- handed out in several categories.

Representatives of technology companies and area colleges will be on hand, and Paul Debevic of the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies will kick off the event at 5:30 p.m. with a speech to students.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for ages 18 and younger. To see the event streamed live, go to the
Tower of Youth site.

April 30, 2009
One man's junk is another man's... found footage?

Some people see a video in a dumpster and see gahbage.

Others look in and see a goldmine.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. And beholders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher would like to show you how when they showcase found footage culled from dumpsters, garage sales and thrift stores.

Dubbed the "Found Footage Festival", the event wil be held this Friday at Movies On A Big Screen in West Sacramento.

Found footage curators Pickett and Prueher (whose credits include "The Colbert Report," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and The Onion), will host the screenings.

The duo will provide their unique and hilarious observations and commentary on the videos.

In a way, this event seems tailor-made for Movies On A Big Screen, whose linoleum-laden union hall vibe lends itself well to those with a jaundiced eye.

When: 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Where: Movies on A Big Screen, 600 4th St, West Sacramento
Cost: $10

April 30, 2009
'American Idol': The piano man will play on


On "American Idol," Matt Giraud, 23, once again proved that this season's eliminated contestants seem to perform their farewell song better after getting the boot than when faced with the harsh lights and judges' critiques.

The so-called dueling pianist from Kalamzoo, Mich., is definitely ready to go home, take a break and then get ready for the finale and tour. And he couldn't agree more with the rest of us that the Top 5 this year are loaded with talent.

Indeed, he had something to say Thursday about being up against what most "Idol" fans feel is the singer to beat - Adam Lambert (pictured with Matt).

Matt took time to speak with "Idol" reporters about his stint on the show and what lies ahead.

Q: The judges were definitely mixed on your version of "My Funny Valentine" on Tuesday. Your thoughts? And were there other songs you were considering?
A: Interestingly, Kara (DioGuardi) usually is on my side. Simon (Cowell) calling me brilliant and comparing me to Nat King Cole was amazing. I picked a famous jazz standard, and I wouldn't have changed anything. That's probably the first time I've said that. I probably could have picked a bigger song and riffed all over the place, but I'm glad I kept it simple. Other songs? I considered "Come Fly With Me" or "They Can't Take That Away From Me."

Q: Were you as surprised as the audience, judges - and viewers - at last night's bottom 3?
A: I was surprised that Adam was down there. I thought it was a cruel twist (for him) to have to pick sides. Kris and I played with him back stage. We asked him, "Why didn't you pick us? (rather than Danny Gokey and Allison Iraheta)" It was kind of uncomfortable, but I've been there before. Adam had said he didn't really like his (Tuesday) performance. But we thought he was great.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of the show for you? And what was your favorite performance and/or mentor?
A: Song choice was the most difficult. There might be a million songs that move you, but picking a song you can sing well is the hard part. My favorite performance probably would be "Part Time Lover." The arrangement went really well for me. As for mentors, Jamie Foxx was one of the most helpful, especially advising me to change that one key on "My Funny Valentine." The most influential was Smokey Robinson. To sit there and sing a song for him on the piano and have him say Marvin Gaye would have been proud. I won't ever forget that.

Q: You were the recipient of the one and only judges' save. Do you think it's a good idea for the show?
A: I definitely support the save. It wasn't a waste. It shows that the judges can see something in someone to give them another chance. Now I can't wait to see my name on a trivia card. It was one of the coolest moments in my life. I really didn't know people felt that passionately about me. Even the security guard said he hadn't heard the audience that loud. It was my most memorable moment.

Q: You'll be on the "Idols" tour, so is there anything you're eager to perform?
A: I've thought about "Georgia on My Mind." I want to get on the piano, dance around and have a good time. Most of all, I want to meet these people who have put me through this far.

Q: Any predictions and do you think it's important to win "Idol" - or come close?
A: I never came in wanting to be the "American Idol." My dream was to play the piano, sing jazz and meet mentors. There definitely are a lot of perks (to winning), and I was fighting for it. But I'm not kicking myself. Past "Idols" go home early and do well. All hope is not lost. I always joke around and say I think they'll bring me back! But really, I endorse them all. I'd be happy if any one of them wins.

Q: How do you think you've grown and/or changed with this experience?
A: I haven't changed much. But I've grown musically, and I want to pay my dues in the music industry. I believe in myself more than ever. I can deal with what I'm best at and the weaknesses. One person says I'm horrible, and one says I'm great!

Next Tuesday's Final 4 competition will feature rock 'n' roll, with former Guns N' Roses lead guitarist Slash as the mentor. What would Matt have sung: "I was considering 'Simple Man' by Lynyrd Skynyrd - and doing it on the piano."

The big question is, now that he's had a taste of the bottom 3, what will Adam pull out of bag of musical tricks? And remember: Danny is the only contestant left who hasn't felt the sting of being in the hot seat - or silver throne as it goes.

April 30, 2009
Student Auditions for Summer Musical Theater

The McLaughlin Theatre Company of Loomis will hold auditions May 15-16 for a summer production of "Once on this Island."

Students in grades 6-12 are invited to sign up to audtion at (916) 652-6377.

The show is the debut production for the company, which has done dance and musical instruction in the area for 15 years. The show will also feature a live orchestra.

For more information, call (916) 652-6377, email or check the Web page at

April 29, 2009
SABA's new bike valet trailer is ready to roll

Even if you're unsure about what the acronym stands for, every bike-riding Sacramento urbanite loves SABA (p.s. - that's Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates). Over the past decade, the local nonprofit organization has provided valet bike parking for more than 50,000 bicycles, allowing Sacramento cyclists to enjoy events like Concerts in the Park without the stress of parking or the paranoia of lurking bike thieves.

Because the bike valet service is on such a roll, SABA recently decided to up their ante with a new custom bicycle trailer, which will help SABA volunteers haul all the requisite equipment for their valet services, including hundreds of pounds of fencing, PVC bike racks, a table, a canopy and supplies.

The new trailer will make its official debut this Friday evening at the commencement of the 2009 Friday Night Concerts in the Park series at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

The trailer, which was manufactured by Bikes at Work, has a bed measuring eight feet and can haul up to 300 pounds. And it's absolutely green, too. "As far as I know, we're the only bike valet service in the country that hauls its equipment by bike, without using a drop of fossil fuel," says Walt Seifert, executive director of SABA.

A second trailer is on its way, and SABA plans to utilize a total of three trailers for its Sacramento Area services. Hop on your bike and help them break it in tomorrow night at the season's first CIP!

To learn more about SABA, visit

April 29, 2009
'American Idol': Final 5 a musical feast


I actually watched last night's performances by the Final 5 "American Idol" contestants twice. Some would call that a cry for "get-a-life," but as a veteran fan of the show, I can't recall five finalists with this much combined talent.

These guys (and a gal) have got pipes! And it's going to be a shame to see one of them go tonight.

The theme was standards from the Rat Pack era, i.e., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. As for a mentor, it was kinda cute when contestant Kris Allen said they were all wondering who it would be since the Pack was, uh, dead!

Ends up actor/singer Jamie Foxx took the reins and did one of the best jobs any "Idol" mentor has done in as many seasons. He was in their face (in a good way), suggesting key changes, offering much encouragement.

The performances lasted a little longer, and there was a full orchestra - and major-league horns - on stage to accompany the singers. Here's how it broke down:

* Kris Allen: He sand "Just The Way You Look Tonight," one my personal faves. He looked much more grown-up in his suit, and his strength of playing to the camera was perfect for this song. Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul heaped major praise, Randy saying it was his best performance to date and Kara going ga-ga over his technical abilities. Simon Cowell, wet blanket that he can be sometimes, said it was "a little bit wet," and went on to compare the song to taking a well-trained spaniel for a walk.

* Allison Iraheta: The last girl singing turned 17 this week and managed to bring a sophisticated, heart-felt rendition of "Someone To Watch Over Me." She may be young, but she's talented. Simon's biggest concern for her is that he doesn't think she truly believes in herself - as far as winning. And there's some merit to that. However, having been in the bottom 3 last week Kara said she had earned new fans. Randy's was my favorite comment: "It was mad, young, the dope. It was Britney Murphey and Pink with 9,000 more octaves."

* Matt Giraud: No question Matt would wear his signature hat - sort of Sinatra meets Michael Buble. His riffs and runs on "My Funny Valentine" didn't appeal to Randy and Kara at all. Kara thought he "didn't feel emotionally connected." Paula, however, loved the song. And, surprisingly, Simon thought it was the most believeable and authentic performance. "You brought some Nat King Cole phrasing. It was brilliant."

* Danny Gokey: (pictured) Jamie got up close and personal with Danny in an attempt to pull the lyrics - and the song - from his gut up through his heart. It worked because his version of "Come Rain or Come Shine" could easily make its way on to an album of similar standards. Or so Randy said. Kara said he had Rat Pack swagger. Paula said Danny can "see the finish line," which is probably one of her most accurate assessments. Simon thought Danny performed to prove a point and that his vocals were (so far) the best. "What Jamie brought out in you was amazing." And he gave props to Ricky Minor and the band for the amazing arrangement.

* Adam Lambert: Once again, he's saved for last. And, once again, it's all about the entrance, the outfit - the A.L. package. Of all the remaining contestants, it appeared Adam blew Jamie away the most. And his performance of "Feelin' Good" began with the white suit, the swagger down the "Idol" steps bathed in pink light. And there was the familiar sneer and that one long-held note that caused the show to go two minutes into overtime! Randy thought it was a "little too Broadway" but that Adam was consistently in the zone. Kara got caught up in adjectives: "Shocking, confusing, sleazy and superb." Simon said it was the best entrance of the year and told Ryan Seacrest he couldn't use the stairs anymore. If the show's producers are smart, they will have Ryan wear the white suit tonight and attempt the Lambert descent.

Predictions? I think Matt has squeezed out as many votes as he's going to get, and leaving at No. 5 - based on this season's talent - is a positive. Allison having been in the bottom 3 before doesn't do her any favors either. I think second and third should go to Kris and Allison, respectively. But there are so many Danny Gokey fans he probably could make a push for either second or third.

What does this mean? It means that, barring the Nokia Theatre falling into the Pacific Ocean, Adam should become the next "American Idol." Check out tonight's live results at 9 p.m. (Channel 40). Natalie Cole and Jamie Foxx are scheduled to perform.

April 29, 2009
John Legend coming to Raley Field

John Legend, with India Arie opening, will play Raley Field on Sept. 4.

The show, just announced, is part of Legend's cross-country, 50-city concert tour.

Tickets go on sale this Saturday at the Raley Field box office and

Legend is a multi-platinum recording star and six-time Grammy winner whose latest album, "Evolver," hit the top of the charts.

For more info:,

- Dixie Reid

April 29, 2009
Locke to celebrate Asian culture on May 9

Charming little Locke, the historic Chinese town alongside the Sacramento River, will celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month on May 9.

Main Street will be awash that day in dancers, artists, musicians, kung-fu performers, calligraphy experts and more.

Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free.

The Locke Foundation is the event sponsor.

