Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

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



Whitney Houston films have been all over television in the weeks since her death. Now her best-known film, "The Bodyguard," will play on big screens as well, at 7:30 p.m. March 28.

The event aims to celebrate the movie's 20th anniversary and a new Blu-ray edition of the movie coming out March 27. The 20th anniversary Blu-ray has to have been in the works for some time. But you have to wonder if "The Bodyguard" would have been brought to the big screen again had Houston not died.

Local theatres showing "The Bodyguard" on the 28th include include Century Stadium, Downtown Plaza, Greenback, Laguna, Roseville and Folsom, and Regal Natomas and El Dorado Hills. For information and tickets, see the Fathom Events site.

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The black Mercury coupe James Dean drove in "Rebel Without a Cause" and Erik Estrada 's motorcycle from "CHiPs" and other famous vehicles from film and television are part of the new California Automobile Museum exhibition "Cars of the Stars."

The exhibit runs through March 31, The "Rebel" car, on loan from Reno's National Auto Museum, has been at the Sacramento museum since the fall.

The museum at 2200 Front Street is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last admission 5 p.m.) every day. Admission is $8 adults, $7 seniors 65 and older, $4 students. Children 4 and younger are free.

For information, call (916) 442-6802 or visit the museum site.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA AUTO MUSEUM


LMFAO, the good-time electronic pop act behind "Party Rock Anthem" and "I'm Sexy and I Know It," will perform June 6 at Power Balance Balance Pavilion. Far East Movement ("Like a G6") will open.

Tickets run $40.20 to $73.35 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000).

LMFAO DJs Redfoo and Sky Blu (son and nephew, respectively, of iconic music producer Berry Gordy) appeared with Madonna at the Super Bowl. Unlike Madonna, they do not take themselves deadly seriously. Or at all seriously, as you see, above, in the post-apocalyptic, party-positive "Anthem" video.

My Oscar predictions ignored the odds in a few instances, the most important of which was picking Meryl Streep over favorite Viola Davis for best actress. That pick led to a 6-for-6 finish in the biggest categories (picture, actor, actress, director, supporting actress and actor) at Sunday's Academy Awards..

Streep was my favorite, but that choice was not based solely on emotion. There always was a chance she would win. She already had won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA award (impressively getting the Brits on board with her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher).

When I did pick winners solely on preference -- disregarding the Oscar prognosticators' consensus - results were mixed. For instance, the lovely Northern Irish short "The Shore" won best live action short, but the inventive and exceptionally fun animated short "A Morning Stroll" lost to a "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore."

I went 16-for-24 on the long ballot that appeared in The Bee. I plan to do better next year, when I will leave emotion out of it. (As if that's possible when discussing movies).

In the meantime, see the trailers above for "The Shore" and "A Morning Stroll." You can see both at the Crest Theatre, which is showing all the live-action and animated Oscar shorts.

Bon Iver (Wisconsin musician Justin Vernon) brought his quiet, musically inventive loveliness to "Saturday Night Live" last week. Now Bon Iver has announced a series of new dates, including one April 17 at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall.

Tickets are $39.50, are all general admission, and are available during a presale today at Tickets.com (800-225-2277) with the password "holocene." Tickets officially go on sale at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Vernon and his band were good on "SNL," but the sound quality on that show can inconsistent, and Vernon's vocals weren't quite powerful enough.

The band was consistenly terrific, by contrast, last fall at Berkeley's Greek Theatre.

The Greek Theatre show offered a true sense of the complexity within Vernon's songwriting, as songs were fleshed out by the multi-instrumentalists backing him. A rocked-out version of "Blood Bank" brought out all that song's many colors.

And since Florence and the Machine's show the next night at Mondavi Center sold out so quickly, the Freeborn Hall Bon Iver show offers your best chance to see a great, emerging artist in Davis that week.

Say what you will about Madonna's Super Bowl halftime show (and many have), but to me, the elaborate staging, lip-synching, constant guest stars and weird-guy acrobat said, "That's entertainment."

(I grew up in the 1980s).

The Super Bowl appearance was a preview for a world tour Madonna will start later this year in Tel Aviv.

The closest the tour will get to Sacramento is a stop in San Jose Oct. 6. Tickets to that show run $56-$361 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000).

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Songs celebrating California predate Katy Perry, Tupac and Dr. Dreand even the Beach Boys . By a good century.

The San Francisco exhibition "Singing in the Golden State" has collected songs -- from the Gold Rush to the vaudeville era -- name-checking the state and its events. Its sheet-music collection includes the 1913 song "I Love You, California," as well as "California Flood Mazurka," which commemorates the 1862 Sacramento flood.

The songs evoke pre-radio, pre-television parlor get-togethers that helped spread news about California. The show at the Society of California Pioneers, 300 Fourth Street, includes visually evocative sheet-music covers, sound recordings and instruments

The show runs into December. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and the first Saturday of each month. For information, see the Society of California Pioneers website or call (415) 957-1849.


Tonight's screenings at the Crest Theatre of "Question One," a documentary about the 2009 referendum battle regarding same-sex marriage in Maine, have sold out. But a special encore screening has been scheduled for Feb. 8.

The film by Joe Fox and James Nubile chronicles a political fight that echoed the 2008 battle over same sex marriage in California. The fimmakers had access to "war rooms" on both sides of the battle, and examined the role of Sacramento public relations firm Schubert Flint in the "Yes on 1" (anti-same-sex marriage) Maine campaign.

Tickets to the Feb. 8 screening are available at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., Sacramento and via Tickets.com (800-225-2277).


Sacramento's Ace of Spades nightclub not only filled an important niche locally -- as an all-ages club drawing national headlining acts -- when it opened last year. It also ranked well among all clubs and theaters where music is played.

According to Pollstar magazine, Ace of Spades ranked 52nd internationally in ticket sales among clubs and theaters. That was several spots ahead of clubs like the Roxy and the Palladium in Los Angeles.

Ace of Spades sold nearly 56,000 tickets in 2011, according to Pollstar figures.

Ace of Spades next will distinguish itself as the local venue chosen for a show by hometown favorites Chino Moreno (Deftones) and Shaun Lopez (Far). Their new, electronic-driven group Crosses will perform Friday night.

Look for an interview with Moreno and Lopez in Friday's Ticket section. For information or tickets, see the Aces of Spades site.


In today's A&E section of The Bee, I wrote about the biggest movies scheduled to open in 2012. Here are trailers for several of those films.

"John Carter" (March 9):


"The Hunger Games" (March 23):

"Mirror, Mirror" (March 30):

:

"Snow White and the Huntsman" (June 1):

"The Avengers" (May 4):

"Men in Black 3" (May 25):


"Prometheus" (June 6):

"The Amazing Spider-Man" (July 3):


"The Dark Knight Rises" (July 20):

"The Hobbit" (Dec. 14):


UC Davis is getting all the good shows. First there's Wilco's long-sold-out show Feb. 1 at the Mondavi Center for the Arts. Now, Drake and Florence and the Machine are coming to UC Davis.

Not together, but that would have been interesting.

Rapper and singer Drake (a.k.a. Jimmy from "DeGrassi") will appear March 7 at ARC Pavilion. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Tickets.com . The Lil' Wayne protege has had a string of hits, including "Find Your Love" and "Fancy."

Florence and the Machine ("Dog Days") will play the Mondavi Center April 18. Presale tickets will be on sale from 10 a.m.-noon today through or Ticketmaster. Tickets are $42.50. The password for the presale is "shake." Regular tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

Florence Welsh and her band offer a grand, very British sound characterized by almost-shouted vocals, pounded drums and Gothic and/or tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It's all very compelling, and Kate Bush like, but with a welcome rougher edge.

The announcement of Academy Award nominations this morning immediately prompted a scan of the list for who was left out.

The most notable omission wasAlbert Brooks'supporting performance as a crime boss in "Drive." Brooks collected several critics' awards, a Golden Globe nomination, and was once considered Christopher Plummer 's (Golden Globe winner and now Oscar nominee for "Beginners") main competition for the Academy Award.

The lack of a directing nomination for Steven Spielberg also counts as a snub, given that his "War Horse" made the best-picture list. It's puzzling because Spielberg's pictures are so, well, Spielbergian, that one cannot easily separate director and picture.


The Red Hot Chili Peppers'sold-out shows scheduled for Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at Oakland's Oracle Arena have been rescheduled for Aug. 14 and Aug. 15.

According to the band's website, the Chili Peppers' whole U.S. tour had to be rescheduled after Anthony Kiedis injured his foot and underwent surgery.

Tickets to the original shows will be honored on the new dates, and refunds can be obtained at points of purchase until March 16.


The Sacramento music scene will never please everybody, no matter how many shows are happening. Tastes are too disparate, ambitions too keen and opinions too passionate.

That's why the panel discussion "The State of Live Music in Sacramento," at 7 p.m. Sunday at Time Tested Books (1114 21st St.), promises to be a lively event.

Music promoters Jerry Perry, Brian McKenna, Mindy Giles and Rick Ele (KDVS), along Olivia Coelho of vintage-clothing store, cafe, gallery and performance space Bows & Arrows, will appear, with Dennis Yudt moderating.

The event is free. There will be a post-discussion Q&A, during which audience members can offer their 2 cents on the scene. But they'll have to wait until after the Q&A to bust out their demos.


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Sacramento's Mondo Bizarro Cafe (1827 I St.) returns us to when movie teenagers wore suits to school, and fresh-faced, fashion-forward Molly Ringwald was considered fortunate to have cute guys talk to her.

The cafe will show 1980s John Hughes movies throughout January. "Sixteen Candles" screened last week (sorry, Jake Ryan fans), but tonight you can catch "Pretty in Pink" . Admission is free, and the film starts at 7:30.

"Pink" stars former Sacramentan Ringwald and two of the best Hughes sidekicks this side of The Geek: Duckie (Jon Cryer) and Iona (Annie Potts).

"The Breakfast Club" plays Jan. 19, "Weird Science" Jan. 26.

PHOTO: UNIVERSAL

The Sacramento French Festival, now 10 years old, offers events beyond its annual, can't-miss summer festival at the Crest. One is a short-film screening.

This year's screening will happen Feb. 4 at Verge Center for the Arts, 625 S St., Sacramento.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for drinks and free pizza from Luigi's Slice. DJ Christophe will spin French tunes. The films start at 7:30.

Admission is $5, or free for Friends of the French Film Festival.

For information, see the festival website

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Just when a Sacramento rock fan is starting to despair that most acts are skipping our town, news comes along to lift spirits.

The Black Keys, that ultra-cool yet self-effacing rock, blues and alternative duo, will perform May 5 at Power Balance Pavilion. Arctic Monkeys opens.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000). The presale starts at 10 a.m. Thursday. Password is PBP 3.
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May 5 is a Saturday. So it's not the usual midweek concert Sacramento tends to get.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Black Keys, Patrick Carney, right, and Dan Auerbach accept the award for best alternative music album during the pre-telecast at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/ Matt Sayles


The announcement something called Big Time Rush would be coming to Memorial Auditorium evoked images of a laser-show tribute to the Canadian prog-rock band Rush.

That's because I'm a non-tween.

Big Time Rush is a boy band with a show on Nickelodeon and smooth dance moves and harmonies in the Backstreet Boys mode. Only without the threatening facial hair.

Tickets to the Feb. 20 show are $25-$45. To purchase tickets, call (916) 808-5181 or (800) 225-2277 or visit Tickets.com


Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, will become Mr. Brooks for a night when he performs Feb. 4 at Cache Creek Casino Resort.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $49-$75, and can be purchased via the Cache Creek website.

And for you bobby soxers mad for the "Danke Schoen" singer: Sorry, but the show is for ages 21 and older.

Albert Brooks'performance in the arty action film "Drive" began building serious awards buzz in November, an inconvenient time for people who had yet to see the film.

Released in September, "Drive" had left most theaters by then. It will not be released on DVD until Jan. 31 -- two weeks after the Golden Globes, at which Brooks will vie for best supporting actor for his mesmerizing, uncharacteristic performance as a crime boss.

But Sacramento's Crest Theatre has bridged the gap by reviving "Drive" for a theatrical run starting today.

Brooks already has been named best supporting actor by critics' groups in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, London and other cities, and his name is likely to be called on Jan. 24, when Academy Award nominations are announced.

Above is a featurette on Brooks and the film. "Drive" star Ryan Gosling also appears in the clip. Gosling is up for a Golden Globe as well, but for his performance in "Ides of March."

"Little Charlie" Baty and Tracy Walton and Chris Webster of Mumbo Gumbo will perform Wednesday in Davis on behalf of music and arts in Davis schools.

The eighth "Home for the Holidays" show, at 7 p.m. at Veterans' Memorial Center (203 E. 14th St., Davis) will benefit the Davis School Arts Foundation. Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 ages 17 and younger, and are available at Watermelon Music (530-758-4010), Armadillo Music (530-758-8058) and at the door.

Baty, formerly of Little Charlie and the Nightcats, will perform with his Little Charlie Caravan, and Webster and Walton will form a trio with musican Bill Edwards. Joe Craven, Rita Hosking and Yolo Mambo also will perform.

Money raised by the Davis School Arts Foundation is matched by the Davis Joint Unified School District, and goes toward music and arts education in schools.


AARP.org has released its "top 10 albums for grown-ups" from 2012, and it includes whippernsapphers Paul Simon and Tony Bennett and Babs Streisand .

The experts panel behind the list also chose several artists who do not qualify for AARP membership, including Adele (only a few years past legal drinking age in the United States), Raphael Saadiq , and the guys from Wilco.

The craggy yet ageless Tom Waits also made the list.

Here's the list. The albums were chosen, according to AARP.org, based on "quality, uniqueness relevance to AARP members":

• Paul Simon, "So Beautiful or So What"

• Adele, "21"

• Jill Scott, "The Light Of The Sun"

• Tom Waits, "Bad As Me"

• Raphael Saadiq, "Stone Rollin'"

• Tony Bennett, "Duets II"

• Barbra Streisand, "What Matters Most"

• Alison Krauss and Union Station, "Paper Airplane"

• Wilco, "The Whole Love"

• Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, "The Goat Rodeo Sessions"

For more about the list, see the AARP site.

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Downtown Sacramento's Esquire Imax theater (1211 K St.) will begin showing "Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" the night of Dec. 15 -- six days before the official release of the fourth "Mission Impossible" film.

The most highly anticipated part of the Esquire Imax's "M:I4" program is what runs before the feature: a seven-minute prologue to "The Dark Knight Rises," director Christopher Nolan's third "Batman" film.

The Esquire is the only local Imax theater showing the "Dark Knight" prologue. The prologue will appear on 32 Imax screens across the country -- those with 70-millimeter projection.

Tickets to "Mission Impossible" (and the "Knight" prologue) are available at the Esquire Imax site.

PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Bale stars as Batman. MCT

The most intriguing local entertainment event of the week: Jon Lovitz , the "Saturday Night Live" veteran and "That's the ticket" liar guy, will perform Friday night at Colusa Casino Resort.

There's something delightful about an actor and comedian so closely associated with New York City and "Saturday Night Live" performing amid Colusa County's duck blinds and rice fields. Even if the casino itself is full of big-city people.

Lovitz will perform at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available at the casino's gift short or through www.startickets.com .


Sacramento-raised Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit , veteran rockers Y&T and other musical acts will perform free shows over the next month at Cache Creek Casino Resort's Club 88.

According to a casino press release, the concerts are free in honor of the holiday season.

Entry to Friday night's Schmit show or the Dec. 10 Y&T show requires only a Cache Club card. Cards are available free of charge if one enrolls at the club-card booth on the main casino floor.

For information on the shows, and for a full list of casino entertainment events, call (800) 452-8181 or visit the Cache Creek site.

Here's a list of musical acts playing at Club 88 for free. All shows are for ages 21 and older.


9 p.m. Friday: Timothy B. Schmit

8 p.m. Saturday: Korean concert featuring Tae Jin Ah

8 p.m. Dec. 10: Y&T

8:30 p.m. Dec. 31: Tommy Castro Band

8 p.m. Jan. 1: Journey Unauthorized (tribute band)



Country trio Lady Antebellum , the country-pop outfit with more hooks than a hay-stacking facility, will appear at Power Balance Pavilion March 29 in its first headlining arena tour.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, and run $49.90-$72.30. For tickets, call (800) 745-3000 or visit the Ticketmaster site.

Lady Antebellum, consisting of Dave Haywood and duet partners s Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott, opened for Tim McGraw at Sleep Train Amphitheatre a year and a half ago and were absolutely wonderful live.

Charles Kelley 's rich, warm baritone captivated throughout, and he and Scott have that duet-partner sexual tension thing down, especially when singing Lady Antebellum's huge pop crossover hit "Need You Now."


Jackie Greene will play his annual Thanksgiving benefit at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento.

The busy Sacramento musician, who will celebrate his 31st birthday with shows Friday and Saturday at the Fillmore, will not let fans into the Blue Lamp show unless they bring at least one can of food (along with the $20 door charge). The fan who brings the most cans will win two free tickets to the Nov. 29 Trigger Hippy show at Ace of Spades.

Those people who can't get in -- and there will be some, since the Blue Lamp is not very big -- are welcome to leave their cans as well.

Trigger Hippy is a new supergroup featuring Greene, Joan Osborne and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman. For more on Trigger Hippy, see Friday's Ticket section.


The torturously angsty "Twilight" movie series finally is getting somewhere with "Breaking Dawn -- Part I": Marriage, sex, baby vampires. Twihards' desire to see the film as soon as possible -- midnight or thereabouts tonight --- is understandable.


Loads of midnight- and midnight-ish shows already have sold out. Online ticketer Fandango says more than 3,500 showings (midnight and others) have sold out nationwide. Locally, Regal Natomas has sold out several witching-hour showings.

There still are seats left at Sacramento-area screenings, like one at 1 a.m. at Century Greenback. But it can be hard to tell, since the Fandango site is slow to indicate sellouts.

Just because a showtime appears in red (which equates to "go" on Fandango) doesn't mean tickets are available. Clicking on the time often leads to a notice of a sellout.

I'm old enough to handle such profound disappointment. Tween and teen "Twilight" fans are not as resilient.

The holiday season evokes so many warm memories. Mistletoe, presents, blasts of '70s rock trumpet.

Horn-happy band Chicago will perform holiday songs and its greatest hits at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 in filmed concert to be shown on movie-theater screens across the country.

The veteran band unafraid of roman numerals or puns is celebrating the release of its holiday album "Chicago XXXIII, O Christmas Three."

The concert will be shown at Century Stadium, Downtown Plaza, Folsom, Laguna, Roseville, Greenback and Regal Natomas and El Dorado Hills. For information, see the Fathom Events website.

Blake Shelton -- CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, coach on "The Voice," husband to Miranda Lambert and tall drink of water -- will perform on March 15, 2012, at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.

Tickets run $36.60-$64.15 and go sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Presale tickets through Shelton's fan club are available from 10 a.m. Tuesday throught 10 p.m. Thursday. Information on tickets and the fan club is available through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000)

Today's announcement that scheduled Academy Awards host Eddie Murphy has followed his "Tower Heist" director Brett Ratner out the door means one of Hollywood's highest-profile gigs suddenly is available.

Who would you like to see host the Oscars in February?

It would be sweet to see eight-time host Billy Crystal back, but not as a stop-gap measure. Jane Lynch was pretty funny on the Emmys. So was Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids," "Mike & Molly"), and she was also great on "Saturday Night Live."

If the academy wants to go young, as it did in last year's disastrous outing with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, they could at least pick an all-around showman like Justin Timberlake.

What do you think?

The cinema lovers behind the nonprofit Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center will show the John Huston-directed Humphrey Bogart classic "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" Nov. 17 and Nov. 20.

The Nov. 17 screening is part of APPAC's Thursday-night film series at the restored State Theatre (985 Lincoln Way, Auburn).

APPAC is showing the 1948 film focused on greed while exhbitiing none. Admission to the film is $8, and so is a pre-show dinner from Frontside Cafe, to be served in a side room of the theater.

"Treasure" will repeat at 2 p.m. the following Sunday. Admission is $8 to that showing as well. For information, call (530) 885-0156 or visit the APPAC website.

Twenty years ago, before YouTube and Twitter allowed everyone to offer allegedly clever commentary on creative works, there was a brilliant show on Comedy Central called "Mystery Science Theater 3000," or "MST3K."

On that show, a guy stuck in a space station and two robot companions watched, along with the television audience, bad sci-fi films from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. The guy and the robots made hilarious comments throughout.

One moment stands out. As the crew watched some "20,000 B.C." ripoff starring a woman with wavy, red hair, a robot commented, "It's Bonnie Raitt! She's a survivor, you know."

The creators of "MST3K" (including Joel Hodgson, the show's original space man and a heartthrob for the '90s female nerdy set) have taken the show on the road in a presentation called "Cinematic Titanic."

This esteemed production will take the stage at 8 tonight at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. The work of art to be publicly critiqued is a 1972 film called "Doomsday Machine." Tickets start at $25, or $21 for Mondavi season subscribers. Student tickets start at $12.50. For information, see the Mondavi site.

The roofless Iceland ice-skating rink (1430 Del Paso Blvd.) will open for the season Friday with a party that will include DJ music and an ice show.

The party runs 7-10 p.m. at Iceland, the 71-year-old skating facility damaged heavily in a March 2010 arson fire. The fire caused the building's roof to collapse.

Iceland first reopened, for open-air skating, in January 2011.

Admission to Friday's season-opening party is $5, including skate rental.

For information, see the Iceland site.


Seven bars and restaurants in Old Sacramento will team up Monday night for a "Nightmare on Second Street" Halloween block party.

The bars will share scares and,in some instances, karaoke and "Monday Night Football." The force of seven bars behind the event might even coax out more Old West ghosts than usual.

Participating are River City Saloon, Fanny Ann's Saloon, O'Mally's Irish Pub, Vega's,, the Other Office, Sports Corner and Coconut Grove.

The event starts around 9 p.m. It is for Halloween revelers ages 21 and older, and goes until the bars close.

To preview what the night might offer, see the River City saloon site.

Wilco, the musically adventurous, alt-everything band that never seems to get closer to Sacramento than the Bay Area, will get very close Feb. 1 with a show at UC Davis' Mondavi Center.

Jeff Tweedy and company will hit San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland as well as Davis, touring behind Wilco's most recent album "The Whole Love."

The ticket presale for the Mondavi show starts at 10 a.m. Thursday through Another Planet Entertainment. The general sale starts at 10 a.m. Friday. Tickets are $45.


The music of Canadian prog-rock gods Rush will reach the screen of the Crest Theatre Oct. 27 in a special showing of the concert film "Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland."

The film captures a show from Rush's "Time Machine" tour, during which the band played its album "Moving Pictures" in its entirety every night. That 1980 album contained the hit "Tom Sawyer" and other unusually radio-friendly songs from a group known for its musical complexity.

The movie screens at 7:30 p.m. The evening's other Rush-centric festivities include a pre-screening celebration, starting at 6:30 in the Crest lobby, that includes Rush karaoke, beer and wine specials and prize giveaways. The party continues after the movie at Marilyn's on K just down the street.

Tickets to the screening are $10.50 and are available at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., Sacramento, or through Tickets.com (800-225-2277). For information, see the Crest site.

Above is an excerpt that aired on VH1 Classic (via YouTube) of the Cleveland concert. Check out drummer Neil Peart 's rig. It alone is worthy of a movie.


Lucinda Williams, one of the most delightful, irascible live performers around, will return Nov. 15 to the Crest Theatre.

A great, truth-telling songwriter with a voice that hits you in the gut, Williams also is wonderfully unpredictable on stage. If a band member plays too fast or too slowly, she will stop the song and let him and the audience know.

Williams just wants to give fans the best show possible. Plus, she's cranky.

Her top-notch musicians do not seem to hold any hard feelings, and the concert experience is as raw and authentic as it is musically powerful.

Tickets run $34-$49.50 and are available at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., Sacramento, and through Tickets.com(800-225-2277)

Here's how it goes: You jump, jive and then you wail, in that order.

Louis Prima Jr. and his band the Witnesses will offer further instruction Saturday night at Harlow's. Son of King of Swing Louis Prima, Junior furthers his father's legacy by performing his hits.

The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35, or $45 for guaranteed table seating. For information, see the Harlow's siteor call (916) 441-4693.

If all you want for Christmas are fat electronic beats and to see Justin Bieber 's girlfriend on stage, 107.9 FM The End's Jingle Ball is playing Santa.

Selena Gomez will appear at the Dec. 1 show at Power Balance Pavilion, along with Travie McCoy and Gym Class Heroes, beat-heavy pop-rockers Cobra Starship and electronic act Breathe Carolina. Gomez's fellow former kid star JoJo rounds out the bill.

Tickets to the always-popular Jingle Ball run $62.50-$94.80 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-743-5000). You also can sign at 107.9 FM's site for access to a pre-sale that starts Wednesday.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

cakeband.jpgThe once irony-soaked Cake has become a warm, reassuring presence to hometown fans.

The Sacramento-based band's show Thursday night at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall evoked pleasant memories of gigs at Old Ironsides and other local clubs where lead singer John McCrea honed his droll persona.

But there was more than nostalgia afoot Thursday night. Cake wasn't just playing its old songs, but its excellent new ones, from the 2011 album "Showroom of Compassion."

Cake is that old buddy who has changed, but in good ways, and not so drastically as to ever be less than recognizable. The kind who makes you feel good about yourself, and vital, because of your continued association with someone obviously going places.

The band's performance of "Long Time," from "Showroom," captured what Cake was, is, and the promise of its musical future.

The song's funk foundation is punctuated by Vince DiFiore's keyboards and magical trumpet and a deadpan McCrea's retro references to a "pillbox hat" and a "Pontiac."

At first it's highly familiar, highly '90s Cake. But "Long Time" offers unusual musical complexity: a killer juxtaposition of DiFiore's trumpet and Paulo Baldi 's drums, great multi-part harmonies, and a suddenly sweet McCrea acknowledging that even though it has been a long time, "I don't mind ... when I have you next to me."

Kind of like local fans' connection to Cake, which had not played an official, announced show in Sacramento for a few years. The 1,300 so fans at Freeborn Hall welcomed Cake like it hadn't been a minute since the Old I days.

Cake demonstrated its lyrical and musical maturity throughout Thursday's show yet left space for youthful silliness. McCrea's Earth-friendly attempt to give a small tree to an audience member was halted temporarily by the singer's inability to choose between two bearded gentlemen, one from Davis, one from Stockton.

