Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

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

May 30, 2009
Fleetwood Mac cancels Arco Arena concert

From Bee staff:

Fleetwood Mac has canceled the Arco Arena concert that originally was postponed from May 18 because of illness in the band.

Scheduling conflicts at Arco Arena was the reason given for the cancellation.

Refunds for tickets purchased for the Arco Arena concert are available at all points of purchase.

May 29, 2009
Keith Urban is coming to Sacramento

Keith Urban fans: Set your cell phone's reminder alarm for 10 a.m. on June 6.

That's when tickets go on sale for his July 23 "Escape Together World Tour" concert at Arco Arena. LeAnn Rimes is the opening act.

Ticket prices start at $20 and will be sold at Ticketmaster locations, online at, and by phone at (800) 745-3000.

"LeAnn and I are going to give our fans in Sacramento a night to remember. A night where they'll be able to leave their cares at the door and just let loose for a few hours," Urban said in a news release issued today by Arco Arena.

"I hope our fans have as much fun offstage, as I know we'll have on," Rimes said.

Urban launched his 59-city North American tour earlier this month. Keep up with his comings and goings at

- Dixie Reid
May 29, 2009
Lara Downes to give benefit concert


Mondavi Center Artist-in-Residence Lara Downes has scheduled a rare Davis benefit concert at The Episcopal Church of Saint Martin on Sunday, June 7th at 4 PM.

The concert, which will benefit the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network, Davis Community Meals, and Davis School Arts Foundation, will see Downes performing Beethoven's Piano sonata No. 8 in C minor, op. 13, "Pathetique", Chopin's "Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22", Barber's; "Excursions", and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue".

When: 4 p.m. June 7
Where: The Episcopal Church of Saint Martin, 640 Hawthorne Lane, Davis
Cost: Suggested donation: $10
Information: (530) 756-0444 or

May 29, 2009
This should be a hair-raising finale

The finale of Hair Games 2009 is set for 11 p.m. Saturday at Barcode Nightclub (1890 Arden Way, across from Arden Fair). For those who've kept up since the competition began five weeks ago with 10 local salons, it's down to the final four vying for the "Best Style" prize.

Who's left with a final shot at creating the best hairstyles? Space 07, Hair Gone Wild, Visions in Auburn and Bellara. The winner will receive a grand prize that includes three tickets to the CHI/Farouk Academy in Houston, Texas, and, of course, local coifing bragging rights.

Proceeds from this year's event will benefit Village Care International, which helps widows and children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Advanced tickets are $10 and are available at any participating salon. Tickets are also available at the door tomorrow night.

May 29, 2009
Tomorrow: Splash Dogs arrives in Midtown

Chances are, unless you're keen on the canine sports circuit you probably don't know that doggie dock diving has incited a national craze throughout the United States. The organization Splash Dogs has drawn thousands of sprightly beasts and their human companions to compete for high-flying glory, and tomorrow, Sacramento's pooches will try their paws at the increasingly popular sport.

So...what is it, exactly? Well, tomorrow morning, a giant pool will be set up at the corner of 28th and J streets in Midtown, and dogs and their owners will compete to see whose dog can jump the longest distance across the pool to retrieve a toy. These folks are serious: they employ the SD Ruler, which, according to the Splash Dogs website, is "the most accurate measuring system in the sport of dock jumping."

If you think your dog has what it takes, a visit to the group's website,, will give you an idea of how the sport works (and it's quite easy to waste an hour or so drooling over adorable photos from other Splash Dog events around the country).

Everyone is invited to participate, and even if you're not competing, who wouldn't love the sight of dozens of dogs flying through the air? If you do want to play, sign ups begin at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, and entry fees range from $10 to $20, with proceeds benefiting local pet charities.

For more information, contact the Sacramento MBA office at (916) 442-1500, or visit

May 28, 2009
Student mural to be dedicated in Woodland

Student artists at Lee Middle School in Woodland will see their mural "Global Peacemakers" dedicated during a June 1 ceremony.

Teaching artist Juli Ann Blanco worked with students from the Horizon special ed program and the Gifted and Talented (GATE) program to create the mural that celebrates global harmony.

"This powerful public mural is a reflection of these student artists' desire for peace in the world," Blanco says.

The dedication starts at 5:30 p.m. in the central quad at Lee Middle School, 520 West St., Woodland.

For more info, call the Yolo County Arts Council at (530) 406-4844.

- Dixie Reid
May 28, 2009
UCD Film Festival: long on talent

The work of one of the area's more profilic filmmakers will be on display tonight at the Varsity Theater (616 Second St.) in Davis.

The UC Davis Film Festival will feature a new animation short by student Kevin Okulolo, who has made more than 40 animated films. Okulolo's short "Hooked" (which can be seen here) took honors for best animation and best sound design last year.

The 90-minute, all-shorts program starts at 8:30. Tickets are $5.

May 28, 2009
Oh me oh my! Wiggles heading to Sacramento

wiggles.jpgThe fab four are coming to Arco Arena.

But before you start whistling "Love me do" we should probably explain - it's the Australian sensation, The Wiggles, that's scheduled to play Arco in July.

Tickets are on sale for the preschool band's Go Bananas Live! show, which has performances scheduled for 3 and 6:30 p.m. July 21, according to a Wiggles news release.

The concert features singing and dancing with the four Wiggles - Sam, Anthony, Murray and Jeff - and their Wiggly cohorts and features songs from their latest album, "The Wiggles Go Bananas."

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or at the Arco box office.

Tickets range from $15 to $32 and seats purchased in the $32 level will include an exclusive Wiggles giveaway, the release states.

Got a Wiggle-crazed child just too, well, wiggly to wait for their Wiggles fix?

Parents and preschoolers can now explore a new interactive Wiggles Web site.

The site,, is an ad-free "virtual world" featuring games, stories, coloring pages and other activities, said Alicia McAllister, a Wiggles spokeswoman.

An early childhood consultant helped develop the site's content to ensure the activities incorporate educational principles into the fun and games.

Children and parents can access some activities on the site for free, or pay a $6 monthly fee for premium access, which includes access to merchandise discounts, presale Wiggles tickets and a monthly "report card" for parents to let them know how their child is doing, she said.

May 27, 2009
Thursday: Small art for small wallets

The Crocker Art Museum's 2009 Art Auction is right around the corner on June 6. If you can't afford a ticket, your social life may be over as you know it. But it doesn't mean your collection has to suffer, too.

Tomorrow night, May 28, the Crocker hosts its Art Auction Preview Party, a casual evening reception where attendees can mingle with Art Auction artists and preview the works that are up for bid this year.

The best part of this event is the Big Names, Small Art Silent Auction, which is perfectly suited to those of us with champagne tastes and beer budgets. During the auction, bid on smaller pieces (about 12x12 inches) from acclaimed artists that start at just 25 bucks! At that price, almost anyone can afford to add a little bit of lasting beauty to their life.

The second best part of this event is that it is free to attend, but you must RSVP to (916) 808-7789 or

For more information, visit

May 27, 2009
Fashion is the ticket on Thursday nights at Park

The local media has been all over how Wednesday nights - particularly in midtown Sactown - are all about the good deals on drinks, appetizers, etc. Most of the restaurants and bars are focusing on the 35-and-up crowd for an evening out that won't break the bank.

That's cool because it still leaves Thursday nights open for fashion shows - in particular the Designer Fashion Series that continues tomorrow night at the Park Ultra Lounge (15th and L streets).

On tap for Thursday's 10:30 p.m. show are local designers Dee Aguilar (pictured) and Richard Hallmarq. Suede Salon & Spa will be doing hair for Dee's models; Strand Salon for Richard's. Ambreal Williams, from "America's Next Top Model" (Season 9), will host, with guest DJ - DJ Knuckles.

The last two shows in the series are set for June 4 (Agape and Jeremiah Hill) and June 11 (Lauren Oto, Paul Mitchell Academy and Lilu Styles by Liliya Nixon).

Doors open at 9 p.m. The shows are all 21-and-over events, and early arrival is recommended. For more information, click here.

May 26, 2009
Pest management advice at Fair Oaks Library

If you hestitate to use commercial pesticides, the Sacramento Public Library and Friends of Fair Oaks Library have a helpful workshop coming up.

Bill Hollins, of Water Wise Pest Control, will suggest ways to reduce the use of pesticides and teach you to control crawly critters with less-toxic methods.

The class is set for 6 p.m. June 8 at Fair Oaks Library, 11601 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks. Admission is free.

Registration is suggested. Call (916) 264-2920 or go to

- Dixie Reid
May 26, 2009
Fine art, dance unite in local performance

Can't decide between a night at the ballet and an evening at an art gallery?

Look no further than Mergence 2009.

The performance, which opens Friday at the Northern California Dance Conservatory's Black Box Theater, combines nine new dance pieces created by internationally-recognized choreographers with artwork inspired by the performances.

The performance is hosted by the conservatory and, a cultural arts advocate organization based in Roseville.

Tickets are $45 per person for the opening night gala, which includes a reception at 6:30 p.m. catered by Robert Mondavi Winery, SuedeBlue and CRUSH29. The performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the theater, 920 Reserve Dr., Roseville, and will be followed by a reception with the performers, artists and choreographers, according to the JoinTheArts Web site.

Additional performances will be held at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for those shows are $18.

An art auction also will be held at the events Friday and Saturday. Online bidding also is available until 9 p.m. Sunday.

For more information or to buy tickets, go to the JoinTheArts Web site.

May 26, 2009
Governors Mansion seeking volunteers

Governor's Mansion State Historic Park was home to 13 California governors over 64 years, so the place is full of history and great stories.

The elegant Victorian is in need of passionate, knowledgeable citizens to share its past with visitors.

So, if you're at least 18 years old and are interested in applying for the volunteer training program, contact Kendra Dillard at (916) 323-2500 or by e-mail at

Application deadline is June 20. Nine weeks of classes start in July, on a day to be determined.

Governor's Mansion State Historic Park is at 1526 H St., Sacramento. Tours are offered 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily. For park information: (916) 323-3047,

-- Dixie Reid
May 25, 2009
M&M, Mickey Mouse make sweet partnership

mickey mouse.jpgIt's a candy dish favorite, a beloved movie snack, a little reward for a child.

But M&Ms, the famously creamy chocolate enrobed in a bright crunchy shell, are hoping to become more than just a sweet staple.

Mars Snackfood U.S. has teamed with Disney Consumer Products to launch a new line of specialized My M&Ms aimed at families.

The My M&Ms Memorable Moments blends feature nine themes based on Disney and Disney-Pixar characters and movies, including Cars, Toy Story, High School Musical and, of course, Mickey Mouse.

Mars announced the partnership last month and officials said it's too early to know whether sales of the specialized Disney M&Ms, available exclusively online, will flourish. The My M&Ms site launched in 2005.

Mars, a private company, would not disclose what percentage of its business the My M&Ms product line comprises. The personalized products are popular, however, a trend the company is hoping to continue with the Disney line, said Ryan Bowling, a Mars spokesman.