For more information: (916) 776-1661, (916) 776-1828.

Locke is about 22 miles south of downtown Sacramento.

- Dixie Reid
April 28, 2009
200+ Met Operas - for free!

If ever there was a weekend where opera fans should clear their schedules this weekend would be it.

That's because the Met will be streaming its extensive video and audio catalog of operas for free to entice audiences to sign up for its new Met Player online streaming service.

The free period begins on 5p.m. Friday and ends Sunday May 3 at midnight.

In that time opera fans will have unlimited access to over 200 videos of Met operas including 20 HD productions from the first three seasons of The Met: Live in HD series.

HD titles recently added to the Met Player catalog include this season's transmissions of Puccini's "La Rondine" featuring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, and Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" starring Anna Netrebko.

The service also offers audio streams of legendary performances that include the Met's 1937 production of Bizet's "Carmen" starring Rosa Ponselle.

The free weekend of streamed opera is an enticement to get audiences to subscribe to the Met Player service, which will cost $14.99 per month or $149.99 for a yearly plan.

The service also allows the purchase of individual streams at $4.99 for HD videos and $3.99 for audio performances or non-HD video.

In order to register for the free weekend of Met Player, users must have an active username and password for the Met website.

New users can set this up by visiting the "Register" page at and providing basic contact information. No credit card will be required.

April 28, 2009
The Derby, a Roller Derby Cut-A-Thon and hats off!

* OK, so it's probably too late to catch a pony to Churchill Downs for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, but the Bravo network has a treat for fashion/food thoroughbreds on Friday. It's a show called "Ladies First: Bravo at the Kentucky Derby." It airs at 5 p.m.

The show is centered around the Kentucky Oaks 135, a companion event to the annual Run for the Roses. The bonus? It's a day to raise money and awareness for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. (By the way, the annual Sacramento Komen race is May 9.) Komen and Churchill Downs actually have formed a partnership in the breast cancer fight.

On hand for Bravo's show will be NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, Nancy O'Dell of "Access Hollywood" and my favorite "Real Housewife of New York City" (yes, I love this show!), author and chef Bethenny Frankel. Former NFL star/broadcaster Tiki Barber will be hanging out at the Infield Club with "Top Chef" winners Stephanie Izard and this season's champ Hosea Rosenberg.

Bethenny, a horse-racing fan herself, will offer tips on handicapping a race; O'Dell will cover why this weekend's event is rich in fashion tradition - in particular the hats!

* Locally, the Village Hat Shop in Old Sacramento is hosting a Betmar Trunk Show from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the store, 123 K St. Betmar head designer Kimberli MacKay is headed here from New York to showcase the company's latest millinery masterpieces. After all, Betmar has been in the chapeau business (for women at least ) for three generations - since 1933. Kimberli has a special treat for anyone buying a dress hat that day. It's a Betmar New York hat box. Supplies are limited on this deal. For more info, click here.

* And then there's the fun Cut-A-Thon, also set for Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Allure Salon & Spa, 815 16th St. in midtown. Desiree Mann, also known as Dez Asstris from the Sacred City Derby Girls roller derby team, is up for Celebrity of the Year in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's annual campaign. Dez hopes to raise more than $50,000 at Sunday's event. The salon's regular $50 haircuts will be discounted to $30, with all proceeds benefiting the society.

Says Dez: "How often is your haircut going to help your wallet and find a cure for cancer? To make an appointment or get more info, call (916) 446-1234.

April 28, 2009
Local filmmaker advances in national comedy competition

Last week, we announced that Vacaville native and SFSU post-graduate student Jesse Fernandez was chosen as a semi-finalist in RooftopComedy's National College Comedy Competition.

The smoke has finally cleared from the competition's online Viewer's Choice Voting round, and Fernandez's hilarious film, entitled "A Cartoon by Jesse Fernandez", was, according to online voters, clever enough to cut the mustard. Out of 48 selected films, Fernandez's cartoon advanced as one of the top 24 finalists in the competition, which, on June 11, will declare "The Country's Funniest College Student."

Fernandez's musically narrated sequence of animated one-liners is brilliant in its simplicity. A succession of rudimentary sketches with accompanying captions illustrate the dream-like and delightfully uncouth inner-workings of Fernandez's restless mind. At just over four minutes, the short film is like candy-coated brain food for fickle attention spans.

If you haven't checked it out yet, do it now. Statistically speaking, you're likely to find it quite entertaining.

Now through May 8, the films will be undergoing a "Director's Cut" selection, in which an expert panel of judges narrows the 24 films down to 12. From May 11 to May 17, viewer's choice online and mobile voting will narrow those selections down to four, and the top four films will be presented at the Aspen RooftopComedy Festival on June 11.

To check out the other selections, or to learn how to cast your vote in the upcoming second round of viewer's choice voting, visit

April 25, 2009
McCall Smith: 'You write novel after novel, and then you die'

Internationally renowned author Alexander McCall Smith acknowledged Saturday afternoon to hundreds of fans at his Bee Book Club appearance that he suffers from a condition known as "serial novelism."


"You write novel after novel, and then you die," he said, during remarks at The Pavilions shopping center in Sacramento.

Judging from the reaction of those at the event, his fan base is hoping that Smith never recovers from the illness.

"I can see why he became a writer -- because he's such a great storyteller," said Craig Manson, a professor at McGeorge School of Law in Oak Park. His favorite Smith series of novels are those in "The 21/2 Pillars of Wisdom" series.

The 54-year-old Manson, a Carmichael resident, said that Smith has quite a fan club at McGeorge. That seems quite fitting, since Smith was a respected expert on medical law and bioethics before he left the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to pursue his love of writing.

As Smith finished his speech and the applause died down, the audience buzzed with comments about how tremendously entertaining he had been.

In his remarks, Smith spoke a bit about the obstacles that writers face -- among them, editors who fail to keep track of just how many limbs the author has given a character and the challenge of writing a first line that will hook readers.

Smith then shared a couple of opening lines that he admired. One of them came in English novelist's Rose Macaulay's masterpiece, "The Towers of Trebizond." The famous opening line reads:
"'Take my camel, dear', said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass."

Then, with the comedic timing of Jerry Seinfeld, Smith lamented that there simply are not enough camels in novels and mused about the possibility of working one into a future book.

As to his mistakes, Smith acknowledged that he may have made a few in his novels but explained that he hadn't come prepared to enumerate them.

Lee and Linda Dills of Citrus Heights discovered Smith through the BBC/HBO presentation of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." After they read the books, they were impressed with just how realistically human Smith's characters are.

"I saw the lady who plays this character on Oprah," said 62-year-old Linda Dills, speaking of Jill Scott, filmdom's personification of Smith's detective, Mma Ramotswe."The character itself intrigued me. Then I saw the movie, and the beauty of the countryside and the music at the end intrigued me."

Smith is "Sandy" to those who know him well here in Sacramento, and in a sign of just how small the world is, audience members discovered that the Scottish author has quite a few friends among our fellow residents.

Smith not only delighted his loyal fan base but also won over at least one fan of R&B singer-songwriter Scott. That would be me.

Like many, I left impressed with the author's wit and skillful story-telling, but I was just as struck by the possibility that some Smith fans out there found him because they are following the work of Jill Scott and the possibility that some Smith fans may also be discovering Scott's music. These are happy thoughts, indeed.

If you didn't get a chance, read Allen Pierleoni's story about Smith. Go here to read the first chapter of Smith's latest book, "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built."

April 24, 2009
A busy weekend for fashion and flair - and hair!

If you're looking for some fun things to do this weekend, I've got three ideas (including one that will be ongoing).

Check it out!

  • Hair Games 2009:
  • Twelve of Sacramento's top salons will compete in Hair Games 2009, starting Saturday night at Bar Code Nightclub, 1890 Arden Way (across from Arden Fair Mall). The gig's organizers say it's "Project Runway meets American Idol." And it's for a good cause. This year's proceeds will benefit widows and children affected by the AIDs epidemic in Africa. This through Village Care International. Hair Games will run four consecutive Saturdays through May 16, with the finale blow-out on May 30. Each night of the semifinals, three salons (using models, dancers and designers) compete in a five-minute routine. And, yes, it will get a little hair-raising! The winners from each semifinal will move on to the finale. Tomorrow's first competition gets started at 11 p.m. For more info, click here.
  • Artistfest 2009:
  • This year's Artistfest collaboration will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Empire Events Center, 1417 R St. This popular event brings together some of Sacramento's most talented artistes, who will be basically living and breathing their work for a day. The event will include singing, dancing, fashion design, air brushing, painting, etc. One of my favorite local fashion designers, Dee Aguilar, is not only doing a show of her own but this is her third time organizing the event. Also on tap: Performances by The Realists, OZ, Problem Child and Young Swagga. This is a 21-and-over event. Pre-sale tickets cost $10 and are available at The Beat, 1700 J St.
  • Lilu event:
  • The WIND Center and Shelter, 701 Dixieanne Ave., will be the setting for Saturday's Lilu Handbag Fashion Show, Sale & Silent Auction from 2 to 4 p.m. The event, which is in its ninth year, features local high school students who spend the year sewing handbags and other accessories that are sold via the fashion show and silent auction. Proceeds will benefit WIND, which is a haven for homeless teens. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students. For more info, click here.
April 24, 2009
Having Our Say Extends

Celebration Arts has extended the performance schedule of their hit production "Having Our Say, The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years." There will be five additional performances on Wednesday April 26 at 7 p.m., Sunday May 3 at 2 p.m. and Thursday May 7, Friday May 8, and Saturday May 9 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15 general, $13 for students and seniors.  Thursday night tickets are $8. For more information and reservations call (916) 455-2787. The Celebration Arts theater is located at 4469 D Street , Sacramento.

April 24, 2009
Tonight: Pop Culture Night at Sacramento Institute of Fun!

What do American food and Britney Spears have in common?.....

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. There's actually a somewhat logical explanation to this riddle...and you can discover the answer (as well as the answers to other, similarly fascinating questions) tonight with the Sacramento Institute of Fun. Their Fast Food, Slow Food and American Popular Culture event will explore how the changes in our country revolutionized the way we eat and think about food.

This relaxed, wine-filled evening of fun will be hosted by professor and writer Kevin Wehr, who will help elucidate such points as:

- Is McDonald's really out to kill us?


- Americans spend more money on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music combined!

and even...

- We need food to live, how can it be considered popular culture?

The Sacramento Institute of Fun offers entertaining, interesting and educational events about twice a month. You can learn more about the organization, or purchase tickets for tonight's event at their Web site.

If you've always wanted to check out an Institute event but never got around to going, tonight is the night...SIF has reduced their ticket prices for this event by $10 so you can wine, learn and laugh on a budget.

What: Sacramento Institute of Fun's Fast Food, Slow Food and American Popular Culture Night
Where: Revolution Wines, 2116 P St., Sacramento
When: Tonight at 7 p.m.
Cost: $14.95 general admission, $9.95 students and
Revolution Wine Club members, $4.95 S.I.F members, $20 at the door

April 23, 2009
'American Idol': Thoughts from Lil and Anoop


Anoop Desai almost slipped today and revealed what song he would have performed had he been around for next week's "American Idol" competition, but ... pause on the line and ... nothing!