McCrea had the guys dance it out. Sprinklers were mimicked and the supermarket shopping experience pantomimed. The man from Davis won, and McCrea made him promise to send photos of himself with the tree over the years to the Cake website, even if he grew less attractive as he aged and did not want his photo taken.

The band played several songs from "Showroom," with McCrea semi-apologizing for any perceived shilling for the new album. He need not have. The "Showroom" songs are appealing on first listen. Plus, Cake still played its hits, including "The Distance" and "Short Skirt, Long Jacket," during a 2 ½-show that included an intermission.

The hits did not seem all that important to Cake's hometown fans. They responded enthusiastically to lesser-known songs from Cake's catalog, such as "Jolene," and to covers acknowledging the band's influences.

The Black Sabbath cover "War Pigs" showed the heft of Cake's rhythm section.
Cake opened the show with Willie Nelson's "Sad Songs and Waltzes," prompting a couple in the audience to start waltzing on the wooden Freeborn Hall floor.

The country-tinged "Bound Away," from "Showroom," name-checked Sacramento and showcased DiFiore's trumpet, which assumed an intriguing Spanish/Appalachian quality. Guitarist McCurdy also shone during Cake's more countrified numbers, his licks as bright and spiffy as Buck Owens'.

Cake plays again tonight at Freeborn Hall, but the show is sold out.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

PHOTO: Cake singer John McCrea performs Thursday night at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall. For a photo gallery of the show, click here. (Photo by Jose Luis Villegas/jvillegas@sacbee.com)


Cake, the Sacramento-bred band that doesn't play Sacramento very often, performs nearby tonight at Freeborn Hall at UC Davis.

Tickets are $42 and are available through Tickets.com (800-225-2277).

Doors open at 7 and the general-admission show start at 8. Cake is playing Freeborn Hall Friday night as well, but that show is sold out.


Above is Cake's video for "Sick of You," shot on Florin Road.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Those fancy bachelorette weekends in Vegas or Napa have nothing on a Sunday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

Stephanie Weckworth, 25, received the ultimate pre-wedding send-off after she held up a sign to Keith Urban reading, "One week till 'I do.' Can I have a hug from you?"

Urban responded by bringing audience member Weckworth on stage. She was wearing a tiara, and Urban, an Aussie and (somewhat confused) subject of the Crown, curtsied before her.

Then he wrapped his arms around the bride-to-be.

"He felt great - he is so buff," Weckworth, of El Dorado Hills, later said.

She has seen Urban eight times, a few of them with fiancé Matt Hewitt. Hewitt supported her from afar Sunday night, Weckworth said: "He helped me color the poster."

Weckworth snagged the most prolonged one, but hugs from Urban were plentiful Sunday night, when his "Get Closer" tour brought him within hand's reach of hundreds of audience members at Power Balance Pavilion.

Accompanied by security, Urban bumped fists, high-fived and sometimes even sang and played guitar while walking from the big stage to smaller, separate stages set up among an audience of nearly 10,000.

The ingratiating, generous Urban also gave his band members solo turns at the mic, encouraged audience sing-alongs throughout his two-hour-plus show, and brought audience volunteers on stage to handle verses of his hit "Kiss a Girl."

When a volunteer went a bit rogue and pretended to steal his microphone, Urban responded with good humor. He played a snippet of the "Twilight Zone" theme just after the amateur singers left the stage.

At most shows, inclusion is an aside. At an Urban show, it's a philosophy.

His determination to share the spotlight impresses even more considering how easily he can fill a spotlight, and hold the audience rapt, with just his voice and guitar.

Urban puts such coiled energy into each note that he's fun to watch whatever the song. But some of his up-tempo songs can sound country-rock generic.

His talent shines most when distilled, on slower songs. Alternately regretful or gorgeously optimistic, these songs highlight Urban's emotive tenor and his brilliant guitar playing, which often serves as melodic counterpoint to his lyrics.

Urban's picking on "Without You" - a tribute to his wife, Nicole Kidman - offered romantic exuberance as Urban's voice expressed awe at finding his soul mate.

His electric guitar created a heart-wrenching cry on "Stupid Boy," in which a guy laments past deeds.

Urban can really wail on guitar. And for the good of a song, not just to riff. He is that rarest of stars: one who is not a show-off.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118


The most musical block party of the year happens Saturday night, when Sacramento News & Review's Sammies award show takes over 20th Street between J and K in Sacramento .

The free event celebrates 20 years of Sammies. The program starts at 4:30 p.m, and the live music just after, with a singer-songwriter sing-along with Autumn Sky, Be Brave Bold Robot, Reggie Ginn and Adrian Bourgeois.

Orchestral rock band Exquisite Corps and dancers from Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet will perform together at 6:40 p.m. The funky Nibblers play from 8:45 until party's end at 10.

Click here for a list of 2011 Sammies nominees.


The Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, running Oct. 13-15 at the Crest Theatre, is celebrating its 20th year with two special pre-festival events.

First is a gala this Saturday at Fat's banquet facilities, 1015 Front St. in Old Sacramento. Dress is cocktail formal, food is by Fat's, and the event includes music from San Francisco DJ P. Tyrone Smith , a silent auction, photo booth and an after-party at Faces's VIP Lounge.

The gala starts at 7 p.m. and costs $65. Tickets are available here. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit SIGLFF and associated charities.





"A Place Called Sacramento," now a dozen years old, is becoming a Sacramento institution.

Access Sacramento's screenwriting and film-production project puts screenwriters, actors and crews together each spring. The fledgling filmmakers then work together to make 10-minute films name-checking Sacramento.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, the fruits of this project will reach the big screen at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. Tickets to the 10-film program are $10 and are available at the Crest box office or through Tickets.com (800-225-2277).

Watch for my story on the 2011 "Place Called Sacramento" project in Saturday's Our Region section of the Bee.

The remake of "Footloose," scheduled for wide release Oct. 14, will be shown free on Friday night at Century Roseville, 1555 Eureka Road.

The 6 p.m. preview screening is part of "Footloose Friday" at 26 theaters across the country. To RSVP, go towww.FootlooseFriday.com.

An RSVP does not guarantee admission. At the theater, it's first come, first served.

"Footloose," a remake of the 1984 Kevin Bacon film, stars Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough ("Dancing With the Stars"). Since both stars are professional dancers, there likely will be fewer cutaways during dance scenes.


Dennis Quaid plays the John Lithgow role of the uptight preacher dad -- a role that in 1984, no one could have envisioned Quaid ever playing.

Foo Fighters have pushed back their show at Power Balance Pavilion from Oct. 20 to Nov. 1

The shift, from a Thursday to a Tuesday, is due to an "unforeseen scheduling conflict," according to release from Live Nation. "The band regrets any inconvenience caused by the rescheduling."

All tickets to the Oct. 20 show will be honored on the new date. Ticket buyers seeking refunds can get them at point of purchase.

Information: Ticketmaster (800-745-3000)

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In the 1980s and '90s, you could try for cool points by telling people you preferred "The Kids in the Hall" to "Saturday Night Live."

The "Kids" show starred a five-man Canadian sketch troupe and aired on HBO and CBS. Funnier and weirder than "SNL," "Kids" also was better acted. The Kids went deep into character, whether the character was male or female.

The Kids' Dave Foley later starred on "NewsRadio." Scott Thompson , an out gay comedian when there were few others, appeared in loads of television shows after "Kids," as did Kevin McDonald, the troupe member who looks a bit like Horshack from "Welcome Back, Kotter." McDonald also played a worse-for-wear Harry Potter in "Epic Movie."

Thompson and McDonald have taken to the road together to do stand-up. They will perform, solo and together, Oct. 13-16 at Sacramento's Punch Line Comedy Club (2100 Arden Way, suite 225, Sacramento).

Tickets to the "Two Kids, One Hall" shows are $29-$32.50. For tickets, see Live Nation's site or call the Punch Line at (916) 925-5500.


PHOTO: LIVE NATION

September 21, 2011
So long, R.E.M.


R.E.M. announced today on its website that it was "calling it a day."

News of the band's breakup is sad, but also heartening in a way. With record sales low, royalties fewer and bands staying together too long to earn a buck on the road, a willingness to break up shows integrity. Especially when a band officially announces it, instead of leaving fans hanging.

R.E.M. was great -- the jangly, distorted guitars, unique frontman and lyrics that were sometimes poetic, sometimes pretentious, but always thoughtful.

Here's to them and to my favorite R.E.M. song, "Turn You Inside Out" (video above).

You see his big, black glasses on hep cats all over town, but you don't hear enough of Buddy Holly's music anymore.

Thursday night's Buddy Holly tribute at Harlow's (2708 J St., Sacramento) will fix that. The show will mark what would have been the 75th birthday of the "Peggy Sue" singer, who died in a 1959 plane crash.

The acts involved cover the Holly spectrum, from crooning to rockabilly. David Houston and Sal Valentino both will appear with string sections, and the Keri Carr Band, featuring the former Rowdy Kate lead singer, will tap Holly's country influences.

Doors open at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $8.

For a rundown and schedule of acts, see the Jerry Perry Presents Facebook page. For advance tickets, see the Harlow's website or call (916) 441-4693.




Too bad it's still too hot for flannel, because Grunge History Week continues in Sacramento.

First is tonight's special one-night-only screenings at the Crest Theatre of the Pearl Jam documentary "Pearl Jam 20." (The 10:30 p.m. show still has a few tickets left).

Friday night, local concert promoter and anniversary-show facilitator Jerry Perry will round up local acts at Luigi's Fungarden to mark the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's "Nevermind."

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.


Pearl Jam, which 20 years ago seemed like just one of many grunge acts coming out of Seattle, has shown remarkable staying power.

Eddie Vedder and company headline big festivals and inspire hordes to follow them across the country. Even decades in to the band's existence, Vedder's baritone remains the best male voice in rock 'n' roll.

Director Cameron Crowe is marking the 20th anniversary of the release of Pearl Jam's landmark "Ten" album with the documentary "Pearl Jam 20."

(Crowe worked with Vedder long before now, casting him as a bandmate of Matt Dillon grunge-musician character in "Singles")

"Pearl Jam 20," excerpted in the video above, will air in October on PBS (KVIE). But first, it will hit the big screen, for one night only, on Sept. 20.

Locally, it will play at 10:30 p.m. at the Crest Theatre. There also is an 8:15 show, but it has sold out.

Tickets are $9.50 and are available through Tickets.com (800-225-2277). For information on the film and its surrounding hoopla, see the"Pearl Jam 20" site.


Brooke White, the piano-playing singer-songwriter from "American Idol" season 7, has formed a folk-pop duo with Jack Matranga, one-time guitarist for popular local band Self Against City.

The White-Matranga project is called Jack and White. The duo's debut EP "Gemini," available on iTunes, offers sunny Southern California harmonies, ample acoustic guitar and a definite Fleetwood Mac vibe.

The duo's homemade video for "Telephone Games," off the EP, is featured above.

White and Matranga will perform Sept. 17 at Luigi's Fungarden, 1050 20th St., Sacramento. The all-ages show starts at 8:30 p.m. Cover charge is $7.

sugarland.jpgSugarland's Jennifer Nettles, left, and Kristian Bush perform Thursday night at Raley Field. (Lezlie Sterling/lsterling@sacbee.com)

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Sugarland lead singer Jennifer Nettles was holdin' notes and takin' names Thursday at Raley Field, her remarkable voice at turns guttural and gentle, her charisma abundant.

Fueled by Nettles, Sugarland held the audience's full attention for much of a show staged without the benefit of the giant video screens found at most big shows.

Sugarland's stage set was destroyed Aug. 13 when stage rigging collapsed under high winds at a show in Indianapolis. Four people were killed that day, and three others died later. The stage collapse occurred during intermission, after Sara Bareilles' opening set and before Sugarland was to take the stage.

On Thursday night, Sugarland performed, without comment, before a plain black backdrop. The lack of acknowledgement was understandable.

Nettles and Sugarland musical partner Kristian Bush have expressed their grief and offered condolences on their website, planned a private memorial in Indiana and took a moment of silence at a concert last week in Albuquerque - their first show since Indiana - to remember the people who died in Indianapolis.

If they say more - or say something at every stop -- they run the risk of making it too much about them. Nettles suggested as much, during the show's only allusion to Indianapolis, when she noted a fan's sign referencing Indiana. "Thank you very much - I know those people appreciate it," she said.

She went right back to wishing other fans happy birthdays, and to playing the country-pop hits that brought 9,000 people - including plenty of children - to West Sacramento on a school night. (The show ended by a reasonable 9:45 p.m.).

The audience seemed to prefer more upbeat hits, brightening noticeably when Nettles and Bush broke out the bouncy "All I Want to Do" and happily jagged "It Happens."

Bush handled Jon Bon Jovi 's vocal part on the Bon Jovi-Nettles hit "Who Says You Can't Go Home," and did it so well you wished he would get more play at the microphone. On Thursday, he was primarily a guitar player and a harmony-centric Mama Judd to Nettles' big-pipes Wynonna.

As part of its encore, Sugarland brought opener Bareilles on stage for a performance of Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen." Bareilles' understated vocals blended nicely with Nettles' brassier tones in a number made more delightful by Nettles' exaggerated, Annie Oakley elbows-out dance moves.

Nettles is a bit of a ham, offering between-song tidbits like "There ain't no party like a Sugarland party." Her folksy demeanor seems at odds with her sophisticated voice and magnetic stage presence. But pretty, talented ladies can be goofballs, too.

The crowd's attention wavered noticeably during Nettles' performance of "Stay," a ballad in which the "other woman" addresses her (presumably) married lover. As Nettles poured her heart out on stage, fans chattered in the stands.

Perhaps they stopped paying attention because they were told a Sugarland party don't stop, but saw it did stop when adultery ballads started. Or they didn't want, in the presence of a spouse, to support a song sympathetic to cheating. Or maybe ballads do not play as well without giant video screens helping capture audience attention.

A problem with the last theory? Sara Bareilles.

The Eureka native's voice was warm and supple, and her piano fresh and playful throughout a set that included the hits "Love Song" and "King of Anything." But the standout was Bareilles' musically and lyrically complex ballad "Gravity." Rarely has a woman sounded so strong singing about her inability to resist a man who's bad for her.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118


Folsom's Sutter Street will go retro, though not quite Gold Rush retro, for its Folsom Live event Sept. 23-24.

Pat Benatar and her guitarist husband Neil Giraldo will perform, as will Los Lobos and Ronnie Milsap. Popular '80s-music cover band Tainted Love completes the headliners for Folsom Live, which will offer 30 bands and 10 stages.

Benatar and Giraldo play that Friday, the 23rd, and Tainted Love, Los Lobos and Milsap on the 24th.

For information, tickets and schedules, see the Folsom Live site.


The "Place Called Sacramento" film festival, always one of the most fun and popular local-film events, will take place at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Crest theater.

The event brings to the big screen 10 films, all 10 minutes in length, made by teams put together by Access Sacramento and a summer-long filmmaking programming.

Each film has to have some connection to Sacramento, even if it is just a mention. In previous years, filmmakers have weaved in the Sacramento shout-outs quite artfully even when the story isn't particularly tied to the place.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., and through Tickets.com (800-225-2277). For information on the event, see the Access Sacramento site.


By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

sade.jpg Sade's excellent show Wednesday at Power Balance Pavilion offered beautiful fashion and alluring art direction, providing appropriate visual accompaniment for music responsible for most of the baby-making of the 1980s and '90s.

Sade's (singer and band share a name) music so often is used by listeners as a backdrop for relaxation or romance that its details are neglected. But performed live, in a concert marrying rock-solid musicianship with appealing visuals, Sade's slow and mid-tempo songs freed themselves of uniformity. Bass and saxophone become more distinctive when excellent stagecraft keeps eyes glued to the stage and the accomplished players on it.

Director Sophie Muller and lighting and production designer Baz Halpin set a cosmopolitan tone. Cityscapes and noirish neon signs were projected on screens in front of and behind the band, offering drama and theatricality without overwhelming the music or the fascinating woman at the show's center.

At 52 (and on the road for the first time in 10 years), singer Sade commands attention without demanding it. Her singing is quieter and less showy than that of most arena-level female singers who wear form-fitting gowns and use wind machines.

A stage collapse that killed five people at a Sugarland concert in Indianapolis Saturday will not affect the band's Aug. 25 concert at Raley Field in West Sacramento.

Sugarland and opener Sara Bareilles cancelled Sunday's tour stop in Iowa Sunday as investigators sorted through the wreckage of stage rigging that fell when high winds kicked up Saturday at the Indiana State Fair.

Remaining dates on the Sugarland/Bareilles tour, including next week's show at Raley Field, remain on the books. The next show is Thursday in Alburquerque.

Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush addressed Saturday's events on the band's website. "May God provide peace and healing to the people of Indianapolis," Nettles wrote.

For information on the tour and its Raley Field stop, see the band's website or the Raley Field site.


scarface2.jpg

Sometimes magic strikes in the unlikely places. When Brian De Palma's "Scarface" remake came out in 1983, it was considered over the top, as was Al Pacino 's exaggerated Cuban accent as drug lord Tony Montana.

But the movie's Miami brightness, visceral depiction of greed, lust and violence along with Michelle Pfeiffer 's against-type performance as a chilly cokehead, and yes, Pacino's accent, turned the movie into a cable and video favorite in the mid-'80s. By that time, it was fun to quote Tony Montana's thoughts on his little friend, and how, once he has introduced himself, he is not to be, um, messed with.

The film hit its stride in the 1990s as a cult-favorite film as violent as garish as "Pulp Fiction" or "Reservoir Dogs" but without the irony. Rock stars, real-life drug lords and tough-guy filmmakers embraced and stole from "Scarface," a cautionary tale with a hedonistic kick. The 1983 film has become so popular that most people don't remember the original, 1932 "Scarface" starring Paul Muni.

On Aug. 31, Fathom Events and Universal Home Entertainment will bring De Palma's "Scarface" to big screens once again, in a one-night-only screening tied to the Sept. 6 release of a new Blu-ray edition of the film. "Scarface" will show at Century Stadium, Greenback, Laguna, Folsom, Roseville and at Regal Natomas and El Dorado Hills. For tickets and information, see Fandango.com or the Fathom Events site.

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL


If you were not among the 600 people who saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers recently in Nevada City, there's still a chance to see the band live locally -- at least sort of.

On Aug. 30, movie theaters in the Sacramento region and across the country will show a live Chili Peppers performance of their album "I'm With You." (The album will be released that day). The group will play the album straight through, then perform some previous hits. The concert will be re-broadcast Sept. 1.

The concert will show locally at Century Downtown, Stadium, Laguna, Greenback, Folsom and Roseville and at the Regal cineplexes in Natomas and El Dorado Hills.

For information, see the Fathom Events website.


Sacramento's Temporary Contemporary Gallery will open a show Thursday featuring works by Sacramentan Jeffrey DeVore and his brother, Santa Cruz resident Chris DeVore.

Chris DeVore also is a screenwriter, with "Frances," "The Elephant Man" and "Hamlet" (the Mel Gibson version) among his credits.

The Temporary Contemporary Gallery will celebrate both aspects of Chris DeVore's artistry by showing "Frances," "Elephant Man" and "Hamlet" on consecutive Sunday evenings, starting Aug. 14. DeVore will appear at the gallery, 1616 Del Paso Blvd., before the screenings next door at Big Idea Theatre.

The 1982 film "Frances," a harrowing look at the career and institutionalization of actress Frances Farmer, drew an best actress Academy Award nomination for Jessica Lange (she won that year in the supporting category, for "Tootsie").

DeVore will be at the gallery at 6 p.m. The film starts at 7 p.m., and he will answer audience questions after it. The event is free, but seating very limited. For information and to reserve a seat, see the Temporary Contemporary Gallery site.


An announcement last week that rap super-duo Jay-Z and Kanye West would bring their "Watch the Throne" tour to Sacramento in October turned out to be premature.

The tour since has been "re-routed" and will bypass Power Balance Pavilion. The closest it will come to Sacramento is San Jose, where Jay-Z and Kanye will perform Dec. 10.

Jay-Z and Kanye released a statement through promoter Live Nation that thanked Sacramento fans for their support and said they hoped to make it here some other time.

Kanye previously announced and then cancelled a 2009 show in Sacramento. That time, the cancellation encompassed an entire tour, with Lady Gaga.

He must think we don't want him to be great.

For information on tickets to "Watch the Throne" stops in other cities, see the Live Nation site.


WizardofOz.jpg

The "Wizard of Oz" is so great and powerful that it's screening Thursday night outdoors at the Crocker Art Museum (216 O St., Sacramento) as well as in a sing-along version Aug. 13 at the Crest Theatre.

The timing is coincidental, Crocker representative Kathleen Richards said.

Or is it? Oz works in mysterious, powerful ways.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. Crocker screening are $6 for museum members, $12 for non-members. Patrons are welcome to bring lawn chairs. For tickets, call (916) 808-1182 or visit the Crocker site. For information, call (916) 808-7000.

PHOTO: MGM


Lions, scarecrows and Dorothys will crowd the Crest Theatre Saturday, Aug. 13 for an afternoon showing of "Sing-A-Long 'Wizard of Oz.'"

The film starts at 2 p.m.. Doors open at 1 p.m. for "Oz" karaoke in the lobby. There's also a costume contest.

Last year's sing-a-long "Oz" presentation brought out a lot of Dorothys, said Crest general manager Sid Garcia-Heberger. But there was also "a phenomenal flying monkey."

Garcia-Heberger dressed as the house that landed on the wicked witch. She had planned to wear the bulky costume only briefly, on stage, but was stopped repeatedly by children and adults seeking photo ops.

"I ended up being an amusement-park" attraction, Garcia-Heberger said with a laugh.

Tickets to "Sing-A-Long 'Wizard of Oz' " are on sale now at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., Sacramento, and through Tickets.com (800-225-2277). Tickets are $10 in advance/$12 day of show (seniors and students: $8 in advance, $10 day of show).


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So now you tell us.

Those Red Hot sneaky Chili Peppers played a secret show Friday night at Miners Foundry in Nevada City.

The show introduced new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (who replaced John Frusciante) and included songs from the band's next album, "I'm With You," which will be released Aug. 30.

Anthony Kiedis (who appears in the photo above, taken at the show, to be sporting an "ironic" mustache), Flea and company also performed big Chili Peppers hits such as "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away."

The hush-hush show was for 600 family members and friends of the band. That's a lot of friends, especially since it's not even counting Facebook friends. According to a post-show press release, attendees were sworn to social-networking secrecy.

Them Hills opened the show. Them Hills' Dan Elkan is a local and a longtime friend of Klinghoffer's.

PHOTO BY SIMON WELLER

kidrock.jpgKid Rock performs Tuesday night at Sleep Train Amphitheatre. For a full photo gallery of the show, click here. (Photo by Bryan Patrick/bpatrick@sacbee.com)

Kid Rock treats his recent 40th birthday like it was a milestone for everybody.

The rapper/singer's show Tuesday night at Sleep Train Amphitheatre included a ditty called "(Expletive) 40," and a video montage detailing four decades' worth of important world events, highlighted by Kid Rock selling millions of albums.

The Kid-centrism also encompassed photos of Rock standing beside Jay Leno, Hank Williams Jr, high-ranking U.S. officials and several strippers whose names the audience didn't catch.

It's the biggest concert to hit Sacramento this year.

On Oct. 17, rap superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West will perform at Power Balance Pavilion as super-duo The Throne.

Tickets go on sale Aug. 8 through Livenation.com and Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) -- the same day the Jay-Z-Kanye album "Watch the Throne" debuts on iTunes. (It will be released elsewhere Aug. 12)

Starting Thursday, fans will have access to presale concert tickets through this Live Nation link.

Wendy Williams, the straight-talking syndicated talk-show host and former "Dancing With the Stars" contestant, will make personal appearances across the country this summer on behalf of her show. Williams' tour will conclude with a Sept. 1 stop in Sacramento coordinated by KTXL Fox 40.

Fox 40 is still firming up details regarding the Sacramento event. It is likely to involve a Fox 40 news anchor interviewing Williams, and a Q&A with fans.

Viewers should check out www.fox40.com/wendy for updates on Williams' appearance.

Williams' show airs at 2 p.m. weekdays on KTXL.




Diana Ross will perform Sept. 16 at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. According to the show's promoter, it will be the singer's first San Francisco appearance since performing there with the Supremes in 1969.

To put that in perspective, that was was three years before "Lady Sings the Blues," nine years before "The Wiz," and 12 years before the birth of Beyoncé, who would play a fictionalized version of Ross in the film "Dreamgirls."

Ross, 67, will be accompanied by full horn and strings sections, and -- this is a guess -- at least a few sparkles.

Tickets run $55-$250 and go on sale at 10 a.m. June 29. For tickets and information, call SHN ticket services, (888) 746-1799 or visit the Rick Bartalini Presents site.
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There is a moment in every life when, for the first time, a supposed "oldies" act seems too fresh and relevant to be classified as such.

For mid-1980s teens, that moment arrived with the announcement that Lisa Lisa and Exposé , the most glamorous, most moussed women of the era, would headline the V101.1-presented "Freestyle Explosion" show Sept. 23 at Power Balance Pavilion.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. For information, see the Power Balance Pavilion website.

Exposé is the mascara-positive trio whose phrasing on "Let Me Be the One" and "Seasons Change" moves beyond dramatic to soap operatic -- and perfectly suited to the angst of teendom.

Lisa Lisa's breakthrough hit, "If I Take You Home" was so powerful it needed not just Cult Jam but Full Force to deliver its message.

(This was long before every song featured a singer, a rapper and another rapper. Lisa Lisa was a forerunner at talent stacking).

Above is the video for "Take You Home," in which Lisa and her cohorts, all these years later, still look pretty hip.


Cake, the pride-of-Sacramento band that seems to play more often in the Bay Area than in or around Sacramento, has booked a pair of shows nearby.

Cake will play Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall.

Tickets are $32 in advance, $37 day of show, and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Tickets.com(800-225-2277). Above is the Sacramento-shot video for "Sick of You," from the 2011 Cake album "Showroom of Compassion." Or, if you want to get a jump through the presale today, the password is "REESE."


Constable Jack's, the Newcastle club that has held performances by bluesman Mick Martin, Elvin Bishop and many others, will close its doors at the end of July.

Walloped by the economic downturn and -- according to a press release from club co-owner Jacquie Looper -- burdensome governmental fees and regulations, the Main Street venue will end its run July 30 with a performance by Bay Area roadhouse band the Bonedrivers.