"We want it to be a big part, a big seller," he said.

Mars recently sent The Bee two of the Disney blends to sample.

We tried out the Mickey Mouse blend, which features Mickey's face, Mickey in action, Donald Duck and the phrase "M-I-C...You Know the Rest" on a group of preschoolers.

The children immediately recognized the famous characters and shouted "Mickey!" as they poked through the pile of primary-colored candy.

"They're special," said Alice Hewitt, 3. "These taste good!"

The kids pointed out that there weren't enough Donald Ducks in the mix (take that Mickey!) and one 2-year-old was disappointed that Daisy Duck didn't grace an M&M.

The phrase included on the M&Ms was lost on this generation though, which is more inclined to know the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme by They Might Be Giants than the old theme song from the bygone days of Annette Funicello.

Kendra Pfeiffer, owner of Pfeiffer Event Planning in Sacramento, scoped out the other sample sent to The Bee, which featured Disney princesses Ariel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and the expression "Happily Ever After."

"I see it for a little girl's birthday party," she said.

Pfeiffer, who plans weddings and has frequently used personalized My M&M products as wedding favors and on candy stations, said she doesn't see the Disney Princess Wedding theme being too popular among brides and grooms.

The blend features Cinderella and Prince Charming in silhouette and in a heart, wedding bells and the phrase "Dreams Do Come True."

"There are a lot of 'Disney' people out there though, and this is a cute, subtle way to get a touch of Disney in the wedding," she said.

May 22, 2009
'American Idol': Kris and Adam look ahead


Two days after the "American Idol" finale, there's no looking back for winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert (pictured). They've been on every L.A.-based TV/radio show possible, and now it's time to head to New York and all the folks who want to interview them there.

But one thing's for sure: The competition is over, they wouldn't change much - and making a living off of singing is where their heads are now. That, and saying what a total sweetheart judge Paula Abdul was.

The two guys took an hour out of their crazy schedules to speak to "Idol" reporters today. Here's what they had to say.

Adam Lambert

Q: Theatricality is now a positive word! You've been compared to the likes of David Bowie, Kiss, etc. That said, how have you made theater and rock work so well together?
A: It's just good entertainment. It's still about the music, but theatricality packages it in a more flashy, dramatic way. It's just one way of performing - not better, not worse. Bowie is a great example. As is Michael Jackson and Madonna. A slew of artists have tried it. I'm just glad "American Idol" embraced it.

Q:OK, so once you do the summer tour, what if you get a nice fat offer to do a Broadway show this fall? Would you jump at that opportunity?
A: I did the theater thing for a number of years, and I'm not turning my back on it. But my direction is to become a recording artist. I could see myself coming to Broadway eventually. That was my family and community for years and years. Whenever I come to New York I plan to sit in the front row and cheer them on. For now, I'm on a new journey.

Q: A psychic in Hollywood says you're the reincarnation of Elvis. Would you consider singing and making movies like him?
A: That's such a compliment! I don't know if it's the case, but it's a beautiful idea. I would love to go in that direction - eventually. People mention Elvis because it was the heyday when artists did music and movies. That would be amazing.

Q: You've got such an amazing ability to interpret not only music but your look. Can you talk about both and did anyone hold you back?
A: No, everyone at "Idol" was 100 percent supportive, from the music to what I wore. It was very positive and creative. I never felt stifiled. (Musical director) Ricky Minor would suggest something and I'd say, "Hey, let's do it," and vice versa. The shoulder pads (or wings) I wore in the finale for the Kiss song were from the Bob Mackie showroom. The boots were my own. I also have friends in L.A. who ended up styling most of the jackets I wore - for "We Are the Champions" and "Whole Lotta Love." They own a company called Skin Graft Designs. They get my style.

Q: How do you feel about resurrecting the glam rock genre from the '80s and '90s?
A: Maybe bits of it. I don't want to do one specific genre (of music). I'm more about fusion and adding new elements to the final mix. I'm more fond of the '70s glam, even though I've got '80s-style vocals. There are lots of artists using this vibe; I'm just part of the wave. But there aren't many guys doing it.

Q: Would you like to work with any of the mentors or performers you met on "Idol?"
A: Slash. When we did the shot at the Roxy I felt so at home. This guy is so rad. Even though Queen wasn't a mentor Brian May was on stage, and I was so honored because that's one of my favorite bands. I was starstruck every time. I met Lady GaGa backstage and Fergie. Smokey Robinson and Jamie Foxx were amazing. They all knew me and I'm like, "I'm a fan of yours. You're not supposed to know me!" Katy Perry gave me great advice about surrounding myself with friends and people I know who will keep me grounded.

Q: Would you have changed anything about your performances on Tuesday night? And is coming in second really OK with you?
A: I had a blast that night. The "Mad World" thing was fun because I changed it from the first time I sang it. I think Simon (Cowell) was confused. I don't like to recycle; I like to re-create. "Change Is Gonna Come" was a style of music I hadn't done before. "No Boundaries" is a hard song to sing live. I would have wanted more rehearsal time with it. As for winning, I know it sounds cliche but I felt like I won getting to the finale. It's not about the title, it's about the experience. I made music and got to do a different performance every week. Now I have a career. And, yes, Kris is a very good friend of mine!

Kris Allen

Q:A pre-finale poll had you with 52 percent of the vote. After the announcement on Wednesday, you said you thought Adam deserved to win. Do you still think that?
A: Yes, I still feel that way. Let me put it this way: He deserved it as much as I did. He's been the most consistent, most gifted performer I've ever met. We became great friends. The vote could have gone either way. I know it was really close because Adam was a huge front-runner. Plenty of people were voting for him.

Q: Your performance with Adam and Queen was amazing. How much rehearsal time did you get for that song and the "No Boundaries" song?
A: We met Queen the night before. We went through the song ("We Are the Champions") twice, I think. Seriously, it was the best moment of the year for me. It was like an exhale. We had a great time together. How can you not have a great time with Brian Mays next to you? "No Boundaries" was hard to sing. I don't think me or Adam were happy with our performances. I don't think they (the judges) were trying to judge us on that song but on the season. I sang it that morning and it was fine. It's a high song. Both of us were really tired, and there were some sound issues when we couldn't hear ourselves.

Q: You've said if you could change something about yourself it would be your lack of chest hair. Are there plugs in your future?
A: That's hilarious! You never know about transplants. I do have a little bit, a patch. But I want man chest hair!

Q: Your solo performance of "Heartless" is a big hit on iTunes. How did you come to remix it?
A: I listened to Kanye's (West) album, which I love, and decided I'm just going for it. Be bold and risky. It got a lot of good reviews and it showed people what I can do. I haven't heard from him, but I know he posted a video of me singing the song on his blog.

Q: What kind of record are you contemplating for your debut?
A: For me, I felt like I did exactly on the show what I would do on a record. Just change it up, like "Ain't No Sunshine." Something bluesy. I don't know if there will be any covers. I write my own music, but I don't know if that will happen on this CD.

Q: What did you learn about yourself through the "Idol" experience?
A: I guess, seriously, the biggest thing is that I'm a procrastinator. The times on the show when I worked the hardest were times I did the best. The harder you work for the thing you love most, it will come true.

Q: Are you ready for this change? Is your wife ready? Heck, you're still newlyweds!
A: It's definitely a topic of conversation - all the time. We've been dating forever and married eight months. She's been out here during the whole thing. Things will change, but we're strong. She's cool. Actually, I've been getting ready for this all my life. Life gets you ready. "Idol" has been everything coming to a culmination. Now I'm excited to move on.

A couple of final notes: As for the judges, Randy Jackson said the other day that all four would be back for Season 9. Then I saw newcomer Kara DioGuardi say on the red carpet before Wednesday's show she hopes to be back - and get a phone call in August. After going along with the producers on the whole "Bikini Girl" stunt on the finale, it would be hard to tell her "No!"

Last, I completely disagree with those "Idol" bloggers/pundits/experts, etc. that America is, as one TV critic put it, a "nation of weenies" because we can't handle "art, ambiguity or men who wear too much makeup."

Both guys were talented and Adam said it best today: "I never really listen to what people say."

And guess what? He'll probably release a CD that's not over the top, but totally different from what he did on the show. Expect the unexpected. And yes, come January, you'll be watching - again.

May 21, 2009
'American Idol': Ratings high because show was a keeper

AP Photo/FOX

The day after, the water-cooler chatter is still abuzz over Kris Allen's win last night on "American Idol." But the conversations also are turning to the finale show itself and how much fun it was to watch.

According to the just-released numbers, the Nielsen ratings give "Idol" a huge win, saying nearly 29 million viewers tuned in for the finale Wednesday night. "American Idol" viewership was one-third larger than the total audience logged by Fox's rival networks ABC, CBS, NBC and CW.

If you're into R&B, rap, hip hop, country, rock - you name the musical genre and the show had it. My personal favorite performance was Kris's guitar-dueling duet - "Kiss A Girl" - with Keith Urban (pictured). Great song, great vocals, great arrangement and, yes, very easy on these tired eyes.

Other faves?

* This season's Top 13 opening the show (dressed in white) singing Pink's hot hit, "So What." Too bad all of them can't go on the tour. This would be a great performance to see live. And, speaking of the tour, the Arco Arena show is set for July 10. More than any season, I'm looking forward to covering this one.

* Last season's winner David Cook performed a moving version of his song, "Permanent, dedicating it to his brother, Adam, who died earlier this month. The song is available for download at iTunes and proceeds will benefit ABCSquared, a cancer foundation.

* The five "Idol" girls (Jasmine Murray, Alexis Grace, Megan Joy, Lil Rounds and Allison Iraheta) rocked Fergie's "Glamorous," and then Fergie herself took the stage in some waaaay high stilettos to perform another of her hits, "Big Girls Don't Cry." As if that wasn't enough, her group - the Black Eyed Peas - joined for a booming "Boom Boom Pow."

* Allison was a perfect match for Cyndi Lauper as was Lil with Queen Latifah. I wasn't as thrilled as some with Megan and Michael Sarver singing comedian Steve Martin's "Pretty Flowers," fresh off his new banjo album. In the weeks since she's been gone, I'd forgotten how much I don't care for Megan's "squeak."

* Loved Carlos Santana opening his set solo with "Black Magic Woman," then being joined by the "Idols" for "Smooth."

* And could Adam Lambert have been in better company than with Gene Simmons and Kiss? He opened with the slow, soulful "Beth," dressed in ginormous gold platform shoes with black wing things attached to his shoulders. The requisite eyeliner and glitter were a hoot. Shift gears and Adam is a "member" of the band with "I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night." Talk about living - and singing - your dream! Guitars were destroyed. There was fire. And screaming at the end (natch).

* Kris and Adam closed the singing part with "We Are the Champions," the great Queen anthem. And, just in case you missed it, the band was there.

Aside from the musical numbers you have to give it to "Idol" for bringing back some of the audition's biggest personalities: Nick Mitchell (aka "Norman Gentle"), Tatiana del Toro and, you knew she should would be there: "Bikini Girl" Katrina Darrell, who pranced across the stage in a teensy suit and was greeted with a "Wow!" by Simon Cowell.