The network keeps flip-flopping on letting us in on what the musical genres are. Some weeks Ryan Seacrest inserts it seconds before going off the air; last week Simon Cowell leaked it because it was, in his opinion, a "bit of bad news" (i.e., disco week).

Anyway, Anoop and Lil Rounds (pictured) were eliminated last night. But there probably won't be much down time between now and the end of the show (next month) because of all the press junkets, talk-show appearances, etc. But they gave "Idol" reporters some time today to discuss their experiences on the show moving forward.

Here's what they had to say. Lil was up first:

Q: It had to feel like judges were being a little tough on you, and you've always been one of the favorites. Do you think somehow you scorned Simon?
A: No, not at all. The judges gave their critiques based on how they thought the performances went. I took their comments in stride because it was constructive criticism. At times it felt like they went back and forth. But I'll take everything they said and push forward with it.

Q: Can you discuss the constantly used phrase "Make it your own?"
A: When I would hear that I automatically thought they (the judges) wanted me to do more with the music. But I stayed true to the music and changed the songs vocally.

Q: Last week (movie music) you stood up for yourself. Was that a turning point for you?
A: The critiques of "The Rose" seemed to be going back and forth, and I didn't know which way to go. So I felt I had to make it clear - to America - that I really am an artist. I love to do the R&B style, and I sang the song the way I wanted to.

Q: As we watched the show progress, your hair got longer and longer. Was that your decision?
A: It was actually a collaboration between me and my hairstylist. He was awesome. I told him I wanted to go a bit longer. But I didn't know he would take me this long! But I like it.

Q: What did you learn on the show, and what do you think it will be like for Allison Iraheta, the last gal singing?
A: Even in the midst of adversity you've got to keep your head up. If you give in, that's it. I came back each week and sang my heart out. Last night, I gave Allison the biggest hug possible. We were crying like a couple of girls. I told her to continue being "Allison" and nailing it for the ladies. She's a phenomenal singer.

Q: What do you look forward to when you get back home to Memphis?
A: I'm going to take my kids to the park. And my husband bought me a puppy!

Here's what Anoop had to say:

Q: You were in the bottom three multiple times. Did you feel like this week was the last week? And was it easier with two people going?
A: You think about it - on the inside. But I'll say this, it was amazing how many in the group (of contestants) thought they were going home last night. It did help not being alone. But it's still our own personal journey coming to an end. Doing all the press, it's nice to have Lil there. We're not wallowing. We're proud of ourselves and eager to move on - the tour and making albums.

Q: Was it tough to sing "Dim All the Light" one last time?
A: Last night was the easiest performance so far. There aren't four people sitting in front of you and the burden of the harsh critiques was relieved. It's the most free I've ever been on stage. Watching it back, it showed how relaxed I was. That's the type of performance I'm looking forward to on the tour.

Q: We've all heard the advice you got from the judges. Did you receive any from the other contestants and will it be hard leaving the "Idol" mansion?
A: Everyone brings something different to the table. It's humbling how talented they are. It's not a skill or vocal ability we learn from each other, it's about how to play to your strengths. You find your niche in the communal atmosphere, which will help us find our place in the (music) industry. Quite frankly, I was expecting not to get along with everyone because of the close quarters and the competition. But the great thing about this group is we are really good friends. Each person brought different things - both musically and personally.

Q: What did you learn from the mentors, and are there any songs on your wish list for the summer tour?
A: Quentin (Tarantino) had some good points about roughing it up. Smokey (Robinson) was amazing. Randy (Travis) talked about getting in the "shape of a song." Meeting Stevie Wonder was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I'll sing any of his songs. He's my idol.

Q: How did you feel about the support from UNC and the Tar Heel fans?
A: I've kept in contact with close friends at Carolina. And I watched the (NCAA) championship game. I knew I wasn't going home that week because the Heels won!

Q: What do you look forward to most about going back to North Carolina?
A: There's nothing like spring in Chapel Hill. I want to sit on the couch, wake up at noon and go get a Sunrise biscuit.

FYI: As for Anoop's "biscuit" craving, I lived in North Carolina and have had a biscuit (or two) from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill. No wonder he's hungry. They are the best!

April 23, 2009
Public gets free taste of Sac Opera's "La Boheme"


Think of it as the opera world's version of a test drive.

Or a tasty tease. Or maybe it's just an hour-long offering of opera.

That is exactly what will be performed Wednesday when cast members of the Sacramento Opera's upcoming production of "La Boheme" perform at the "Music at Noon" series at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Soprano NaGuanda Nobles, tenor Adam Flowers, soprano Rochelle Bard, and baritone Nicolai Janitzky (pictured right, in the role of Shchelkalov in this year's San Francisco Opera production of Boris Godunov) will perform excerpts from Puccini's masterwork opera.

The performance will be a prelude to the Sacramento Opera's May 8, 10, and 12 performances at the Community Center Theater.

When: Noon, April 29
Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1300 N St., Sacramento
Cost: Free
Information: (916) 737-1000 or
For information about the Wednesday Music at Noon program at Westminster, contact 916.442.8939 or visit

April 22, 2009
Van Cliburn piano competition goes digital...and interactive


Soon you will be able to track the developments at the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition from the comfort of your living room.

That's because the competition will be broadcast live online from May 22 to June 7.

Not that streaming the competition is a new thing for the Van Cliburn Foundation, which runs the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The foundation has been streaming the competition online since 2001. But for this competition, it has added extensive functionality to its online offerings. The sophisticated new functions will allow viewers to follow all 30 competitors - in real time.

The webcast (which can be accessed at, is using the same technology used for the Beijing Olympics, with performances streamed live and archived for "on-demand" viewering. It will broadcast 11 hours per day.

An online audience vote, a function that proved popular in the 2005 competition, will be featured again this year. These are held during each round of competition, allowing viewers to weigh their opinions against the jury's. Audience favorites will be recognized during the awards ceremony on June 7, but do not have a bearing on judge voting.

The webcasts will also take a fresh approach to interactivity by featuring the option to view program commentary, which will appear periodically on the bottom of the screen. These will offer pointers alerting the viewer for what to listen for while each piece is being performed.

Live coverage of four symposia presented during the competition finals will also be available on the site. Other features include an "e-mail the competitor" option, two blogs, and video portraits of all pianists.

That competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth, Texas, and formed by that city's teachers in honor of pianist Harvey Van Cliburn, Jr., who won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 with a stellar performance of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3

April 22, 2009
Mara Davi coming to Music Circus

Mara Davi, the Folsom High School graduate who made her Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of "A Chorus Line" as Maggie (see photo), will be soon be appearing closer to home. Davi, who now lives in New York City, will return to Sacramento this summer. Davi has been cast as Millie in the 2009 Music Circus season opening production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." It should be a very exciting opening.
For more Music Circus information go to


April 22, 2009
'American Idol': Two will go after disco


Out of the seven remaining "American Idol" contestants, three of them chose Donna Summer songs for last night's disco theme. And all three - Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta and Anoop Desai - went in different directions with their performances. Anoop being the most predictable.

Here's a recap:

Lil Rounds, who has been the most berated contestant since Sanjaya Malakar - and she can actually sing! - took hits from all four judges after singing Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman," even though she apparently had been on voice rest all day Monday. Randy Jackson thought she "sounded wild." Kara DioGuardi said Lil has been every woman but herself. "All of America has been waiting, but this wasn't worth the wait. And, the final nail from Simon Cowell: "I'm glad you had fun because it's the last week we're going to see you."

I loved Kris's take on Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money." Playing the guitar and accompanied by a team of percussionists, Kris created a version of the disco anthem that was almost unrecognizable it was so different. Paula Abdul said it had a "classy Santana feel to it." Randy said Kris was ready to go "on the road."

Danny Gokey, a super fan favorite, probably should leave the dancing to, well, dancers. He sang "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire - maybe my favorite song from my college days. Danny's vocals were spot on, but the performance was clunky.

My "Idol" neighbors thought 16-year-old Allison Iraheta rocked Donna S's "Hot Stuff." I agreed with Randy and Kara that the slowed-down arrangement was strained and Allison had to be straining to perform in poured-on spandex leggings and platform shoes.

Matt Giraud, the saved one from last week, lacked originality with the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." Simon said Matt needs to get out of "Idol"-land, whatever that means. But Randy and Kara both agreed Matt definitely has pipes.

Anoop's pale pink vest, cream-colored suit and scruffy beard threw me for such a fashion loop that I couldn't focus on his version of Donna's "Dim All the Lights." It started slow but, unlike the other two performers who did Donna songs, he sang it just like she did. Start slow, build the tempo - fall off the disco dance floor.

And then there was Adam Lambert (pictured) - the contestant who pretty much has this competition sewed up unless he has a major malfunction. And I don't think he's mentally capable of a meltdown. Dressed in a shiny black designer suit, his pompadour perfectly coifed to Elvis standards, Adam's "If I Can't Have You" had absolutely no connection to the original version by Yvonne Elliman ("Saturday Night Fever"). I don't think Adam even mentioned it was written by the Bee Gees or performed in the movie. So unique and different was his version. (He gave props to the guy who helped him arrange it.) Kara called it brilliant; Randy said Adam was "ready right now"; Simon said a song like that will be remembered, and Paula, well she just swooned and drooled.

Predictions? I think it will be the same bottom three as last week - Lil, Anoop and Matt. Lil likely will go and my money is on Matt not staying alive. Check the live results at 9 tonight (Fox40).

April 21, 2009
Vacaville native among "Country's Funniest College Students"

What's so funny about growing up in Vacaville? You might just want to ask Vacaville native and filmmaker Jesse Fernandez, whose hilarious animation, entitled "A Cartoon by Jesse Fernandez," was just selected as a semi-finalist in the "Funny Film" category of RooftopComedy's National College Comedy Competition.

The 2nd annual competition challenges young filmmakers and stand-up comedians to compete for the title of "The Country's Funniest College Student." Today, a panel of expert judges announced the top 48 funniest videos, submitted by student filmmakers across the country, and Fernandez's work was among the 10 Californian videos that made the cut.

Fernandez is a post-graduate student at San Francisco State University, and his hand-drawn pontifications on "tumble camels," unicorn & griffin husbandry and "short-lived fads among pirates" are so random and silly that you can't help but laugh.

Tomorrow is the final day of the competition's "Viewer's Choice Voting" round, from which the top 24 films will advance to a "Director's Cut" selection. On June 11, the top four films will be presented at the Aspen RooftopComedy Festival.

You can check out Jesse Fernandez's film and cast your vote HERE!

To view the rest of the submissions, visit

April 21, 2009
A children's museum grows in Rancho Cordova

The Sacramento region will get its first museum devoted to young children when the Sacramento Children's Museum opens in Rancho Cordova.

The museum is scheduled to open in January of 2010 in a building adjacent to City Hall, at 2701 Prospect Park in Rancho Cordova. Unlike other museums in Sacramento, this one will be tailored to children eight years old and younger.