The Bonedrivers' show will double as a "New Year's Eve" celebration since Constable Jack's will not be open on the real New Year's Eve.

For information on the Bonedrivers' show and other shows remaining in July, see the CJ's website.


"Harry Potter" fans who don't have their tickets yet for tonight's midnight screenings might be out of luck unless they act fast.

Online ticketer Fandango.com announced Thursday that it had sold more tickets to midnight screenings of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" than to any other midnight movie in its history. That includes "The Dark Knight" and the "Twilight" films.

Most theaters in the Sacramento region showing "Harry" at midnight have sold out their 12:01, 12:02 and 12:03 screenings. But for die-hard fans willing to burn the 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. oil, there's still a chance to be among the first audience members to see young wizard Harry battle Voldemort.

According to Fandango.com, there still are tickets available for three shows in the 1 a.m. hour at Century Greenback and a 2:50 a.m. showing at Regal El Dorado Hills. These screenings are in 2-D rather than 3-D.

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Veteran Sacramento band Tesla will mark the release of its new album "Twisted Wire" -- and 25 years on the scene -- with an in-store appearance at 6 p.m. today at Dimple Records, 2433 Arden Way.

The evening will feature an acoustic set and the signing of autographs, as one expects from such events. But it will be fancier than most in-store appearances.

It will start off with the band members sitting down for a "Inside the Actors Studio"-style discussion conducted by Pat Martin of 98 Rock.

We can't wait to see if Martin uses the "Pivot Questionnaire" from "Actors Studio" on the Tesla guys. The answer to "What is your favorite curse word?" would be very interesting.

For information, see the Dimple website .


No plans yet for Friday and the weekend? Here are some entertaining (and maybe a little scary) options.

NATIONAL TRAIN SHOW
When: Noon-6 p.m. Friday. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., Sacramento

What: Sacramento has a rich railroad tradition, on view all year long at the wonderful California State Railroad Museum. This weekend, though, the focus is on model trains. The National Train Show will offer new product, appraisals on collectibles and the fun of seeing nicely crafted models, tracks and tiny environs.

Cost: $12 adults, $11 seniors 65 and older, $6 children ages 6-12, free for children 5 and younger

For information, see the National Train Show site.

THE NIBBLERS

When: 5-9 p.m. Friday at Concerts in the Park (the Bellboys and the Gerald Isaac Pease Combo open) and 9:30 p.m. at the Torch Club

Where: Cesar Chavez Plaza, 10th and I streets, and the Torch Club, 904 15th St., Sacramento

What: The Nibblers, the hardest-working R&B and classic-funk act in Sacramento showbiz, will headline Concerts in the Park, then hot-foot it to the Torch Club for more sets.

Cost: Concert in the Park is free; $10 cover at the Torch.

For information, see the the Nibblers' site.

ZOMBIE WALK/TRASH FILM ORGY
When: 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Saturday -- zombie make-up wars; 10 p.m., zombie walk; 11 p.m., doors open for midnight showing of "Return of the Living Dead" at the Crest Theatre.

Where: Sub Q Piercing and Tattoo, 1715 I St., Sacramento; Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento

What: Make-up professionals will work in the "zombie make-up wars" contest from 6-8 p.m. at Sub Q. The public is invited to watch. Participants (pre-decked out in zombie make-up and garb) will gather at Sub Q at 9 p.m. for the 10 p.m. march to the Crest, where the six-Saturday-long Trash Film Orgy opens with "Return of the Living Dead." The winner of the make-up war will be announced before the movie.

Cost: $10 for the movie, which is for ages 18 and older. The other events are free.

For information, see the Trash Film Orgy site.


"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," the final film in the "Potter" franchise, will light up the huge screen of Esquire Imax Theatre at midnight on Thursday, June 14. But before "Potter" fans witness Harry's battle with the evil Voldemort, they can hit the streets of downtown Sacramento in a scavenger hunt.

The hunt starts at 7 p.m. at the Esquire (1211 K St.) with a "Potter" trivia challenge.

Unlike Harry's fight with Voldy, the scavenger hunt is not a battle. It is not even a race. All participants can partake in special deals offered by the downtown businesses involved in the event.

The teams involved will find out destinations on Thursday evening, via the Esquire Imax's Facebook page.

For details on the hunt, see the Facebook page now.

It's also a good idea to start work on capes, wands and noseless Voldemort masks now. Hastily assembled "Potter" costumes are for losers.


For those heading into the long, Independence Day weekend, here's a reminder that part of being an American is questioning authority, conspicuous consumption and well, sincerity. And that such questioning is more fun when accompanied by a great rhythm section, bursts of trumpet and a deadpan delivery.

Sacramento's own Cake recorded a 45-minute set (shown above) on the "Late Show With David Letterman" stages as part of a "Live on Letterman" webcast.

First streamed earlier this week, the segment offers several songs from Cake's 2011 album "Showroom of Compassion," but includes older hits such as "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" and "The Distance."




Fans of melodic hard rock will get a treat Sept. 25, when Vacaville/Sacramento rockers Papa Roach join Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd and three other bands at Power Balance Pavilion as part of the Rock Allegiance Tour.

Allegiance will be pledged the way it is at all rock shows put on by musicians boasting gritty vocals and tattoo artists on retainer: with devil horns in the air, of course.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a .m Friday through Ticketmaster(800) 745-3000.

For a taste of the fun, see the video above for Buckcherry's
"Don't Go Away." The power ballad ballad showcases lead singer Josh Todd's strong vocals and handsomely gaunt resemblance to Mick Jagger , Steven Tyler, Perry Farrell and that guy in high school who could have starred on the basketball team or in school musicals were it not for his two-pack-a-day habit.

-- Carla Meyer


By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Britney Spears was several songs into her concert Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion when her performance truly began to sparkle.

Call it the cut-offs factor.

Spears spent the first part of the show illustrating the "Femme Fatale" theme of her tour -- which kicked off in Sacramento -- by wearing shiny bikinis, a 1940s-inspired gold cape and a billowing skirt a la Marilyn Monroe 's in "The Seven Year Itch."

After she changed into rhinestone-studded Daisy Dukes for "Baby One More Time," the difference was remarkable.

One of the dancers at tonight's Britney Spears concert might be familiar to Sacramentans. McClatchy High School graduate Molly Hitchings will join Spears on stage for a performance of her new single "I Wanna Go."

Hitchings, a Cal Poly SLO student who is home for the summer, earned a spot on stage through the "I Wanna Go On Stage With Britney Spears" contest put on by Hot 103.5 FM.

Spears fans were asked to upload videos of themselves dancing to Spears' songs. Hitchings was chosen as Hot 103.5's representative for her taped performance to Spears "Slave 4U." She will take the stage along with dancer/winners from other radio stations.


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Britney Spears' "Femme Fatale Tour" tour will open Thursday at Power Balance Pavilion with a performance by Jessie and the Toy Boys, led by singer-songwriter-dancer Jessie Malakouti, who goes back a long way with Spears' music.

"I did my fifth-grade talent show to 'Baby One More Time,"" Malakouti said by phone from her tour bus, which had just rolled into Sacramento Wednesday afternoon. "It is hysterical that everything has come full circle."

Malakouti won that contest at her Southern California school, by the way. After spending most of the ensuing decade performing solo or with the gritty-pop girl group Shut Up Stella and honing her songwriting skills, she is again feeling like a winner.

Right around 9 tonight, the "Green Lantern" symbol -- basically a circle with parallel lines on top and bottom, double-stuffed Oreo style -- will be projected into the Sacramento sky tonight.

Warner Bros. chose Sacramento as one of 11 cities where the symbol will put out its call for "corps" and promote Friday's opening of the Ryan Reynolds comic book movie.

The light will be projected from the L Wine Lounge at 1801 L St., where "flight" generally means something else. The light will last from 9 p.m. to midnight, with prize giveaways with those in attendance.
-- Carla Meyer

The hair. The beards. The melodic rock that always grabs at the chorus.

Foo Fighters, who have experienced a resurgence with their hit album "Wasting Light," will perform Oct. 20 at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. Cage the Elephant will open.

Tickets are a reasonable $49.50 (general admission pit), $39.50 and $29.50.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through LiveNation.com (800-745-3000).

Presales (for fans with special passwords) start at 10 a.m. Wednesday. For information on presales, see the LiveNation site.

-- Carla Meyer


One of the least likely, mostly lovable romances in cinematic history will be rendered large next week in Auburn.

"The African Queen," the 1951 Humphrey Bogart-Katharine Hepburn classic most of us have seen only on DVD or on Turner Classic Movies, will be shown in glorious 35 millimeter on Thursday, June 16, and Sunday, June 19, at the restored State Theatre.

Cost is $8 both days. An African-themed dinner will be served before Thursday night's show. Cost for the meal is also $8.

For tickets or information, visit the State Theatre (Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center) website or call (530) 885-0156.
-- Carla Meyer




The 2011 concert schedule at Sleep Train Amphitheatre, dominated by country and oldies acts, just became more interesting. Or at least more tattooed.

Everybody's favorite shirtless rapper Lil' Wayne will appear at Sleep Train Sept. 3, and Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance will perform there Oct. 2 as part of the Honda Civic Tour.

Tickets to both shows go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000).

For those who prefer country, there still are tickets for Friday night's Tim McGraw show. A Sleep Train Amphitheatre favorite, McGraw can mesmerize the crowd just by standing there in his black hat.
-- Carla Meyer


Cesar Chavez Plaza already holds free concerts every Friday night during summer. Now music is also enlivening Thursday nights.

The "Fiesta en la Calle" series highlights nuevo-latino music -- from alternative rock to ska and reggaeton -- from 5-8:30 p.m. every Thursday at the park at 10th and I in Sacramento.

The series lasts through July, with park favorite Sol Peligro playing July 14.

Here are the remaining concerts this month.

Thursday -- Taino (salsa) and Conjunto Nueva Ola (cumbia)
June 16 -- Bang Data (alternative/world), 40 Watt Hype (world), Irie Sun (roots reggae)
June 23-- Inspector, Basura and La Noche Oskana (all ska)

For information, see the "Fiesta en la Calle" Facebook page.
-- Carla Meyer

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Oakland -- U2 has this spectacle thing wired.

The world's most popular touring band opened its show Tuesday in Oakland with spirited "Even Better Than the Real Thing" as a 360-degree screen projected images so well-photographed and of such high resolution that they did not seem live. Yet they clearly matched the action on stage.

For a crowd of 69,000 at Overstock.com Coliseum, it was like watching a U2 concert and a U2 concert film simultaneously.

The screen composed part of a giant structure that was part alien and part broadcast tower. Later, a multi-colored spire dominated the stage, seemingly implanting pods behind it multitude of lights and enhancing the general "take me to your LED-er" vibe.

There was no need for transport, however, with Bono right there. The U2 frontman was clearly our leader, his natural sincerity having defeated the smugness that once threatened to overtake his public image.

Recovered from a back injury that forced the band to reschedule the Oakland show from its date a year ago, Bono looked relaxed and pleased to be on stage. His posture behind the microphone -- head slightly back, chest pointed toward fans in the upper deck -- suggested gratitude along with rock star attitude.

Bono thanked fans for showing up two years after originally buying tickets to the Oakland concert. Such loyal fans have made U2's current 360 tour the best-selling tour of all time.

This was the earnest Bono who first hooked fans 30 years ago, when his searching vocals combined with the Edge's bagpipe-vibrant guitar to stoke our interest in The Troubles, and star-crossed lovers, and big emotions in general.

This Bono has shed the pop-star contrivances (though not the shades), toned down the preachiness -- tributes Tuesday night to Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were touching and fit seamlessly with the rest of the show -- and settled into the simpler role of frontman of an amazing band.

That band, composed of Bono, guitarist the Edge, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton, played a lot of hits Tuesday night while seeming too vital to be a greatest-hits band.

Yes, "One" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" drew more enthusiastic responses than material from U2's most recent album, "No Line on the Horizon." But not because the songs from "Horizon" are sub-par. Hearing them played live is just not as instantly electrifying as hearing songs that have been played on the radio for 20 or 25 years.

The well-dressed, hip, mostly middle-aged Coliseum crowd braved the traffic backup on 880 and people-crush of the concourse to hear songs that took them back to their youths, performed by musicians who have maintained a youthfulness.

Back troubles aside, the members of U2, all around 50, are fit and constantly improving as musicians.

Older, anthemic songs such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" hit so many emotional points that fans might not notice were they not played flawlessly. But they were played perfectly Tuesday night, resulting in a swell of feeling so great it embraced a whole stadium.

Less weighty songs benefited as well. "Elevation" performed live, for instance, satisfies far more than the studio version, with the Edge's crunchy guitar adding fullness and bounce.

Otherworldy yet earthy, Edge's guitar is emblematic of the 2011 iteration of U2 -- a mature band whose space-age staging, designed to dazzle a stadium-size crowd, is elaborate without being self-indulgent. The 360 Tour gives fans an appropriate sense of scope without lifting off into too many flights of fancy.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

It's the band that beget General Public, Fine Young Cannibals and no doubt was an inspiration for No Doubt.

In the early 1980s, ska group the English Beat scored hits with memorable songs such as "Mirror in the Bathroom." On Saturday, the reformed English Beat will play the PowerHouse Pub in Folsom.

The band contains only one original member, but he's a crucial original member: lead singer Dave Wakeling.

The show starts at 10 p.m, and the cover charge is $20. For information, see the PowerHouse Pub's website.
-- Carla Meyer


Saturday's forecast calls for a likelihood of rain and now, for no Jackie Greene show at Fairytale Town.

The outdoor show has been moved to Sunday, June 26. Tickets to Saturday's show will be honored then.


There still are tickets ($35) on sale for the new show. For tickets, or information on the postponement, visit the Fairytale Town siteor call (916) 808-7462.
-- Carla Meyer


It's the perfect meeting of ramblin' man and gamblin' men and women.

Jackie Greene, the local folk-blues performer with youthful looks and an old musical soul, will perform on July 23 at Jackson Rancheria Casino and Hotel.

The show will happen at the event area next to the hotel. Tickets are $40 or $20 for members of the casino's Dreamcatchers club. For tickets and information, visit the casino (1222 New Ranch Road, Jackson), call (800) 822-9166 or visit the casino's site.
--- Carla Meyer



Here's a Memorial Day Weekend entertainment option for people who consider the Jazz Jubilee a bit too square and blood-free: "Planet of the Vampire Women," made by Sacramento's own TFO Productions, plays at 10 tonight and Sunday night at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento.

Last month's "Vampire Women" premiere was such a hit that the film was brought back for more showings. That's because "Vampire Women," made entirely in Sacramento on a $25,000 budget, has something over those "Twilight" movies. It's vampires are in space.

Tickets to the film, which contains gratuitous violence and more-gratuitous topless shots and is meant for mature audiences, are $10.
-- Carla Meyer

The Sacramento French Film Festival, now in its 10th year, will open June 17 with "The Names of Love," a romantic comedy in which a young liberal woman (best-actress Cesar winner Sara Forestier) tries to convert right-leaning politicians by sleeping with them.

Did we mention this is a French film festival?

The 2011 French Film Festival, running June 17-19 and June 25-26 at the Crest Theatre, will offer its usual stellar mix of recent French films Sacramentans might otherwise not get to see on a big screen, classics (including "The Young Girls from Rochefort" this year) and midnight movies.

For its 10th year, the festival has added a program called "One That Got Away," spotlighting a film festival organizers wanted to show, but were unable to, when it first was released. This year's selection is the 2003 film "A Real Man," a musical and romantic comedy starring Mathieu Amalric ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly").

The French Film Festival also will show a film directed by Almaric called "On Tour," in which an American burlesque troupe performs in France.

For tickets and information, see the festival website or call (916) 455-9390.

-- Carla Meyer

When the Warblers sang "Teenage Dream" Monday night at Power Balance Pavilion, the fictional all-male vocal group covered Katy Perry but also embodied the whole of "Glee! Live! In Concert!"

A 90-minute showcase for the talented "Glee" cast, the evening contained the makings of a perfect teenage night out, if a more chaste one than Perry envisioned.

The high-energy, well-choreographed show offered a chance to see some of America's favorite TV characters in person, singing songs that were hits even before "Glee" remade them. There was no downside, only degrees of excitement based on the stage time allotted to one's favorite characters.

On the "Glee" tour, the young actors perform in character - an approach that reinforces the sense of community cultivated by "Glee," the Fox series on which members of high school show choir New Directions put aside differences and put on fabulous shows.

On the live tour, as on the show, the mismatched gang of songbirds is greater than the individual notes.

Having to stay in step with 10 other dancers, or share harmonies with four fellow singers, leaves little room for showboating. Neither did the brisk pace of Monday's show, which allowed the actor/singers enough time to shine but not to linger.

Because the actors appeared as their characters, the audience of 12,000-plus "Glee" fans at Power Balance Pavilion - preteens and teens, their parents and lots of people in their 20s - always could keep in mind their back stories.

They know Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) sometimes share romantic feelings, but always share a love for performing that shows in their intense expressions. On Monday night, Michele and Monteith ably translated to the arena level their characters' from-within joy.

Chris Colfer's (Kurt) countertenor voice is just as beautiful live as on the show, but his charisma is more abundant. Out gay teen Kurt sometimes must visibly put on a brave face at school. Colfer live is light as air.

The true stunner Monday night was Amber Riley, whose "Glee" character, Mercedes, often makes a verbal case for her talent on the show. Riley's chill-inducing rendition of Aretha Franklin 's "Ain't No Way" stated Mercedes' case forcefully and eloquently.
-- Carla Meyer



Some films are meant to be seen in a real movie theater. Even the most tricked-out home theater will not do.

On three successive Tuesdays in June, Fathom Events will return three theatrical must-sees -- the "Lord of the Rings" films -- to theaters, including Regal Natomas and five local Century theaters (Stadium, Greenback, Folsom, Roseville and Laguna).

"Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" will play June 14, "The Two Towers" June 21 and "The Return of the King" June 28. Each film will include additional footage totaling nearly an hour, and introductions by director Peter Jackson taped on the set of the forthcoming "The Hobbit."

Each night's show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets at most theaters run $12.50. Tickets to the first film are on sale through Fathom Events or Fandango.

For information on the events, see the Fathom site.

The events are co-presented by Warner Home Video, which on June 28 will release a new, 15-disc, extras-laden "Rings" package on Blu-ray.
--- Carla Meyer

On May 18, writers, producers, thespians, sound specialists and production assistants will gather in the courtyard of Coloma Community Center, 4623 T St., Sacramento, for the "Place Called Sacramento" film contest's "cast & crew call."

The winning scripts in the PCS contest, which challenges screenwriters to fashion scripts for 10-minute shorts invoking Sacramento in some way, will be announced at the event. alent on hand will be encouraged to pick a project on which to work.

The event starts at 6 p.m. The films will be shot over the summer and shown in Octobor on the big screen of the Crest Theatre. For information, see the Access Sacramento website.
-- Carla Meyer


After entrancing the Bay Area with a three-night stand in Oakland a few months ago, Prince has announced he will play there again May 19 and May 21, when he will perform at San Jose's HP Pavilion.

The diminutive musical genius and late-minute concert-thrower currently is in the midst of a 21-concert residency at L.A.'s Forum. But he also keeps adding dates, like one May 18 in Fresno. So there still might be a chance he could come to Sacramento.

In the meantime, tickets to the San Jose shows go on sale at noon Saturday through Ticketmaster .
-- Carla Meyer


Ironstone Amphitheatre, a lovely venue next to the Ironstone winery in the gold-country town of Murphys, has announced the lineup for its 2011 concert series, and it includes an Eagle, someone who flies like an eagle, and a couple of Nelsons.

Willie Nelson 's "Country Throwdown," featuring Nelson, son Lukas and Lukas' band The Promise of the Real and several other artists, will happen June 26 at Ironstone. The winery/music venue also is bringing in Don Henley (Oct. 1), the Steve Miller Band (July 31). Alan Jackson (Aug. 26) and Sammy Hagar (Sept. 9).

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com (800-745-3000).
-- Carla Meyer

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Here's a Mother's Day idea for the really cool mom: a visit Sunday night to Harlow's nightclub (2708 J St., Sacramento) for a tribute to blues pioneer Robert Johnson.

Johnson, the Delta musician whose short life remains something of a mystery but whose influence looms large, was born 100 years ago. (Or at least somewhere thereabouts). To mark the occasion, such local luminaries as Mick Martin, Sal Valentino, Gerald Pease, Aaron King and Johnny Guitar Knox will perform his songs.

The show starts at 7:30. Tickets are $10. For information, visit the Harlow's site.
-- Carla Meyer

PHOTO FROM ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rolling Stone magazine might be a bit smaller in size these days. But appearing on its cover is still a big deal -- especially for an unsigned band.

In February, the magazine offered 16 acts a chance to become the first unsigned musicians to appear on its cover, with fans determining how the bands fare by rating them with five stars online.

The contest has reached the third round. One of the four acts remaining is Provo, Utah's Fictionist, a rock band with a spacey feel and roots in the Sacramento area.


Country music is egalitarian in more than just lyrical themes. Its greatest artists do not always play arenas. They're troubadours who do not treat every appearance as a big event. They're on the road all the time, as comfortable playing county fairs as elegant performing-arts centers.


Lyle Lovett played the Mondavi Center with his bluesier friend John Hiatt about a year and a half ago. On June 10, Lovett and Hiatt will play another acoustic set, outdoor at Sacramento's Radisson Hotel. (To buy tickets, click here).

Merle Haggard also played the Mondavi in 2009, not long before Lovett and Hiatt. But on Friday, you can see him at the Dixon May Fair, where he goes on before Trace Adkins. (To buy tickets, visit the fair box office at 655 South First St., Dixon, or click here).

Seeing the 74-year-old Haggard live is something everybody should at least once, like visiting Paris or the Grand Canyon. His voice has held up better than those of many contemporaries, and he still puts out terrific records. Even when he is cranky or doesn't feel like finishing a song, he's still magnetic on stage and offers music fans a chance to see a true master at work.

Plus, the remaining tickets for the concert, all below $50, include Adkins' show and admission to the fair.
-- Carla Meyer


Sacramento's Active 20-30 club, a group of professionals aged 20-39 dedicated to helping children in need, will climb aboard the
baby boomer train with Sactopalooza, a May 14 Raley Field event offering a cornucopia of tribute bands.

Acts mimicking U2, Beastie Boys, Journey, Sublime, the Dave Matthews Band and Van Halen , among others, will perform. Sactopalooza also will offer fireworks, two DJs and that hallmark of the boomer experience: a mechanical bull.

Tickets are $25 for the 21-and-older event, running 4-11 p.m. at Raley Field, and are available at the Sactopalooza site. Proceeds will go to the Mustard Seed School, March of Dimes, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Home Aide.

-- Carla Meyer


Free concerts are part of the fun at the California State Fair. What's even more fun is ensuring a good seat at the fair's Golden1 Stage.

The California State Fair now is selling reserve, Gold Circle seats throught Tickets.com (800-225-2277). Running $3 to $20 more than general fair admission, these tickets ensure fair-goers get up-close looks at such acts as War and REO Speedwagon.


Here are state fair acts for which reserve tickets are available. Most shows start at 8 p.m..

July 14: The Fab Four - The Ultimate (Beatles) Tribute ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 15: Blue Oyster Cult ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 17: Mariachi Vargas De Tecalitán ($20 for reserved seats) Note: Show starts at 6 p.m.
· July 19: Neon Trees ($16 for reserved seats)
· July 20: Lee Greenwood ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 21: Sugarfoot's Ohio Players & SOS Band ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 23: War ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 25: Moonwalker - featuring Michael Firestone - A Reflection of Michael Jackson ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 26: Choo Choo Soul - Featuring Genevieve ($3 for reserved seats) Note: Two shows at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
· July 28: Three Dog Night: ($10 for reserved seats)
· July 31: Starship starring Mickey Thomas ($10 for reserved seats)

-- Carla Meyer



The Maloofs have committed to keeping the Kings in Sacramento for one more year. Now the team is giving season-ticketholders a chance to renew their commitment by re-upping for the 2011-12 season.

Current season-ticketholders can renew for next season via the Commit2Kings website.

And for those NBA fans who aren't yet season-ticket holders but would like to be: The Kings welcome your business as well. For information on purchasing season tickets, call
(888) 915-4647.
-- Carla Meyer


At 10 a.m. Saturday, tickets go on sale (through Ticketmaster) for the June 16 Sacramento appearance of one of modern show business' more resilient stars: Britney Spears.

A few years ago, Spears alternated scandalous headlines with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Hilton's 15 minutes have since expired and Lohan seems incorrigible. But Spears, who came off as the most truly troubled of the three, is still putting out No. 1 albums and singles and, with her appearance at Power Balance Pavilion, will kick off another large-scale tour.

Spears will play her older hits along with the recent hit "Hold It Against Me," (see music video above) from her 2011 album "Femme Fatale." "Hold It Against Me" owes a whole lot to the dudes below. But we won't nurse a grudge.
-- Carla Meyer

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Mailing your utility payment just got a little classier: Today, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Gregory Peck "First Class Forever" stamp.

The late actor, whose on-screen characters famously stood for justice and tolerance in films such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Gentleman's Agreement," becomes the 17th star honored via the the Postal Service's Legends of Hollywood Series. Previous honorees include Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn.

The image at right, from Peck's role as Atticus Finch in "Mockingbird," looks like the actual Peck stamp apart from one thing: the real stamp doesn't have "Forever" lined out. That's a precautionary measure by the Postal Service to prevent people from trying to copy the image to use as postage.

Peck fans who want their hero adorning their envelopes can visit their nearby Post Offices, call (800) 782-6724 or visit the USPS website.

-- Carla Meyer

PHOTO COURTESY OF USPS

The sixth international Anti-Corporate Film Festival will happen May 19-21 at San Francisco's Victoria Theatre (2961 16th St.).

The festival films -- documentaries, shorts and narrative features -- all comment in some way on corporations. The festival is put on by the group CounterCorp, which also produces the "Corporate Watch" blog.

This year's lineup will not be revealed until early May, but previous festivals have included exposés such "The Coca-Cola Case" , about labor-rights issues among Coca-Cola workers in Latin America.

For information, see the CounterCorp website .
-- Carla Meyer



The good folks at Trash Film Orgy don't just put on an annual exploitation-film festival and zombie walk and direct feature films like "Planet of the Vampire Women," showing next week at the Crest. They make music videos as well, like the brand-new one for "Down in Mexico," by SoulMotor, featuring Tesla's Brian Wheat on bass.