Host Ryan Seacrest said he was going to ask "What's new with you? I think I know." Katrina obviously had some enhancing between her audition and last night's show. The best part was judge Kara DioGuardi sneaking up on Katrina while she was singing "Vision of Love." The two feuded over Katrina even going to Hollywood Week way back. Kara said, "We'll just call you a top and a bottom." Getting her back for being snippy, Kara outsang Katrina and even went so far as to rip open her dress and reveal her own bikini. It was a dare from the show's producers. She agreed if they ponied up some money for charity.

I'll watch the finale again for sure. The big question is, how will the show's creators/producers/judges come up with something bigger and better for Season 9? Consider this: Auditions are just a couple months away!

Check back to 21Q tomorrow afternoon for my interviews with Kris and Adam.

May 21, 2009
SF Opera's "Madama Butterfly" coming to Mondavi


Good news for opera fans - the San Francisco Opera will soon make its second appearance at Mondavi.

No, it won't be a live performance, but it will be the next best thing- an HD broadcast.

The June 25 screening of the San Francisco Opera's production of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" at Mondavi Center signals an agreement between the UC Davis presenter and the San Francisco Opera that will likely lead to more operas being shown at Jackson Hall.

The showing is part of the SF Opera's new Grand Opera Cinema Series. San Francisco Opera general director David Gockley told The Bee recently that the series is part of the company's effort to increase the presence of the opera company in Northern California.

And you have to believe that this is a strategic move by the SF Opera to make inroads as the Metropolitan Opera has locally, with its steady diet of live HD simulcasts of operas to five area cinemas. Those simulcasts have been extremely popular.

This not the first time that the company has shown its operas on the big screen at Mondavi. In 2007, the company gave its first-ever HD simulcast at Mondavi with a screening of its production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni".

That simulcast was offered as a free screening. It became the quickest sell-out in Mondavi's history.

"Madama Butterfly" tells the tale of love fraught with the difference of East-West culture clashing in 19th-century Japan. The highly regarded soprano Patricia Racette performs as Cio-Cio-San, the geisha tragically torn between two worlds. Donald Runnicles conducts.

When: 7 p.m. June 25
Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis
Cost: $15 general; $7.50 students and children
Information: (530) 754-2787 or www.

May 21, 2009
BofA customers get free museum admission

If you bank at Bank of America, your ATM, credit or check card - along with a photo ID - will get you free general admission to 120 museums, historical sites, science centers and zoos across the country.

The Museums on Us program starts June 6-7 and continues the first full weekend of every month, through Dec. 4-5, 2010.

Participating in our area are:
California Museum for History, Women & the Arts, 1020 O St., Sacramento
Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento
Explorit Science Center, 2801 Second St., Davis

In San Francisco, the offer is good at Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, Legion of Honor and Museum of African Diaspora, and in San Jose at San Jose Museum of Art and the Tech Museum of Innovation.

Please note that the free-admission offer for Bank of America customers is not valid for special exhibitions, fund-raising events or ticketed shows.

For more info and a list of participating institutions, go to

- Dixie Reid
May 20, 2009
'American Idol': Kris wins it all! Are you surprised?

I'm not.

That's why I love this show!!

Kris Allen, 23, of tiny Conway, Ark., who seemingly stood ZERO chance of winning Season 8 of "American Idol," did just that.

After just shy of 100 million votes were cast following Tuesday night's final competition, Kris won the title over heavily favored Adam Lambert, 27, of San Diego.

Every season I say the "Idol" finale is the best. And somehow the nation's most-watched show outdoes itself. Amazing guest performances, plenty of laughs, major celebs in the audience, past "Idols" who don't forget their roots and, of course, the four judges soaking it all in.

But this was Kris's night. And, I will do a little boasting. Leaving The Bee today I predicted there might be an upset - if you can call it that.

Check back to 21Q tomorrow for pics and a wrap-up. Actually, I'd like to watch the entire show again because it was that good.

Then, on Friday, I'll post interviews with both Kris and Adam, who was, in my opinion, one of the most gracious runner-ups in contest history. Beauty pageants could take a lesson from these guys!

May 20, 2009
Movie makers meet tonight

"A Place Called Sacramento," Access Sacramento filmmaking program that brings together screenwriters, actors and crew members to make 10-minute short films incorporating Sacramento-related themes, kicks into full gear this evening with a gathering of potential cast and crew members.

At the cast and crew call, which takes place from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. tonight at the Coloma Community Center (4623 T St.), the 12 winners of the "Place Called Sacramento" script-writing contest will meet people with whom they will be spending a lot of time this summer, as the film crews ready their films for an October premiere at the Crest Theatre.

In other words, here's a chance for people who have always wanted to work on film set to do exactly that. There's no pay, but the experience is invaluable and the sense of community created by the project truly inspiring. Last year, when I followed the filming of Eric Cotenas' PCS film "Remember Me," I was thorougly impressed by the commitment of the volunteer cast and crew.

For information on PCS, go to the Access Sacramento site. And for more news of community media, see the Bee's Community Media Blog.

May 20, 2009
Dear Harvey at Lambda

The Lambda Players are presenting "Dear Harvey" a reader's theater production celebrating the life and work of Harvey Milk. The production runs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. through May 31 at the Lambda Players Studio Theatre, 1028 R Street. Included in the production are stories from Tom Ammiano, Cleve Jones, Anne Kronenberg, Dan Nicoletta, and Stuart Milk. The production is free but a $5 donation is being requested. For information go to or call (916) 444-8229.


May 20, 2009
Cal Performances picks new director


A new era begins at the adventurous presenter Cal Performances at UC Berkeley with the announcement that Matías Tarnopolsky will replace longtime director Robert Cole.

Tarnopolsky, 39, comes to the position from his current post of vice-president of artistic planning at the New York Philharmonic,a job he has held since 2006. Before that Tarnopolsky was senior director of artistic planning at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He replaces Cole, 78, who wraps up his 23rd year as director in August. It will be a tough act to follow. Over his decades-long tenure Cole established Cal Performances as a cutting-edge presenter of arts programming in Northern California.

"I was immediately struck by the vibrancy of the cultural environment at
Berkeley and in the quality and variety of the offerings at Cal Performances," said Tarnopolsky about Cal Performances, in a written statement. "This is a rare phenomenon in the world of the performing arts, and it's what makes Cal Performances a special place."

Tarnopolsky will oversee the artistic vision and executive leadership of Cal Performances, whose focus is ecumenical and ranges from chamber music, to modern dance to a speaker series. The presenter offers roughly 60 to 75 different events each season.

Those performances are given mostly at its home at UC Berkeley's 2,000-seat Zellerbach Hall, as well as the Zellerbach Playhouse, Hertz Hall, Wheeler Auditorium, the Hearst Greek Theatre and Berkeley's First Congregational Church.

May 20, 2009
'American Idol': Don't count out Kris


I remember it like it was yesterday - only it was last year at this time on "American Idol." Judge Simon Cowell fired off his prediction during the epic "Battle of the Davids" and proclaimed teen David Archuleta a "knock-out winner" over David Cook.

The big question then was, what would happen with Syesha Mercado's fans? She was the second runner-up. Where would their votes go?

I've gotten the "You-must-be-crazy" line from plenty of "Idol" campadres who think I'm waaaay off the mark that another upset (if you can call last year an upset) might happen on Season 8 - with Kris Allen shocking "Idol" nation with a win.

Adam Lambert was pretty much crowned after Tuesday night's three-song sing-off. He's been the front-runner almost since his audition in San Francisco. But what will happen with Danny Gokey's fan base? He left the show last week, so they need someone to side with.

After last night's show, judge Paula Abdul dropped this to the Associated Press: "After the third one leaves, you wonder where do the votes go from that third contestant?"

For sure, Danny and Kris have more in common with each other than they do with Adam. That includes singing style, their own style and - dare we go there - lifestyle. I'm speaking specifically about Danny and Kris's faith-based backgrounds. One is married; the other widowed. In an interview with "Idol" reporters when Adam made the Top 13, he kept his private life pretty much to himself, saying, "I know who I am."

Of course, none of the contestants pushed for any particular voting segment.

One of the best comments about last night's show came from Simon, after Kris sang his first song, "Ain't No Sunshine."

"When your name was announced last week, I wasn't sure that America had made the right choice," he said. "I absolutely take all that back now after that performance."

I thought the competition was pretty much a dead heat after the guys' first two performances. Then they both had to sing that horrific "mountains and hurricanes" ballad "No Boundaries," which was co-written by judge Kara DioGuardi.

Adam used his massive high octave and slayed it. But it was too high for Kris, and Kara even admitted it was out of his range.

All the judges said viewers should vote based on the whole of the season, not just last night, which could send the decision either way.

It bears repeating that tonight's two-hour finale (8 p.m. FOX40) will definitely exceed that time limit. Ryan Seacrest alerted DVR users to program accordingly so as not to miss the actual announcement of the winner!

And if it's all the same to anyone who cares, I'd just as soon not be surprised by a Britney Spears performance.

May 20, 2009
Namaste baby: Free yoga class for parents, children

Want to get some quality exercise with your kids without having to push them in a stroller?

Try Mom N' Tot Yoga. Better yet, try it for free.

StrollerFit in Elk Grove is adding yoga classes for parents and children ages 3 and up and is holding a free trial class June 4.

No yoga mats or Happy Baby Pose know-how is required.

"Just bring water and be ready to have a good time," said Wendy Hoag, owner of Stroller Fit in Elk Grove.

The roughly 45-minute yoga classes during the eight week session are tailored for young children. Each class has a theme that will be familiar to children, such as "a visit to the zoo," Hoag said.

The goal is to combine strength and balance exercise with building self-confidence and the teaching the importance of fitness.

"It really is intended to be fitness for the parent and the child," she said.

The classes will be offered in the morning and evening and cost $15 per class, which covers one parent and up to two children.

"Dads are more than welcome too," Hoag said.

The free trial class is scheduled to be held at 10:30 a.m. June 4 in Elk Grove Park, near Rotary Grove.

To reserve a spot in the free trial class, e-mail Hoag or call her at (916) 690-7624.

May 19, 2009
Kerastase coming to midtown's Mosaic Salon

Kerastase Paris, well-known for its high-end haircare products for 25 years, is doing something pretty unprecedented: a nationwide event that's aimed at clients in need of a little coif care.

With some folks giving up hair-care services to save money, this is indeed an indulgence - a complimentary treatment and blow-dry service at participating Kerastase salons. As luck would have it, there's one in Sacramento - Mosaic Salon & Spa. It will participate on Wednesday at its midtown location, 2700 J St.

If you're on Kerastase's mailing list you probably already have received an e-mail from the company announcing the event. Some folks are telling their friends, who are also making appointments.

Todd Buckley, co-owner of Mosaic, says the salon still has some appointments available for tomorrow. "The treatments, which include a full consultation and scalp massage, will be based on the condition of a client's hair - whether it's dry, damaged, color-treated or if they have scalp issues," he says.