The museum is the brainchild of former San Juan District elementary school teacher Kathleen Palley, who decided to fill the void in such a children's museum four years ago.

"Sacramento has some great resources for older elementary school children, but children eight years or younger have been, historically, an underserved population here," said Palley.

"There's such an important need for a museum of this kind in this community, and I thought that if no one was going to start one, then I would do it myself," she said. "So I started this in the living room of my house, with a couple of people."

To date, the museum has raised $60,000 toward a $1.3 million capital campaign.

Palley selected the site in Rancho Cordova, she said, because it is easily accessible to families with young children. The location is near public transportation and offers free parking, Palley said.

The City of Rancho Cordova is helping the museum get off the ground by underwriting the maintenance costs of the museum's building, said Joe Chinn, assistant city manager for Rancho Cordova. Roebbelen Construction is providing $100,000 of its services to renovating the buiilding that will house the museum.

"We see the museum as a great addition to our community," said Chinn. "It supports our vision as a family-oriented community. And as an education center, it adds a great regional attraction to Rancho Cordova".

Palley, who will be the museum's president, said that the idea for it was deeply influenced by children's museums in Northern California, including the Habitot Children's Discovery Museum in Berkeley and the San Jose Children's Museum.

The museum will offer 7 themed exhibit areas that include "Waterways", World Market" "My Neighborhood" and "Art Studio".

Palley said that the museum will encourage play and exploration.

"We like to say that play is an essential part of children's work. And when children have the opportunity to do that, and succeed at it, they then gain confidence and a sense of self in the community," she said.

Want more information? Call (916) 203-1814 or visit .

April 21, 2009
'American Idol' tour is set

OK Sacramento fans, the summer tour of "American Idol" 2009 is set, and we're one of the earlier shows on the schedule. This is a good thing because the Top 10 performers won't be sick of singing the same songs like they might be, oh, say around Sept. 10, when they perform in Bridgeport, Conn.!

Arco Arena is the setting for the July 10 concert, and tickets for the show go on sale May 9. Kris Allen, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, Megan Joy, Adam Lambert, Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds and Michael Sarver will hit the ground running in Portland on July 5. The nationwide tour has the 10 performers performing coast to coast, with the show winding up Sept. 15 in Manchester, NH.

For ticket info:, and

Tonight's competition (8 p.m. on FOX40) should feature quite a bit of glitz and polyester because it's Disco Week! Judge Simon Cowell should be in rare form, especially after all the Broadway numbers he's been hearing from Scottish sensation Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent."

Listen closely to the critiques because two contestants get the boot on tomorrow night's results show, thanks to last week's judges' save.

April 20, 2009
Where do poetry and music meet?

Karen Clark Color Photo.jpg

On April 26th, in Grass Valley, the poetry of Gary Snyder will get a provocative musical turn when contralto Karen Clark and the Galax Quartet perform a song cycle married to Snyder's poetry.

Snyder, who lives in the Sierra foothils, worked with violist Roy Whelden of the Galax Quartet to turn his poetry into music.

And the result may just prove to be a fetching evening of music, with Clark's rich contralto adding a tantalizing sheen to Snyder's poetry. Clark premiered the song cycle in San Francisco last year, with the Galax Quartet, to glowing reviews.

Clark is a well-known recitalist in Northern California. And she's not shy about tackling a wide range of repertoire that includes everything from medieval music to opera as well as 20th century and contemporary music.

One of the most compelling aspects about this musical collaboration is that both Clark and the Galax Quartet have a solid background with early music.

Clark has performed and recorded with the world's leading early music ensembles, such as Joshua Rifkin's Bach Ensemble, Ensemble Sequentia, and Boston Camerata. And the San Francisco-based Galax Quartet are early music specialists, with the ensemble keen on 18th century practice methods and the use historical instruments.

When: 3 p.m., April 26
Where: The Center for the Arts, 314 West Main St., Grass Valley
Tickets: $40
Information: (530) 274 - 8384 or

April 17, 2009
Record Store Day

International Record Store Day kicks out the jams Saturday. The idea is to recognize independently owned music stores and acknowledge the value they bring to our community with their passion, depth, breadth and specificity of interests, and just plain eccentricity.


As a record store rat in my youth where I served time behind the counter at the original Tower location (when they sold LPs and cassette's had a little section in the back) I can say there's nothing like hanging out in a place with people who love music as much as you do.

Independent record stores throughout the area will offer different activities reflecting the stores' own personalities. Numerous artists as diverse as The Smiths and New Order to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and The Grateful Dead ( special T Shirt) are making special releases available and many of the local stores will have these exclusive records available.

Rob Fauble, owner of The Beat (17th and J streets) in midtown Sacramento, told me, "What we're going to try and do is show our appreciation to the customers that normally come in that day. We'll be here having another great day of being a record store."
Fauble suggested The Beat may also have some surprises for people buying records in the store tomorrow.
"We've always been here and have a good loyal customer base, so we're gonna say thanks to those people who have always supported us," Fauble said.

Downtown at R5 (16th and Broadway) the celebration will be a little higher pitched with not only everything in the store on sale, but special offerings and in-store performances throughout the day. There will also be a garage sale rock 'n' roll style in the parking lot, a raffle, a record swap and general merry-making all day.

The R5 Record Day in-store performance schedule:
(as we all know musicians lead complicated lives and the schedule and times are subject to change)

12 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Musical Charis

12:45 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. - Baby Grand

1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. - Trainwreck Revival

2:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. - Not an Airplane

3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Silver Darling

3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. - The Ancient Sons

4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. - The No-Goodniks

5:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. - St.Pierre

Area Record Stores Celebrating Record Store Day

Armadillo Music, Davis, 205 F St Davis, (530) 758-8058,

Gearhead Records (and Stuff)! Woodland, CA
39 5th St. Suite C, Woodland, (530) 662-7877,

Dimple Records (2433 Arden Way, (916) 925-2600,

Pearl Records, 1712 L St.,

Rare Records Records (1618 Broadway, (916) 446-3973,

R5 Records, 2500 16th St., (916) 441-2500

The Beat, 1700 J St. (916) 446-4402,

April 17, 2009
Pianist Richard Cionco performs with Camellia Symphony


Fans of Grieg's Piano Concerto Op. 16 might want to check out the Camellia Symphony Orchestra's concert on April 25.

That's because the bold and expressive pianist Richard Cionco will be performing it. Cionco, a Juilliard grad who is on the piano faculty at CSUS, has performed as soloist with orchestras nationally and internationally. Cionco recently released the CD "Latin American Music for Solo Piano" on Centaur Records, to positive reviews.

The concert program, enititled "The Great Romantics", includes the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's opera "Tristan and Isolde" as well as Tchaikovsky's four-movement Symphony No. 5, Op. 64.

When: 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25
Where: Memorial Auditorium, 1515 J Street, Sacramento
Tickets: $25, $20 (seniors); $15 (students); $8 (child)
Information: (916) 929-6655 or

April 16, 2009
UC Davis Student flies paper plane all the way to Austria

Ryan Naccarato, a sophomore pre-medical student at UC Davis, was picked as one of 14 national winners in a paper airplane contest sponsored by Red Bull, it was announced today.

Approximately 3,500 students vied at 128 campus preliminary events, Red Bull officials said. Though Naccarato won in two of three categories at UC Davis in March, he was a national finalist only in the Aerobatic category, where he placed third in the nation.

The 14 so-called Qualiflyers will be flown to Salzburg, Austria in May for an international version of the contest.

:"I have a history in model aviation," Naccarato said after winning in March, "so I know a lot about aerodynamics on a small scale."

Though his aerobatic score - 95 out of a possible 100 - was far above his competitors at Davis, he said he was still surprised to be a winner, given the number of competitors.

He is making arrangements to reschedule midterm exams that fall during the time he will be in Austria, his first trip away from North America, he said.

April 16, 2009
Faith Prince Back on Broadway

Some time Sacramento resident Faith Prince, has returned to New York for a time to work on Broadway. Last week Prince joined the cast of Disney's "The Little Mermaid," performing as Ursula, the evil sea witch (photo below). Housed at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (205 West 46th Street) the musical based on the Disney animated film and a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen features songs by Alan Menken, Glenn Slater and the late Howard Ashman.


Prince, who for the last several years has been living off and on in Sacramento with her husband Larry Lunetta and their son Henry, was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in the new musical 2008's "A Catered Affair." She won a Tony award for her performance in the 1992 Broadway revival of "Guys and Dolls." Prince also recieved Tony nominations for her work in the revival of "Bells Are Ringing" and her Broadway debut in "Jerome Robbins' Broadway.

April 16, 2009
YouTube Carnegie Hall experience unforgettable for Modesto violinist

It's safe to say that the past four days have been the most musically intense of amateur violinist Calvin Lee's life.

And last night was the culmination.

That's because the Modest-based surgeon and acupuncturist was one of 93 musicians who participated in the first digitally formed orchestral performance better known as the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

The musicians met for the first time in New York on Sunday for intense rehearsals. And last night they performed at Carnegie Hall with San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas at the podium. The orchestra played a wide range of works from Gabrieli to John Cage. The highlight was the premiere of composer Tan Dun's Internet Symphony No. 1, "Eroica," a work especially written for the event.

We caught up with Lee while he was getting in some sightseeing in New York before returning to Modesto Saturday. We asked him about his experience playing in the world's first digital orchestra.

Q: So, how was the experience?
A: It was a pretty exhausting couple of days. But it will be such a memory for everyone. The most surprising thing to me here was the sheer number of great musicians I encountered who were part of this orchestra. I think they were enticed by the chance to play with Michael Tilson Thomas, and not so much by the chance to play at Carnegie Hall.

Q: Where were you placed in the orchestra?
A: The second violins. At first, when I found out I was being placed in the seconds I thought the whole experience would be boring since I've sat in many sections like that before. But there were so many talented players around me that it wasn't boring, and I never felt out of place.

Q: I understand the rehearsal experience was intense. How did they play out?
A: They included master classes, and these were the most unique thing that I've ever experienced in my lifetime. It was basically Tilson Thomas and four or five musicians in the rehearsal room that he called 'mentors.' So, while he conducted the orchestra, he would have master musicians work with us, and these are some of the best teachers in the field, and they taught us on the side. And sometimes MTT to make a musical point would have one of these teachers demonstrate a musical passage. A lot of what he talked about during the rehearsal was about musical phrasing.

Q: What was it like working with a conductor like Tilson Thomas?
A: I felt so comfortable working with him because I understood what he meant and what he was trying to convey to the orchestra. Being that comfortable is why I think he is so sought after as a conductor. A lot of conductors I've played with, I've had to struggle to understand them and I have not always agreed with what they were saying - as I definitely have set ideas of my own. But with Tilson Thomas, I felt we agreed on just about everything, and that's really rare.

Q: How was the performance?
A: Really amazing. The performance was interspersed with some videos from YouTube. It was a completely soldout house, they had to post a soldout sign on the Carnegie Hall doors.

Q: Was it like any concert experience you've had before?
A: No. All the rules were broken for this performance. There was a sign posted outside the hall that read "no photographs," but the YouTube people allowed photographs. Sometimes there were so many flashes going off it felt like a light show.