SoulMotor's lead singer is Darin Wood, a Trash Film Orgy principal, and the song and video for "Down in Mexico" promote those old-fashioned values of drug-running, double-crossing and gunplay, all with a signature TFO wink.

WARNING: This music video contains profanity, drug references and some violence:

SoulMotor's "Down in Mexico" video

-- Carla Meyer

kdvs.jpg On Thursday night, Sacramento's TownHouse Lounge (1517 21st St.) will hold a fund-raiser for KDVS, the Davis community station and bastion of new and independent music.

KDVS DJs will spin at the event, which starts at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $3.

The fund-raiser is part of KDVS' weeklong, pizza-themed fund-raising drive,highlighted by this adorable poster and the hokey/fun slogan "We Knead Your Dough."

-- Carla Meyer

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Here's a new event that might or might not have legs: Sacramento's first Mermaid Parade will happen July 16, with participants marching and/or flopping from Rio City Cafe (110 Front St.) to Dive Bar (1016 K St.), a.k.a. The Place Where the Ladies Swim in the Tank.

Details on the event, which starts at 1 p.m., are limited right now, but it has a website and a pre-registration requirement (so don't just show up finned and shirtless). There's also a grand marshal: Singer Debora Iyall, formerly of Romeo Void.

Daryl Hannah (pictured) will be there only in spirit.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOUCHSTONE PICTURES

-- Carla Meyer




Pre-celebration events tied to the 10th Sacramento French Film Festival (happening in June) continue. First was the successful collaboration with the Sacramento Philharmonic on two screenings of the silent film "An Italian Straw Hat." Next was a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, the late singer, actor and perennial embodiment of cool.

The festivities continue at 7:30 p.m. April 30 at Verge Center for the Arts (625 S St., Sacramento) with a program of French shorts. The program will include the animated short "Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage" -- recently nominated for an Oscar -- and other new works, as well as favorites from previous editions of the Sacramento French Film Festival.

Admission to the event, a fund-raiser for the SFFF and Verge Center for the Arts, is $5 (or free to "Friends of the Festival" supporters). For information, see the festival's website or call (916) 455-9390.

The 10th French Film Festival will unspool June 17-19 and June 25-26 at the Crest Theatre.
-- Carla Meyer

The Stevie Nicks-Rod Stewart tour bypassed Sacramento, getting only as close as Oakland's Oracle Arena (where they play Wednesday). But Stewart and Nicks' down-homier counterparts Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow will come closer this summer.

On July 26, Rock and Crow's joint tour will stop at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland.

The pair will play separate sets, but come together for their 2002 hit "Picture," the song "Collide" from Rock's 2010 album "Born Free," and other duets.

Tickets are $26.50-81.50 and are available through Live Nation.

-- Carla Meyer

Sacramento will be well represented when the 2011 Vans Warped Tour hits the road this summer. Metal-experimental band Dance Gavin Dance and alternative duo Middle Class Rut made the bill of the annual rock festival, which starts in Dallas in June and reaches Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Marysville August 11.

Dance Gavin Dance played Concerts in the Park last year, but the group usually tours so much that their local gigs are rare.

MC Rut ("New Low") has played around town plenty, but members Zack Lopez and Sean Stockham are road dogs as well.

Tickets for the Sleep Train stop of the Warped Tour are $44.50 and available through Live Nation.
-- Carla Meyer


August's Outside Lands Festival will feature two of the best young live acts around: England's Muse and Canada's Arcade Fire (recent Album of the Year Grammy winners for "The Suburbs").


The Black Keys, Decemberists, Big Boi , Erykah Badu and MGMT also will perform at the music and food festival running Aug. 12-14 at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.


And because the festival is in San Francisco and outside, jam-rock mainstays Phish will play two sets. For music fans whose tastes go back a bit further, John Fogerty and Mavis Staples also will appear.

Tickets go on sale at noon Thursday at the festival's website. There's a special on three-day tickets, at $175. The price goes to $185 when the first bunch runs out, then $199.50 when the second group sells out.

There's no word yet on who is playing which day, or whether single-day tickets are available. We'll update once we know.
-- Carla Meyer


Lip-syncing is an art, as anyone who has looked closely at Britney Spears during a television performance can tell you.

On April 15, students from 18 local middle schools will show off their lip-syncing skills at the 14th Club Live Countywide Lip Sync Competition at Sacramento's Crest Theatre (1013 K St., Sacramento).

The contest will feature about 90 student singer/dancers who already have made it through the first round, at their individual schools.

The event is presented by the leadership-skills program Club Live and the Sacramento County Office of Education. It starts at 7:30 p.m., and the cost is $4 for adults and $3 for students.
-- Carla Meyer

Long Haul[1].JPG


Running April 14-15 at Veterans Memorial Center, the Davis Feminist Film Festival will present a documentary about female truckers on the open American road (in "Long Haul," pictured at left and showing on the 15th) as well as a look at Ghanaian women accused of witchcraft once they become independent or successful ("The Witches of Gambaga," April 14).

The only feature-length work in the 14-film festival, "Witches of Gambaga" will be followed by a Q&A session with UC Davis Professor Amina Mama, a co-producer of the film.

Organized by the Consortium for Women and Research at UC Davis, the festival also offers entries focused on youth, from "Goals for Girls," (April 14), in which young Argentinian women battle entrenched sexism in trying to play soccer, to
"Attached to You," (April 15) a Claymation depiction of parenthood from pregnancy onward.

The programs start at 6 p.m., preceded each evening by a 5 p.m. reception with food and beverage.

Tickets for each night's program are $15 or $10 for students if purchased at the door (Veterans Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St.). Tickets also are available in advance and on a sliding scale ($10-$15) at the UCD Women's Resources and Research Center or at the Davis Farmers' Market. Tickets also are being sold in advance, for $10 or $7 for students, at Armadillo Music, 205 F St.

For information and complete schedule, see the festival website.

- Carla Meyer

Photograph courtesy of Erin Hudson


Sacramento's Concerts in the Park free concert series will start May 6 with a show headlined by Americana/rock band the Tattooed Love Dogs.

The Friday-night concert series at Cesar Chavez Park marks its 20th year in 2011. That's two decades of lawn chairs, blankets, beer tickets and perennial favorites such as Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers and Mumbo Gumbo, both of whom are back this year. (Martin and crew play June 3, Mumbo Gumbo June 24.

Here's a complete lineup for the 15-week concert series, sponsored by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership:

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The State Theatre in Auburn, built in the 1930s and recently restored by the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center nonprofit, will celebrate the female stars of the theater's heyday with its "Reel Classy Broads" film festival running April 8-10 at the State (985 Lincoln Way, Auburn).

The festival starts with an ensemble of talented women, including Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford, in "The Women" (7:30 p.m. April 8), before moving on to the individual achievements of Myrna Loy ("The Thin Man," 11 a.m. April 9), Barbara Stanwyck ("Double Indemnity," 3 p.m. April 9) Bette Davis ("All About Eve," 7 p.m. April 9), Judy Garland ("A Star Is Born," 3 p.m. April 10) and Katharine Hepburn ("The Philadelphia Story," 7 p.m. April 10).

Cinema buffs, take note: Warner Bros. has allowed APPAC to show rare archival prints of "The Women" and "Star Is Born."

"They only let theaters show them that have the (vintage) changeover projectors," APPAC administrative coordinator Janis Wikoff said. APPAC bought two such projectors as part of the State's renovation.

Tickets to individual films are $9, and an all-festival pass is $45. For information, call (530) 885-0156 or visit the APPAC website.
-- Carla Meyer


Photo: 20th Century Fox

When the ultra-talented and amiable duo of Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt played the Mondavi Center about a year and a half ago, it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Sacramento music fans.

Turns out it wasn't. Lovett and Hiatt will return to the Sacramento region for a show June 10 at the Radisson Hotel Sacramento's Outdoor Grove. Like the Mondavi show, the acoustic performance will highlight the catalogs and camaraderie of the country/folk troubadours, but in an even more relaxed setting.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $49 and $59 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at Dimple Records locations and through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000). For dinner or room reservations, call the Radisson at (916) 922-2020.
-- Carla Meyer



Celebrating customer loyalty, the Sacramento 6 Drive-In will offer another free movie night April 14 at 9616 Oates Drive, just off Highway 50 and Bradshaw Road. The evening will feature recent releases "Just Go With It," starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, as well as the animated "Tangled," and "Megamind" for the kids.

An inexpensive entertainment option during tough economic times -- adult tickets are $6.95, kids 5-11 are $1 and kids younger than 5 are free -- the drive-in has seen a recent increase in business of 40 percent, representatives of West Wind, the company behind the Sacramento 6, said in a press release.

I wrote about the drive-in's success last August, before its last free movie night.

The April 14 free movie night, like the one before it and all drive-in movie showings, starts right at dark. For information, call (916) 363-6572 or visit the the West Wind web site.
-- Carla Meyer


Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco Arena) already holds a diverse lineup of non-NBA events, including rock concerts, circuses, ice-skating exhibitions and bull-riding contests.

If the Kings leave town, whoever owns the arena will have to fill many more calendar dates with these kinds of entertainment events -- and perhaps come up with new possibilities.

If you stretch your imagination a bit, what other kinds of large-scale events do you think could be held at the Sacramento venue?

Send your ideas to cmeyer@sacbee.com.
-- Carla Meyer


Tonight's show featuring Walking Spanishand Prieta at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St., Sacramento) will partially benefit earthquake/tsunami relief efforts in Japan, show producer Jerry Perry said.

A portion of patrons' $7 admission to the 9 p.m. show will go toward relief efforts. The event also will mark the release of Old I favorite Walking Spanish's new CD.
-- Carla Meyer

Swedish rock band The Soundtrack of Our Lives will appear in a pre-taped segment on NBC's "Last Call With Carson Daly" tonight, the same night it plays Harlow's nightclub (2708 J St., Sacramento).

Soundtrack of Our Lives will appear on "Daly," airing at 1:30 a.m. on KCRA (Channel 3), via a segment recently taped at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The band is inviting fans who come to the Harlow's show, which starts at 10 p.m., to stay late and watch the TV show with them at the nightclub.

Soundtrack of Our Lives has been around for a while, and you might recognize their song "Sister Surround" (the video is above). Tickets to the show are $20 at the door/$17.50 in advance. For information, call (916) 441-4693 or visit the Harlow's website.
-- Carla Meyer

At Wednesday night's Lady Gaga concert, the singer went wild for a red, studded vest tossed on stage by a fan. That fan was Sacramento painter and makeup artist Christopher Roa, who spent a week creating an early birthday present for Gaga, who turns 25 Monday.

Roa, who works at the MAC store at Arden Fair Mall, turned 25 himself a few weeks ago, and made the birthday present for Gaga out of a 1980s vintage leather jacket. He applied the studs himself and hand-painted its design features, drawn from Gaga's "Born This Way" video (a triangle, representing the LGBT community, and a unicorn, representing the singer's favorite mythical woodland creature).

To try to get close enough to be able to toss the garment on stage, Roa and his friend, fellow makeup artist Seth Parker, "waited for hours" outside

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

ladygaga.JPGLady Gaga 's anthem "Born This Way" has stood atop the Billboard chart for six weeks, and its gay- and all-human-positive themes informed every minute of Gaga's sold-out show Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

Through endless costume changes to cover her eyes or uncover her abs, through highly enjoyable renditions of hits such as "Just Dance" and "Alejandro," Gaga stayed on message: She and her adoring fans were making wonderful things happen by insisting on being their true selves.

Rosanne Cash's performance at Folsom Lake College's Three Stages venue, scheduled for tonight, has been postponed until Monday.

Cash's flight from Los Angeles was cancelled due to inclement weather, Three Stages representatives said in a press release. Tickets to tonight's show will be honored at Monday's 7:30 p.m. show.

Concert-goers seeking a refund are urged to call the Three Stages ticket office at (916) 608-6888 by 8 p.m. tonight.
-- Carla Meyer


Sunday's French Heritage Festival, presented by the Alliance Française de Sacramento, will focus on a French-speaking region prominent in recent news: North Africa.

The event at Beatnik Studios ( 2421A 17th St., Sacramento) will celebrate the cultures of the French-speaking North African countries Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and Tunisia with food, a movie and a performance by the Dunes, a North African fusion band from the Bay Area.

The Alliance also has scheduled a roundtable discussion of current events in a region subject to great tumult in recent months. This is especially true of Tunisia, which underwent a revolution earlier this year and is the current destination of many Libyans fleeing their own country.

The roundtable discussion, scheduled for 4:30 p.m, will involve recent visitors to the region or others familiar with North Africa. "Anyone who wants to share" their experiences is welcome, said Beatrice Hildebrand, executive director of the Alliance Française de Sacramento.

The event starts at 1 p.m. Sunday and include a couscous dinner at 5:30 p.m. The Dunes' concert starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $33 for Alliance members, $43 for non-members and $15 for children ages 12-18. Children younger than 12 get in free.

For information, call the Alliance at (916) 453-1723 or Beatnik Studios at (916) 443-5808.

-- Carla Meyer


Veteran character actor Jeffrey Weissman, who played George McFly in parts 2 and 3 of the "Back to the Future" film series, will speak Friday at the El Dorado Film & Media Office's "I Love Film" mixer.

The annual mixer also draws filmmaking talent from throughout the Sacramento region.

Admission to the event, running 4-8 p.m at the county fairgrounds (100 Placerville Drive, Placerville) is free. For information, see the El Dorado film office's website.

-- Carla Meyer


The inaugural Sacramento Aloha Festival will be held Oct. 22 at Cal Expo.

The large-scale celebration of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander culture will include performances, exhibits and health information.

Organizers currently are seeking sponsors, vendors, performers and volunteers. To find out more, see the festival's website.

-- Carla Meyer

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Eric Clapton's blazing rendition of "Cocaine" inspired yearning Thursday night, and not in a Charlie Sheen way.

The song returned you to the 1970s, before Clapton favored middle-of-the-road arrangements and all that sitting down and unplugging.

Clapton's concert at Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco Arena) started with the wonder of witnessing an amazing talent in person. Slowhand inspired awe at how quickly his hands actually traverse the neck of his Stratocaster and at his ability to make it sound so crisp, then so earthy.

It didn't matter during the show's first section that the songs weren't his most recognizable. The crescendo blues of the Muddy Waters cover "Hoochie Coochie Man" held the mostly baby-boomer crowd of more than 12,000 transfixed.

Clapton wasn't chatty with the audience, but gracious in his thanks after shows of applause. When he finally played a hit - his cover of Bob Marley 's "I Shot the Sheriff" - the crowd erupted, buoyed by the song's familiarity and by how tremendous Clapton and his elegantly swampy band had sounded up to that point.

Then Clapton sat down for an acoustic/electric segment, with mixed results. His picking on the acoustic "Driftin' " brought thoughts of his boyhood in England, and how many hours it has taken since then to assume such thorough command of the guitar.

But the ragtime-light "When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful" sounded like a Randy Newman song that did not make the "Toy Story" cut.

Still sitting, Clapton performed "Layla" - but the sing-song "MTV Unplugged" version, not the searing rock standard. Fans were left wanting, waiting for the piano coda that never arrived. Since it was one of only a handful of big hits Clapton played all night, the arrangement doubly disappointed.

Clapton stood up and ripped into Cream's "Badge," a forceful rock 'n' roll antidote to the sit-down segment. When he slowed things down again for "Wonderful Tonight," the show officially become terrific again - because the song is timeless, Clapton sounds so loving when he sings it, and because it was performed in its original version.

Opener Los Lobos delivered its own memorable guitar solos (by guitarist/singers David Hidalgo and Cesar Rojas). The veteran band's repertoire encompasses indie rock, blues, folk and rockabilly, and on Thursday performed its big hit "La Bamba," along with more traditionally arranged Spanish songs. When Rojas urged, "Everybody cumbia!", nobody did, but everybody wanted to.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Prolific music superstar Prince, 52, has added a third show this week, on Thursday night, at Oakland's Oracle Arena.

The soul-funk-pop icon and apparent proponent of spontaneity announced his other two Oakland shows -- last night and Wednesday night -- just last week.

Tickets run $47.25-$238 (plus surcharges) and are available through the Live Nation site or by calling (800) 745-3000.


Photo credit: Grammy Award winner Usher attends the NRJ Music Awards 2011.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Usher, the singer who appears to be everywhere -- the Super Bowl with Black Eyed Peas, the Grammys with Justin Bieber -- is coming to Sacramento as well.

The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum artist has extended his "OMG Tour" and will hit Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco Arena) May 28. Bieber and will.i.am can't make it, but rapper Akon will be there, as Usher's special guest.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000).


By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Sister Crayon's long-awaited first album "Bellow" is here, and the highly talented Sacramento band, led by Terra Lopez's angelic voice and somber lyrics, will celebrate its release with an all-ages show at 8 p.m. Saturday at Luigi's Fun Garden, 1050 20th St.

Fans who have not seen the band in a while will notice a lineup change -- Genaro Ulloa has left the band -- to go back to school, Lopez said -- and Jeffrey LaTour has joined, on keys and guitar.

(LaTour appears in the video above, for the song "I'm Still the Same Person")

Tickets to Saturday's show are available at the door or through Ticketleap.

prince.jpgBy Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Prince, the 52-year-old music icon who's still got it all -- the look, voice and guitar prowess -- will grace Oakland's Oracle Arena February 21 and 23.

Tickets to the purple one's "Welcome 2 America" tour -- the East Coast leg of which drew rave reviews -- range from $49.50-$250 plus surcharges and go on sale at noon Friday through Live Nation (800-745-3000).

The $49.50 tickets sound like a deal. Even from the nosebleeds, the pint-sized musical genius is larger than life in concert.

(Photo from Live Nation)

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Sleep Train Amphitheatre is bundling its Stetsons and Telecasters in a "country megaticket" package encompassing shows by Tim McGraw (June 10), Toby Keith (Aug. 4) and Rascal Flatts (Sept. 30).

Fans can buy a "megaticket" to all three shows. Fans rolling in cash can pay $399 plus surcharges for a package that includes the same lower-level seat for each show, complimentary food, private bar access and VIP parking. The $299 plan offers the same amenities, but with upper-level seating.

For more humble folk, a three-concert lawn ticket goes for $69 plus surcharges.

For information and tickets, go to promoter Live Nation's "megaticket" website.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Valentine's Day, via the Mondavi Center, will offer opportunities to say "I love you" and also "I want you to laugh but also become slightly uncomfortable."

Tickets go on sale Monday for two recently added shows, one by comedian Sarah Silverman, the other by crooner Tony Bennett.

Eighty-four-year-old class act Bennett will appear May 25. Silverman, scatological at her most demure, appears April 10.

For tickets, call the Mondavi ticket office at (530) 754-2757 or visit the center's website.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

With record speed, Sacramento band Cake's spot as the music act with the lowest-selling Billboard No. 1 album debut has been usurped.

Philadelphia singer-songwriter Amos Lee 's "Mission Bells" just reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart with only 40,000 copies sold. That beats the previous record, set a few weeks ago, by Cake's "Showroom of Compassion," with 44,000 copies.

This how-low-can-you-go contest should end soon, once bigger 2011 albums such as Britney Spears' "Femme Fatale" (March 15) are released. Record piracy will affect Spears' sales as well, but at least the sales spotlight will move to an artist with a marketing machine behind her and away from more independent artists such as Cake and Lee.

Cake, by the way, is doing a three-night stand at San Francisco's Fillmore in a few weeks. The first show, on Valentine's Day, is sold out, but tickets to the Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 shows still are available through Live Nation.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com
Veteran Southern California punk rock band Social Distortion has cancelled tonight's scheduled 7 p.m. show at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall.

According to a release from the promoter, the show was cancelled due to an "outbreak of the flu."

There are no current plans to reschedule the show. Refunds can be obtained at the point of purchase.

Information: Freeborn Hall, (530) 752-1910 or Tickets.com (800-225-2277).

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The Justin Bieber 3-D concert documentary "Never Say Never" comes out Feb. 11. To 5-year-olds crazy about the Canadian teen idol, the span between now and then is a lifetime -- or at least a significant part of one.

Lucky for those excited kids -- and parents eager for new ways to support Bieber financially -- tickets to "Never Say Never" go on sale Tuesday at Fandango.com and Movietickets.com.

The movie showcases a sold-out Bieber concert at Madison Square Garden. It also follows Bieber's life story, from street-singing tot to platinum-selling 16-year-old. Or what we like to call The Shortest Story Ever Told.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The Dixon May Fair has lined up three music acts so far for its May 4-8 celebration at the Dixon Fairgrounds.

Trace Adkins and Merle Haggard will perform May 6 and Disney star Selena Gomez May 7.

Haggard will go on first in the country double bill, but the music legend and recent Kennedy Center and California Hall of Fame honoree isn't exactly "opening" for "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" singer Adkins.

Haggard is billed as Adkins' "very special guest."

"They will probably have close to the same amount of time on stage," Dixon May Fair CEO Jack Murphy said.

Tickets to the Gomez and Haggard-Adkins shows go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. Tickets range from $39-$49 and include admission to the fair.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000). They also will be sold from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays at the Fair's ticket office at 655 S. First St. in Dixon.

January 21, 2011
Flowers, candy, gin, juice

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Romantics now have the perfect way to celebrate their love: VIP tickets ($339.50 apiece) to Snoop Dogg's Valentine's Day concert at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall.

The VIP package, which includes an autographed photo with Snoop and other merchandise, tells that special someone, "I am willing to shell out some cash to impress you on Valentine's Day."

The VIP tickets also are the only ones still available for the show.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Sacramento's Cake received mixed news this week. "Showroom of Compassion," the band's critically lauded new release and first album of new material in six years, reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart in its first week of release. But actual sales figures -- 44,000 units sold -- marked a new low for a chart topper.

Cake frontman John McCrea sees beauty in both distinctions.

"I think it is sort of perfect we had the record for lowest sales," McCrea Friday from his hotel room in Memphis, where Cake was to play Minglewood Hall. "Cake has always been a about downsizing and economy, and really sort of anti-growth."

Regarding those 44,000 albums sold, McCrea said he was pleased with the numbers considering digital sales of the album's lead-off single, "Sick of You," have been slow.

"I am thrilled all those people had enough faith in us to have bought the album without hearing it first," he said.

Ultimately, McCrea's reaction to the first-week showing of "Showroom of Compassion" was as mixed as the news itself.

Considering Cake recorded and released the album on its own- without major-label support or marketing efforts - fans' reaction was heartening, he said. But the sales numbers also reflect the state of a record business "being eviscerated right now" by illegal downloads, he said.

"I am overjoyed on one hand, and on the other hand, it is clear there is no hope," McCrea said with his signature honesty and droll humor. "I am pessimistically optimistic."

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The dance club at 1417 R St. in midtown Sacramento formerly known as Empire and then briefly as Venue is becoming a performance-driven venue called Ace of Spades.

The redesigned space is supposed to open in February, offering all-ages shows and filling the capacity gap between Harlow's and the Crest. Shows by Rob Zombie (Feb. 10) and Sacramento's Papa Roach (Feb. 25 and Feb. 26) and British guitarist Richard Thompson (March 23) already are scheduled.

Details apart from those are few. But the space does have a website, www.aceofspadessac.com through which tickets to shows are being sold.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Pop icon and new dad Elton John will perform Feb. 19 at the Reno Event Center.

John will perform his classic pop hits as well as R&B and gospel selections from "The Union," the Grammy-nominated 2010 album John made with fellow piano man Leon Russell.

Tickets to the Reno show run from $59.50-$235, and go on sale at 7 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000).

This week, Sacramento Ballet co-artistic director Ron Cunningham and some of the ballet's dancers sat down to offer their thoughts about the hit, ballet world-set film "Black Swan." The story will appear Monday in the Living Here section.

In the meantime, Cunningham and his dancers still are busy performing "The Nutcracker," performances of which continue through Thursday night. This year's edition of the holiday favorite received a glowing review from The Bee's Jim Carnes.

"The Nutcracker," Cunningham said, has drawn a healthy audience, but, as "with all arts organizations, it has been a struggle" at times, in a troubled economy, to keep the ballet going.

The Sacramento Opera recently canceled the the remainder of its season, just as Sac Ballet cut its own season short a few years ago. The ballet was able to recover, Cunningham said, partly through its dancers' willingness to help build an audience by trying new things like "living sculpture" performances during Second Saturdays.

In short, the dancers have been anything but prima donnas.

"They are a great, great part of what saved this company, by being in the community, and being cheerfully in the community - dancing in gymnasiums, dancing on the street," Cunningham said.

There are still chances, tonight and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, to see these great sports actually on stage, dancing in "The Nutcracker."

To purchase tickets, call (916) 808-5181, visit the Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., or

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

A summer staple for the past 11 years, the Sacramento Film & Music Festival will spread its warmth to winter as well.

Festival organizers have split the once-10-day festival into two, three-day events, the first unspooling Jan. 15-17, 2011 (over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend), at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. The second leg will be in August.

"We realized it is a daunting proposition for the audience to try to make the most of a 10-day festival," Sac Film & Music Festival co-director Tony Sheppard said. "By splitting it into two pieces, we made the same amount of programming available in a much more accessible format."

The January program will be strong in documentaries, Sheppard said, and will total 10 feature-length films and 31 short films and music videos.

To view the lineup, see the "calendar" section of the Crest site. For more detailed information, keep watching the Crest site and the Sac Film & Music Festival site

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Early in the Judds' show Sunday night at Arco Arena, Naomi Judd recalled living in Marin County with daughters Wynonna and Ashley. She came to Sacramento during that time, she said, to take her state boards for nursing.

"So we have always thought of Sacramento as a second home," Naomi told the crowd.

It was a stretch, certainly, but easy enough to embrace in the spirit intended - as part of a warm, chatty visit with an old friend.

Naomi and Wynonna Judd, touring for the first time in a decade in what they have deemed their "Final Farewell Tour," found enormous success in the 1980s with songs of lasting, universal appeal. "Love Can Build a Bridge," for example, still lends itself well to weddings and motivational events for teens. And would 75th birthday parties for men exist if not as opportunities to play "Grandpa"?

But the familiarity goes beyond song. Naomi, 64, and Wynonna, 46, long ago charmed and confided their ways into fans' hearts by publicly discussing their health woes, tricky family dynamics and Wynonna's weight battles and severely bad luck with men. Whether it is through their many appearances on "Oprah" or osmosis, you feel like you know them.