If you've received an e-vite - either from Kerastase directly or from a friend - print it out and call for an appointment: (916) 558-2700. Bring a printout of the e-mail.

And here's something else you might not know about Mosaic. For the last couple of months, the salon has been participating in the Hair for Oil Spills program, which is operated by Matter of Trust out of San Francisco. The program is working with thousands of salons nationwide and abroad that donate their hair clippings to soak up oil spills.

Matter of Trust says that the program came to be almost 20 years ago when Phil McCrory, a stylist from Alabama, was watching coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Phil says he noticed the fur on Alaskan otters was soaked with oil, so he began testing how much oil he could collect with hair clippings from his salon. He came up with the "hairmat." It's used to amass the clippings, which also come from barbers, dog groomers and wig makers.

Matter of Trust estimates there are 300,000 salons in the U.S., and each cuts about a pound of hair per day.

Todd at Mosaic says his salon donates a 10-pound box of clippings each month.

"We put a plastic bag of hair (ideally shampooed) in a box, cap it off, tape it and ship it to San Francisco," he says. "It's just a nice thing to do."

Each salon pays out of pocket to send the swept-up clippings. For more information about Matter of Trust, click here.

May 18, 2009
Graphic design students get crack at scholarship

The International Academy of Design & Technology, which has a campus in Sacramento, is among the design schools nationwide accepting submissions from aspiring graphic design students.

The students are competing for a $25,000 tuition scholarship and the opportunity to work with DC Comics on a upcoming marketing campaign for "Absolute Justice," which features some of the most popular DC Comics characters.

Entries must be submitted by June 8 to one of the 11 IADT schools nationwide or to Brooks Institute, Brown College, Collins College or Harrington College of Design.

The first round of judging will be conducted by faculty and staff at each college campus, and the 15 preliminary winners will be chosen by June 19. The final round, which will include judges from DC Comics, will be held in July in San Diego.

A local winner will be selected from each campus, and all 15 will receive a $5,000 tuition scholarship to the sponsoring school of their choice. The winners also get a free trip to SoCal to see the winner crowned.

Contest applications are available by clicking here. Or you can contact the Sacramento IADT campus, 2450 Del Paso Road: (916) 285-9468.

May 18, 2009
Folsom School Wins Disney Radio Contest

A recycling program devised by fifth-graders has earned a state finalist award in Radio Disney's Environmentality Challenge contest. The school is one of five in California to earn the honor.

The students of Maggie Itkoff's class at Oak Chan Elementary were chosen out of 340 schools entered in the contest.

As finalists, they earned a package of prizes and a visit from the Radio Disney Street Team, to entertain students at lunch May 27.

May 18, 2009

The Fleetwood Mac show scheduled for 8 tonight at Arco Arena has been postponed due to an undisclosed illness in the band, said Live Nation, the concert promoter.

A new date has yet to be announced for the postponed show, but will be announced soon.

Patrons holding tickets for tonight's show will be able to use the tickets at the newly rescheduled date.

More information can be found at the Live Nation website:

May 18, 2009
Financial aid, creativity can help parents afford summer camp

Hello muddah, hello faddah, yes, you can send kids to Camp Grenada.

And, there are ways to avoid blowing through your savings when you do it. The American Camp Association Northern California offers these tips for funding summer camp:

• Research the options. With more than 12,000 day and resident camps throughout the country, there likely is one that might fit the budget. Go to the ACA Northern California's Web site for a listing of camps or camp fairs.

• Register early. Many camps offer discounts for people who commit early, but be sure to ask about the camp's refund policy.

• Consider day camp. These types of camps tend to cost less than resident camps.

• Shorten the visit. Although camp programs run between a few days and 10 weeks, children generally benefit from camp despite the length of their stay.

• Ask for help. Camps give away more than $39 million in scholarships each year, and 90 percent of camps offer some form of financial aid. Non-profit camps may reduce or waive fees for families who can't afford to pay and some churches and social service groups offer low-cost or free options. Ask about an installment plan, discounts for siblings or referral fees when friends you recruit send their children.

• Get creative. Ask relatives to help pay for camp as a birthday gift or see if the camp needs parent volunteers.

• The cost of day camp may count as an expense toward child and dependent care, according to the IRS. Employees with flexible spending accounts also may be able to use money set aside to cover child care costs, which would include day camps.

Summer camp is important for children by helping them gain independence, social skills, responsibility and resilience, said Andrew Townsend, past president of the ACA Northern California and camps director for Kennolyn Camps in Soquel.

"A short period unplugging from daily life and reconnecting with an outdoor lifestyle is very important for kids today," Townsend wrote in an e-mail to the Bee.

It also benefits parents in several ways, including exposing their children to new interests and helping the child realize they can survive without a computer or iPod.

"Parents also get a chance to reconnect at home while knowing their child is away having fun and growing up," he said.

May 15, 2009
Obama's pick for NEA may stir the pot


Before President Obama's announced that Broadway impresario Rocco Landesman, 61, would be his pick to head the National Endowment of the Arts, it was a safe to say that just about everyone had forgotten about the NEA.

But those days may be over.

And that's because Obama's selection is not your run-of-the-mill pick, as was widely reported in the press after the announcement was made Tuesday.

The result? In one fell swoop the NEA is in the public spotlight again.

And perhaps, so will the plight of the arts in a tough economy.

Obama's choice of Landesman is an against-the-grain move. Landesman has a reputation as an outspoken individual in the commercial theatrical world. He is president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns five Broadway houses. His track record is a solid one and includes presenting such productions as "Angels in America" and "The Producers."

Landesman, whose candidacy must be approved by Congress, would oversee a budget that Obama requested at $161 million for fiscal 2010 - a $16 million increase from its allocation in the 2009 budget.

Landesman, if approved, would replace outgoing director Dana Gioia, who served six years at the NEA. During his tenure, the NEA created little stir and was mostly out of the public eye, as was the plight of arts funding.

This contrasted with the many controversies that plagued the agency over arts funding in the 1980s and 1990s.

This week Metropolitan Opera head Peter Gelb told the New York Times about Landesman that "the relationship between the government and the arts needs to be energized."

That may be the understatement of the year.

Questions will surely arise about Landesman. Some may bristle at the notion that a for- profit entrepreneuer will head an agency that oversees funds for nonprofit arts organizations.

But in the final accounting, any such questions will pale in comparison to the fact that people are talking about the NEA at all.

May 15, 2009
Tisdale 'considered himself a musician first'

Wayman Tisdale, the former Sacramento King, who went on to a major musical career died this morning from cancer. Tisdale had a 12-year professional basketball career, playing from 1989-1994 in Sacramento and averaging 22.3 points per game in his first season with the Kings. He retired in 1997 and then focused on playing music. Tisdale recorded eight albums as a band leader playing left-handed bass.

Lee Hansen, program director at Smooth Jazz KSSJ 94.7, reflected on Tisdale this morning.
"The first time I met him, he told me he used basketball as way to get a college education. He always considered himself a musician first. He wisely perceived that basketball and professional sports would secure his future and his family's future," Hansen said.

"When he walked in the room he always lit it up. We called him 'the big man with the big smile.' As much as he was respected for his basketball playing and he loved his music, there's no question his family and his faith were the two most important aspects of his existence," Hansen said.

"When we did a couple of in-stores where people got to meet him up close. We did one when he was on the rebound from cancer last spring as his new CD came out. He needed the assistance of a cane to get around. As he came out with the cane, this incredible physical specimen, he still had this big beaming smile. He talked about it a little bit and the crowd at Borders just about came out of their seats. They wanted to run up and hug him because he was so positive about everything. He made everybody else feel good in spite of the battle he was in," Hansen said.
Get to Tisdale's website at

May 14, 2009
'American Idol': Danny's ready to look forward


Danny Gokey says one of his goals - post "American Idol" - is to make glasses cool for kids. "They've (eyeglasses) kind of got a reputation as being nerdy."

Danny, 29, was typical of most of the top finishers on the show. It's over (except for the summer tour), and he's exhausted - both mentally and physically. However, after last week's hoopla-filled trip to hometown Milwaukee, he has a new appreciation for the massive fan base he's built.

"They affirm me as an artist," he says. "They believe in me and see something inside me. I just hope they support me when the CD drops."

Danny spoke with "Idol" reporters today after little sleep following last night's results show. Here's what he had to say about his experiences - and moving forward.

Q: Folks still can't stop talking about "Dream On" more than a week later. There are even "Scream On!" signs. Can you reflect on that song choice and the performance?
A: Actually, I was thinking about it this morning. And it could have been my downfall. I wanted a big song because it was rock week. I took a risk. And I rehearsed that scream so much I hurt my vocal chords. They were sore on the visit home and are still sore now.

Q: You've always been a front-runner who has received a lot of praise. How much pressure does that put on you?
A: I felt I had to outdo myself every week. It was just another battle. I'm still growing as a musician, and I felt like sometimes I wasn't there yet. I've only watched one season of the show (last year), and there's so much heaped on one person. You can be disappointing. And others can show up and not expect to wow (the audience) but they do. I believe I gave it a really good try.

Q: Your final performance of "You Are So Beautiful" was really good. Had you thought yesterday you might be leaving the show. so why not go out with a bang, especially after Kris (Allen) was the first saved?
A: I knew it was it for me. I was confident in that. The whole day I thought so. I'm competitive by nature. Yes, I would have done some things differently, but I'm proud of my accomplishments. I kept my head up and saw a strength in me I didn't know I had.

Q: Obviously you're quite close to the remaining two contestants, including Adam Lambert (pictured). Can you describe them - both personally and professionally?
A: Kris is really artistic, and Adam has a way of capturing the audience. Kris is also very mellow, and I've always wanted that trait. I'm an intense personality. Adam is very creative. He lives creative. He dresses creative. That said, I encourage people to vote (next week) because you can't have assumptions. I feel like it will be a very tight race.

Q: What did you learn from your "Idol" experiences?
A: A lot about myself and about pressure! I learned to overcome things, like insecurities and doubt. There were times when I didn't want to go out on that stage. I kept thinking, "Will they like it?" I was thankful for my performances this week because I made myself do it.

Q: How do you see yourself changing the music industry?
A: I really want to start a movement with my music. Find the soul in me. I want to change people's hearts. I can see a concert that opens by following a story. Maybe a kid whose father is killed by a gang. How does he overcome that? I want to entertain the audience, but I also want them to come out of their zone for a little bit. To walk away feeling good - not just a temporary good - and wanting to make a change. It might sound cheesy, but that's my testimonial: overcoming adversity.

Q: Will you get back to the foundation you started in your wife's memory?
A: Absolutely. It's called Sophia's Heart Foundation. I left it because of the show so I want to get back to grow it. It means so much to me. It's the legacy of my wife and me on this earth, even though she's gone. I even want to come out with a line of eyeglasses. I've got my vision planned out (no pun intended). I want to appeal to kids and get them involved in music through the foundation because music helps them learn.