Q: How was the "Eroica" piece?
A: Composer Tan Dun conducted the work. And afterward he told us he was very pleased with it.

Q: What else did you play?
A:Then Tilson Thomas conducted a selection of other pieces. I played the third movement from Mozart's Concerto No. 5, with Gil Shaham. And I also played "Hunt the Squirrel" by Benjamin Britten, the last movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No, 4, and the last movement of a work by Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Q: What did you learn form the experience?
A: Well, it was a revelation to hear Tilson Thomas say that he wants us to take the lead and revolutionize the way musicians play orchestral music. There is a controversy about how music should be played. There is the stiff approach, like Jascha Heifetz, where you do not move around much when playing. But there are now a lot of younger players who move around a lot when they play in an orchestra. And Tilson Tomas said we need to move together, that we need to free up the body to play music, and we should be part of that revolution. Hearing that from someone with that much authority, for me, is such a good thing.


April 16, 2009
'American Idol': Nice save


Last night's use of the much-ballyhooed judges' save on "American Idol" came at the right time. At least in the case of contestant Matt Giraud. Matt, Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds were in the bottom three. Anoop got the voters' save. Now, based on Lil's performance of "The Rose" and the judges' critiques, I figured she would be sent home if Matt was safe. No judges' mercy!

Matt, however, got to sing "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" again. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul were going to throttle Simon Cowell if he didn't go along.

Leave it to Simon to say he thought Matt's performance was better Tuesday night than last night. But, it was "good news."

Also leave it to Simon to temper the contestants' enthusiasm at having their bud survive.

"Before you get too excited I've got two pieces of bad news: Two people will go home next week. And next week is 'Disco' week."

Maybe bad news because Simon hates disco music, but perhaps yet another chance for Lil to finally pick a song the judges like and she can perform. Disco is filled with great female voices - Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that "Disco Inferno" is the group song.

On a side note, if you haven't checked out Simon's other judging show, "Britain's Got Talent," go to YouTube to see Scotland's own Susan Boyle. She's making big news across the pond and here after performing the other night. Not your "typical" contestant (appearance and dress), Susan, 47, crushed the fans' who mocked her by belting out an amazing rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. Her performance even made ABC's "World News Tonight." The clip has gotten millions of hits. See it by clicking here.

April 15, 2009
Danny Glover's up at least part of the 'Nite'

A familiar figure stood in front of the Park Ultra Lounge on 15th Street Wednesday night, waiting for transportation to arrive. Indeed, the figure was so familiar that even limo drivers who weren't his limo driver couldn't resist a shout-out.

"Mr. Glover, I'm a big fan!" came a voice from a passing stretch as Danny Glover posed for cell-phone photos with fans.

Glover traveled to Sacramento from his home in San Francisco to support Deon Taylor, the Sacramento filmmaker and producer who, with a few hundred well-dressed friends, celebrated the launch of his new entertainment show "Up All Nite" at the Park Ultra Lounge Wednesday night.

"He's trying to make Sacramento a destination," Glover said of Taylor. "Any time I get a chance to support young men and young women who are doing things" he takes it, said Glover, who bowed out at around 9 p.m., just as most of the young-ish crowd was arriving.

Though the "Lethal Weapon" star was recognizable to anyone who looked his way, another party goer struck a chord with aficionados of film comedies where male characters try to disguise their identities by dressing in drag. OK, maybe that was just me.

Actor Miguel A. Nunez Jr might list the Martin Lawrence-Eddie Murphy comedy "Life" and the Matt LeBlanc sitcom "Joey" on his resume, but to me, he'll always be the disgraced NBA player posing as a WNBA player in the 2002 film "Juwanna Mann."

Nunez has been talking to Taylor about a possible role in a forthcoming film, he said. He shot part of "Life" in Sacramento, and would be happy to work here again.

"It's so clean and down-homey," Nunez said. "it reminds me of North Carolina, where I am from."

Taylor's "Up All Nite," which debuts April 24 on Channel 10, will incorporate reports about Sacramento nightlife and celebrities with national celebrity news, said Taylor, who describes the show as " 'Entertainment Tonight' meets 'TMZ.' "
The show will be hosted by Craig Jackson , host of the VH-1 reality show "I Love Money"

As for the reason Taylor is shooting an entertainment show in Sacramento rather than Los Angeles, it's pretty simple:

"Because I live here," Taylor said.

April 15, 2009
Celebrating women and film in Davis

If you took a close look at the movies filling our local multiplexes, you would that regardless of genre, most of them share at least one trait: They were made by and star men.

But it's a different moviemaking universe this week in Davis. On Thursday and Friday, the Davis Feminist Film Festival will occupy the Veterans Memorial Center (203 E. 14th St.), showing films that meet the festival's mission to challenge "sexism, racism, homophobia, ablism and classism through film and digital media."

On Thursday, the festival will spotlight women who have broken barriers in Hollywood with the documentary "Shooting Women." The film by Alexis Krasilovsky includes interviews with cinematographers Ellen Kuras ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") and Sandi Sissel ("Salaam Bombay!").

Each evening starts with a reception at 7 p.m., with each night's film lineup beginning at 8 p.m.

Tickets for students are $10 per night or $15 for both nights. For non-students, the cost is $15 for one night or $25 for both nights.

For information, go the the festival's Web site or call (530) 752-8205.

April 15, 2009
Kenny Chesney to rock SF ballpark in July

Tickets for Kenny Chesney's July 18 "Sun City Carnival" concert at AT&T Park in San Francisco are on sale now.

Reserved seats are $29.50-$225.50.

The Kenny Chesney Family Plan is four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for $125 (plus a $6-per-ticket service charge.)

This is the country star's only major-league ballpark concert on his "Sun City Carnival" tour. The five-hour show, beginning at 5:30 p.m., includes performances by Sugarland, Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum.

Information and tickets: (800) 225-2277,

- Dixie Reid

April 15, 2009
'American Idol': Is last night over yet?


I'll be the first to say that "American Idol's" attempt at keeping the show fresh in its eighth season is hitting multiple sour notes. Too much yakking, going over the time limit and - last night - an unbelievably weird hour of performances.

The genre was "Music From the Movies," but all I heard was "5-Really-Sad-Songs-With-2-Really-Loud-Songs." And out-there film director Quentin Tarantino served as musical mentor? Huh?

Anyway, the show finally addressed last week's hourlong show going close to 10 minutes over, with Simon Cowell given the task of explaining: "It infuriates me because the girls (Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi) talked too much. It's 100 percent their fault." Nice buck-passing.

So, last night the judges teamed up in pairs - Randy Jackson and Kara and Paula and Simon - to assess the seven contestants and cut down on the chatter.

The show still ran about three minutes over!

The song choices were soooo melancholy - except for Allison Iraheta's rendition of "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" from the 1998 film "Armageddon," and Adam Lambert (performing in the middle of the pack) running wild with "Born to Be Wild" from "Easy Rider." The Paula/Simon duo judged both of them. Of Allison, Paula said, "You possess some sauce and authenticity." Simon said is was "Barbecue sauce (hot and spicey)."

"In my opinion, you're the girls' only hope left in the competition. I never heard a girl at your age sing that song that well."

Of Adam, Paula said something goofy like "Fortune rewards the brave." Simon thought the vocal was incredible but likened the performance to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." And, at this point in the competition, I agree with Simon that Adam's theatrical antics might be polarizing the audience. Sorry, but he's no David Cook.

The other five contestants were picked apart in various ways for song choice and changing the melodies - but not always in a good way.

Matt Giraud (pictured) was back at the piano with "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" from the 1994 movie "Don Juan DeMarco." Neither Kara nor Randy liked it. "It was interesting," Randy said. "But you can't do all this stuff (with the melody)." Kara: "You struggled. You're better with rock and soul. You took two steps forward last week, but tonight ..."

It was tough for Paula and Simon to go after Danny Gokey (sans glasses) with "Endless Love" (from the movie of the same name) because you could tell the song had meaning for him because of the loss of his wife. Simon said he was disappointed with the harp playing and Danny's traditional take on the song. "I know it was personal and emotional for you, so congratulations for that."

Kris Allen was my favorite, even though he opted to perform a rather obscure song, "Falling Slowly" from the film "Once." Randy, however, thought it never quite caught on. But Kara said, "It was one of your best moments for me."

Anoop Desai got reasonably good marks from Randy and Kara after performing the Bryan Adams ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do it For You" from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." I fell asleep.

Lil Rounds closed the show. Having to wait, she had to be shaken by Simon's comment about the "girls" to Allison, who sang first. Lil tackled "The Rose" from the 1979 Bette Midler film. Paula liked it, but Simon - who has been on Lil's case for weeks now - took multiple jabs at her. "You're getting this completely wrong. It was too soft, too middle-of-the-road," he snipped. "There's no excuses anymore -- you're not the artist we met seven weeks ago." (Actually, it was months but who's counting!)

With the show running over slightly, it might be curtains for Lil. Also on the chopping block? Possibly Matt. And Danny might be in the bottom three for the very first time. Remember, the judges have only two more shots at using the save.

On tonight's live results show (9 p.m. on Channel 40), Miley Cyrus is scheduled to perform, as is Jennifer Hudson (Season 3). However, Jennifer's performance might be the taped version we've been hearing about.

Check back to 21Q on Thursday afternoon for an interview with the eliminated contestant. .

April 14, 2009
Free family day event April 25 at California Museum

The California Museum - along with Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sacramento Zoo, California Department of Fish and Game, Sierra Club, Save Our Sandhill Cranes and Cosumnes River Preserve - present the very special family day event "California Critters and Crawlers" on April 25.

And thanks to Target, admission to the California Museum that day is free 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Kids can learn about California's 100-plus endangered animals and how to protect them. California's official reptile, the Desert Tortoise, and predatory birds will be on hand. Activities include entertainment by Francie Dillon, arts and crafts, and face-painting.

The California Museum is at 1020 O St., Sacramento. Downtown parking is free on weekends.

For more info on this and other California Museum events (the Library of Congress' Abraham Lincoln exhibition opens there June 24): (916) 653-7524,

- Dixie Reid

April 14, 2009
The Met Opera's "The Audition" Documentary screens this Sunday


For some, auditions, like war, can be hell.

That much is made clear in the documentary "The Audition" by the Metropolitan Opera. The documentary will be shown at 5 area theaters (see below) on Sunday at 12 p.m.

"The Audition" chronicles 11 finalists in the last week of the 2007 National Council Auditions. Those auditions are crucial career-making affairs that start with over 1,500 singers. Past winners include Stephanie Blythe, Renee Fleming and Ben Heppner.

The documentary is directed by 4 time Emmy winning director Susan Froemke, who casts the camera's gaze on singers, judges and coaches alike - both backstage and onstage.

The film intimately tracks the progress of such hopefuls as tenor Alek Shrader, who will attempt to sing nine high C's for his audition, and tenor Ryan Smith, a singer with little training, who takes a last stab at an opera career, at the age 30.