So when twice-divorced Wynonna offered a stirring version of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" Sunday night, everyone in the audience really, really hoped someday she would find out. And when daughter and mother harmonized on "Mama He's Crazy," the song carried more meaning than it did 20 years ago.

Naomi often played the role of gentle jester, sashaying across the stage in her various and lovely dresses and generally winking at the audience. Wynonna provided most of the quips, with lines like "If it's not one thing, it's your mother."

Judging by the modest size of the crowd (Arco's upper level was curtained off), the Judds' fan base has thinned out in the 20 years since they stopped performing regularly, after Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C (she is in remission). Those in attendance, from people in their 70s to junior "Juddheads" hoisted on parents' shoulders, were the true blues, whooping at songs and jokes and instantly picking up on the duo's familial shorthand.

The nearly three-hour show (including an intermission) underscored how unfussy the Judds are, despite the spangles and false eyelashes. The staging was spare, the theatrics nonexistent. With so many hits to get through, there was no time for bells and whistles.

Alone or with her harmonizing mom, Wynonna showed off her knockout alto, going powerfully guttural on many songs, then impressively high on the always-exquisite "Why Not Me". Though she moved little on stage, her voice traveled with ease from the rocking fun of her solo hit "No One Else on Earth" to the reverence of "How Great Thou Art."

Wynonna was alone on stage so much that Mama Judd took on the role of special guest star, even though she is really more of a support player, singing harmony on songs that include other backing vocalists.

That her every reappearance on stage still brought a thrill says a lot about her chemistry with her daughter and her individual charisma.

That kind of star quality comes around only every 10 years or so.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118

By Carla Meyer

The Sacramento French Film Festival and Sacramento Philharmonic will team up next month at the Crest Theatre for two programs of classic silent film and classical music.

On Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, the Philharmonic, conducted by French composer Raymond Allesandrini, will accompany showings of the 1928 silent slapstick comedy "Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie ("The Italian Straw Hat").

The Crest appearances will mark the American debut of Allesandrini's original score for the film, said Cecile Mouette Downs, executive director of the French Film Festival.

The joint venture was funded partly through a grant from the Sacramento Region Community Foundation.

"With the (troubled) economy, arts organizations need to find inventive ways" to introduce fresh ideas, Downs said. "Collaborating is a great way to do that."

The screenings, at 8 p.m. Jan. 29 and 2 p.m. Jan. 30, will feature reserved seating. Tickets are $30 or $25 for friends of the French Film Festival and Philharmonic subscribers and Tempo group members. Tickets are available at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., or through Tickets.com (800-225-2277).

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

"On the Road," the film version of Beat writer Jack Kerouac's autobiographical 1957 novel, will make a stop in the Delta town of Locke Saturday night.

Production crews are expected to shoot from 4 p.m. to midnight, said Lisa Kirk, owner of the art and collectibles shop Strange Cargo in Locke.

The World War I-era, Chinese American-built town reportedly will double for mid-century San Francisco, with crews expected to shoot exterior and interior scenes.

Actor Sam Riley, who plays Kerouac's alter ego Sal Paradise, and Garrett Hedlund ("TRON: Legacy"), who plays the character based on author Neal Cassady, are expected in Locke Saturday night, the film's final night of shooting.

"On the Road" also stars Kristen Stewart ("Twilight"), Kirsten Dunst and Amy Adams.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Eric Clapton will play March 3 at Arco Arena, with Los Lobos as opening act.

The 65-year-old British guitar legend is touring in support of his new album "Clapton," on which he incorporates blues, Dixieland jazz and Irving Berlin. Yet something tells us he'll also fit "Layla" into his Arco show.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 13, and will be available through the Live Nation site or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets are $149.50, $79.50 and $39.50, plus surcharges.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Singer Deana Martin will pay musical tribute to her father, Dean Martin, Thursday and Friday at JB's Lounge at the Red Lion Inn, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento.

"Deana Sings Dino" will include Deana Martin's versions of her father's hits "Volare" and "Everybody Loves Somebody" as well as jazz and pop hits by Frank Sinatra and Dinah Washington.

The shows start at 8 p.m. Cost is $20. For information, call (916) 922-8041 or visit Deana Martin's website.

To read an interview with Deana Martin, see Friday's Ticket section.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

ha_justin_bieber23075A.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.JPGBy Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Justin Bieber redefined "unnecessary" Friday night when he urged the crowd to make some noise.

The sold-out Arco Arena audience of 14,000, almost entirely female and most younger than 16, needed no such invitation.

They screamed when Bieber hit the high notes. (All his notes are high). They shrieked when he flirted and when he played acoustic guitar while riding aloft over the crowd in a heart-shaped metal device.

Bieber Fever wasn't just a catch phrase Friday night. It was a lifestyle.

PHOTOS: The Justin Bieber concert
SNAPSHOTS: Fan photos from Arco Arena

The 16-year-old Canadian singer did his part to stoke it by simulating kung-fu moves, running across the stage, and even "vogue-ing" at one point. His sometimes-hesistant but always-endearing dance steps became more assured during faster numbers such as "Somebody to Love" and "Baby."

He even supplied childhood photos and videos to help fill the gaps in his very short life story. And there was plenty more filler during the 90-minute show. (Hey, the kid hardly has any material. He's the Bieber, not the Boss).

The girls screamed for all of it -- even the filmed PSA warning against texting while driving. The adults, noticing Bieber's Oliver Twist quality, just wanted to ruffle his hair and feed him soup.

Adults are immune to Bieber Fever, having been exposed in their youths to the related strains of Shaun Cassidy Consumption and Justin Timberlake Shiver-Me-Timbers.

The youngsters, however, wore Bieber Fever on their sleeves -- and on their T-shirts, wristbands and faces painted with the phrase. The kids' hand-painted "Bieber Fever" and "I Love J.B." signs, however, had to be left back in parents' cars.

Word had reached the Arco parking lot before the show that cardboard displays of devotion were contraband. So Ellen Dixon of Elk Grove memorialized posters made by her daughter, Sedona, and Sedona's friend Raven Beverly, both 10, by taking photos of them in the parking lot.


Sedona said she liked Bieber "because he's cute," echoing the exact sentiment of of 6-year-old Mya Coronado of Woodland and thousands of other fans at Arco Friday night.

But Adriana Mata, also 6 and attending the show with Mya, had an original thought to go with her first concert experience. She likes Bieber, she said, because "he has brown hair."

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118

Rumor has it Cake will play a "secret" show tonight at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra, Sacramento).

Or rather, the combination of unlit marquee and long line outside the club have it.

Cake's new album "Showroom of Compassion," comes out in January, and John McCrea and company likely will debut their new material live tonight. But since the Blue Lamp is small, and the line outside the Blue Lamp, as of 8:30 p.m., already was long, you might be better off visiting the the band's website, where you can sample the new tracks and pre-order the CD.
-- Carla Meyer

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The Rascal Flatts that had been scheduled for tonight at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland has been moved to Saturday, Oct. 16.

The country music trio's Friday-night show at Shoreline Amphitheatre has, like the Wheatland show, been postponed due to illness. It has been rescheduled for Oct. 15.

Tickets for the postponed shows will be honored at the door. Ticket holders seeking refunds should contact their point of purchase.

Information and tickets are available at the Live Nation site.


By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The Rascal Flatts that had been scheduled for tonight at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland has been moved to Saturday, Oct. 16.

The country music trio's Friday-night show at Shoreline Amphitheatre has, like the Wheatland show, been postponed due to illness. It has been rescheduled for Oct. 15.

Tickets for the postponed shows will be honored at the door. Ticket holders seeking refunds should contact their point of purchase.

Information and tickets are available at the Live Nation site .


By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The Mountain Lions will be wearing cleats, rather than Reeboks-with-the-strap, at their game Oct. 15 at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State.

But club favorite Flo Rida, whose hit "Low," with T-Pain, celebrated (mocked?) those Reeboks, will perform before the 8 p.m. game and at halftime.

The Mountain Lions will face the Las Vegas Locomotives, a team name so evocative Flo Rida really should incorporate it into a rap during his show. Or not.

For tickets, see the Mountain Lions' website

The Rascal Flatts/Kellie Pickler concert scheduled for Thursday at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland has been postponed.

Concert promoter Live Nation cited illness as cause for the postponement. No further details were given.

The concert promoter encouraged ticket holders to keep their tickets until a new date is announced. But Flatts fans who want refunds can seek them at the point of purchase.

Rascal Flatts' performance Friday night at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View will go on as scheduled.

-- Carla Meyer

September 29, 2010
Muse amazes in Arco Arena show

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

7N26I3MUSEGROUP.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.JPGMuse put on the perfect rock show Tuesday night.

Grand yet tidy, the English band moved gracefully from crunchy to symphonic and demonstrated why, after huge success in Europe, it now sells out arenas in the United States.

That is, except Arco Arena, where Muse drew around 9,000 people. But think of it this way: That's 9,000 people who will tell their friends that next time around, they must catch Muse and the wonder that is guitarist and lead singer Matt Bellamy.

A slight man in red satin pants, Bellamy delivered riffs 1,000 times his size. Those riffs evoked Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello. But they were also all Bellamy's, deep and earthy in tone, stratospheric in delivery.

The final frontier plays into Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole" (aka the "Twilight" song), and "Starlight," two gorgeous pop songs from the 2006 album "Black Holes and Revelations" that sounded superb Tuesday night. But those songs only scratch the surface of what Muse - Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, drummer Dominic Howard - can do. And what they did on their 2009 album "The Resistance."

Muse opened with the catchiest track from "Resistance," the beat-packed, anthemic "Uprising." But that song is a lark compared with "Exogenesis," a three-part symphony that appears on the same album.

Traveling with touring member Morgan Nicholls but no string section, Muse played only part of the symphony Tuesday night. But it was enough to show the band's musical breadth and great potential.

Even bolder was the sudden blast of operatic harmonies on "United States of Eurasia," a song that samples Chopin but is also so Queen-like that one expected Freddie Mercury to pop up on the three-dimensional video screens surrounding Muse.

Muse also sounds like ABBA and Depeche Mode at times. But who cares? Every band is influenced by what it hears. Muse, composed of guys in their early 30s, grew up surrounded by songs readily recognizable to most of us. Instead of plucking bits from obscure 1920s bluesmen, the way English bands of the 1960s and '70s did, Muse plucked bits of '70s and '80s radio hits.

Muse owns its influences, and a sound denser and more rocking than that of fellow 1980s-influenced bands, most of whom are too reliant on synth. Muse's organic rhythm section shakes the ground well and good enough to allow for flowery experimentation.

Bellamy, Wolstenstone and Howard also proved consummate showmen Tuesday night by focusing on music rather than on being showy. The video-screen imagery, which included shots of the band, computer code and repeated images of owl eyes, was vibrant without being distracting. The stage banter was limited and always gracious.

The band thanked the Arco crowd for coming out and even played a snippet of Sacramento's own Deftones' "My Own Summer (Shove It)."

It was a class move by a group willing to acknowledge all its influences -- from '70s groups to fellow gifted, experimental players on the current alt-rock scene -- on its way to superstardom.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

Above photo: The members of Muse, from left: Bassist Chris Wolstenholme, drummer Dominic Howard and singer/guitarist Matthew Bellamy. Photo by Danny Clinch.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Lady Gaga, wearer of meat dresses and the hottest pop star in the world, will appear March 23, 2011, at Arco Arena.

Tickets go sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at Livenation.com or (800) 745-3000.

Gaga's Monster Ball Tour previously was scheduled to skip Sacramento, but because most of those dates already are sold out, Gaga extended the tour, according to promoter Live Nation.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The State Theatre in Woodland will go dark after Monday, theater operator Michael Morgan said.

"I can no longer afford to keep it open," Morgan said of the 73-year-old Main Street theater, which Morgan has operated since 1988. Morgan cited the recession and competition from Sacramento-area theaters equipped with digital projection and 3-D -- technologies the three-screen State currently lacks.

The State could reopen eventually if the city of Woodland approves a proposal by developer Ron Caceres and Galaxy Theaters to restore the historic theater and add several more screens. Caceres' proposal is competing with a second downtown multiplex plan, from developer Paul Petrovich and Cinema West Theatres. That proposal entails a multiplex and retail space at 801 Main St.

The proposals currently are under consideration by the city's redevelopment board selection subcommittee.

Jay Leno will cap Thunder Valley Casino Resort's outdoor concert series with an appearance Oct. 8 at the resort's amphitheater.

Tickets are $59, $79 and $109 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday. To purchase tickets, call (916) 408-7777 or visit the Thunder Valley website .

The "Tonight Show" host will round out a three-month concert series that began as part of the celebration of Thunder Valley's new hotel, spa and expanded gaming floor.

The series has included appearances by Lionel Richie, Adam Lambert and Earth, Wind and Fire. In September, Melissa Etheridge, Tony Bennett and others will appear at the outdoor venue.


Here are the remaining shows in the series:


Sunday: Melissa Etheridge

Sept. 11: Rick Springfield, Davy Jones and Peter Noone (Herman's Hermits)

Sept. 18: Spirit of Asia

Sept. 24: Montgomery Gentry

Sept. 25: Tony Bennett

Sept. 26: Chris Isaak

Oct. 8: Jay Leno

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Dave Matthews' show Friday night was not for casual fans.

Offering an abundance of solos but only a smattering of hits, the show aimed squarely at the Dave Matthews Band faithful - or about 10,000 of the 11,000 people in attendance at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland.

Distinguishing one group from the other was easy. The faithful knew all the lyrics and appeared mesmerized by the band's jam-band solos, swaying slightly and politely against the breeze on a pleasant, then slightly chilly, Yuba County night.

The other 1,000 were the ones who cheered loudly, with a combination of excitement and relief, when Matthews played his 1996 hit "Crash Into Me" 1 ½ hours into a set during which sing-along opportunities for them previously had been scarce.

Those more casual fans finally could get their bearings and become, during the course of "Crash Into Me" or of Matthews' propulsive 1994 hit "Ants Marching," part of the faithful.

Anyone even slightly familiar with Matthews' music knows to expect loads of improvisation at his live shows. But improvisation atop songs you don't know can produce a desire to take extra trips to the restroom or margarita bar, just to kill time.

But only a little time, since Matthews and company offered so much easy-going charm and so much music Friday night -- nearly three hours' worth, with some songs lasting 10 minutes -- that it was easy to find something to appreciate in lesser-known songs.

It might be the beefy rhythm section on "You Might Die Trying," from the 2005 album "Stand Up," or Matthews' warm vocal on the ballad "Baby Blue," from 2009's "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King." Or it could be Matthews' vocal scatting on some songs.

Actually, the scatting probably is an acquired taste, best appreciated after one's third or fourth Matthews show.

What's incontrovertible is the power of Boyd Tinsley's violin, poignant during more emotional moments and energizing during more danceable numbers.

A wildly successful touring act, the Dave Matthews Band will take next year off from the road. In the meantime, the band members seem intent on pleasing their core fans -- the ones who always have followed them, sometimes literally, from town to town -- while not worrying too much about newcomers.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Lucinda Williams made it about eight minutes into her set Tuesday night at the Crest Theatre before hitting the brakes.

The song "Can't Let Go" wasn't working, Williams informed her three-piece band and the crowd. It sounded terrible, and the paying audience deserved better, she said.

Never mind that the audience had liked the song. Williams' irritability and perfectionism are part of the alt-country singer's charm, and nearly always part of her show.

"I know everyone thinks I'm crazy," she told the audience. "I don't really care anymore."

It was a sentiment that extended throughout a special night of music at the Crest, to Williams' opening act, JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys, featuring Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.

Now 57 and 58, Williams and Hynde built extraordinary careers on considerable sex appeal and much more considerable songwriting skills, soulfulness and grit. Though they appear to care deeply about their music, they seem unconcerned about their images at this point.

Otherwise, Williams would not have adopted the rock 'n' roll professor look Tuesday night, with her Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt, eyeglasses and metal music stand from which she appeared to be reading lyrics. And Hynde might not have flirted so much with JP Jones, her young Welsh bandmate and subject of several thwarted-love songs on JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys' new album "Fidelity!"

Williams and Hynde always have owned their decisions, and their flaws, while still being able to teach the Fonz a thing or two about being cool. Williams, though, eventually became slightly apologetic Tuesday night.

A few songs after the "Can't Let Go" stoppage, Williams acknowledged, with a grin, her "temporary meltdown." The Sacramento heat outside was to blame, she explained.

The Louisiana native would use the heat to her benefit, she announced, since heat makes rock 'n' roll hotter. She then treated the sold-out Crest audience to a a scorching, 2 1/2-hour set of mostly familiar songs about sex ("Essence"), love gone wrong ("Jailhouse Tears") and sex and love gone wrong ("Come On.").

Williams' lyrical themes also run to death, loss and what she had for dinner, her plaintive voice lending universality to sources of ache both profound and everyday. The setting of her songs might be a kitchen in Slidell, La., or a beachfront road in Ventura, Ca., but her voice always pinpoints her emotional location.

Williams' band (Butch Norton on drums, David Sutton on bass, Val McCallum on guitar) finessed the details and brought the songs home. McCallum's big blues guitar figured prominently in Williams' sound Tuesday night, adding new heft to songs such as "Essence." McCallum also did a bang-up job covering Elvis Costello's vocals on the duet "Jailhouse Tears."

It takes a strong woman to yield the floor to a talented man. Hynde gladly shared the spotlight with Jones, an affable 31-year-old she met in a London bar a few years ago.

Joined by Fairground Boy Patrick Murdoch on electric guitar, Hynde and Jones played acoustic guitars during their sit-down set, trading lead vocals and lyrics about why they can't be together.

Rootsy and heartfelt, the songs were catchy even upon first listening, especially the buoyant "If You Let Me," which melds Jones' jagged vocal approach with Hynde's silken one. The lyrics are soul- and otherwise baring, including a lyric, sung by Jones, about a woman who won't bed her soulmate because he's too young.

Are they or aren't they? Have they or haven't they? Something inspired Hynde to embark on a tour of theaters rather than the arenas she's used to. It could have been the musical collaboration alone, but the looks of open adoration from Jones said otherwise.

A quick scan of the crowd, though, revealed that everyone in the Crest was looking at Hynde with open adoration. It was just amazing to see this slender, casually dressed legend in such an intimate setting, singing in that voice - the one from the radio, the one that said "female empowerment" long before the catchphrase hit.

Ranging from huskily seductive to slinky and girlish, Hynde's singing voice sounded uncannily like it did in the 1980s: knowing, cosmopolitan and -- despite her 1970s London punk-rock roots -- perpetually mod.

Her speaking voice could be less inviting. Though Hynde seemed happy to be on stage with Jones, and generally in a great mood, she did not suffer fools, meat eaters (the PETA spokeswoman condemned "slaughterhouses and factory farms") or wiseacre remarks Tuesday night.

Introducing "Perfect Lover," a bittersweet take on the older woman-younger man problem, Hynde remarked that people tend to chuckle at the lyrics, even though the song is sad. But she had yet to mention the song's title, thereby giving a cheeky guy in the audience the opportunity to guess it as "Smelly Cat."

Hynde responded with vigor. One more word, she said, and she would never play music on stage again. "That show is the reason you no longer get a saucer under your cup of coffee," she said.

Hynde's passionate response was not shocking. She's no softy, and she has spent decades in England, where saucers matter. She might even have been kidding.

What was shocking was that she knew so much about "Friends." But it turns out the woman for all seasons is also a guest-star on sitcoms. The guy in the crowd must have seen Hynde's 1995 appearance on "Friends," where she sang "Smelly Cat" with Lisa Kudrow.
Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The Smashing Pumpkins, who provided a dreamy soundtrack to the 1990s for many of us, will play the Crest Theatre on Labor Day, Sept. 6.

Tickets are $40 and are available at the Crest box office, 1013 K St., Sacramento and through Tickets.com (800-225-2277).

The current Pumpkins consist of singer-guitarist Billy Corgan and a bunch of people who are not '90s Pumpkins James Iha, D'arcy Wretzky and Jimmy Chamberlin.

But as long as Corgan, the band's creative force, is on stage, it is still the Pumpkins.

Corgan and company are releasing their 44-song album "Teargarden by Kaleidyscope," one song at a time as free downloads via their Web site.

Below are five of the songs:

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

The documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," which played recently at the Crest Theatre,offered a fascinating look at the 77-year-old comedian.

Though often the butt of jokes for her plastic surgery and QVC appearances, Rivers is still one of the smartest people in show business -- an infinitely ambitious woman with a will of steel and a mind quick enough to shut down a heckler on the spot.

On March 13, 2011, Rivers herself will take the stage at the Crest -- a venue she is likely to appreciate more than some of the dives she played while the documentary was being shot.

Tickets to the comedy show are $35, $48 and $68, and will be available as of 10 a.m. Aug. 27 through Tickets.com (800-225-2277), and as of 12:30 p.m. the same day at the Crest box office, at 1013 K St., Sacramento.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Metal music can be empowering, invigorating, aggression-relieving. Deftones' show Sunday night at Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium was all those things, along with being seductive in a way hard rock hardly ever is.

Layering Chino Moreno's lush vocals over Stephen Carpenter's relentless, complex guitar work and the driving, insinuating rhythms created by drummer Abe Cunningham, bassist Sergio Vega and keyboardist Frank Delgado, the Sacramento-bred band infused its show with sensuality.

Sensuality in this instance does not necessarily imply sex or love, though those topics got ample play on the yearning, supple "Sextape" and whisper/scream "Rocket Skates," from Deftones' most recent album, "Diamond Eyes."

It is more the way the music hits so many senses at once. Deftones unsettle with a fundamentally hardcore sound, then entrance with Moreno's breathy tenor, taking the listener to a realm where feeling outweighs thought -- and eliminates any desire to analyze Moreno's obtuse lyrics.

Musically, nothing seemed out of place Sunday. Yet a vital part of Deftones' evolution was missing: longtime bassist Chi Cheng, who remains in a minimally conscious state after a 2008 auto accident.

Donating $1 from every ticket to a fund helping with Cheng's medical expenses, Deftones also quietly acknowledged Cheng's absence during the show.

Early in the show, Moreno noted that it was a beautiful Sacramento night, and that he wished Cheng were there with everyone. He dedicated "Dai the Flu," a pounding song from 1997's "Around the Fur" softened by the lyric, "Thank God that you love at all," to Cheng.

Moreno also donned a T-shirt bearing Cheng's likeness for Deftones' encore. He didn't make a big deal about the shirt. He didn't need to, since there seemed to be a tacit understanding between Deftones and the hometown crowd that the group's continuation after Cheng's accident is itself a tribute.

Moreno started the show in a natty, button-down shirt, and stayed suave throughout despite jumping around and sweating under the lights. Moreno - the man, the songwriter, the voice - is the reason so many women showed up at Sunday's concert, which offered that rarity at dude-centric, hard-rock shows: long lines for the ladies' room.

Playing before an auditorium that was between half and three-quarters full (an official count was not made available), Moreno bounced around much of the time without an instrument. But when he played guitar alongside Carpenter, he measurably enriched Deftones' already intricate sound. "Hole in the Earth," from the 2006 album "Saturday Night Wrist," sounded even dreamier live than it does on record - a feat considering Memorial's faulty acoustics.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

The Crest is offering a rarity: Two films in a series showing over the same weekend.

The Crest just opened "The Girl Who Played With Fire," based on the second book in the late Stieg Larsson's incredibly popular book series. The theater also is showing the first film in the series, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Unfortunately, double features are out of the question, since "Dragon Tattoo" only plays at 7:15 p.m. each night, and its sequel "Played With Fire" unspools at 11:15 a.m. 2:20 p.m., 5:25 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.

But it might be fun to see "Dragon Tattoo" this evening and return Saturday or Sunday for the second film.

For information, see the Crest's website.

-- Carla Meyer

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

"Twilight" actor Jackson Rathbone and his band 100 Monkeys will play Wednesday evening at Venue (formerly Empire), 1417 R St., Sacramento.

Tickets for the all-ages show, which starts at a tween-friendly 6:30 p.m., are $17 in advance/$20 at the door. Advance tickets are available at The Beat, Dimple Records stores and through Eventbrite.com. Patrons ages 18 and older can stick around for dancing at Venue once the show is over.

The 100 Monkeys' gig will make up for a January appearance at Harlow's that was canceled after bad weather prevented the band from reaching Sacramento on time.

Rathbone's star has risen since then. His character, Jasper, was beefed up in the third "Twilight" film, "Eclipse," and he had a prominent role in "The Last Airbender."

To sample of 100 Monkeys' rock/funk sound, watch the video above. Rathbone is the guy singing.

Country singer and "iCarly!" actress Jennette McCurdy has pulled out of a scheduled appearance opening for Faith Hill Friday at Ironstone Amphitheatre in Murphys. McCurdy apparently had a scheduling conflict.

Taking her place will be Sacramento country band Whiskey Dawn.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000).

-- Carla Meyer

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Neil Young's harmonica on his opening number "My My, Hey Hey" sounded so rich and so perfectly suited to the Mondavi Center's acoustics that it brought tears to one's eyes.

KRG_Young_0026.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpgYoung matched this transportive moment on two other occasions during a solo show Thursday night: When he played organ and harmonica on "After the Gold Rush" and when he performed "Cortez the Killer," which is basically one long, gorgeous guitar solo.

Three once-in-a-lifetime moments during a 100-minute set helped compensate for Young's lack of acknowledgment of the audience.

Wearing a straw hat and loose-fitting tan blazer that lent him a Northern California/Southern gentleman air, Young, a San Mateo County resident, often regarded the floor rather than the crowd.

That crowd at times ignored the cold shoulder and the elegant Mondavi atmosphere and treated the concert like a regular ol' rock show. They shouted requests. They whooped. They had paid upward of $200 for tickets.

Someone yelled, "Welcome to Davis!" -- thereby relieving Young of the visiting performer's most basic responsibility: name-checking the town he or she just landed in.

Young finally responded, to a commentary too extensive to ignore. But apart from hearing him say, "This is what I do," Young's response was difficult to decipher, as were the guy's comments. For audience members hanging on all of Young's 10 words, the lack of clarity disappointed.

As little as Young revealed of his personality, he laid everything bare musically. Unlike aging musicians who forgo their more demanding songs in concert, Young, 64, tore into his. His crunchy/sublime guitar work overcame occasional sound glitches that arose once he plugged in his electric guitar. (His set included acoustic guitar and piano as well).

Among Young's instruments, his voice stood out most. That quavering, love-it-or-hate it voice has benefited from never having been perfect in the first place.