Q: What type of album do you see yourself recording?
A: I want to do something soulful. Mix it with some nice R&B beats. Get people's hands moving. There will be a bit of a Latin vibe because Sophia was Latin, and I love that music.

Q: What did the judges say to you after last night's elimination?
A: If I remember correctly, Simon (Cowell) said I was one of a kind and a phenomenal singer. The whole competition I wanted to please them because theirs are the most popular opinions in the business. I hugged them and thanked them.

Q: Has your eyeglass collection grown since you've been on the show, and would you entertain the idea of being an eyewear model?
A: I would love to be an eyeglass model! I might start a "Danny" or "Gokey" line. I started off with 15 pairs; now it's about 50 or more. Blessings of glasses have rained from the sky.

Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I'm thankful for the opportunity. On this call, I can open up because I don't have to worry about being judged. I was a nobody, and "American Idol" turned me into a someboy. The best is yet to come.

May 14, 2009
Rita Dove on Writing

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove spoke at the Crest Theatre Wednesday, reading excerpts from her new book, "Sonata Mulattica."

The book tells -- in poems -- the tale of a young, talented biracial musician, George Bridgetower, befriended and then cut off by Beethoven just over 200 years ago.

But when the audience asked Dove questions at the end of her talk, they hinged more on her creative process than on the the lives of the characters she depicted in her poetic work.

How did she put the poems together? How did she write when she created a work in collaboration with the composer John Williams? Why did she structure her book -- a set of distinct poems on the Bridgetower story -- the way that she did? What did she do as Poet Laureate?

Those were the questions she was asked. And one more, asked by a sixth-grader: "Do you have a suggestion for someone like me to write a character like you do?"

"The first thing I suggest is, well, you have to read," Dove said, answering the youngster. She also recommended the would-be writer should create an impromptu group with others who liked to write. And "to love the sound of words."

Dove told of the genesis of the book. She and her husband were watching a movie of Beethoven's life and saw a black violinist, shown just in passing. "I just googled 'black violinist Beethoven,'" she said. "Really."

That's how she came up with Bridgetower. Initially she planned only a small number of poems, but as she learned more the project grew.

She described how she wanted to bring to life the different characters in Bridgetower's life, which required poems from different viewpoints, in different forms, even a farcical play at one point.

It makes the whole, "fragmented" she said, a series of reflections like a mirrored dance ball. "I never thought I'd compare my book to a mirrored dance ball."

May 13, 2009
Cutting hair for a cause in midtown

Allure Salon & Spa is one busy business - and not just for its expertise with styling tools and mousse! The salon (816 16th St. between H and I) is always looking for ways to reach out to the community.

Last month the salon hosted a Cut-A-Thon to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., owner Missy O'Daniel and her team will have another Cut-A-Thon to benefit the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders), which works to understand the causes and develop better treatments and - hopefully - cures for neurodevelopmental disorders.

So what exactly is a Cut-A-Thon?

"It is our way as hairstylists to give back to the community," Missy says. "We will be offering our services by giving haircuts for a minimum donation of $25. The regular price is $50."

And all proceeds go to the institute. Need a trim? Call (916) 446-1234. Your head will thank you.

May 13, 2009
'American Idol': Kris and Adam? I think so


I'm not sure if last night's "American Idol" semifinal show occurred more on stage - or among the four judges! There were squabbles over critiques, one mouth-covering, fingers pointing, rolling eyes. You name it, all while the three finalists stood awkwardly with Ryan Seacrest.

One thing's for sure: I believe Kris Allen made some inroads on Adam Lambert's seemingly insurmountable grasp on the title. As for Danny Gokey, his fan base better hope they wore out their fingers texting or phoning in votes for him.

The Top 3 performed a judge's choice song and one of their personal favorites. It was a mixed bag of tunes, so here's a recap - including the spats between the judges.

* Danny: He was up first with Paula Abdul's pick, "Dance Little Sister" by Terence Trent D'arby. She liked it, as did Randy Jackson. Kara DioGuardi thought Danny's dancing was too "gyrating," and Simon Cowell quickly hit back with "It's not a dancing show." He thought it was the wrong song but the right artist.

* Kris: Kara and Randy doubled on his pick, which was "Apologize" by One Republic. Everyone in my home thought he sounded like a cross between Gavin DeGraw and, well, One Republic. Here's where things got nutty. Kara called it a "competent" performance, which pretty much translates to "Ugh!" She wanted Kris to take more chances. "You could have made it your own if you had played the acoustic guitar instead of the piano." Simon retorted by accusing Randy and Kara of not working with Kris on the arrangement. "That's a cop out," he said. "You can't choose the song and then blame him (Kris) for doing a competent version of the original. You should have put in the work on the arrangement."

The next thing I saw was Kara standing behind Simon with her hands over his mouth!

* Adam: No surprise, Simon got to pick the front-runner's song and he made a ginormous deal about having personally spoken to U2's Bono on Saturday to get the go-ahead for Adam to sing the group's monster hit, "One." So the pressure was definitely on Adam's pipes to get this one right. The strategy paid off. Paula said she was staring at the next "American Idol." Simon, of course, said it was a brilliant song choice (natch). "If you're not in the final (next week), it would be the biggest upset ever."

As for the Top 3's personal choices, my favorite was Kris's reinvention of Kanye West's "Heartless." This time, he did play the acoustic guitar (pictured). Randy thought it was better than Kanye's version. Kara offered up these adjectives: "Bold, brave, fearless." Paula said it was "a song about Simon." Simon said he thought that it was a lame song choice when he initially heard about it. "I had written you out. That, however, has all changed after that performance."

Adam's take on Aerosmith's "Cryin' " was just so-so for me. (Maybe because it's not one of my favorite Aerosmith songs.) Again, he gets props for his stage performance. That's why I believe he'll wind up in Vegas - at the Palms! The judges gushed. All except Simon who said he wasn't going to "suck up." "It's easy to assume (you'll win). But we're finding a star. And fans should vote because you deserve to be here." Meaning any of the three finalists.

I had high hopes for Danny's "You Are So Beautiful," and he played it safe by using his raspy vocals to replicate the Joe Cocker version. Paula thought it was a mix of gospel and R&B. And Simon called it "a vocal master class." This was also the same comment he gave to Season 5's Elliott Yamin - the night before he was eliminated in the No. 3 position.

Predictions: Someone has to go, and I feel like it's going to be Danny. Check out the live results show at 9 tonight (FOX40). And feel free to tell me if I'm way off the musical mark!

May 13, 2009
You can help guide teen parents at workshop

If you believe it takes a village to raise a child, you're just the right person to help guide teenage parents during a resource and workshop event Friday in Sacramento.

Pregnant teens and youth with children will be paired with an adult "buddy" at the Baby City event so the teens can take advantage of the opportunities and resources presented, according to an e-mail from Rick Fowler, president of The Community College Foundation.

The event, which is sponsored by the foundation, Kaiser Permanente and Northern California Community Benefit Programs, is focused on teen parents with children ages birth to 5 years old.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children with them.

The event includes breakfast and lunch, resources such as Cal Works, Head Start and Medi-Cal, information on immunizations, workshops on custody issues and teen finances and a Mommy and Me reading room.

Baby City will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sacramento County Probation Department's field office at 5445 Laurel Hills Dr., Sacramento.

Registration and breakfast will be held from 9 to 9:30 a.m.

A volunteer orientation will be held at 8:30 a.m. Friday, said Kim Bradley, program director for the foundation's human development and youth services.

Adults interested in volunteering should e-mail Kim Bradley or call her at (916) 418-5154.

May 12, 2009
Farming art for Davis second graders

Yolo County Arts Council and Davis Farmers Market Foundation is launching a program called "Artist in the Classroom."

It's all about second graders learning to appreciate art and farming.

The project will bring artists into second grade classrooms in the Davis Joint Unified School District, after the kids visit a local farm.

"Artist in the Classroom" complements the school district's existing Farm to School program.

"Davis Farm to School Connection is excited to be cooperating with this phenomenal opportunity to connect farm visits to art through the talented artists with the Yolo County Arts Council's art education programs," said Dorothy Peterson, president of the Davis Farmers Market Foundation.

For more info: (530) 908-4321,

- Dixie Reid
May 12, 2009
State Fair to hold kids' talent auditions

Think you've got talent? If you're 15 years old or younger, here's a chance to strut your stuff.

Auditions for the 2009 California State Fair's Kids Talent Show - individuals and groups - are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. May 23.

Call (916) 274-6180 or e-mail to reserve a spot.

The State Fair is Aug. 21-Sept. 7 at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento.

For general information about the fair: (916) 263-FAIR (263-3247),

- Dixie Reid
May 12, 2009
Sutter Health gives $25,000 to Sutter's Fort

The 1839 fort founded by Swiss immigrant John Sutter - and now a California State Historic Park - received a major gift today.

Sutter Health, Inc., donated $25,000 to Sutter's Fort, which stands across the street from Sutter Medical Center. The funds went to Friends of Sutter's Fort and are part of State Parks' "Proud Partner" program.

"In these uncertain fiscal times, this donation will enhance our programming for the community and provide continued respite for Sutter Medical Center employees and patients who use the fort grounds as their local park," said Catherine Taylor, State Parks' Capital District superintendent, in a news release.

Tom Gagen, the medical center's chief executive officer, said, "Since our beginnings in 1923, Sutter Health and Sutter Medical Center have always enjoyed a very special relationship with Sutter's Fort. We continue to live and learn by the example of Sutter's Fort."

Sutter's Fort State Historic Park is at 2701 L St., Sacramento. It's open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $6 general and $3 for ages 6-17.

For more information on the state park: (916) 445-4422,

- Dixie Reid
May 12, 2009
'American Idol': What others are saying about the finale

OK, so Simon Cowell tells Oprah Winfrey on Monday that Adam Lambert has "swagger" and should capture the Season 8 title of "American Idol."

First of all - DUH! And second of all - it was Kara DioGuardi who said Adam had "swag" and then "swagger." Simon stole her compliment.

Tonight, the three finalists - Adam, Kris Allen and Danny Gokey - will perform for a spot in next week's finale. They'll sing one of their personal favorites and a song the judges have selected for each of them.

Of course, tonight we'll get to see footage of the three guys visiting their hometowns for the TV interviews, the singing of the National Anthem, kissing babies, listening to women squeal and then watching them swoon. (Adam, above, was in San Diego for his trip.)

The bottom line is each guy's fan base has got to come to the rescue of their favorite performer - and hope they don't bomb (aka, Danny with "Dream On"). Kris hasn't done anything to really irk anyone. And yet there are rumblings on other blogs that he's got no chance against Adam. For exmple, says Season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini believes Kris and Danny will be competing against each other for the finale spot. But he says all three must step it up.

That goes double-double for Danny, who may have run out of gas - and fans - after last week's show.

Here's my wish: If Adam does make it to the finale next week, I'd give my Dolce & Gabbana Beatle boots (I got 'em on major sale) to go shopping with him for his outfits.

Tonight's show is at 8 p.m. (FOX40).