The film will be shown at locally at these theaters (contact theater for ticket and cost information):

Stadium 14,
Downtown Plaza 7,
Greenback Lane 16
Natomas Marketplace

Elk Grove
Cinemark Laguna 16

Cinemark 14

April 14, 2009
Arts Gala to Support Student Arts

Luther Burbank High School's Galley 3500 Arts & Media Expo will bring professional and student work together to raise money for school arts programs Thursday.

The Expo includes the Sacramento Women's Chorus, Toronto based music impresario Bill Shookhoff (a Burbank alum), the high school concert band, one-act play performances and works by student artists and alumni painter Dick Beamer.

Last year's Expo, the first, raised more than $3,000 in donations for student programs.

This year's event will be at the school, 3500 Florin Road, Sacramento, 5-8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free. For information, contact Shannon Roth, (916) 612-8954.

April 14, 2009
Rancho Cordova named finalist for All-America City honor

Rancho Cordova has been named one of 32 finalists in the National Civic League's 2009 All-America City competition and will compete in June to be named one of 10 All-America cities for the year.

Past local winners of the award include Lincoln and Roseville.

In an emailed press release, city leaders touted the city's ability to lower its crime rates and improve its bond rating -- big issues for the 61,000-person, 5-year-old city.

Being a finalist puts Rancho Cordova among other American cities like Toledo, Ohio; Pocomoke City, Md.; Phoenix, Ariz. and Inglewood, the only other California city named this year.

Being named All-America City is considered a big honor. Roseville named a street All-America Boulevard and Lincoln plastered the All-America seal all over city materials and T-shirts.

However, it's no guarantee of continued success. Lincoln received the honor in 2006 after a few years of campaigning for it. This year, years of growth shuddered to a halt and Lincoln had to lay off dozens of city employees.

April 14, 2009
River Cats celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Wednesday

Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947, when he made his major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Sacramento River Cats celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Wednesday, the 62nd anniversary of Robinson's first game, with appearances by former Negro League players and members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen (the first African American pilots in the U.S. military.)

Fans are invited to attend the 9:30 a.m. event, which precedes the River Cats' 11:35 a.m. game against the Portland Beavers.

Cats' tickets are for sale at the Raley Field box office, by phone at (916) 371-HITS (371-4487), or online at

- Dixie Reid
April 13, 2009
Movies on the radio

At 4:40 p.m every Friday, I discuss movies with Kitty O'Neal and R.E. Graswich on KFBK 1530-AM.

Last Friday, we talked about "Observe & Report," my story on newspaper reporters in the movies, and a little-known independent film called "Gout."

If you want to hear what we had to say, click here.

April 13, 2009
Sac so nice Britney says it twice

Britney Spears gave a heartfelt shout-out to Sacramento fans during Sunday night's concert. Trouble was, she was in San Jose. Her Sacramento show was the night before, at Arco Arena.

But we appreciate the sentiment, anyway.

April 13, 2009
Take my midterm ... please!

Scott Ferreter, a CK McClatchy High School graduate now a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz, is lobbying for votes in RooftopComedy's 2nd Annual National College Comedy Competition.

Ferreter and his Santa Cruz comedy teammates went up against a team from San Francisco State University at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco in regional competition.

The young comics are vying to send a team to Aspen in June, where the funniest U.S. college students will be selected.

The competition has turned to online voting. You can see Ferreter performing his routine and vote for him at .

Voting is tricky, Ferreter said in an email, and you have to sign up on RooftopComedy's site, but details are available at the Web site. Voters can vote every five minutes (the approximate duration of each routine) until April 16, he said

April 13, 2009
Gearhead Records signs "sleazy" Crank County Daredevils

The city of Woodland, known for its charming historic architecture and most recently for recently being dissed by favorite son Dustin Pedroia (the Boston Red Sox infielder), has another claim to fame: It's home to Gearhead Records.

The indie label with the motto "Punk 'n' Roll Begins Here" just signed sleaze-metal band Crank County Daredevils, of Asheville, N.C. Music critics have compared the group to Motley Crue and Faster Pussycat.

"This band is pretty different from the rest of the Gearhead roster, but they're great," label owner Michelle Haunold said in a press statement. "They make perfect sense with their classic rock sound and '80s metal look. And they're very hard-working, having toured continuously all over the South as part of the biker festival circuit."

Gearhead will release a new Crank County Daredevils album in late summer. The label also represents such bands as the Lords of Altamont, Hellbound Glory and the Mansfields.

For more info on Gearhead Records:

For more on Crank County Daredevils:

- Dixie Reid
April 11, 2009
Tomorrow: Kids Time at Java Lounge

Tomorrow, after all the eggs are captured and mass quantities of sugar are consumed, swing by The Java Lounge (2416 16th St., Sacramento) for a concert that's cool enough for parents and children alike.

Singer/Songwriter Julie the Bruce will be performing her once-monthly show for kids, a totally G-rated, utterly fun collection of the artist's original songs and some old classics. Alternating between instruments such as tenor bass, banjo and even accordion, Julie the Bruce makes a fine art out of getting silly.

Kids and parents are allowed, nay, encouraged to dance, sing along and bang on a drum if they feel like it. In case it happens that any Easter bunnies show up, Julie the Bruce expects them to be on their best behavior.

Kids Time with Julie Bruce
Sunday, April 12 (and every second Sunday), 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Free admission
The Java Lounge
2416 16th St., Sacramento

For more ideas on fun Easter activities, check out this week's "Live This City."

April 10, 2009
A lottery... where you win art instead of $$

No, this is not the state lottery, it's Roseville Arts new effort that seeks to put art in the hands of art lovers, while raising funds for its programs and Roseville's Blue Line Gallery.

Roseville Arts, a 41-year-old nonprofit devoted to raising community and youth awareness of art in South Placer County,has dubbed the lottery event "Everybody Wins--Lottery for the Arts". The lottery will take place on Sept. 11.

Here's how it works: everyone who holds a ticket gets a guarantee to take home an original piece of art produced by a Northern California artist. The arts nonprofit is shooting to have a total of 200 pieces of art donated with lottery tickets limited to 200, corresponding to the number of pieces.

Participants who purchase a ticket will then be eligible to select a piece from the show after their lottery number is drawn.

Roseville Arts is currently inviting artists to contribute to the lottery.

For more information: (916) 783-4117 or

April 10, 2009
Art is a big part of Second Saturday

With the weather looking to improve, Sactown's Second Saturday will be a feast for art lovers' eyes tomorrow. And there's one particular exhibit - and artist - I'm looking forward to checking out.

It's the 20th Street Art Gallery's third annual 50-50 Show, which presents 50 works by 50 artists in 50 days. But don't wait until day 49 to see the exhibit. Sacramento Bee designer/artist Susan Ballenger has been working hard on her 50 paintings, which include brightly colored succulents (pictured).

Now it's show time!

Grab dinner first (or afterward) and head over to the gallery, 911 20th St. Drink in the sights because walking is the preferred mode of transportation.

Other artists showing include Bob Miller, Lisa Horst and Victoria Brooks. There will be two Second Saturday receptions: from 6 to 9 p.m. tomorrow and the same time on May 9. Extended gallery hours for April only are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Grab a copy of today's Ticket entertainment section to see Bee art critic Victoria Dalkey's list of other gallery events this weekend. It also includes a map to take with you.

Over in Davis, there is an artist reception from 5 to 8 tonight at Five Figs Couture boutique as part of the city's ArtAbout celebration. Check out the elegant renderings of Marie-Therese Brown that will fill the walls of the store.

Marie-Therese's nude pieces were created during live model sessions in which the model changed poses every three minutes for the sketches; every three hours for the paintings. She is showing these works for the first time tonight. The show will be up through early June.

Five Figs Couture is at 231 E. St., Suite 3 in Davis.

April 9, 2009
'American Idol': Scott will make his own music


Besides learning to trust his own musical gut when it comes to playing the piano (and not so much the electric guitar), Scott MacIntyre, 23, who was ousted last night on "American Idol," is now a much more organized young man. (He's pictured saying goodbye to his fellow contestants.)

"You know, I work more quickly than I ever thought I could," Scott, from Scottsdale, Ariz., said in an interview earlier today with "Idol" reporters. "This is such a fast-paced atmosphere - prepping new songs, shopping, the Ford video shoots, the mentor shoots, rehearsals - it gets quite crazy.

"I can now budget my time. And anything is possible!"

Scott leaves behind seven other contestants, but he will be joining this summer's nationwide tour. Here's what he had to say about his experiences on the show and moving forward.

Q: You were such an inspiration on the show. Judge Simon Cowell has always said he "genuinely liked you." How does that make you feel?
A: First of all, it proves anything is possible because I never dreamed I'd be here. These experiences will never be duplicated. From the beginning I felt like I had a story to share - what I've overcome and what I hope to pursue with my music. It would have been a shame not to be able to share that with others. And "Idol" gave me that platform.

Q: Any regrets - song choice, instrument choice, etc?
A: Actually it's a great time to leave! There's really not that much difference in finishing eighth or third. Now, I get to focus on life and my musical career. It's a challenge each week with the different categories of music ... but I believe I rose to the task to find songs that represented me. As for the piano, Simon made the point that other artists (Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, etc.) don't come out from behind their piano. The instrument doesn't take the place of the vocals, it just adds another layer. I think I just wanted to shock America with the guitar!

Q: How tough was it last night knowing the judges were split - two and two - on whether or not to use the save?
A: That was one of Ryan Seacrest's most agonizing pauses. He's getting too good at that. I was thrilled it was a split decision. It's nice to walk away knowing that it wasn't unanimous to let me go. Simon told me later he had some inner turmoil about it. But I stand by my performance Tuesday night. It's a television show, so you have to expect the unexpected.

Q: What will you miss most about being on "Idol?"
A: Definitely the camaraderie with the other contestants, how we make fun of each other, having dinner when someone leaves (the show) and wishing them well. I even liked the group songs, believe it or not. We are actually one of the only groups (from all seasons) that talk and joke before going on stage. It won't hit me until I get home how much I'll miss them.

Q: What kind of music can fans expect from you down the road?
A: I have a huge catalog of original music. What I write is very much ongoing. I see it along the lines of artists like Gavin DeGraw, John Mayer or Vanessa Carlton. It's pop rock meets the singer/songwriter. I try to tell a story with my music. Some of it has a harder edge, but I want to keep it radio friendly. I'm also open to writing for other musicians. And I enjoy production, engineering and mixing. I'm just excited to go home and see the response. I've been in school so many years (getting a master's degree in London) before this experience. But I knew I wanted to audition once I saw them roll that baby grand out on the stage last year. I have no regrets leaving the show. It's all good things from here on.

With seven contestants left, the four judges only have two more opportunities to use the "save." It expires once the competition is down to the Final 5. No word yet on next week's musical genre - at least not on last night's show.

But here's a heads up for DVR users (and you know who you are): Preset as though the Tuesday night show will last into the wee hours of Wednesday. Odds are, Adam Lambert won't sing last!

April 9, 2009
CSUS takes on "The Gondoliers" this weekend....