Young did not hit every note during his performance of "Cinnamon Girl" Thursday night. But he didn't hit every note when he recorded the song.

What he captured, on both occasions, was an intensity of feeling. Young's ability to impart raw emotion has only improved with the years. The world-weariness of his voice now seems haunting rather than prescient.

Young's political songs have become too meta - the new tune "Love and War" is less about either than about how Young previously has sung about both. Other unfamiliar songs he played Thursday night offered interesting moments. Yet none was so captivating that one didn't wish Young would sing "Old Man" instead.

Such is the trouble with loving a veteran artist still trying to grow. You want the hits, and he wants you to please be quiet and appreciate his artistry. What's lovely about the Young version of this classic push-pull is that Young's mastery is such that once he takes the stage, there's no way a fan can lose.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

Photo of Neil Young by Kyle Grantham/kgrantham@sacbee.com

See a photo gallery from the concert.

The Tower of Youth is looking for entries from filmmakers ages 13-20 for its film festival this fall.

Deadline for entries is July 23. Submissions should be three to 40 minutes long and on (non-Blu-ray) DVD format. Animated, live-action and Claymation entries are welcome.

Instructions and entry forms are available at the Tower of Youth site.

The 14th edition of the Tower of Youth's North American All Youth Film & Education Day takes place Oct. 1 at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento.

-- Carla Meyer

August will bring the usual Mayers (John, Aug. 21) and Matthewes (Dave, Aug. 25) to SleepTrain Amphitheatre in Wheatland.

Less expected are two August shows happening in downtown Sacramento. First came news of the Deftones' hometown show Aug. 8 at Memorial Auditorium. Now there's word Lucinda Williams and Chrissie Hynde -- paragons of tough-chick country and rock, respectively -- will play the Crest Theatre Aug. 24.

Hynde will perform with collaborator J.P. Jones and their band, the Fairground Boys .

Tickets to the Williams-Hynde show go on sale Saturday through Tickets.com (800-225-2277). Tickets to the Deftones' show already are on sale through the same agency.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

JVRihanna05.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpgA big-screen image of Rihanna grazing a hand across the back of a female acrobat created an effect different from the one intended.

Instead of appearing worldly while performing her Sapphic-tinged song "Te Amo" Friday night at Arco Arena, Rihanna just looked very young.

The sophistication suggested by Rihanna's asymmetrical outfits and hair and by the militaristic imagery of her stage show vanished when she appeared in close-up on the video screen next to the stage. Her many hit records and haute-couture fashion sense aside, Rihanna is still only 22. Sometimes her greener qualities don't show, but at other times, they're all you see.

Dressed as a 1930s chanteuse -- one of several costume changes -- and showing a flair for phrasing, Rihanna transfixed a crowd of 9,000 while singing the ballads "Unfaithful" and "Stupid in Love." But she was less at ease with more overt displays of sexuality. Her hip thrusts seemed more innocent than sexy, especially when combined with her unwaveringly high voice.

That voice is a winner, full of verve and emotion and light. But it works better in slightly smaller doses, such as when it is combined with raps by Jay-Z ("Umbrella," "Run This Town"), T.I. ("Live Your Life") or Eminem ("Love the Way You Lie").

Or combined with her own rapping. Rihanna showed dexterity Friday night in handling T.I.'s part of "Live Your Life" along with her own.

Rihanna sweetly thanked the crowd for coming out for her first headlining tour, and asked where her "girls" were.

The question had to be rhetorical, since women were everywhere at Arco Arena. They came in pairs and fours, sporting short dresses and heels so high they had to take them off during the course of the show.

They came to sing along with Rihanna, the model-pretty fashionista, and with Ke$ha, the intentionally low-rent singer who warmed up for Rihanna.

Dressed in American-flag hot pants, Ke$ha delighted the crowd with tales of vomiting due to drunkenness. Seeing 10-year-old girls sing along underscored how youngsters can get caught up in the beat and vibe of a song without absorbing lyrics. (At least that's the hope.)

Ke$ha is not half the singer Rihanna is. She is not one-eighth the singer Rihanna is. But she's fun to watch.

With songs ranging from dumb yet catchy ("Tik Tok") to dumb, catchy and poorly sung ("Your Love Is My Drug"), and accompanied by Oxycontin-chic male backup dancers in frayed get-ups, Ke$ha engaged in a parody of rock-star excess.

Wait ... It was a parody, right?

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

Photo of Rihanna by Jose Luis Villegas/jvillegas@sacbee.com.

Brandi Carlile hails from Seattle, but her yearning, stunning voice seems to come from so many places - Nashville, Appalachia, Roy Orbison 's ghost.

Carlile showed her great range Thursday night at the Crest Theatre, moving from her epic ballad "The Story" to a rousing cover of Johnny Cash 's "Folsom Prison Blues."

Magnetic throughout, Carlile mesmerized most fully when she and her band, including twins and close collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth, unplugged completely for the song "Dying Day" from her 2009 album "Give Up the Ghost." Gathered at the front of the stage, Carlile and her bandmates made the number so intimate, so seemingly impromptu, that the Crest felt like somebody's living room.

Carlile's voice and earnest lyrics lend her folk-rock music a seriousness at odds with the goofy charm she displayed between songs. The 29-year-old singer deadpanned that Sacramento -- where she was playing for the first time since "The Story" became a hit in 2007 -- had afforded her so many opportunities early in her career. Like opening for Hanson at Empire nightclub.

She seemed glad to instead be playing the Crest, the sparkling acoustics of which provided an excellent showcase for her voice. Fueled by the friendly, vocal crowd, Carlile told stories about her stint on the current Lilith Fair, and hanging with rough-and-tumble country star Miranda Lambert and Lilith Fair founder Sarah McLachlan.

"Talk about having a beer with God," Carlile said of McLachlan.

Carlile said that when she was in her teens, she would enter the Lilith Fair talent contests to try to snag a spot on the roster. But she never made it. So she would go to the show with her guitar and serenade festival goers standing on line -- just to be part of the action.

Carlile joked good-naturedly with the Hanseroths, who dueted on a lovely version of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence" during an extended encore. She pointed out the Nevada City origins of cellist Joshua Neumann, whose hometown roots were emphasized further by "way to go, Josh" whoops from friends and family in the crowd.

She invited Michael Neumann, Josh's father and conductor of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, up to conduct her band, giving him a drum stick. Neumann didn't end up conducting anything, but the moment was spontaneous and fun, anyway.

One of the show's best moments came when Carlile, buoyed by the great setting and crowd response, said she never again would make the mistake of skipping Sacramento on tour. To local music fans accustomed to emerging, talented acts heading straight from the Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest, that promise sounded like victory.
-- Carla Meyer

Placerville-turned-Sacramento-turned-San Francisco resident Jackie Greene will hit Citrus Heights at 7 p.m. tonight for a 45-minute set at the Fire Escape bar at 7431 Madison Avenue.

Greene, who recently sang the national anthem at a Giants game and whose album "Till the Light Comes" is making headway on iTunes and Amazon.com, will pass the hat for requests, his manager, Marty DeAnda, said.

Since the place won't hold all that many Greene fans, it's best to get to the bar toward the earlier part of happy hour.

Four of Sacramento's most exciting music acts share a bill this evening at a free concert at Cesar Chavez Park.

The New Humans and Sister Crayon, bands who combine raw emotion with synth-heavy sounds, lead the way, with Chelsea Wolfe and Sea of Bees (Julie Baenziger), singers of Gothic and Icelandic influences, respectively, providing support.

All are inventive artists who are going places. But tonight, lucky for us, they'll all be in the same place, and at a free event.

The show starts at 5 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park, 10th and J streets.

-- Carla Meyer

Recognizing the hit kids' allowances have taken in a troubled economy, Live Nation is selling $10 lawn tickets for the Jonas Brothers Sept. 17 show at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland.

The deal runs from midnight tonight through midnight Tuesday night.

Live Nation also is waiving service fees as part of its no-service-fee promotion for June. To purchase tickets, go to the Live Nation site or call (800) 745-3000.

And remember, a penny saved on the Jonas Brothers is a penny that goes toward Justin Bieber tickets. For tickets to Bieber's Oct. 22 show at Arco Arena, see the Ticketmaster site or call (800) 745-3000.

-- Carla Meyer

The Sacramento French Film Festival plays throughout the weekend at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. As always, the festival presents a stellar lineup of films Sacramento movie fans otherwise might never get to see -- and especially not in 35 millimeter.

Entry to most films is $10. For information, see the festival site or call (916) 442-5189.

Here's the schedule:

TODAY

11 a.m.: "Pépé le Moko": In this 1937 film, Jean Gabin is a gangster who hides out at the Casbah of Algiers.

1:20 p.m.: "The Sicilian Clan" - Gabin starred with Alain Delon and Leno Ventura in this 1969 heist film.

4 p.m.: "Army of Crime": A drama based on the true story of immigrant French Resistance fighters.

7:05 p.m. "The French Kissers" - In this frank, hormonally fueled comedy, two adolescent boys scheme and spread misinformation while planning to kiss girls for the first time.

9:15 p.m.: "Rapt" - A kidnapped industrialist (Yvan Attal) suffers in captivity during tense negotiations regarding his ransom.

Midnight: "Man Bites Dog" - A serial killer recounts his crimes in sordid detail in this 1992 black-comedy mockumentary.

SUNDAY

9:45 a.m.: French breakfast with Chuck Zigman, author of the Gabin book "The World's Coolest Movie Star."

10:15 a.m.: "The Sicilian Clan"

1 p.m.: "Pépé le Moko"

5:45 p.m.: "Rapt"

8:30 p.m.: "OSS 117: Lost in Rio" - Natty, un-PC French agent 117 (Jean Dujardin) returns in this sequel. This closing-night film is followed by a champagne party.

- Carla Meyer

Sacramento-bred band the Deftones will bring their mix of hard rock and lush pop to Memorial Auditorium this summer.

Tickets to the Aug. 8 show are $30 in advance/$32 on the day of the show. They go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through Tickets.com. (800-225-2277).

The band will donate $1 from each ticket sold to this and every show on its headlining tour to the Chi Ling Cheng Special Needs Trust. Cheng, the Deftones' longtime bassist, was critically injured in a 2008 car crash and remains in a minimally conscious state.

-- Carla Meyer

Great news: Neil Young will play the Mondavi Center at UC Davis July 15.

Tickets for Young's solo show go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, through Ticketmaster (800-743-3000).

At $90-$200, tickets aren't cheap. But considering what the Mondavi acoustics will do for Young's plaintive voice and harmonica, they are worth it.

For information on the event, go to the site for Another Planet Entertainment, the show's presenter.

-- Carla Meyer

You have a question about small-claims court or veterans affairs or your rights as a renter - and where do you go for answers?

The library.

Sacramento Public Library and the California Department of Consumer Affairs are teaming up to offer free public programs on the first Wednesday of the month at Central Library, 828 I St.

All "Take Charge California! @ Your Library" sessions begin at noon in the West Meeting Room. Reservations aren't necessary, and light refreshments will be served.

Next up is "Prescription Drug Do's and Don'ts" on July 7, when Virginia Herold, a California State Board of Pharmacy executive, and Steve Golka, Sacramento County's chief pharmacist, will give advice on medications.

Here's the balance of the 2010 schedule:

Aug. 4 - "Renters' Rights and Landlords' Responsibilities"
Sept. 1 - "The Doctor is In: Medical Care in California"
Oct. 6 - "Small Claims Court, the Legal System and You"
Nov. 3 - "Veterans, Get the Benefits You Deserve"
Dec. 1 - "Have a Safe and Scam-free Holiday"

To learn more about the series, call (916) 264-2920 or go to www.saclibrary.org

- Dixie Reid

On Tuesday, we reported that Scottish singing sensation and multi-platinum recording artist Susan Boyle might be coming to Sacramento Aug. 1, and that details would follow.

Now it looks as if there will not be any details to report. A check with Boyle's record company Sony Music revealed the singer will not be touring in 2010. So unless the person who initially e-mailed us with news of her visit knows something the record company doesn't, Boyle isn't coming here.

Boyle, as anyone who has every been on YouTube knows, became a sensation on "Britain's Got Talent" with her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," from "Les Miserables." Her subsequent 2009 debut album has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.

-- Carla Meyer

Have a band? How about bandwidth? Think Internet-related puns are about as relevant as Friendster?

These and other topics will be discussed this evening at an event focused on social media and the Sacramento music scene.

Hosted by the Sacramento Social Media Club, "Social Media Rocks!" aims at helping local bands get the most out of social media, from assembling street teams to posting tunes on MySpace and Facebook. Panelists include Sacramento promoter Jerry Perry, hip-hop artist TAIS and Concerts 4 Charity founder Clay Nutting .

The free event runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Urban Hive, 1931 H St., Sacramento, with food, drinks and discussion afterward.

For more, see the Sacramento Social Media Club's Facebook page.

-- Carla Meyer

jackson.jpg

PARAMOUNT PICTURES

In January, Jackson Rathbone (Jasper from the "Twilight" films) and his band 100 Monkeys bowed out of a gig at Harlow's because of bad weather on the road. But local Jasper Twihards will get another chance to see Rathbone Thursday at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo.

Rathbone and Nicola Peltz, his co-star in "The Last Airbender," will promote their film and sign autographs for a lucky crowd of wristband holders at 2:45 p.m. on the Oasis stage. Only the first 200 fans to show up at a special table at the park's front gate (1001 Fairgrounds Road) will get wristbands and be allowed into the event.

"The Last Airbender," a live-action version of the animated series opening July 2, is kind of like "The Karate Kid." Except it is more old-timey, in 3-D, and was directed by the always mysterious M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense" ).

Peltz plays a "waterbender" who teams up with a very young "airbender." Rathbone is her warrior brother, a fellow member of the water clan.

For information on the Rathbone event, visit the Six Flags site
-- Carla Meyer

The Judd family, so visible in music (Naomi and Wynonna) and movies (Ashley) in the 1980s and '90s, has been quiet recently. But that's going to change, at least on the music front.

In November, Wynonna and Naomi Judd will embark on an 18-city "Last Encore Tour" of arenas across the county. The tour will stop at Arco Arena Dec. 12 and will include new music along with old favorites.

It will make the first time in a decade the Judds have hit the road together.

Tickets go on sale in mid-July. We'll keep you posted about exact dates.


He's a joker, a smoker, a midnight toker -- and he's looking for an opener. Or at least 96.9 The Eagle is.

The Sacramento radio station seeks a talented opening act for The Steve Miller Band's show July 17 at Raley Field. The concert marks The Eagle's 20th anniversary.

The chosen band will receive publicity from the station and $500. To be considered, musicians should send two MP3's, either originals or covers, an online bio and a link to video of a live performance to feedback@eagle969.com. The winning band will be chosen June 25.

For tickets to Miller's show, call (800) 745-3000 or visit the Ticketmaster site.

Throughout June, Live Nation will waive service fees on tickets to shows at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland, Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord and Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.

So if you want to see John Mayer at Sleep Train Amphitheatre (Aug. 21) or the revived Lilith Fair at Shoreline (July 5), buy tickets by June 30.

Now, if we could only get them to do something about those turkey-corn dog prices.

Here's a list of shows at the closest of venue to Sacramento -- Sleep Train Amphitheatre:


July 29 - Toby Keith with Trace Adkins

Aug. 12 - Vans Warped Tour with Alkaline Trio, Sum 41, Everclear and more

Aug. 21 - John Mayer with Owl City

Aug. 27 - Dave Matthews Band with Raphael Saadiq

Sept. 17 - Jonas Brothers with Demi Lovato

Sept. 22 - Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival with Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold and more (tickets go on sale June 12)

To buy tickets, go to the Live Nation site Live Nation site.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

WHEATLAND - Tim McGraw announced to a sellout crowd Friday night at SleepTrain Amphitheatre that he and his band would take a no-frills approach.

His actual language was a little rougher. What mattered is he kept his promise, delivering an unadorned, mostly greatest-hits show that demonstrated why he is a superstar.

timmcgraw.jpgMcGraw's appeal is an essential one. More than his black hat, life-lesson lyrics, famous marriage to Faith Hill or ability to make a tight, V-neck T-shirt look like reasonable attire for a chilly evening, it is McGraw's voice that has fueled his success.

It's not the greatest voice in country music, but it is one of the most memorable. More specifically, it's that catch in his voice - almost like a sob - that draws you in. That little hitch makes the stomper "I Like It, I Love It" a little more country and the inspirational heart-tugger "Live Like You Were Dying" all the more emotional.

That voice strained for its highest reaches Friday night when McGraw (photo right, at a concert earlier this month) covered Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." During that number, McGraw very sweetly brought up two young girls from the audience to dance with him.

Pulling the kids on stage was as fancy as McGraw ever got. With sing-along hits stretching back more than 15 years, he did not need pyrotechnics to engage the 18,000 people who came to the show.

McGraw sincerely thanked his fans for spending their hard-earned cash to see him during troubled economic times. He also made fun of himself. At one point, he complained about the tightness of his jeans, subtly letting the female contingent know he's willing to suffer to be beautiful for them.

At least a few thousand fans at SleepTrain were there to see supporting act Lady Antebellum, the young, polished trio behind the late-night-yearning hit "Need You Now."

ladyantebellum.jpgAll pop hooks and two- and three-part harmonies, Lady Antebellum (photo right, at at a concert earlier this month) -- singers Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott and guitarist/pianist and background vocalist Dave Haywood - was irresistible even during songs less familiar than "Need You Now" and "Love Don't Live Here."

Kelley resembles and exudes the same lanky charisma as actor Ryan Gosling. As he worked the catwalk extending from the stage, he drew whoops from female fans warming up their voices for screams that would accompany McGraw's entrance.

Kelley's warm, gritty tenor mixed beautifully with Scott's clear soprano. Better yet, the pair adopted postures when singing together that suggested they might be in love.

They are not a couple, but their showmanship follows the country tradition of Porter and Dolly and Loretta and Conway. Only Lady Antebellum singers wore skinny jeans instead of spangles, and there wasn't a steel guitar in sight during their pop-centric set.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

Photo of McGraw by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Photo of Lady Antebellum by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.


With all the free concerts happening this summer, it seems possible to hear live music every day -- if you are willing to drive a bit.

In El Dorado Hills, they're bringing back their free concert series in the Town Center. The 12-week, "Live on the Boulevard" concerts feature tribute acts (Steelin Dan') as well as original artists (Kate Gaffney).

The series starts June 17 and runs frm 6-8 p.m. every Thursday.

Here's the lineup:


June 17 -- Steelin' Dan
June 24 -- Late for Dinner
July 1 -- Code Blue
July 8 -- Buck Ford Pure Country Band
July 15 -- Kate Gaffney
July 22 -- Mitch Woods & His Rocket 88's
July 29 -- The Rising - Bruce Springsteen Tribute Band
Aug. 5 -- Sacramento Blues Revue
Aug. 12 -- Stompy Jones
Aug. 19 -- Ant Bee
Aug. 26 -- Mike Furlong's Tribute to Tom Petty
Sept. 2 -- Lisa Haley and the Zydekats (Grammy Nominated)

For information, go to the El Dorado Hills Town Center site

Fashion Sex And The City.jpg

WARNER BROS.


Late night tonight, women across the country will line up to see "Sex and the City 2," perhaps the first blockbuster film to combine midnight screenings with a menopause subplot.

None of the "Star Wars" had those.

The fashionable characters from the HBO miniseries now are in their mid-40s and early 50s, and, with the untamable Samantha (Kim Cattrall), settled down. But their single-gal spirit lives on in the women in their 20s flocking to see "Sex and the City 2" in the first days of its release, just as they did with the first film, in 2008.

Aubrey White, 24, is a generation younger than the "Sex and the City" women, but she and her friend Annie Ockwig, 23, attended a screening of the film at Sacramento's Century Stadium earlier this week.

Roommates in downtown Sacramento, Ockwig and White are living lives similar to those depicted in the early years of the HBO series, when the characters were footloose in Manhattan. They don't mind that most of the characters now are married, because they "still have those friendships that keep you grounded," White said.

Christine Barham, 31, attended the screening with her mother, Barbara Smith, 55, and Barham's friend, Amanda Oliver, 23. Barham and Smith had watched much of the sex-filled series, Barham said. But separately, Barham said, because that would have been "kind of uncomfortable to watch it together."

Yet here they were next to each other just before "Sex 2" and its promise of acrobatic Samantha sex scenes. But Barham said seeing the film with her mom at 31 would be much easier than watching the series with her at 21.

Smith liked the idea of mature women carrying a big film.

"There aren't a lot of roles for women where they get to be sexy and attractive" after a certain age, Smith said.

Certain to have a great opening weekend -- Movietickets.com reports that hundreds of showtimes across the country already have sold out -- "Sex and the City 2" might drop off after that, when word of mouth becomes crucial. Early reviews of the film, which spends much of its length in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi and runs a "Lawrence of Arabia"-esque 2 hours, 23 minutes, have been negative.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Carrie Underwood makes a better case for "American Idol" than the show makes for itself these days.

The Fox TV staple has dipped in ratings and singing talent this season. But when talent and opportunity meet, "Idol" can create magic. It did in season 4, when Underwood won.

carrie_underwood_1a.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpgSexy without being threatening, Underwood appeals to men and women. She can sing about Jesus and forgetting her last name via alcohol and convince you she knows a lot about both.

She understands showmanship, as she demonstrated Thursday night before a crowd of 9,500 at Arco Arena. She changed into multiple outfits offering various degrees of sparkle, and at one point sang John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" from the bed of a vintage pickup truck held by wires above the Arco crowd.

Underwood, 27, is the consummate pop star, even if she's labeled country. And she might never have made it had "Idol" not showcased the key to her success: that amazing voice.

On Thursday night, she brought equal vocal power to ballads such as "So Small," from her 2007 CD "Carnival Ride," and up-tempo songs such as "Undo It," from her current release, "Play On."

Like many Underwood ballads, "So Small" sets up the singer for an "Idol"-style knockout via stretched-out notes. The effect was chill-inducing, yet not as interesting as "Undo It." On that rock anthem, Underwood's lung power was brassier and richer and her phrasing more R&B than rock or country.

In other words, she can do anything. Except dance, maybe? Underwood moved some on stage, but the show's more dynamic moments came from wires, hydraulics and video screens. Then again, changing high heels so many times during a concert can make it hard to find one's footing.

"I am only going to change clothes about 15 more times," Underwood joked to the audience around outfit No. 6. Good-natured and down to Earth, Underwood continually referred to her time on "Idol" and how clueless she was back then.

Five years and three hit albums later, Underwood is far from clueless. On Thursday night, it was easy to imagine a time when she will have been so successful for so long that she need not mention "Idol" at all.

But she probably will mention it anyway, because she's such a pro.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

Photo by Carl Costas/ccostas@sacbee.com

For a photo gallery of Carrie Underwood's show Thursday at Arco Arena,
click here.

cdc_eagles152.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.jpgBy Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Falling in love with Joe Walsh is a three-step process.

It starts with attending an Eagles concert expecting to chill out to country-rock rhythms and instead being fascinated by an electrifying figure who delivers fat guitar riffs, wears only black and tops a craggy face with a blond mop leaning toward the feminine.

The fixation increases when Walsh sings. His voice, after you hear it enough, moves from whiny to bracing, its sometimes off-key urgency a welcome counterpoint to the band's smooth harmonies.

The love was cemented when Walsh, addressing the crowd as a sold-out Eagles concert Tuesday night at Arco Arena rounded into its third and final hour, suggested he might run for governor of California.

One immediately imagined a speed limit of 185, and promises of pool tables and solid-gold toilets in every home.

Run, Joe, run!

The non-Walsh-specific parts of the show entertained as well, just in a more expected way. The hits and heavenly harmonies kept coming, as Walsh, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Sacramento-raised Timothy B. Schmit showed, individually and together, what fine musicians they are.

It also was refreshing to see an arena packed with people who usually don't come to shows. On Tuesday, the Eagles and their hits going back nearly 40 years brought out rockers with walkers and mom-daughter combos aged 60 and 30 instead of the usual 40 and 13.

It was a demographic best encapsulated by this cry from an audience member just before the concert started:

"Start the show! We have to work in the morning."

Frey, serving as the night's emcee, later joked with the crowd, "This is the Eagles' Assisted Living Tour."

The Eagles played until 11:30 anyway. At moments -- and if one could see past Henley's checkered dad shirt -- it still seemed like 1979.

Henley's gritty, slightly nasal and abundantly warm voice sounded as inviting as ever, especially on the band's excellent rendition of his solo hit, "The Boys of Summer."

Henley, Frey, Walsh and talented tour guitarist Steuart Smith crafted a guitar-centric version of the synth-driven song, in the process removing some of its 1980s chill. It wasn't better, just different.

Solid when singing lead, Frey also seemed to pull the whole thing together on stage, through his guitar work, harmonies and wit. Frey dedicated the cheatin' song "Lyin' Eyes" to "my first wife, Plaintiff."

Longtime Eagles bassist and proud Sacramento son Schmit showed off a high, clear, age-defying voice on "I Can't Tell You Why." He also said hello to his 86-year-old mother in the audience.

When he later drew a raucous response during band-member introductions, Schmit appeared truly touched, thanking the audience for making his mom proud.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.

Photo of the Eagles' Joe Walsh by Carl Costas/ccostas@sacbee.com.


Mason's might have gone casual, foodwise, but the level of entertainment at Cafeteria 15L/Park Ultralounge is pretty swank.

This evening -- in a "Zone Lounge" show available only to call-in winners to 100.5 FM (The Zone) -- "American Idol" winner Kris Allen will perform. The station is giving away tickets throughout today.

So listen and win, as they say.

On Thursday, singer Kelis will perform her new single "Acapella." Tickets are $10 and are available at the door of the nightspot at 15th and L streets. Doors open at 9 p.m.

By Carla Meyer
cmeyer@sacbee.com

Of course the Black Eyed Peas started their sold-out show Wednesday night at Arco Arena with "Let's Get It Started."

The people-pleasingest, least-alienating act in music today wasn't about to throw a curve ball by opening with a song not about getting started.

That isn't the way of the Pea. The group that began with socially conscious hip hop 15 years ago now crafts pop songs incorporating electronica, surf guitar or just plain silliness - whatever's catchiest.

cdc_blackeyedpeas_27_highlight_prod_affiliate_4.jpgStaying constant throughout are the Peas' positivity and humility.