May 11, 2009
New Capital Stage Season Announced

Capital Stage has announced it's 2009-10 season and the five play season includes three Sacramento premieres. The always interesting professional company will produce only five plays instead of six as its done in previous seasons eliminating its summer slot in 2010. Still to go this season for Cap Stage is the world premiere of Reina Hardy's "Erratica, An Academic Farce" which runs from July 11 through August 2.

Capital Stage's 2009-10 Season

"Speech & Debate" by Stephen Karam
A Sacramento Premiere
October 2 - November 8, 2009

"Santaland Diaries"
by David Sedaris Adapted by Joe Mantello
November 27 - December 27, 2009

"Fiction" by Steven Dietz
A Sacramento Premiere
January 22- February 28, 2010

"Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" by Frank McGuiness
March 19 - April 25, 2010

"Hunter Gatherers" by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
A Sacramento Premiere
May 14 - June 27, 2010

May 11, 2009
State Fair concert, discount tix on sale Friday

OMG! David Cook is coming to the 2009 California State Fair!

The "American Idol" season 7 winner opens the fair's 2009 Concert Series on Aug. 21.

And in other Big News about the place for Big Fun: Tickets for both the Concert Series and discounted fair admissions go on sale this Friday.

Here's the concert line-up:
David Cook, Aug. 21, $45
Tonic, Aug. 24, $15
Salvador. Aug. 25, $10
Hullabaloo Music Festival (Jay and the Americans, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Merrilee Rush, Badfinger, Sonny Geraci and Otis Day), Aug. 26, $10
The Fab Four, Aug.27, free show
Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Sept. 2, $10
MC Hammer, Sept. 3, $10
Three Dog Night, Sept. 4, $15
Blake Shelton, Sept. 5, $29
Tops in Blue Air Force Show, Sept. 6, free show

And here's a rundown on discounted State Fair admissions, available Friday through Aug. 19 (regular pricing goes into effect Aug. 20):

Poppy Pak (four general admissions and monorail rides and one parking pass), $39.95, a 43 percent savings

Single tickets:
General admission, $10, a 17 percent savings
Ages 62-plus, $8, a 20 percent savings
Ages 5-12, $7, a 13 percent savings

Unlimited-ride wristbands for the midway (ride all day, any day, until 11 p.m.) $28, a 20 percent savings

Fun Fair Combo Pass (season pass to both State Fair and Raging Waters at Cal Expo), $49.99, a 45 percent savings

The 2009 California State Fair runs Aug. 21-Sept. 7 at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento.

For more info: (916) 263-FAIR (263-3247),

- Dixie Reid
May 11, 2009
Vacaville filmmaker gets one step closer to funny fame

Recently, we've been following the progress of Vacaville filmmaker Jesse Fernandez in his effort to secure the title of "The Country's Funniest College Student" in RooftopComedy's National College Comedy Competition.

After an initial online "Viewer's Choice" voting round and a "Director's Cut" selection, Fernandez's entry, "A Cartoon by Jesse Fernandez", was chosen to advance into the top twelve tier of submissions. Why? It's so funny that, well, you simply must take a look to understand.

Beginning today at noon, the top twelve films are up for a second round of viewer's choice voting. Cast your vote for Jesse via the RooftopComedy website! If his video makes the cut, it will be presented along with the other top three films at the Aspen RooftopComedy Festival on June 11.

May 11, 2009
Have kids play 'water detectives,' save you money

water logo.jpgWhere does water come from?

If you ask a child, chances are the answer would be "From the tap."

Local water officials are trying to change that by helping parents teach their children where water originates and how to conserve the precious resource this month, which is Water Awareness Month.

"It's important to realize that it's easy for us to take water for granted," said Christine Kohn, a public outreach consultant for the Regional Water Authority.

Here are some tips from the water authority:

  • Help children understand that in the Sacramento region, water comes from two sources: surface water resources like rivers and underground water basins called aquifers. Show children pictures or take them to see the American and Sacramento rivers or Folsom Lake - these are good ways to help them make the connection between water as a source and water that comes out of the tap.
  • Explain what drought and water conservation mean. Because Californians live in a dry climate, there can be a period of time when there is little water or rainfall. Six of the last 8 years in California have been dry, which means water conservation is needed. A good definition of water conservation for kids is "the act of saving water and using it wisely," Kohn said.
  • Talk about how conserving water benefits things the family enjoys. For older children, put it in terms of water sports like wakeboarding or waterskiing. For younger children, explain that the health of more than 70 species of fish are in danger.
  • Make children "water detectives." Have kids scout around the house for instances where water can be conserved, such as turning off the tap while brushing their teeth. Your little detective may just save you some green. "For parents, one of the good things is saving water saves energy and can save you money on your utility bill," Kohn said.>

Once parents explain to their children where water comes from, it's easier to get them to conserve water.

"It's a learning process and it helps to have daily reminders as much as possible," Kohn said.

There also are several upcoming family events to help promote water conservation.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is hosting its annual Get W.E.T. (Water Education Today) Event on May 16 at the American River Water Education Center at Folsom Dam, 7785 Folsom Auburn Road, Folsom.

The Regional Water Authority also is offering two free tickets to a River Cats game for anyone who completes a free "Water Wise House Call" with their water provider.

During the visit, a water efficiency professional helps identify potential water savings by checking things such as appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscaping.

The water authority and Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership also have teamed with the Rivercats to sponsor Green Awareness Weekend June 12, 13 and 14.

Tips on water conservation and other giveaways, including free River Cats tickets, will be distributed during the games.

For more information, call the Regional Water Authority's tip line at (888)987-8477.

May 8, 2009
Gearing up for a busy weekend around town

In addition to the Race for the Cure tomorrow at Cal Expo and Mother's Day on Sunday, here are some other events to check out - if you've got time!

* The Wardrobe clothing store in Davis is once again joining the Downtown Art About celebration with an event called "Weaver Mosaics", from 7 to 9 tonight. Come by and meet Sandy Weaver, a local artist who collects pieces of glass, tile, marble, mirror and other colorful textures and turns them into artworthy collector's items (pictured). Sandy studied mosaics at the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland. The Wardrobe is at 206 E St. For more info, click here.

* Serendipity Boutique in the Fountains at Roseville will host a Donna Asch jewelry trunk show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday - just in time for some last-minute gift ideas for mom. Donna's magnetic necklaces are one-of-a-kind. The Roseville store is at 1182 Roseville Parkway, Suite 165.

* Second Saturday will be in full swing, of course, in midtown Sacramento - and elsewhere - including a photography exhibit as well as artwork by The Bee's photography and art departments. That's from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the front courtyard at 2100 Q St.

Also, Le Petit Paris (1221 19th St.) is featuring the work of Sacramento native and photographer Julie Prayter, who recently got back from a sojourn in Paris where she documented life among the Parisians. This is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Le Petit Paris owner Tassina Placencia adds that there's still spots available for her June excursion to the City of Lights. There's lots of shopping, dining and other delights. And Tassina has the boutique/cafe stocked with gift ideas - again for mom! - including handmade scarves, soaps and Just Campagne handbags (which are 50 percent off). She'll be serving Je T'aime iced tea and the cafe's special macarons on Sunday.

* Boutique owner Felicia Strati is gearing up for a Second Saturday summer fashion show right on the corner where her namesake boutique is - 19th Street and Capitol Avenue. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m.

May 8, 2009
Tonight: Art your way around Davis

You may have the grid memorized, but have you checked out Davis' Second Friday Artwalk lately?

Tonight, the Davis Downtown Business Association is celebrating 20 years of
service to Davis Downtown with festivities that coincide with the city's Second Friday Artwalk.

In addition to perusing the 20+ venues throughout Downtown Davis that are hosting art and gallery exhibits, check out live, outdoor retro music by Fast Times , an 80's dance party band. They'll be performing in E Street Plaza (200 block of E Street) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

You can also sample the many tastes of Downtown Davis, with eateries providing foods,
wine and other refreshments. The Davis Food Co-op (620 G St.) is among them, and will be offering a tasting of Shenandoah and Sobon Estate wines from 6 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

While you're there, don't miss The Artery's 2009 California Clay Competition Exhibit, a gorgeous collection of the state's finest functional and sculptural ceramic works.

For more information, and to see a complete list of the various venues offering art and "Foods To Go," visit Davis Downtown Business Association's website.

May 8, 2009
Summer concert tours coming to Arco, Sleep Train

Gas up the car: Live Nation is bringing some of the summer's top concert tours to Sleep Train Amphitheatre, outside of Wheatland.

Here's the lineup:
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, with Marilyn Manson & Slayer, July 10
Coldplay, July 14
No Doubt with Paramore, July 24
Vans Warped Tour, Aug. 21
Nickelback with Hinder, Papa Roach and Saving Abel, Aug. 31
Def Leppard with Poison and Cheap Trick, Sept. 3
Brad Paisley, Sept. 26

Closer to home, Live Nation booked these tours at Arco Arena:
Beyonce, July 9
Green Day, Aug. 24
The Killers, Sept. 22

For tickets and info:,

- Dixie Reid

May 7, 2009
'American Idol': Allison says 'I've got personality!'


Fed up with Simon Cowell taking pot shots at her personality, "American Idol" finalist Allison Iraheta - all of 17 years - says that on Tuesday night, after her performance (and Simon's jab), it was time to stand up for herself.

"I'm not boring, so I might as well talk!"

On Wednesday, Allison was eliminated with a couple weeks to go before the finale. And she has no regrets about talking back, even tough it goes against how she's been raised.

Allison spoke to "Idol" reporters Thursday after little sleep and the task of packing her belongings and leaving the show's mansion, her home for almost two months. Here's what she had to say.

Q: Based on the critiques Tuesday night, Danny's (Gokey) "Dream On" had many thinking he would be ushered out. How were you feeling being next to him at the end last night?
A: "It was weird. I've been in the bottom three several times so I've been prepared to go. When it was me and him, I knew one of us would go. But I'm happy I made it so far and for the opportunity to be on that stage.

Q: The performance with you and Adam (Lambert) on the duet was magical. How did the two of you pick that song and how were the duets set up?
A: We (the contestants) chose our pairings. Adam and I had thought about doing a duet for awhile. When we saw 'Slow Ride' was on the list, we said let's do it. And it was soooo fun! We're definitely planning on doing the song on the tour this summer.

Q: What do you think of having four judges? Good idea or bad?
A: Change is good. I love Kara (DioGuardi). I think it's awesome that the show changes it up because you don't want to be stuck seeing the same thing. I like the fact that the judges said I was different. It made me stay true to myself during this long ride.

Q: Being the last girl in the competition, did you take a lot of ribbing from the guys?
A: They would pick on me. If someone had an argument and I jumped in they would tell me to stay out 'because you're only 12!' It was like family. We all got along really well. And they actually helped me in the competition.

Q: What was it like working with Slash?
A: You have no idea. When I heard it was Slash (as the mentor) I was so eager to meet him because I've been a big fan. I got to sing while he was playing for us (pictured). He was one of the best mentors we've had - hands down.