For some, Gilbert and Sullivan's opera "The Gondoliers" may just be their best work. It's topical, funny and driven by that magical comic device: mistaken identity.

In other words, its a patently Gilbert and Sullivan affair.

The two-act opera gets a turn at Sacramento State University's Music Department on Friday and Saturday in the University Theater, at Shasta Hall.

This production, originally written to take place in Venice circa 1750, will be updated to the 1930's. Director Michael Sokol is keen on describing the feel of this production as inspired by the films "Dinner at Eight" and "Top Hat".

"The Gondoliers" deals with the mistaken indentities of two soon-to-be-wed gondoliers, Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri, and which will become the rightful king of Barataria. The opera stays true to form for Gilbert and Sillivan by offering a last minute revelation.

It premiered in 1898 at London's Savoy Theatre, and was an instant success. It ran for 554 performances. At the time, it became the fifth longest-running piece of musical theatre in history.

The CSUS production features students from Sacramento State's opera workshop and is directed by CSUS' opera workshop director Michael Sokol, and conducted by Sacramento Opera's Timm Rolek. Internationally renowned performer/director/designer Angelina Reaux will costume the CSUS cast.

When: Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.
Where: University Theater, Shasta Hall, CSUS, 6000 J St., Sacramento
Tickets: $18; $12 students and seniors
Information: (916) 278-4323

April 9, 2009
Focus on Writers contest begins May 1

Friends of the Sacramento Public Library are kicking off their annual contest May 1, inviting writers to submit work in six categories. Winners will get prizes of $75 to $250.

The categories are:
- adult non-fiction article of first chapter of a book
- poem
- short story
- first chapter of a novel
- first chapter of a book for young adults, fiction or non-fiction
- book or article for children, fiction or non-fiction

If you think you have the write stuff call (916) 264-2880 or visit for contest rules and instructions.

And if you have the right stuff, you won't use cliches like "write stuff."

April 8, 2009
Interested in Suzuki Teaching?

If you are an aspiring teacher or a parent of a music student, (or a music student-to-be) then the upcoming "Every Child Can!" class might be right up your alley.

To be held at Sacramento State University on April 18, the all day course will be taught by violinist Judy Weigert Bossuat and will provide an in-depth look at the approach to Suzuki teaching and learning.

The Suzuki method was started by violinist and educator Shinichi Suzuki and is now taught on every continent. Born in 1898, Suzuki studied violin in Japan for many years before going to Germany in the 1920's for further study. It wasn't until after World War II that Suzuki devoted his life to the development of his teaching method.

That method is rooted in the belief that musical ability is not an inborn talent, but an ability which can be taught.

For those interested in becoming Suzuki teachers, the class serves as a first course in the Suzuki Association of the Americas Teacher Development Program.

The class will explore such elements as the ambitious goals of the method, the history and development of Suzuki education, and the role of parents.

The "Every Child Can!" course is six hours long. Instruction includes the use of video materials and Suzuki-developed courseware. Each participant will be provided with reference manuals for later study.

The registration deadline is April 6th.

To register contact Judy Bossuat at

More information on the teacher development program can be found at

April 8, 2009
On Saturday, get caffeinated (and educated!)

If you're like most Midtowners, Second Saturday can be a very long and eventful day (read: exhausting). What better place to start off the great cultural adventure than at Sacramento's best coffee shop (at least, in my opinion, and I mostly survive on soy cappuccinos), sipping on top-quality espressos from faraway lands?

This Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m., Temple Fine Coffee & Tea (1014 10th St.) will hold their monthly Espresso Tasting and Profiling class, in which participants get a tongues-on lesson in espresso varietals from Sacramento's most passionate coffee connoisseurs.

For $10, sip on four or five different kinds of espresso, including Temple's house Bossa Nova blend and single-origin espressos from Brazil and Guatemala. Through the wonderful art of extraction, you'll travel across different coffee-growing regions of the world and learn about the espresso bean's complex and diverse range of characteristics, putting you one cup closer to legitimate coffee snobbery.

Please sign up for this class in advance by visiting Temple Coffee & Fine Tea, or by calling (916) 443-4960. Saturday parking at the Capitol Garage (10th & L streets) and the City Hall Garage (10th & I streets) will be validated.

Espresso Tasting and Profiling class
Saturday, April 10, 9:30 a.m.
Temple Fine Coffee & Tea
1014 10th St., Sacramento
(916) 443-4960

April 8, 2009
Friday Night Concerts in the Park start May 1

Mumbo Gumbo, Kate Gaffney, the Poplollys, Dog Party and Middle Class Rut are among more than two dozen bands set to play this summer's free and wildly popular Friday Night Concerts in the Park.

The 15-week outdoor season at Cesar Chavez Plaza, 9th and J streets, launches May 1 with performances by Sol Peligro, Retrograde Revolution and La Noche Oskura.

Concerts are 5-9 p.m. every Friday through Aug. 7. The event is produced by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

For the complete schedule and sample audio tracks:

- Dixie Reid
April 8, 2009
Non-profit issues warning on lead in wallets and handbags

HIgh levels of lead were found in vinyl and faux leather purses, wallets and handbags purchased at national chain stores in the Bay Area, the Center for Environmental Health announced today.

The Oakland organization researches and litigates cases involving California's Prop. 65 law on environmental hazards.

The group filed a notice -- a possible prelude to a lawsuit -- in connection with items purchased at Target, WalMart, Macy's, Kohl's, Sears, JC Penney, Ross and other stores.

Similar problems with school lunch bags led health officials to urge discarding certain vinyl bags in 2007, but the scare drew criticism from the vinyl industry.

Though laws do not require testing of such items, or establish acceptable levels, Prop. 65 requires warnings for products that might expose consumers to more than .5 micrograms of lead per day.

If consumers have questionable items, the best thing to do is get rid of them, said CEH spokesman Charles Margulis. Although the tested items were purchased in the Bay Area, "we expect that the problem is national," he said.

Margulis has tested the items in his own home, he said, but acknowledged not everyone can do that.

If you don't want to throw away favored items, he advised:

-- Keep them away from children, who are most susceptible to lead poisoning.
-- Pregnant women should put the items away for the duration of their pregnancy.
-- Wash your hands after handling the items.

For more information, see

April 7, 2009
Sacramento cited among "Best Walking Cities"

Sacramento made Prevention magazine's new list of 25 Best Walking Cities, ranking 24th in the nation.

San Francisco was ranked first.

"Sacramento scored at the top of our list for residents who leave their cars at home," said Natalie Gingerich, a fitness editor at the magazine. The city also ranked well for low miles driven and low highway miles, she said.

It also scored high on accessibility to national parks and forests -- the old "close to everything" standard -- and was lauded on Prevention's web site for holding a National Park(ing) Day event, in which some citizens turned a parking space into a mini-park for a day.

Complete results for the list are available at

April 7, 2009
Massive food drive under way this week

A world record is on the line, and hungry people will benefit from this week's massive "U-Can" food drive in Sacramento.

The goal is to raise 400,000 pounds of nonperishable edible goods for Loaves & Fishes and Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

The food drive, which ends Friday, is headed up by members of the Rotaract Club, a Sacramento State student organization, and the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region.

They're trying to set a Guinness World Record for food collection.

Loaves & Fishes, 1321 N. C St., is accepting foodstuff from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily through Friday, and Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, 3333 Third Ave., is open for drop-offs 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through Thursday.

For a complete list of donation sites:

For more info:

- Dixie Reid
April 7, 2009
Garbeau's Dinner Theatre to close

The final curtain has dropped on Garbeau's Dinner Theatre. Despite recent fundraising efforts and a "Save Garbeau's" campaign, the Rancho Cordova theater will shut down by May 31

Spiking gas prices were blamed for the initial loss of business, which never recovered during the overall down economy. Recent efforts to renegotiate Garbeau's rent with Washington-based landlord Andy Lakha also failed.

The theater's current production, "There's a Little Bit of Broadway in Everyone," will run through May 10 and possibly run an additional week, said Garbeau's co-owner Andrea Castel.

Garbeau's avoided closure in March by raising $8,000, along with selling gift cards and season passes to boost funds.

"The theater community has been wonderful, and many said in some fashion that they will honor (our) 2009 season passes," said Castel. "Right now we're in the process of confirming what those stipulations will be."

April 6, 2009
Railroad Museum's excursion train rides start April 25-26

Those of you who've waited patiently to board a Sacramento Southern Railroad excursion train will be happy to know that the season gets under way April 25-26.

It was delayed by construction on the riverfront-promenade expansion in Old Sacramento.

Steam trains will depart every hour on the hour weekends through September from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot, on Front Street between J and K streets in Old Sacramento. A six-mile ride along the Sacramento River takes 40 minutes.

Tickets for regular closed coaches and gondolas are $8 general, $3 for ages 6-17. A ride in the first-class car El Dorado is $15, regardless of age.

Train crew member Kevin Hecteman will sign copies of his new book, "Sacramento Southern Railroad," from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. April 25 at the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot. At 3 p.m., he'll lecture at the California State Railroad Museum, 111 I St., Old Sacramento.

Hecteman is donating proceeds from the book to the museum's supporting foundation, to continue operation and upkeep of the Sacramento Southern.

For more info: (916) 445-6645,

- Dixie Reid

April 6, 2009
Recycle those unwanted cell phones this week

This is National Cell Phone Recycling Week, and who among us doesn't have an old, outdated, no-longer-cool cell phone - or more - rattling around in a junk drawer?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 100 million cell phones go unused each year, and if they were recycled instead of thrown out, they could save enough energy to power 18,500 homes for a year.

Recycling or donating old cell phones keeps them out of landfills and prevents pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Many cell phone manufacturers, retailers, network carriers, charities, and solid-waste programs will accept unwanted cell phones, PDAs and their accessories.

Check with such local businesses as Staples, Best Buy, Office Depot, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon for their drop-off or mail-in recycling programs.

For more on recycling your cell phones (and tips on preparing them for disposal), go to

- Dixie Reid
April 6, 2009
Flying Fortress Returns to Sacramento

The Liberty Belle, a restored World War II B-17 bomber, returns to Sacramento April 18-19 with rides for the public.

The plane, known as a flying fortress, is operated by the Liberty Foundation, which aims to educate the public about WWII and its veterans.

Riders in the plane will be learn at least one thing: There are no first-class accommodations. It's a drafty and bumpy ride, according to those who have taken the foundation up on its offer to experience the WWII crew members' world.

Watching the flights take off at Mather Field is free, but seating is limited for members of the public who want to take a ride. Reservations are recommended. The cost of the flight, which covers the cost of operation, is the same as last year - $430.

For more information or for reservations call (918) 340-0243. Additional information at

April 6, 2009
Movies on the radio

At 4:40 p.m every Friday, I discuss movies with Kitty O'Neal and R.E. Graswich on KFBK 1530-AM.

Last Friday, we talked about "Fast & Furious" and "Adventureland".

If you want to hear what I had to say, click here.

P.S. It's hard to believe "Fast & Furious" made more than $70 million at the box office over the weekend. I had no idea Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were still such draws.

But that's what I love about the 2009 movie audience. So hard to predict.