"Here we are, at the lowest point for the record industry, and it's the highest point for the Black Eyed Peas," will.i.am, the Peas' co-founder and primary songwriter, said in thanking an Arco Arena crowd that ranged in age from about 7 to 60. "We are headlining now - that's because of you."

Having toured constantly as an opening or festival act since singer Fergie (left) joined the group in 2003, the Peas celebrated their arena-sellout status with an elaborate stage show. Aerial stunts, laser lights and space-age costumes seemed designed to reward fans who turned the 2009 album "The E.N.D." and its singles "I Gotta Feeling" and "Boom Boom Pow" into monster hits.


In a sea of country and jam-band concerts this summer, a ray of pop, spectacle and fashion eccentricity emerges: Rihanna is coming to Arco Arena Friday, July 9.

Tickets for the Sacramento stop on Rihanna's "Last Girl On Earth Tour" -- featuring Ke$ha as an opening act -- go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at www.livenation.com.
Prices are $90.25, $60.25, $30.25 and $20.25 (plus service charges).
-- Carla Meyer

Jackie Greene will play a half-hour set tonight at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St., Sacramento) before sitting in with Sacramento band Walking Spanish.

The cover charge is $7, and doors open at 8 p.m. Greene will play from 9:45 to 10:15, and Walking Spanish after that. Bird by Bird opens the show.

Sacramento's favorite blues-rock son, Greene lives in San Francisco and on tour buses these days, but he often pops up at the old spots like Old I and the Blue Lamp.

He might have received a fat wad of cash from NBC after his unhappy departure from "The Tonight Show" a few months ago, but Conan O'Brien still wants to work.

O'Brien, former sidekick Andy Richter and the ex-"Tonight Show" band will play Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium May 6 as part of O'Brien's two-month, 30-city "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television" tour.

Sure, he's still bitter, but that's when he is at his funniest.

Tickets are $35, $55 and $75 and are on sale through promoter LiveNation.

Two of the most inventive, best-named bands on the local scene play tonight in separate shows: Sister Crayon, who marry haunting vocals with layered electronic beats and grooves, and Agent Ribbons , who rely on more organic instrumentation (Guitar, drums, accordion, violin) and a fashion sense blending the 1960s and 1880s.

Making this Thursday-night embarrassment of riches even more imperative is Agent Ribbons' singer/guitarist Natalie Gordon's imminent move to Austin. Agent Ribbons, which consists of Gordon, Sacramento-based drummer Lauren Hess and Austin-based violinist Naomi Cherie, won't be playing in Sacramento again for a while.

And even though they're playing different venues, it's quite possible to catch both bands tonight. Sister Crayon goes on at Sol Collective (2574 21st Street) at around 9:30, and Agent Ribbons takes the stage at Old Ironsides (10th and S) at 11 p.m.

The cost for the Sister Crayon show is $5, and the Agent Ribbons show $7, so it won't break the bank to go to both.

:

By Carla Meyer

cmeyer@sacbee.com

cdc_bon_jovi_1_highlight_prod_affiliate_4.jpgCelebrating his 48th birthday Tuesday night, Jon Bon Jovi (left) displayed a voice so youthful and expressive that "Livin' on a Prayer" sounded very close to the original recording from 24 years ago.

Judging by the response of the largely female audience at a sold-out Arco Arena, the longtime heartthrob's charisma remains intact as well.

Or, to use the succinct phrasing of Cameron Park resident Tami Saucedo, 44, in explaining why her 18-year-old daughter, Ali, accompanied her to Arco Arena: "She likes his butt."

"No, Mom!" Ali protested. "That's you!"

Ali Saucedo was at Tuesday's concert, she explained, because "I grew up on Bon Jovi's music."

Together for more than a quarter of a century, Jon Bon Jovi and his bandmates still sell out arenas with songs that, whether written in 1986 or 2006, share an anthemic quality in their promotion of true love, the common man and catnip pop-rock choruses.

The band might incorporate a blues riff here or a country inflection there, but most songs share a straightforward quality fans appreciate.

"It is like comfort food -- like chicken-noodle soup," Carol Rocha, 35, said as she waited on line for a different comfort food - popcorn - at an Arco concessions stand. Rocha and companion Jeff Wheeler, 35, both of Sacramento, sported rocker wigs vaguely resembling Jon Bon Jovi's '80s 'do. But they had come to praise, not mock, they insisted.

"They're just classic," Rocha said of the band.

There was even greater appreciation among fans whose youths closely corresponded with Bon Jovi's rise to fame in the '80s. Of the 14,000-plus audience members at Arco Tuesday night, perhaps 9,000 were women, a significant percentage of those close to Bon Jovi's age.

When a pop star about your age still can resemble a teen idol at some angles, it reflects well on all involved. And it can inspire bold moves, like one made by 52-year-old Kim Simpson of Redding.

Simpson approached women seated near the stage to see if they would throw a pair of underwear to Jon Bon Jovi on her behalf. The garment, she explained, had been freshly purchased and was not at all sexy: "I bought the biggest pair I could find."

The underwear needed to be roomy because Simpson required space to write her name, phone number and an offer of employment to Jon Bon Jovi.

"My friend is turning 40 in June, and we want him to play for her birthday," Simpson explained. A venue had yet to be secured, but Simpson and her pals were looking into banquet halls.

Not long into her search for a messenger, the amiable Simpson found a taker - a woman who, once Jon Bon Jovi got within undie-tossing distance, promptly forgot her mission.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118


Promoter LiveNation is offering deals on a slate of country shows scheduled for SleepTrain Amphitheatre in Maryvsville in the coming months.

Under its "country megaticket" package, fans can catch Brooks & Dunn (April 23), Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum (May 28), Toby Keith (July 29) and Rascal Flatts and Kellie Pickler (Oct. 9) for a single high or low price, depending on whether one's tastes run to V.I.P. parties or that country, common-man staple: the lawn seat.

The packages range from $80 (the lawn), to $450 (the works), and include opportunities to buy presale tickets for Sugarland (April 30) at SleepTrain Pavilion in Concord.

These tickets go on sale Friday. For information, go to the LiveNation site.


Look closely behind Dave Matthews at tonight's Grammy Awards on CBS and you will spot a young local musician.

Jon Hatamiya of Davis Senior High School will play trombone behind Matthews and company on tonight's broadcast, starting at 7 p.m. on KOVR (Channel 13).

Hatamiya's jazz-band-to-jam-band journey began when he won the first trombone slot in the 28-member Grammy Jazz Ensemble youth program via a national audition. He further distinguished himself when he was selected to accompany Matthews and company on stage during tonight's broadcast.

Bad weather forced "Twilight" actor Jackson Rathbone and his band, 100 Monkeys, to postpone their gig Wednesday night at Harlow's nightclub in Sacramento.

Snowy conditions in Siskiyou County earlier Wednesday prevented the band from making its way to Sacramento in time for the show, promoter Brian McKenna said. 100 Monkeys had played a show in Portland Tuesday night.

McKenna refunded money to fans who had bought tickets online and were lined up outside the J Street club before the postponement was announced about half an hour before show time. The band will try to make up the Sacramento show as early as this weekend, McKenna said. For updates, check the group's Web site.

Attention Twihards: Jackson Rathbone, who plays chiseled, perpetually startled vampire Jasper in the "Twilight" film series, is coming to Harlow's (2708 J St.) Wednesday night with his band 100 Monkeys.

Rathbone sings and plays guitar in 100 Monkeys, a blues-influenced ... oh, who cares what they sound like? Jasper is coming to Sacramento! Eeek!

The usually 21-and-over nightclub will go 18 and over for this event, which starts at 8 p.m.

Younger teens and tweens will have to settle for trying to glimpse Rathbone from the sidewalk.

Tickets are $16 at the door or $13 in advance through the Harlow's site.

January 15, 2010
Javalounge no more?


Anton Barbeau, the noted singer-songwriter late of England, was eager to play a show Friday night in his hometown.

The only problem is that Javalounge, the 16th Street venue where he was scheduled to play, no longer appears open for business. And nobody told him.

"It's frustrating at the last minute to not know where to get information" about the status of the venue, Barbeau said Friday afternoon.

The telephone number listed for Javalounge now goes straight to voicemail, with no accompanying message. A sign on the door of the building promises, "We'll be back soon - hang in there." Yet holiday decorations remained in a window, and fliers for local rock shows in another window were from 2009. Javalounge's MySpace page, last updated Dec. 18, announced the venue was taking the holidays off.

Attempts to reach Jake Albus and Niki Kangas, who opened the coffee shop/music venue in 2005, were not successful. But Eiland Hogan, who owns Forever Tattoo next door, said he believed Albus and Kangas no longer owned the business.

January 8, 2010
Stream the King

In honor of what would have been Elvis Presley 's 75th birthday, local oldies stations 92.1 K-HITS is playing Elvis all day today.

Or rather, playing songs recorded by Elvis and contemporaries such as Chuck Berry while interspersing remembrances from local people who saw him in concert. Not only that, but the DJs have donned their best Elvis outfits while spinning the King's tunes.

So just know, while listening to K-HITs on your car radio or streaming it online, you are being spared the actual sight of on-air talent in Elvis getups.

Metallica front man James Hetfield reached out to first-time Metallica concert goers Tuesday night, assuring them they were just as much part of "the family" as veteran fans.

Hetfield and company immediately followed this lovely gesture by playing "Broken, Beat and Scarred" and "Cyanide," two songs from Metallica's 2008 album "Death Magnetic."

Warm, fuzzy and familial mean different things to different people. To Metallica fans, they mean a wall of sound barreling toward them at 90 miles per hour and lyrics full of conflict, isolation and desolation.

To these fans, Tuesday night's sold-out concert at Arco Arena was mother's milk.

There is just something soothing -- at least in that head-banging, devil-horn-throwing sort of way - about Metallica's repetitive, cavalry-is-coming riffs, just as there is comfort in knowing the band's "power ballads" eventually will become more like Hoover Dam ballads.

The Bay Area band is so dependably hardcore and nihilistic that it almost seemed unnecessary when Hetfield, in first addressing fans from the stage, promised to make everybody happy. The 15,000 or so people in the crowd -- many of them male and clad in black -- already were being made happy by lead guitarist Kirk Hammett 's frequent solos.

Moving from dirge-like to Dick Dale in an instant, Hammett tore up "All Nightmare Long" from "Death Magnetic," the album that returns the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductees to their thrash-metal roots. Songs from "Magnetic" dominated Tuesday night's set list and allowed Hetfield, Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich to show why their band is without rival in built-for-speed musicianship.

Metallica was solid while playing more melodic hits from the 1990s such as "Enter Sandman" and "Nothing Else Matters." In general though, the faster and heavier the song, the better the band sounded.

Powerfully precise, the foursome maintained a musical unity despite a concert-in-the-round format that allowed fans greater access but separated the musicians by positioning them at various points on the stage.

Hammett and rhythm guitarist Hetfield only occasionally jammed face to face. The in-the-round format also limited the crouching bassist/goateed front man interactions of Trujillo and Hetfield. Trujillo's center of gravity is so low that his electric bass almost becomes an upright.


Jackie Greene will play a special Thanksgiving benefit show at the Blue Lamp Monday night.

Doubling as a canned-food drive, the show will feature Greene -- the hometown folk-blues hero late of San Francisco -- his band, and special guests to be revealed Monday night.

Cost is $10 plus a can of food or a sealed, non-perishable food item. Tickets are available at the door of the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento).

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the 9 p.m. show. So expect hard-core Greene fans to start parking their lawn chairs outside the club around noon.

Were it it not for the dumb parts, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" would be a really good movie.

Infinitely more polished and better acted than its predecessor, this sequel still suffers from the goofiness that hampered "Twilight."

Based on the second of Stephenie Meyer's four "Twilight" novels, "New Moon" pits vampires against werewolves, with the wolves emerging triumphant in nearly every cinematic category, from acting to special effects.

Robert Pattinson remains irresistibly tortured and soulful as Edward, the 17-going-on-109-year-old vampire in love with human teen Bella (Kristen Stewart). But most bits involving bloodsuckers in "New Moon" come off as campy. Michael Sheen ("Frost/Nixon"), who really should know better, goes way over the top, and a fight scene descends into video-game-like fakery.

In general, though, and no doubt helped by the sequel's bigger budget, "New Moon" director Chris Weitz shows greater visual flair than "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke. Scenes in which teenage boys transform into wolves offer virtually seamless effects. The film's golden tones, so different from of the blues of "Twilight," help the audience warm quickly to the characters.

Somewhere between "Twilight" and "New Moon," Stewart found her abundant charisma. Gone are the mumbling and furtive glances, replaced by emotions that exist right on the surface and palpable chemistry with both Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.

Whereas with Pattinson, Stewart just looks gone, she's playful and curious with Lautner, who combines kindness and cockiness as Bella's adorable pal Jacob, who buffs up but still must work 10 times harder than Edward to hold Bella's attention.

The action scenes might be a bit intense for younger "Twilight" fans. More worrisome, though, is the tacit message that Bella's reckless behavior isn't all that dangerous, since she always gets rescued.

Note to girls: Be careful, because chivalrous vampires and werewolves won't always be there to save you.

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.


Tuesday night's Lyle Lovett-John Hiatt concert at the Mondavi Center offered plenty of laughs along with great music.

Lovett, lyrically sly and soothing of voice, and Hiatt, bluesy, gritty and mesmerizing on acoustic guitar, complemented each other nicely. They occasionally dueted, but most often, one would sing while the other simply listened appreciatively.

Some of the most memorable moments happened between songs, when Hiatt and Lovett bantered about their music and their lives.

At one point, Lovett asked if the long-married Hiatt would clue him in to the secret to enduring love. After Hiatt answered with something semi-sincere, Lovett responded, "Oh, I thought it was about misrepresenting yourself."

Lovett then launched into "Her First Mistake," in which a fellow pretends to be a "sophisticated Northern man" to impress a woman.

Straight man for most of the evening, Hiatt delivered a few zingers after Lovett sang "Fiona," in which Lovett describes a beauty who is "skinny as a rail ... six feet high ... with just one eye."

The song, Hiatt commented, is "just so visual." He noted that although Lovett's description of Fiona's single eye might inspire some listeners to envision an eye patch, he sees her with "just the one eye." Hiatt then created a circle with his fingers and placed his hand to the middle of his forehead.

Lovett appeared to contemplate Hiatt's observation.

Was he way off base? Hiatt asked.

"No," replied Lovett, drier than dry. "I am just wondering when and where you knew her."


Barry Manilow has postponed his Arco show scheduled for Oct. 16, and the John Hiatt/Lyle Lovett show Oct. 13 at Mondavi Center in Davis is sold out and taking waiting-list submissions (at 866-754-2787).

But there are still concerts in the coming days that target music fans who prefer the seasoned and sophisticated to the teen angsty.

First off, Sal Valentino, former lead singer for 1960s pop band The Beau Brummels will perform along with a band and string section Saturday night at Marilyn's on K. Word has it Chris Webster will further class up the joint by joining Valentino for a few songs.

Expect a lot of commentary during Jamie Foxx's Oct. 15 show at Arco Arena, where the Oscar winner will mix comedy with his R&B hits. And even though Foxx definitely appeals to a younger crowd, his core audience seems to be a bit older, including people who have followed him since his "In Living Color" days.

Ani DiFranco is 39 and doesn't appear to have aged a day since she arrived on the scene a few decades ago with her folk-funk picking and politically charged content. She plays Oct. 19 at the Crest.

October 9, 2009
Manilow concert postponed

The Barry Manilow concert scheduled for Oct. 16 at Arco Arena has been postponed.

The new date will be some time in 2010, according to LiveNation, the promoter behind the event. Tickets already purchased will be honored at that time.

LiveNation attributed the postponement to a scheduling conflict.


As part of its 60th anniversary celebration, the Crest Theatre (1013 K Street) tonight will show "That Midnight Kiss," the movie that opened the theater on Oct. 6, 1949.

Tickets are 60 cents, and the film will be preceded by newsreel footage from the theater's star-studded opening night 60 years ago. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show.

The Crest recently unveiled a restored, vibrantly colored marquee. The four-month-long marquee restoration project was paid for by a $213,000 loan with forgivable provisions issued by the city of Sacramento.

Kanye West has canceled his "Fame Kills" tour with Lady Gaga, including a Nov. 18 stop at Sacramento's Arco Arena.
Concert promoter LiveNation, in announcing the tour's cancelation Thursday, said those people who already purchased tickets can seek refunds at the point of purchase. Tickets purchased online or via phone will be refunded automatically.
No reason was given for the cancellation, but West's reputation has taken a pounding since he interrupted singer Taylor Swift 's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards last month.

In the space between adolescence and middle age -- between jeans skinny and Mom -- exists The Killers.

The Las Vegas quartet bridges the gap between people who remember the '80s and youngsters intrigued by the anthemic sounds emitted by that magic instrument known as a synthesizer.

A bit of Roxy Music, a touch of Pet Shop Boys and even a dash of The Cult -- the Killers evoked them all Tuesday night at Arco Arena while keeping a modest but enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 on its feet.

That included people who stood only after Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers shamed them into it.

"The people who are sitting down -- you're killing me," Flowers told the crowd. "We are not The Fray."

Flowers and his bandmates definitely rock harder than The Fray. They're also more elliptical, musically and lyrically.

Some of The Killers' songs, such as "Human," from the 2008 release "Day & Age," are so lyrically obtuse that they might have blocked messages from audience members' brains to their feet.

"Human" has a beat you can dance to, certainly, but what do The Killers mean by the line "Are we human, or are we dancer?" (I ask this after about 50 enjoyable/perplexing listens over the past year.)

Two exceptions from "Day & Age" are "Joy Ride," with its self-explanatory lyrics and insistent beat, and "A Dustland Fairytale," which, like the excellent "When You Were Young" from the Killers' 2006 CD "Sam's Town," tackles the plight of the easily charmed woman.

Flowers' elastic tenor reached such emotional heights during "Fairytale" Tuesday night that you wondered if he knows the woman in the song who got sucked in by a "slick chrome American prince." The Killers' portrayal of romance among the have-nots can approach the poetic, and at some moments, even the Springsteen-esque.

Consisting on Tuesday night of Flowers (vocals and synth), drummer Ronnie Vannucci, bassist Mark Stoermer, guitarist Dave Keuning and two side players, The Killers created a sound at once big, elaborate and exceptionally sharp. The band sounded even better when stripped down to its core for comparatively straightforward songs such as "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me," both from 2004's "Hot Fuss."

The Killers' songs are credited to the whole band. One gets a strong sense, however, that Flowers runs the creative show. He certainly doesn't seem to be in it for the glory of being a front man.

Despite the effervescence he displays on stage, Flowers is no spotlight hog. He interacted with the Arco audience infrequently, and he even seemed a little shy while apologizing, during the encore, for what he had said earlier about The Fray.

The gesture showed that Flowers has manners to match his angelic face.

In other words, it wasn't very rock 'n' roll.

In honor of the late art gallery owner and Second Saturday co-founder Michael Himovitz, who died of complications from AIDS/HIV 15 years ago, several galleries will set up donation boxes for CARES (Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services) as part of Second Saturday Sept. 12.

Organized by Himovitz's children, Lucas and Julia, the donation effort targets CARE's "Are You the Difference?" campaign, which aims to eradicate new cases of HIV in the Sacramento region within the next five years.

Here are the participating galleries:

Axis Gallery
Beatnik Studios
B. Sakata Garo Gallery
Jay Jay
Skinner Howard Art
Solomon Dubnick Gallery
Verge Gallery and Studio Project
A Bitchin' Space
Crandall Bear Studios

Information on the "Are You the Difference?" campaign is available here.

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Nickelback's cover of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" didn't quite come off as the departure intended Monday night at Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

That's because Nickelback always has been a rock band with country-music sensibilities. After all, the Canadian hit-makers offer sing-along-ready odes to experiences common to many of us, whether it's attending high school ("Photograph") or dreaming, for a moment, of enjoying a lavish rock 'n' roll lifestyle ("Rockstar").

Lead singer Chad Kroeger even devoted much of his between-song chatter Monday night to praising California's sunshine -- weather far different, he informed the crowd, from what he gets at home in Vancouver, B.C.

Who can't relate to weather talk?

It's no wonder the Sleep Train audience -- 14,000 strong, even on a Monday night -- hung on his every word and on to Nickelback's every user-friendly note. As Kroeger sang the line "And this is where I grew up" from "Photograph," audience members ranging from adolescent to salt-and-pepper haired all shook their heads in appreciation.

It helped that Nickelback's music takes on a much fuller sound live than it does on record.

In concert, Daniel Adair becomes a monster on drums -- at least in that contained, Canadian way. Kroeger's gritty vocals sound more supple live, and although he's billed as rhythm guitarist to Ryan Peake'ss lead, Kroeger also knows his way around a riff.

As the culmination of a devil-horn-sign flashing, hard-rocking four-band show (Saving Abel, Hinder and Papa Roach opened), however, Nickelback's set seemed anti-climactic. Yes, they know how to rock, but their repertoire consists mostly of ballads and mid-tempo songs.

The distinction became stark when Papa Roach front man Jacoby Shaddix and Hinder singer Austin Winkler joined Nickelback on stage for a cover of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." Whereas Shaddix and Winkler seemed rough, ready and ragged, the amiable, cleaner-cut Kroeger came off as almost fatherly -- he's only 34 -- in their presence.

Papa Roach proved the most energetic act of the night, and not just because of the Vacaville/Sacramento band's hometown advantage.

Shaddix mesmerizes on stage, amping the audience with his eye-bugging theatrics and constant hand waving. After the band delivered solid versions of hits such as "Scars" and "Last Resort," Shaddix vamped for more love from his "916/530/707" crowd.

He always got it. Shaddix made you want to throw you hands in the air and wave them like you ... were doing what Shaddix told you.

Summer in Sacramento lasts well into September, and now, so does the Concerts in the Park series at Cesar Chavez Park (10th and J streets, Sacramento).

The second leg of the free outdoor concert series -- dubbed End of Summerfest by promoter Jerry Perry -- starts tonight with a reunited Kai Kln and lasts through Sept. 18.

The concerts run from 5-9 p.m. Here's the lineup:

Tonight -- Kai Kln, Prieta

Aug. 28th -- Method Echo, Shannon Curtis, Bobby Zoppi

Sept. 4 -- The Secretions, Th' Losin Streaks

Sept. 11 - The Nickel Slots, The Golden Cadillacs, Mae McCoy & the Neon Stars

Sept. 18 -- Jackpot, Agent Ribbons, Mike Farrell


Starting Thursday, Hot Italian, the pizza, panini and Italian fashion emporium at 16th & Q streets in Sacramento, will add free concerts to its menu.

The restaurant will present six Thursday lunchtime concerts at Fremont Park, just across 16th Street. Shows run from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and concert goers can place orders in the park for Hot Italian lunches to be delivered to them.

Here's the (mostly Americana-folky) lineup:

Thursday -- Boulevard Park
Aug. 27 -- Kate Gaffney
Sept. 3 -- Richard March
Sept. 10 -- Ricky Berger
Sept. 17 -- Syncro
Sept. 24 -- Walking Spanish


Jackie Greene will make an unscheduled appearance tonight at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento).

One of Sacramento's favorite musical sons -- late of San Francisco -- Greene, along with his band, will hold his final rehearsal for the next leg of his spring/summer tour at the spot where the singer-songwriter posed for the cover of his first album, "Gone Wanderin', " all those years ago. (OK, seven years ago, but he's done so much since that it seems like longer).

Doors open at 9 p.m. for the 10 p.m. show. Cost is $10, and there are no advance tickets.

So ... just show up.




The late 1970s were full of "Grease" sing-alongs.

Of course, most of those were in my living room, where my sister and I, encouraged by HBO's six-times-a-day showings of "Grease," would belt out "Beauty School Dropout" before slowing it down for the high-school tramp's lament "There Are Worse Things I Could Do."

Something tells me the presentation at the Crest Theatre (1013 K St.), offering its own own sing-along "Grease" event at 2 p.m. Sunday, will be an improvement over my mom's wood-paneled RCA.

Doors open at 1 p.m., and there's a costume contest before the show. Everyone is encouraged to dress up. So break out the Brylcreem and those "hickeys from Kenickie"!

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door and at Tickets.com

August 6, 2009
Tenacious D in the GGP

It's no joke: Tenacious D, the duo composed of comedian-musicians Jack Black and Kyle Gass, will headline the final night of the Aug. 28-30 Outside Lands festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

"If there are any dogs barking before we go on, don't be alarmed: that is just them sensing the earthquake of rock that is coming," Black quipped during a conference call Thursday.

Tenacious D replaces the Beastie Boys, who canceled after Adam "MCA" Yauch was diagnosed with cancer.

Tenacious D tops an Aug. 30 lineup that includes M.I.A. ("Paper Planes"), Ween, Modest Mouse and Lucinda Williams.

Pearl Jam will lead the Aug. 28 lineup and the Dave Matthews Band headlines Aug. 29.

The three headliners make perfect sense, really, since they share ... um ... well ... let's see ...

Fans who are not judgmental about marijuana use?

For information on the Outside Lands festival, go to the festival's site.


Those attending this year's California State Fair will get a chance to ride amusement rides once owned by the late Michael Jackson.

Butler Amusements, the new carnival operator for the state fair, owns three rides from Neverland Ranch, the Santa Barbara County estate that was Jackson's longtime residence. (Butler bought the rides before Jackson's death in June).

The rides are the Balloon Samba, a family ride that simulates the hot-air balloon experience; the Jeep Ride, an umbrella ride that gives riders the feel of traveling in
4 x 4 vehicles, and the Wave Swinger, a swing ride the lifts riders 40 feet in the air.

The state fair runs Aug. 21-Sept. 7 at Cal Expo in Sacramento. For information on the fair, click here.



Organizers of the Sacramento Film and Music Festival are committed, in equal measure, to film, music and making weeknight programming for the 10-day festival as compelling as the weekend programming.

This evening's lineup at the Crest Theatre (1013 K St., Sacramento), for instance, has to be the hottest ticket in town on a Monday night.

The program starts at 5 p.m. with free food from Rubio's, and moves on to "In-Laws and Outlaws," a documentary in which gay and straight couples discuss their relationships.

But the kicker (hoofer?) is the stage show following "In-Laws." Presented by the festival and New Helvetia Theatre, "The World Is Comin' to a Start: Songs from Stage and Screen" will feature local synth-rock darlings The New Humans, New Helvetia artistic director Connor Mickiewicz, piano man Graham Sobelman and his Graham Sobelman Trioand Nanci Zoppi, who played the surly -- and male -- guitarist Yitzhak in New Helvetia's production of "Hedwig."