Q: How shaken were you and the guys by the accident ("Idol" tower slipping) that blocked rehearsals on Tuesday? Did it distract you?
A: The stage manager (Debbie Williams) is a great friend of ours. We were made aware of how she was doing. We were told she was going to be OK, so we were able to go on. That day was not going well. During our performances, we started off shakey, then got into place and did what we had to do.

Q: You got a lot of comments about your fashion and hair. Did anything that was said bum you out?
A: It did. Come on, I'm singing here! But I think overall they (the judges) were looking for what you could do best as an artist. There were some risks with the dressing. I loved my hair, though. Adam's stylist has been doing his hair for two years. She hooked me up.

Q: With your farewell performance, you pulled out all the stops. Did you feel like there was more at stake?
A: Well, I was crying and singing a song called 'Cry Baby.' It felt different. I knew there was no judging, so I said give it all you've got. It was my last time performing, so I wanted to leave on a good note.

Of course, Allison will be on the "American Idols" summer tour. Tickets go on sale Saturday. For more information, click here. The Sacramento/Arco Arena stop is July 10.

As for next week's Top 3, they'll be heading to their hometowns for some much-needed parades, autograph signings, private plane/limo rides, etc. That's when they (Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert) find out what the judges have picked for them to sing next Tuesday, along with one of their own personal favorites.

Oh, and about all the rumors that Simon will depart the show next year because of all his commitments abroad, the New York Daily News reports he's prepping to move into a $22 million, 11,550-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion outfitted with a full-sized tanning machine and a smaller "booster" facial tanning machine. There's a gym, spa, steam room and lap pool. And what would a man in his position be without a butler and a live-in maid.

Eat your heart out Susan Boyle!

May 7, 2009
Deftones bassist out of ICU, improving

Chi Cheng, the Deftones' bassist injured in a car accident in November, was released from intensive care last weekend, according to the Web site

Cheng had been in a coma since the San Jose-area crash and, according to today's Web update, is now "in more of a semi-conscious state" and "started tracking with (his) eyes and saying words."

The Deftones, formed in Sacramento 21 years ago, released its first album in 1995. The top-selling hard rock band had its biggest success with the album "White Pony" (2000) and earned a Grammy for the song "Elite."

- Dixie Reid
May 7, 2009
San Francisco Symphony taps social networking


It only seems logical that the San Francisco Symphony boast the honor of being the first major orchestra to launch its own social networking site.

After all, it does claim geographic ownership to Silicon Valley.

At SFS fans will encounter a site that is open to the public that allows uploading of photos and videos, and the posting of blog entries.

Think of it as Facebook for the Tilson Thomas crowd!

An interesting feature of the site is its "Ask A Musician", component that offers SFS musicians responding to questions posted by site members. The latest installment has SFS concertmaster Alexander Barantschik answering questions via video.

Putting a face to a name is a very good idea for any orchestra, and on "Ask A Musician" it's as good an introduction as you're going to get to the SFS.

The site, which is built on the Ning platform, also offers backstage blog posts from musicians, staff and conductors, as well as exclusive interviews and live chats with musicians and guest artists.

May 7, 2009
A fashion show - with benefits

Heading into what's going to be a very busy weekend in Sacramento, we'll kick things off tonight with a fun-filled fashion show at Lounge On 20 (20th and K streets) in midtown.

The event, called Turn Up the Heat On Your Summer, will feature local designer Tomicko Abella, who will present her spring/summer collection for Mikobella Designs. Her inspiration? St. Tropez, so it should be tres chic!

Tomicko has been in the design business for years, so she's a pro at putting on a show. This one will benefit the American Red Cross. Tickets are $30. That includes the reception, appetizers and a drink ticket. Groove to the sounds of DJ Billy Lane. Tickets are available at the club now, the door tonight or just click here.

Doors open at 7 p.m. with the reception from 7:30 to 8:30. The fashion show starts at 8:30 p.m.

May 7, 2009
Yolo County artists sought for new library's public art project

Winters will have a new branch library later this year, on the Winters High School campus, and the Yolo County Arts Council invites Yolo County residents to submit proposals for public art to "decorate" the main entrance, central information area, and the children and young adult sections.

The artwork should be "pleasant, uplifting, inspirational and entertaining and illustrate the cultural diversity and history of Winters, along with county history," according to a news release. The project's budget is $30,300.

Find the proposals packet at Submission deadline is 3 p.m. June 11.

The Yolo County Arts Council is at 120 W. Main St., Suite B, in Woodland. For more info: (530) 406-4844,

- Dixie Reid
May 6, 2009
Food bank donors will get flowers - and maybe a diamond

Want to help a mother in need this Mother's Day?

The Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services has teamed with SaveMart Supermarkets and Clear Channel Media to hold an event benefiting the food bank's Mother-Baby Program.

Pre-assembled baby bags filled with parenting supplies, including diapers, food and juice, are available for purchase at 12 participating SaveMart Supermarkets throughout the Sacramento region starting today through Sunday, according to information on the food bank's Web site.

The bags, which are $15 each, will be donated to the Mother-Baby Program, which provides support, supplies and help for more than 400 parents and their babies each month.

Each donor will receive flowers and cookies between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday at Sacramento-area SaveMart stores.

The food bank also is partnering with Rogers Jewelers to host a scavenger hunt that will benefit the charity's programs.

Race for the Rock will be held June 6 in downtown Sacramento.

Teams of two people, ages 18 and older, will hunt the city via bike on a mission to find a $25,000 Hearts on Fire diamond ring. Finders keepers.

Registration is limited to the first 1,000 teams and the entire $25 registration fee will go to the food bank's programs.

May 6, 2009
Taylor's 'Up All Nite' to debut

When Sacramento filmmaker and entertainment impresario Deon Taylor named his new show "Up All Nite," he wasn't kidding. The "Entertainment Tonight"-style program will debut at 1:07 a.m. Thursday night (really Friday morning) on Channel 10.
Hosted by Craig Jackson from VH1's "I Love Money," "Up All Nite" will cover local celebrities and nightlife and also touch on national entertainment news. The debut half-hour will include footage from last month's "Up All Nite" launch party, an interview with singer Keri Hilson and a review of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" by a critic who goes by the handle Malvin Blackstone.
"Up All Nite" will air at the same time every week, said Mo Orozco, a producer on the show, and will be available on Comcast On Demand under the "Get Local" category.
Look for a story from the set of "Up All Nite" in The Bee in the coming weeks.

May 6, 2009
Mira Loma student's film takes a "ninja" approach to advertising

In today's "i-Generation" of marketing, some of the most effective advertisements are produced not by fancy agencies and giant corporations, but by creative consumers themselves.

Brian Hong, a student at Mira Loma High School, is one of them. The young filmmaker is competing in Current TV's VCAM (Viewer Created Ad Message) program, a recurring contest that speaks directly to the growing trend in independently produced ad messages by giving individuals an opportunity to create commercials for some of the world's biggest brands.

Hong's 49-second commercial is entitled "Nissan Ninja Cube," and it features a deft and determined ninja who, somewhat ironically, "stumbles" into Nissan's new media-rich automobile, the Cube Mobile Device. Users submitted their ad messages to Current TV's website, and internet users can view the videos online, choosing their favorites by voting them "up" or "down."

In the Nissan Cube category (the brands AXE and Almay are also up for user-generated ad makeovers), Hong's video is currently ranked 11th out of 127 entries.

The winners of the VCAM competition will be announced on Friday, May 17 on the Current TV website. In addition to a $2,500 prize, the winners will earn a commercial spot on Current TV, plus the possibility of having their ad aired by the sponsor.

Check out "Nissan Ninja Cube" right here.

May 6, 2009
Sac State Jazz program snags Downbeat mag nods

No doubt about it, Downbeat magazine is keen on the jazz being performed at Sacramento State University.

That much was made evident recently when Downbeat magazine - the jazz world's premier publication - awarded its Outstanding Performance Recognition award to CSUS' Latin Jazz Band and the Sacramento State Jazz Singers.

And it's keen on what's being arranged there too.

CSUS students Ian Brekke and Kate Janzen were picked as two of five winners in the magazine's Jazz Arranging award category.

The awards were formally announced in Downbeat's May issue. It's the fifth time that the magazine has recognized ensembles at CSUS.

The awards come way of Instrumental Jazz program director Steve Roach and his vocal jazz counterpart Kerry Marsh, who both submitted professionally recorded samples of each group's work.

Students used Capistrano Hall's Music Recital Hall and other department facilities to record their works.

Arranger Brekke was recognized for his big-band arrangement of Geoffrey Keezer's "Port Alexander Moon," which he turned into a six-part a cappella vocal piece.

Janzen did the same for "Baby Mine," the hit song from the Disney movie Dumbo. She first adapted the song to an all-female jazz version a few years ago and expanded it this year to include male voices.

To hear selections from the Latin Jazz Ensemble go to, then the Latin Jazz button on the left.

May 6, 2009
'American Idol': Rock and wrong?


Well, I predicted it would take a major disaster happening to the Nokia Theatre for Adam Lambert to lose "American Idol,", but I don't think one of the big clunky "Idol" towers almost hitting the stage before rehearsals counts.

It was Rock Week this week, and last night it almost didn't seem like a level singing field - with Adam and Allison Iraheta rocking it out and Danny Gokey and Kris Allen being totally out of their musical comfort zones.

Unlike Jamie Foxx, who was a strong mentor last week, Slash, the legendary former Guns N' Roses guitarist, showed about as much interest in the "Idols" as I would watching people balance cups and saucers on their heads.

He lured the foursome to the Roxy on the Sunset Strip to show off his guitars and hear what they planned to sing. By the way, all the songs had to be released before 1979. That's "Idol's" cut-off year for rock.

I've been waiting for duets since Season 2. And last night we got 'em. How the show decided who would sing with who is uncertain. Did they draw straws, flip coins? It certainly was obvious that Adam and Allison (pictured) would have a distinct advantage over Kris and Danny. And they did.

However, viewers didn't get phone numbers or text numbers for the duets. The judges did get to give their two cents' worth. Here's how it broke down.

* Adam: His solo was a no-brainer. Led Zeppelin's classic "Whole Lotta Love" was a "whole lotta perfect," according to Paula Abdul. He growled the low notes and nailed the high notes. Kara DioGuardi said it was classic rock/glam rock. And Simon Cowell pretty much dashed everyone else's hopes by saying, "Nobody can top that now."

* Allison: She sang Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby," and the judges weren't wowed by the song choice because of its lack of melody. (They would have preferred Joplin's "Piece of My Heart.") Randy Jackson said it was missing the range, but Simon gave her props for gaining her confidence back. While the critiques weren't glowing, they were better than you might think.

* Kris: He was definitely going with something by the Beatles. Originally it was "Revolution," which, after hearing him sing "Come Together," would have been a better song choice - for me. Kara thought it was the "softer side of rock" and that he was trying too hard. Paula thought it was "artistic." And Simon, well he said it was like "eating ice for lunch. It leaves you with nothing to remember afterward." But was it worse than ...