April 3, 2009
Madsen to appear at Sac Film Festival


Michael Madsen often plays movie villains, but to me, he will always be Louise's gentle musician boyfriend from "Thelma & Louise." I mean, just look at that nice face.

On Saturday, Madsen will discuss his career during an on-stage interview with Dennis Willis of San Francisco's KGO radio station. Part of the Sacramento International Film Festival, the event starts at 10:30 a.m. at the 24th Street Theatre (2791 24th St., Sacramento).

For information on the festival, which continues through the weekend, click here.

April 3, 2009
Thanks a lot, CBS


A few months ago, I was doing my usual blog hopping when I saw a headline about a same-sex kiss on CBS' "Guiding Light." Since it involved Crystal Chappell (shown at right), who once played Carly on "Days of Our Lives" (my family watched only NBC soaps), I had to check it out.

Since "Guiding Light" doesn't air in Sacramento, I went to the CBS site to watch the video and discovered the beautifully acted story of Olivia (Chappell) and Natalia (Jessica Leccia), one-time romantic rivals who became friends after Olivia received Natalia's late husband's heart in a transplant operation. (Hey, these things happen -- in soap operas).

Their slow-building "romance" thus far has consisted mostly of ambiguous proclamations and smoldering looks. But Leccia and Chappell sell the pair's emotional intimacy and the struggle of these previously heterosexual women to reconcile their feelings for each other.

Chappell, alternately brassy and vulnerable as the hard-drinking, much-married Olivia, seems like she would have been at home headlining one of those 1940s "women's pictures" that starred Bette Davis or Joan Crawford.

She's got loads of chemistry with Leccia, who's effective in a quieter way as the religious, more reserved half of the pair dubbed "Otalia" by fans. She also sparks with Grant Aleksander, a fount of charisma as Olivia's ex-husband, Phillip. Phillip's return to the fictional town of Springfield worries Olivia, who has been raising Olivia's daughter (the super-cute Jacqueline Tsirkin) with Natalia.

Even more worrisome is Natalia's engagement to Frank (Frank Dicopoulos), local police detective and member of the bland yet self-celebrating Cooper clan. (That is, the Coopers are bland except for patriarch Buzz, played by Justin Deas, a firecracker like Chappell).

As you can see, I am into this show, even though I have watched it for only a few months, and only on the Internet. So it was with some dismay that I learned this week that CBS is canceling "Guiding Light" -- a show with a history stretching back to the days of radio -- due to poor ratings.

Really, CBS? I watch a show for two months of its 72-year run, and it's during those two months that you cancel it?

"Light" will remain on the air until September, and there's talk it might end up on another network or become an Internet-only program. Whatever happens, I am grateful to have discovered Leccia, Aleksander and Deas, and to have rediscovered Chappell, since I haven't seen these actors in movies or elsewhere on television.

After all, it's better to have watched and lost ...

April 3, 2009
Fairytale Town Theatre Performance Month

April is Theatre Performance Month at Sacramento's Fairytale Town and the festivities start tomorrow.

Next Stage: Theatre for Young Audiences presents "Tomas & the Library Lady" this Saturday and Sunday.

Puppet Art Theater brings back the popular "Bunny Boot Camp" on April 11 and April 12 which coincides with Fairytale Town's "Spring Egg-Stravaganza."

Then the Fairytale Town Troupers kick off their second season with the world premiere of "Humpty Dumpty in Space!" This show plays two weekends: April 18 and April 19 and again on April 25 and April 26.
All productions have two performances per day at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Puppet Art Theater performances are $1 for Fairytale Town members, $2 for non-members. Performances by Next Stage and the Fairytale Town Troupers are included in park admission which is $4.50. Children 2 and under are free..
 Fairytale Town's Spring and Summer Hours are 9 a.m. - to 4 p.m. seven days a week, weather permitting. Guests who are in the park by 4 p.m. may stay and play until 5 p.m.

The Park will be open on Easter Sunday, April 12, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., weather permitting.

For more information about Theatre Performance Month at Fairytale Town, call (916)808-7462 or got to


April 3, 2009
Michelle and Carla: first ladies of fashion

PASCAL SEGRETTE/Associated Press/Elysee Palace

Michelle Obama is definitely making a fashion splash on her first trip abroad - officially - as first lady of the United States.

And, truthfully, she hasn't had much competition from some of Europe's most important women, i.e., German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sarah Brown, wife of the British prime minister, the other G-20 spouses and certainly not Camilla, the dowdy Duchess of Cornwall.

But today, that all changed. On yet another leg of the trip, Mrs. Obama spent a chunk of time with France's first lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy (pictured), before a luncheon at the Rohan Palace in Strasbourg, eastern France.

Carla, a former model and noted fashion icon, chatted with Michelle (sans jackets) and now we have two first ladies with amazing arm strength! If you're into style, you probably won't see this kind of effortless taste - until Michelle meets Rania the beautiful and respected Queen of Jordan.

As for Michelle, she packed some of her favorite designers, including Jason Wu (inaugural gown), Thakoon (many of her sheaths) and Isabel Toledo (pre-inaugural and inaugural outfits). And she brought fashions from well-known designer Michael Kors, whose design Michelle wore for her first official portrait.

Of course, mainstream retailer J.Crew's attire got shipped overseas and promptly sold out in many stores back home, including a min-green pencil skirt and beaded cardigan.

In fact, those fashion pundits who feared Michelle might bare her amazing arms to - HMMMPH! - Queen Elizabeth II relaxed after seeing her don another sweater, then remove it for that evening's dinner.

Anamaria Wilson, fashion news/features director at Harper's Bazaar magazine, told the AP that Michelle puts her own individual twist on things.

"She'll mix a print, wear a nice vivid color. ... And she's still wearing American designers, fostering American fashion - something we need to be doing right now."

Certainly, there will be those who say who cares what she wears. But on last night's "Larry King Live" show, a good chunk of time was spent showing how her look does elevate Michelle to someone women - and young girls - can aspire to in terms of elegance, charm and confidence.

Her decisions to often wear color, including chartreuse and turqoise, is - as Women's Wear Daily put it - "hopeful and optimistic."

And Michelle's fashion choices reflect some of the tough economic times facing the world. Heck, she shops where we shop!

April 3, 2009
Next Generation Jazz

The Monterey Jazz Festival, hosts its 5th Annual Next Generation Festival, this week end April 3 - 5 in downtown Monterey. The event includes the Next Generation Festival Jazz Competition with Big Bands, Combos, Vocal Ensembles, and individual musicians trying for spots atthe 52nd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival this September. The NGF supports artistic growth of young musicians from the ages of 12 - 18.

Fifty-seven bands from six states, from Alaska to Texas, are participating and California has bands from fourteen counties participating. The Sacramento area will be handsomely represented by ten different ensembles.

The Next Generation Festival officially starts tonight with the Kick-Off Concert at 8 p.m. at the Monterey Conference Center. Their will be performances by the competition judges, including pianist George Duke, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, trombonist Ron Westray, saxophonists Billy Harper and Paul Contos, bassist Ray Drummond, and vocalists Matt Falker, Jennifer Barnes, and Michele Weir.

The Jazz Competition starts tomorrow at 9 a.m. in Monterey's Conference Center.

There will also be auditions for the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, the jazz festival's all-star high school band.

All Next Generation Festival competition activities from April 3 - 5 are open to the public, free of charge. More information on all Next Generation Festival activities and events is available on the MJF website, and by phone at (831) 373-3366.

Sacramento Area 2009 Next Generation Festival Participants


Folsom High School "A" - Curtis Gaesser, director

Rio Americano High School - Josh Murray, director


Folsom High School "A" - Curtis Gaesser, director

Folsom High School "B" - Curtis Gaesser, director

Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy - Jacosa Limutau, director


Folsom Middle School - John Zimny, director

Sutter Middle School - John Zimny, director


Sacramento State - Steve Roach, director

University of the Pacific - Patrick Langham, director


Sacramento State Jazz Singers - Kerry Marsh, director

For a complete schedule of activities and competition times, visit

April 2, 2009
Where the great trailers are

Movie trailers so rarely excite me. Indeed, the last time one did was in 2006, when the studio behind "The Devil Wears Prada" showed a scene from the film as the picture's trailer.

But in the past week, two trailers have wowed me, the first of which is for "Where the Wild Things Are," opening in October.

Having never read the classic children's book by Maurice Sendak, my response to the preview is tied completely to the sense of visual wonder created by director Spike Jonze .

The trailer for July's "Public Enemies" (below) impresses for a different reason:

Though "Enemies" director Michael Mann also is known for his visual flair, the treat here is seeing Johnny Depp clean-shaven and looking so beautiful. Depp has spent so much time "Pirates of the Caribbean" and/or Tim Burton drag, that you almost forget he's a leading man rather than a character actor.

Or nearly a leading man, since anti-hero John Dillinger is probably as close as Depp will get to a conventional role these days.

April 2, 2009
Brush off that screenplay idea ...

Every year, strangers become friends and friends become filmmakers via Access Sacramento's "A Place Called Sacramento" program. The program brings together writers, directors, actors and crew members to make short films that touch on some aspect of life in our fair capital.

The program is now in the script phase, with submissions due by noon April 15.
To help along the screenwriting process, Access Sacramento will offer a workshop called "Writing a Do-able Script" from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Coloma Community Center, 4623 T St., Sacramento.

To reserve a space, call (916) 456-8600, ext. 0. For information on the "Place Called Sacramento" program, got the Access Sacramento site.

April 2, 2009
Free admission to Folsom History Museum for two days

If there is an upside to the economic meltdown, it's when institutions such as the Folsom History Museum generously waive admission fees.

You can get in free 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and again April 13.

And, you pay no sales tax in the museum store April 13-17.

The featured exhibit is "Celebrating Folsom's Bridges," which focuses on, among other spans, the newly opened Folsom Lake Crossing over the American River.

Folsom History Museum is at 823 Sutter St., Folsom. For more info: (916) 985-2707,

- Dixie Reid

April 1, 2009
Live Nation concerts coming up

The folks at Live Nation sent out a long list of upcoming shows in the greater Sacramento area. A sampling:

Tix go on sale Friday for the Memorial Day all-ages Stone Soul festival - Charlie Wilson, Jeffery Osborne, Average White Band, and Ashford & Simpson - at Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord. $35.75-$89.75 reserved.

Closer to home, Fall Out Boy, Metro Station, Cobra Starship, All Time Low and Hey Monday play Memorial Auditorium on April 8. $37.50 general.

Chelsea Handler plays Sacramento Community Center Theater on May 1. $42.50 and $35.50 reserved.

All American Rejects headline Endfest on May 10 at Raley Field in West Sacramento. Also appearing: Lady Gaga, Flo Rida, White Tie Affair and 3oh!3. $20 general, $29.50 reserved, and $39.50 for a coveted GA Pit spot.

And, Fleetwood Mac hits Arco Arena on May 18. $149.50 gets you the best seat in the house. Otherwise, they're $79.50 and $49.50.

For more info and the rest of the schedule, go to

- Dixie Reid

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