* Danny: AHHHH!! "Dream On" was on Aerosmith's debut album (1973), and no one is going to hit that high note at the end except Steven Tyler or a cat screeching for its life. Unfortunately, the build-up to the note was all I could think about so I kind of got lost in the rest of the song. (And, on a fashion note, was that a vest Danny was wearing?) Randy said this wasn't Danny's genre either, but Kara thought he took the swagger from last week and added some edge. Simon tackled the last note attempt saying it was "like watching a horror movie - 'Friday the 13th - but I think you'll be safe."

As for the duets, Kris and Danny performed "Renegade" by Styx. I didn't like the song in 1978, and I wasn't particularly impressed by their version last night. Again, this just isn't their strong suit and they didn't seem comfortable though Randy liked the harmonies. Again, it was a major advantage for Adam - and especially Allison - to end the show with Foghat's "Slow Ride," one of my faves from the 1970s. Adam pulled Allison into her comfort zone. Randy said they should do the duet on their albums. Kara called them "rock god and rock goddess" and Paula said they were totally in-sync. Simon declared they won the battle of the duets, adding, "Adam, you've given this one (Allison) a chance to stay in."

Predictions? Unless Kris's fan base unites 'round the world, it's likely he'll exit. Danny's fan base is very strong, and he can rebound with whatever they throw at him next week. Allison's strong performances, in particular the finale, should keep her safe. And Adam should steer clear of teetering towers.

Daughtry, No Doubt and Slash will perform on tonight's live results show (9 p.m., FOX40).

In other "Idol" news, Season 4's rocker Constantine Maroulis (remember his Queen masterpiece?) is the first contestant to be nominated for a Tony Award. It's for his performance in Broadway's "Rock of Ages" musical. It would have been nice to have seen him on the show this year. But Daughtry is a bonus!

May 5, 2009
Pizza place debuts, hosts fundraiser for youth program

cpk pizza.jpgPizza and kids go together like, well, cheese and pepperoni, so it's fitting that later this month, a new Sacramento pizza restaurant is hosting a fundraiser to benefit a local youth mentoring program.

California Pizza Kitchen is opening its newest Sacramento location at 16th and L streets on May 18 and is holding the fundraiser May 26 to benefit the Sacramento chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the restaurant chain announced in a news release.

The restaurant will donate 100 percent of all dine-in pizza sales to the organization, which matches qualified volunteers with children who need adult role models.

The local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter, founded in 1962, offers one-on-one mentoring and last year served more than 500 children. They currently have more than 330 active matches, the release states.

In September, California Pizza Kitchen donated 100 percent of its one-day dine-in pizza sales to the Keaton Raphael Memorial, a local nonprofit organization committed to raising money for childhood cancer research and support services for families of children facing childhood cancer.

May 5, 2009
Fountains at Roseville celebrates mom with Saturday event

One of the region's newest shopping centers is celebrating its first Mother's Day a little prematurely with a children's activity and fashion show for moms.

Children will be able to make mom a special gift during a craft activity from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday on the stage at the Fountains at Roseville, followed by a fashion show featuring apparel from Fountains retailers from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m., according to a Fountains news release.

The 320,000-square foot shopping mecca boasts more than a dozen women's clothing stores and a handful of home retailers and restaurants.

Fountains at Roseville is located at the corner of Roseville Parkway and Galleria Boulevard in Roseville.

For more information, go to

May 5, 2009
New Sacramento Theatre Company Season

Sacramento Theatre Company has announced their 2009-10 production schedule. The company will bring back several of its hits from past seasons as it wades through perilous, cash strapped, recession waters. The company will have high hopes for "Fully Committed" the one man tour-de-force for Matt K. Miller (currently on stage with his "Fits and Parts") and for a reprise of the musical "Always ... Patsy Cline."

The season will open with the delayed production of "Noises Off" the popular farce which was pushed back from this spring for economic reasons. STC will also move on with its August Wilson project bringing in "Joe Turner's Come And Gone" but only for one week end of a staged reading.

Here's the schedule STC provided.

"Noises Off" (Main Stage) Oct. 7 - Nov. 1

"Fully Committed" (Pollock Stage) Nov. 11 - Dec. 20

"Cinderella" (Main Stage) Dec. 2 - Jan. 3

Special Event: "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
Staged Readings: Jan. 15 - Jan. 17

"Tuesdays with Morrie" (Pollock Stage) Jan. 20 - Feb. 28

"Arranged Marriage" (Main Stage) Mar. 3 - Mar. 28

"Black Pearl Sings" (Pollock Stage) Mar. 31 - May 9

"Always ...Patsy Cline" (Main Stage) Apr. 28 - May 23

May 5, 2009
Van Morrison Live

Van Morrison's performance Saturday night at the Berkeley's Greek Theatre was nothing less than quintessential Van. One of the most influential singer song writers of his or any generation, Morrison has always had an uneasy relationship with the public components of his art. Rarely speaking to the press (not truly a component of art but sometimes helpful in the marketplace), Morrison comes from the "music speaks for itself" school.

The circumspect one maintains the same approach at his live shows and his Saturday night performance was a signature example. Billed as "Astral Weeks - Live," Morrison first performed a selection of songs from his vast song book. He began the night at the piano for "Northern Muse," before taking center stage.

Alternating between acoustic and electric guitars, occasionally picking up his saxophone or harmonica he and a fourteen piece band (including a string quartet, two guitarists, three singers, and woodwind player) worked through a survey of his tunes. The set included "And It Stoned Me," "Queen of the Slipstream" "Wild Night," "Common One," "All In the Game," and "Moondance."

Morrison was strong voice - scatting, slurring, and growling his way through the material. He worked with out a set list calling out each tune to the band immediately after finishing a song. There was short intermission and then Morrison came back and led a smaller version of the band through the "Astral Weeks" set. While part of the fascination with seeing someone like Morrison is simply the anticipation of what they will play from all the material at their disposal, knowing what was coming didn't diminish the experience.

The expansive versions enhanced already fluid sensual music with Morrison stretching out most everything from the classic record with the highlights coming from the album's core of "Sweet Thing," "Cyprus Avenue," "Ballerina," and "Madame George."
Morrison tacked on a encore of "Listen To The Lion - The Lion Speaks" followed an audience satiating "Gloria" and he was gone. At one point he did say "How about it for the band?"

May 4, 2009
Alexander String Quartet plumbs Beethoven's quartets


If you want to see the breadth and depth of Beethoven's development musically, then his string quartets are as good a musical road map as they come.

And luckily, for local audiences, the Alexander String Quartet, the quartet in residence at Mondavi, is in the throes of a multi-year exploration and survey of Beethoven's string quartets.

In June the ASQ will offer the third installment of the series featuring two Opus 18 quartets: No. 4 in C Minor and No. 6 in B-flat Major. And if the ASQ's past interpretations of Beethoven's quartets are an indication - this one should be a musically stellar affair.

As has been the norm when the ASQ performs, the afternoon performance includes in-concert commentary from renowned educator and composer Robert Greenberg. The evening concert includes a Post-performance Q&A with members of the quartet.

For understanding the context and the musical implications of Beethoven's innovative quartet's there's no better ticket than this one. Note: This event sells out quickly given the limited seating inside Mondavi's Studio Theater.

When: Sun., June 7, 2 & 7 p.m.
Where: Mondavi Center, Studio Theatre, UC Davis, Davis
Tickets: $40 regular; $20 students, children
Information: 530-754-2787, 866-754-2787 (toll-free), or

May 4, 2009
'American Idol': Sad news for David Cook

KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/Associated Press file

It was an emotional weekend for David Cook, 26, winner of last season's "American Idol." On Saturday, his older brother, Adam, 37, passed away after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. And, just as David often mentioned his brother on "Idol," he paid tribute to him on Sunday after serving as grand marshal at the Race for Hope 5K in Washington, D.C.

According to People magazine, David said he couldn't imagine being "anywhere else right now."

"I lost one today, but I gained 9,000 (race participants), and I will be here every year that they will have me."

One of the most memorable moments from last season's show was when Adam was able to make the trip to Hollywood to see David perform "Always Be My Baby." Fans will recall that when David played his guitar, his brothers initials were displayed on the instrument. Then, on the finale, Adam joined his mom, Beth Foraker (pictured), on the stage after David was named the winner.

Judge Simon Cowell told the magazine that he had met Adam Cook a few times during the show. "He was an incredible guy, and right now my thoughts are with David and his family."

As "Idol" fans, we were lucky to have David perform on this year's show. You couldn't ask for a classier, talented act.

And speaking of former "Idols," Chris Daughtry, a Season 5 contestant (he finished fourth), will return to the stage for Wednesday night's live results show. (No Doubt also will perform.) He and his band - Daughtry - will debut their new single "No Surprise."

In a statement, Chris says, " 'American Idol' fans have been so loyal to this band, we wanted to give them the first listen to our new single."

Chris joins a fun mix of past "Idol" contestants who have performed this season, including winners Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks and David C. And, wisely, the show also has brought back popular contestants who didn't win the title, including Brooke White, Kellie Pickler, Jennifer Hudson and last season's runner-up David Archuletta.

Tuesday night, the Final 4 contestants will be rockin' to "Rock 'n' Roll Week." Former Guns N' Roses lead guitarist Slash is the mentor. This should be a cinch for both Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert. I can already hear Allison taking on something from Heart. As always, it's hard to predict what Adam might spring on us. After being somewhat disappointed with his performance of "Feelin' Good" last week (and being in the bottom 3 for the first time), I can see him really revving it up with some Aerosmith, Journey, Rolling Stones - even the Eagles - though Kris Allen could also tackle the latter group's material.

As for Danny Gokey, he's now the one to chase because he's never had a bottom 3 target on his back. This should also be a good musical genre for him, and he's going into the competition with a lot of confidence. With more than 47 million votes cast last week (up 9 million or so from the previous week), holding on to their fan bases is crucial for the remaining contestants, and there likely will be two phone lines for each of them.

Oh, and one last "Idol" note. Elliott Yamin (Season 5) will debut his second album, "Fight for Love," in stores tomorrow.

May 1, 2009
Great seats for Dixon May Fair concerts on sale at noon today

You may be lucky if you dillydallied about getting Dixon May Fair concert tickets.

Cheap Trick, Jessica Simpson and Chris Isaak have just released some of the best seats in the grandstand, which had been held for production crews and other folks.

Those prime tickets go on sale at noon today.

All concerts start at 7 p.m. and include admission to next week's Dixon May Fair.

Here's the line-up and ticket prices:

Cheap Trick - Thursday; $32 reserved, $25 general.
Jessica Simpson - next Friday; $42 reserved, $35 general.
Chris Isaak - May 10; $42 reserved, $35 general

To buy tickets: (877) 750-4400,

The 134th annual Dixon May Fair opens Thursday and continues through May 10. The theme is "Fun: You Can Bank on It." Fair hours are 2-10 p.m. Thursday, noon-10 p.m. next Friday, and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. May 9-10.

The fairgrounds, site of the three concerts, is 655 S. First St., Dixon.

- Dixie Reid

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