Admission is $10 for the movie and $15 for the stage show, which starts at 8:30. Information: (916) 442-7378 or the festival's site.


July 16, 2009
Young filmmakers sought

The Tower of Youth film program doesn't discriminate in terms of style: it seeks computer-animated, live-action and even Claymation entries (three to 40 minutes) from the U.S. and Canada for its North American All Youth Film & Education Day Oct. 2 at the Crest.

The age range for young filmmakers is far more limited, however: only filmmakers ages 13-20 need apply. So if you or someone you know is a wunderkind, the deadline for entries is July 24.

Cost is $20 and entries are available at the Tower of Youth site.


By far the hottest concert month of 2009, July brings such big-ticket acts as Beyonce (July 9, Arco Arena), Coldplay and No Doubt (July 14 and July 24, respectively, Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland) to the Sacramento area.

In terms of pure variety, however, one day in July stands out: On July 10, the squeaky-clean American Idols will play Arco as the darker-tinged Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour, headlined by Marilyn Manson and Slayer, happens 40 miles away in Wheatland.

Too bad Adam Lambert will be too busy with his own show to hang with Manson. Because Manson could teach the "Idol" runner-up a thing or two about Goth androgyny and Lambert could instruct Manson on the joys of smiling on stage and non-monotone singing.

For tickets to these July shows, go to the the Ticketmaster site.

There's famous and there's infamous, and Michael Jackson, over the past several years, had become the latter.

A tabloid fixture better known for his wacky fashions, surgically altered features and Peter Pan complex than his music, Jackson's odd life had, at age 50, almost eclipsed his extraordinary career.

But no matter what one thought of the epaulets on his shoulders, the self-bestowed "King of Pop" title or the 2005 child-molestation trial (he was acquitted), there was no denying the pure magic of Jackson the performer.

From the time he first fronted the Jackson 5 as a boy, he showed he could sing beautifully and dance like a dream, transforming songs such as "ABC" from irresistible to unforgettable.

But he had something else, something extra, that even the very famous rarely possess. When you saw Jackson spin on stage as an 11-year-old or moon-walk as a 24-year-old or heard his high register on "Billie Jean," he induced chills. And not just the first time you saw the video or heard the song. Every time.

In his preternatural abundance of what is called "star quality," Jackson was rivaled only by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, both of whom, not coincidentally, died too young.

Jackson's death, at 50, from a suspected cardiac arrest makes you wonder whether performers as special as he - people touched by some force none of us really understands - ever can enjoy normal lives.


Movies on a Big Screen, the two-times-a-week film series I wrote about in April, no longer will be showing films on Friday nights at a former union hall in West Sacramento. (These things can happen with do-it-yourself endeavors).

MOBS founders Robert McKeown and DeeAnn Little will continue to show films on Sunday nights at the Guild Theatre in Oak Park, and have found temporary digs for Friday shows at 2014 P St. in Sacramento, in the space just above Minnick Web Services.

At 7 and 9:30 p.m. tonight and at 7 p.m. Sunday, MOBS will show "Remix Manifesto," a look at issues pertaining to copyrights in the Internet age.

Cost is $5, and since the P Street venue offers metal folding chairs as seating, viewers can bring their own cushions -- or even their own chairs.

For information on Movies on a Big Screen, go to the series' Web site.


Parking garages are creepy, in life and on screen. So it's no wonder the parking garage at 15th and H streets is part of a shoot for local filmmaker Deon Taylor's series "Nite Tales."

The shoot, which Taylor says will start around 6 p.m. and go into the wee hours, starts on the front porch of 1320 D St., where Essence Atkins ("Dance Flick") and Lauren DeLong (the red-haired actress from the Microsoft commercial who says she is "just not cool enough to be a Mac person") will act out a scene from an episode called "Dark Heart."

The D Street house is supposed to belong to a psychic consulted by the two women. But the parking parking structure is where the horror-movie magic happens, in the form of a chase.

Let's just hope, for the sake of bystanders, that this parking-garage confrontation isn't quite as nasty as the one in "Drag Me to Hell."

Taylor said he expects new episodes of "Nite Tales" -- a Flavor Flav-hosted anthology series that began with a two-episode movie that aired on BET last Halloween, to air in August on cable super station WGN.

There are so many reasons to love the Sacramento French Film Festival, which this year runs June 19-21 and June 27-28 at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento:

1) It shows current and classic French films that otherwise might never be shown in Sacramento;
2) It offers post-films discussions, led by academics, that always make one feel just a bit more civilized;
3) It shows erotic and/or terrifying midnight movies, followed by pastries and coffee in the Crest lobby!

For more reasons to love the SFFS, see the helpful video above. And for information on the festival, which opens with "Paris," a new romantic drama from Cedric Klapisch ("Russian Dolls") that features Juliette Binoche and "Tell No One" star Francois Cluzet , go to the festival Web site.


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.

"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.

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.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Because I live here," Taylor said.







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

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

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

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

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

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

April 13, 2009
Movies on the radio

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

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

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


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

But we appreciate the sentiment, anyway.

April 6, 2009
Movies on the radio

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

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

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

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

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


michaelmadsen.jpg


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

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

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

April 3, 2009
Thanks a lot, CBS

chappell.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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


If you plan every summer around the Sacramento French Film Festival -- and if you don't, you should, because it's great -- it is moving up from July to June this year.

"Many French people go on vacation (back to France) in July," Cecile Mouette Downs, the festival's executive and artistic director, said of the switch. Downs wanted to accommodate those people, as well as college students who might still be in town in June, she said.

The festival will run from June 19-21 and June 27-28 at the Crest Theatre. Though Downs will not announce the full program until May, she did reveal that this year's slate of classic films includes Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" and Jean Renoir 's "The Rules of the Game."

For information on the 2009 festival, see its Web site.


Deon Taylor Enterprises, a local filmmaking company I wrote about a few weeks ago, is looking for a potential host for "Up All Nite," an "Entertainment Tonight"-style show it has in the works. Open auditions will be held from noon-3 p.m. Saturday in front of Macy's at Downtown Plaza (547 L St.) in Sacramento.

According to a press release, the audition is open to men and women, ages 21 to 35, "with the right look, vibe, enthusiasm and confidence to co-host an entertainment show."

In other words, no unibrows.

Applicants should be prepared to deliver a 15- to 20-second bit showing his or her hosting skills. Each person should bring a head shot with contact information, and an entertainment resume or a written paragraph detailing his or her experience in the entertainment business.

The show also is looking for a fashion reporter and a movie critic, so hopefuls interested in those roles should come prepared. For fashion reporter, that means wearing something chic, and for movie critic, wearing a scowl and/or a superior look.

March 31, 2009
Movies on the radio

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

Last Friday, we talked about "Monsters vs. Aliens" and "Sunshine Cleaning," and the Sacramento International Film Festival.

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



In 2007, several films about the war in Iraq hit theaters. Movie-goers, too weary of the real-life war to embrace fictionalized versions, mostly stayed away.

But the best of these films, Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah," (trailer above) scored an Oscar nomination for Tommy Lee Jones' heart-wrenching lead performance as a former military man investigating the disappearance of his soldier son.

"Elah" is plays at 6:30 tonight at the Mondavi Center for the Arts as part of a four-movie Focus on Film series linked to a May 11 Mondavi appearance by Haggis, who also directed "Crash" and wrote the screenplay for "Million Dollar Baby."

The other three films in the series, chosen by Haggis, represent his strongest influences: Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon," (April 13), Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless," (1960), and Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975).

As for "Elah" ... though movie viewers remain weary of war, the passage of time -- along with exposure to several Iraq-themed documentaries and true-life accounts such as the HBO film "Taking Chance" -- have allowed for greater audience perspective on the war. While "Elah" remains a challenging film -- and some of its anti-war symbolism too obvious -- its central questions about the meaning of family, honor and duty now seem almost timeless.

Tickets are $10 general, $5 for students and children (just FYI, "Elah" is rated R and contains disturbing content). For information on the Focus on Film series and the Haggis event, go to the Mondavi the Mondavi site.

I don't often promote film fund-raising projects, because if I had a nickel for every wonderful film that couldn't get funding, well, I'd have nearly enough for the catering budget on a short-film production.

But occasionally, there's a film fund-raiser that just tugs at the heartstrings, like the one at 10:30 tonight at the Crest Theatre (1013 K St.)

Those fine people behind Trash Film Orgy are trying to generate enough money so that they someday can gift the world with "Planet of the Vampire Women," a film that promises space pirates, a heist and -- this is just a guess -- a galaxy's worth of cleavage.

The fund-raiser centers on a showing of "Hard Rock Zombies," a 1984 film that combines the hair-band aesthetic and the walking, blood-thirsty dead.

Since tickets are only $9.50, the TFO folks probably aren't planning to shoot on location in space.

For information, go to the TFO site.


Sue Wilson, director "Broadcast Blues," a documentary lamenting the erosion of the contrasting-views concept in the wake of deregulation and media conglomerates, knows of what she speaks. An Emmy-winning former news producer, she worked at Los Angeles' KCBS back in the days of Jim Lampley, Keith Olbermann and even the Fairness Doctrine.

In the time since, she has seen many broadcast stations' "public interest obligation become a shareholder obligation," said Wilson, 50, who lives in Amador County and has worked locally at Channel 6 (KVIE) and KXJZ (90.9 FM)

"Broadcast Blues," which plays 2 p.m. Sunday at the Crest Theatre, maintains that corporate ownership of (overwhelmingly conservative) talk-radio stations hinders real political discourse and that fewer locally owned stations means less stewardship of decency standards and emergency broadcast systems and fewer opportunities for listeners to lodge complaints locally.

Wilson interviews several national figures in the film, including actor Danny Glover and talk-show host Phil Donahue. She also touches on the case of Jennifer Strange, the 28-year-old Rancho Cordova woman who died in 2007 after a water-drinking contest at KDND (107.9 The End). The FCC has not acted on the Strange family's request to revoke the station's license, Wilson says, and has instead issued 14 more licenses to its parent company, Entercom.

"If they can't keep their nose clean in Sacramento, why are we giving them more licenses?" asks Wilson.

Wilson made the film, she says, to remind people that broadcasters, through their licensing process, promise to uphold the public interest, and that the public can hold them -- and the FCC -- accountable.

"If people become aware of this, we can get the (broadcasters) to start paying attention to us once again," Wilson said.

During the four years she spent making the film, Wilson sought information from the FCC, which has yet to respond to her Freedom of Information Act request request. She also sought an interview with media giant Clear Channel, which declined comment.

If the documentary itself seems one-sided, that's not what Wilson intended.

"If they just won't call you back ... at some point, I have a story to tell and I have to tell it without them," Wilson said.

Tickets are $10 ($5 for students) and are available at the Crest box office at 1013 K St., and through Tickets.com.

Tickets.com. The filmmakers will share proceeds from the screening will Access Sacramento and media Watchdog groups Sacramento Media Group and California Common Cause. All proceeds from a noon fund-raising luncheon at the Crest Cafe (next to the theater) will benefit the same groups.

At 1:30 p.m., Wilson will lead a protest of Rush Limbaugh and "hate radio" in front of the Crest.

For information, call (916) 456-8600 or 443-1792. ext. 11 or visit the movie's Web site.


March 2, 2009
Movies on the radio

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

Last Friday, we talked about 2008 Oscar-winning films available on DVD, including "Man on Wire," the excellent documentary about Philippe Petit, the Frenchman who walked a tight rope between the Twin Towers just after the World Trade Center was built.

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


Those skinny-jeaned sensations Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas will embark on a "surprise theater invasion" of select movie houses showing their rockumentary "Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience."

The personal appearances start Friday, the same day the movie officially opens (there are midnight screenings Thursday).

There's no word on whether the Jonases will be coming to Northern California. I guess that's why they call it a "surprise tour."

Speaking of surprises, parents should be aware, before piling the kids into the car on Friday, that tickets are $15 for everyone -- or about $5.50 more than the typical adult movie ticket.


Thank goodness for Sean Penn. Though his acceptance speech probably wasn't as exciting as Mickey Rourke's would have been, it was full of humor, fire and politics, and it enlivened a sluggish final hour and a half of the Academy Awards.

It started with Penn, named best actor for playing late gay rights activist Harvey Milk, greeting the Kodak audience with, "You Commie, homo-loving sons of guns."

But he was serious in chastising people who voted for the anti-gay marriage Prop. 8. That's a risky move even for the ultra-political Penn. A lot of people voted for Prop. 8, including people who might want to go Penn's films.

The wins for Danny Boyle (best director) and "Slumdog Millionaire" (best picture) were lovely, but also completely predictable, and the show sagged from too many songs (this isn't the Grammys!).

The Oscars' eventual bloat was even more frustrating given how well the show started. But the Academy indulged itself and dared viewers to keep watching. In the process, it might have alienated forever those viewers who haven't warmed much to the mostly arthouse films being honored, anyway.

February 22, 2009
Battle of the 'goddesses'

Darn that Kate Winslet for being so terrific at such a young age. In the "Who's Overdue" stakes that was the best actress race, Winslet, 33, nominated five times previously without winning, triumphed over Meryl Streep , 59, who received her 15th total nomination for "Doubt," and has won twice in the past, once in the lead and once in the supporting category.

In accepting her Oscar for "The Reader," Winslet acknowledged Streep and the other "goddesses" in her category, and by extension, Sophia Loren , Shirley MacLaine and the other past acting winners who introduced the nominees.

Winslet so sincerely excited in delivering her acceptance speech that you had to be glad for her. Still, it doesn't seem fair that Winslet and Streep, 26 years apart in age, now stand exactly the same chance of overtaking Katharine Hepburn 's record four best-actress Oscars.

February 22, 2009
A moving tribute to Ledger

Top Entertainment Stories.jpgEven though the win was expected, the Ledger family's tribute to Heath Ledger still brought tears to the eyes of Ledger fans in the Kodak Theatre and everywhere else.

Talk of Ledger winning the supporting-actor statue this year so dominated the pre-Oscar conversation that I almost overlooked Philip Seymour Hoffman's presence in the same category. And that's strange, given the grudge I've held against Hoffman since he beat out Ledger, nominated for "Brokeback Mountain," with his performance in "Capote."

It wasn't Hoffman's fault, of course, but my attachment to Ledger's taciturn, emotionally wrecked Ennis Del Mar is so great that I couldn't help but blame Hoffman a little. Opinions about film are as emotional as they are intellectual, after all, and when it comes to certain performances, they even can be a touch irrational.

But seeing Ledger's work finally recognized over Hoffman's redefines "hollow victory." I'd much rather see Ledger alive and losing to Hoffman every year.

February 22, 2009
Just a question ...

Does Beyonce have to be on everything?

February 22, 2009
Scratch that ...


They do seem to be dragging things out once again.

Otherwise, why the romantic-coupling montage that included films more Razzie- than Oscar-worthy? Don't we deserve a warning before they show a clip of "The Other Boleyn Girl"?

Clearly, the Academy included this whole montage to give "Twilight" dreamboat Robert Pattinson something to introduce.

At least the cinematography award was a bone, though, and certainly a well-deserved win for Anthony Dod Mantle. His vibrant cinematography is one of the reasons "Slumdog Millionaire" transfixes nearly everyone who sees it.

February 22, 2009
Yay movie stars!


This new Oscar look is great! What with the blue, nightclubby set design, the multitalented Hugh Jackman singing, dancing and even bringing up the recession, it's as if the Oscars have figured out how to be relevant again.

It all seems so intimate and communal, with movie stars right at Jackman's feet, ready to be ribbed (even a suddenly de-iced Angelina Jolie!).

Also loved seeing all those past supporting-actress winners present the award to Penelope Cruz . And Cruz was so gracious and looked so
Audrey Hepburn-esque while accepting.

Dare I say it? I am very excited about this year's Oscars. Let's just hope they don't drag things out like they usually do, practically daring the audience to keep watching in between major awards.


hedwig.jpg

Two great movie-related events that cost little to no money to attend are happening in Davis Monday, Feb. 23. The only hitch is, they're happening at virtually the same time.

At 6:30 p.m., the Mondavi Center's Focus on Film Series will show the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock film "Strangers on a Train" ($10/$5). At 7 p.m., John Cameron Mitchell, writer and star of the stage show and film "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," will speak on campus at the Technocultural Studies Building (formerly the Art Annex) in a free event open to the public (or at least those members of the public who are 18 or older).

Mitchell recently completed a three-day run at San Francisco's Victoria Theatre, where he sang songs from "Hedwig," a rock musical in which he starred as 1980s East German transsexual with relationship issues. If you haven't seen the 2001 film -- also directed by Mitchell -- go rent it. It's heartbreaking and hilarious, and features some great glitter rock-esque songs by composer Stephen Trask.

It also contains a wonderful running gag in which Hedwig, now in the United States and fronting a band, plays a series of gigs at a chain of seafood restaurants called "Bilgewater's." I've always found that Freecreditreport.com commercial where the guy sings about being stuck working in a pirate-themed restaurant to be a bit too reminiscent of the Bilgewater's bits.

For information about the "Strangers" screening, visit the Mondavi site.

To find out more about the Mitchell event, call (530) 752-9674.


Mark S. Allen and I live-blogged about the Oscars today from noon-1 p.m. Those who missed it can catch it here:

In anticipation of Sunday's Academy Awards, Mark S. Allen of "Good Day Sacramento" and I will blog live from noon-1 p.m. today at www.sacbee.com/live.

We will discuss our picks in the lead Oscar categories and field your questions and comments.

My predictions will run in Friday's Ticket section, and I will be blogging here at 21Q as the show happens Sunday night.

February 18, 2009
Live Oscar chat on Thursday

On Thursday, Mark S. Allen of CW 31's "Good Day Sacramento" and I will offer our Oscar predictions and field your questions during a live chat at www.sacbee.com/live that will last from noon-1 p.m.

We would love to hear your opinions about who'll take home Oscars during the ceremony Sunday night.

In the meantime, here are trailers for the films vying for best picture:
"Milk", "The Reader", "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Slumdog Millionaire", "Frost/Nixon".

Those clips are not listed in order of where I think they might fall in the Oscar voting. I will discuss the real order with Mark on "Good Day Sacramento" at 8:10 a.m. and then, more extensively during the live chat.

My predictions in the lead categories also will appear in Friday's Ticket section, and I will also be blogging about the Oscars as they happen here on the 21Q blog Sunday night.

February 17, 2009
Oscars live chat on Thursday

Who do you think will be named best actress at Sunday Academy Awards, Kate Winslet or Meryl Streep? And which is the best film of the year, "Slumdog Millionaire," "Milk" or "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"?

At noon on Thursday, Mark S. Allen of CW 31's "Good Day Sacramento" and I will offer our best guesses and field your questions and comments during a live chat. To participate, go to www.sacbee.com/live.

We also will discuss the Oscars at 8:10 a.m. Thursday on "Good Day Sacramento."

My Oscar predictions will appear in Friday's Ticket section.

February 17, 2009
Movies on the radio

Every Friday afternoon, I talk movies with with Kitty O'Neal and R.E. Graswich on KFBK (1530 AM).

Even when the movies are duds (as was the case with The International" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic"), the discussion still can be lively. If you want to take a listen, click here.

Aiming for those couples who like to celebrate with dinner and a movie, Hollywood likes to release at least one romantic comedy right around Valentine's Day. This year, it's "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

But this would-be light-as-air movie, based on the best-selling novel by Sophie Kinsella. depresses more than it entertains. Its attempts at physical comedy are leaden, and its message, which holds that overspending, though unwise, also can be adorable, plays as very dated.

Having the clothes-crazy lead character (Isla Fisher) learn her lesson at the end doesn't compensate for all the moments where she's lying to debt collectors while continuing to charge, charge, charge.

To be fair, "Shopaholic" was shot before the nation's economic nose-dive rendered anything tied to frivolous spending instantly inappropriate. But that doesn't make it less awkward to watch.

A better Valentine's Day bet is "He's Just Not That Into You," which has more to say about romance and life and says it better.

February 10, 2009
Free film for state workers

Good news for beleaguered state workers: On Friday, Feb. 27, the Movies on a Big Screen series in West Sacramento will show the comedy "Adventures of Power" (trailer above) free of charge to state workers and other viewers who flash their union cards.

"Adventures in Power" involves a mine worker named Power (Ari Gold, who also wrote and directed) who moonlights as an "air drummer" (as in, air guitar). When Power's union-leader father (Michael McKean) calls a strike at the mine, Power discovers a (figuratively) underground group of stickless compatriots.

McKean ("This Is Spinal Tap") is of course no stranger to musical parodies, and Jane Lynch, who plays Power's aunt, is, like McKean, a veteran of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries.

The wild card is Adrian Grenier, who appears to play an actual character -- a sleazy rock drummer -- instead of just standing around looking pretty, as he does on HBO's "Entourage."

Funny, but Ari Gold also is the name of Jeremy Piven's agent character on "Entourage." That coincidence probably provided seconds of laughter on the "Adventures of Power" set.

Non-union workers have to pay $5 to see the film, which will be show at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at 600 4th St, West Sacramento. But students get in for $2.50. Visit www.shiny-object.com for information.

February 2, 2009
Movies on the radio

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

Last Friday, we discussed my review
of "New in Town" along with the DVD release of Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," for which Penélope Cruz nabbed a supporting-actress Oscar nomination.

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


January 27, 2009
Movies on the radio

Every Friday at 4:40 p.m., I discuss movies with Kitty O'Neal and R.E. Graswich on KFBK.

Last Friday, I discussed my review of "Stinkheart" "Inkheart" as well as Sunday's story about old movie theaters and Monday's story in which I picked my personal favorites among Oscar nominees.

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

If you want to read the stories, go to www.sacbee.com/meyer or just click here.


January 22, 2009
Some Oscar omissions


Academy Awards voters showed some welcome independent thinking in the nominations announced this morning, especially in the lead actor category, in which the wonderful Richard Jenkins was nominated for his performance in the small (and nearly perfect) character study "The Visitor." But what was left off Oscar's list is always more interesting than what was included.

Like Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino." Eastwood's borderline self-parodying yet immensely powerful performance in that film is truly something to behold. More people want to talk to me about "Gran Torino" than any other film released during the awards season. Yet the film was shut out completely.

Perhaps Oscar voters were put off by the film's racist language. But that seems an unlikely reason for the snub, given that Robert Downey Jr. received a supporting nod for his comedic performance as an actor who dyes his skin to play an African American character in "Tropic Thunder." And the Academy seems to love "The Reader," which presents a criminally bigoted character in a sympathetic light.

The other 2008 film directed by Eastwood, "Changeling," did receive three nominations, though, for cinematography and art direction (well deserved), and for its lead actress, Angelina Jolie (undeserved). Why Jolie's one-note performance as a grieving mother was recognized over Kristin Scott Thomas' transcendent performance as a woman just released from prison in "I've Loved You So Long" is a mystery.

It's also a real shame that the Academy didn't see fit to recognize Sally Hawkins' performance as a peppy schoolteacher with hidden depths in "Happy-Go-Lucky" (the trailer for which is posted above, just because).

Melissa Leo seemed to take the truly-independent-film spot in the lead actress category for her performance as people-smuggler in the tiny film "Frozen River." But her performance, though accomplished, can't compare to Hawkins' or Scott Thomas'.

The good news in the lead actress category is that Meryl Streep, who received her 15th total Academy Award nomination this morning for her role as a suspicious nun in "Doubt," could easily triumph. Streep goes a bit overboard in "Doubt," but nobody would be unhappy to see her win a third Academy Award.

The omission of "The Dark Knight" in the directing and best-picture categories also is viewed as a slight by some. But I never got on that particular bandwagon. The eight nominations it received were in categories where it merited them, such as cinematography, visual effects, and of course, supporting actor, for the late Heath Ledger 's mesmerizing, inventive performance as The Joker.

In Monday's newspaper, I will pick my personal favorites in all the lead categories.

Oscars will be handed out Feb. 22.

Click here to view a list of the 81st annual Oscar nominations

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association doesn't have the best track record in predicting the Oscar best picture. In 2007, for instance, it chose "Babel" over "The Departed" in the best drama category.

But this year, it seems to be on the money in choosing "Slumdog Millionaire." Grimly realistic yet life-affirming, gritty yet gorgeous, "Slumdog" is the most purely entertaining film to factor in this awards season.

It's not the best movie among the top awards contenders, though. That's "Milk," which the Hollywood Foreign Press Association didn't even see fit to nominate for best drama.

That crazy Hollywood Foreign Press Association: You can only love it for about a minute before you have second thoughts.

January 11, 2009
Rourke all the way


You gotta love a comeback story like Mickey Rourke's, especially when the character he's being honored for playing is also a struggling guy who used to be a big deal. ("The Wrestler" opens Friday in Sacramento.)

And the roughed-up mug, sunglasses and wallet chain couldn't conceal Rourke's vulnerability as he delivered his acceptance speech. I mean, the guy thanked his dogs.

He's heartbreaking, on screen and off.

And the sparkly scarf? AWESOME.

January 11, 2009
Tina the Great


NBC/AP

The moment "30 Rock" was announced best comedy, Tina Fey, so brilliant, so multitalented, seemed primed to come to something else -- overexposed. And I'm not talking about her dress. Fey has been everywhere in the past several months.


But instead of calling more attention to herself, Fey had "30 Rock" co-star Tracy Morgan take the microphone. It was pact they made, Morgan said, after Barack Obama was elected president.

"I'm the face of post-racial America," Morgan told the audience. "Deal with it, Cate Blanchett!"

Why he chose Blanchett isn't clear. But it was funny.

Later, when making her way to the podium to accept the award for best actress in a comedy, Fey seemed embarrassed by the fuss.


"If you ever start to feel too good about yourself," she told the audience, "they have this thing called the Internet."

Charming, disarming, always a bit dorky, Fey is just the best celebrity going right now.



January 11, 2009
Ledger's impact

"Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan just spoke so eloquently in accepting the Golden Globe for Heath Ledger.

Though it was sad to see the clip of Ledger as the Joker, Nolan quickly put things into perspective by pointing out that Ledger will have a lasting impact on cinematic history.

It was a lovely speech. I hope Nolan will speak on Ledger's behalf again, at the Oscars.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 28, 2008
The crooner takes it all


So you're the world's greatest ABBA and "Mamma Mia!" fan, but some of those Swedish-to-English lyrics still puzzle. Why for instance, would anyone want to "feel the bean on the tambourine?" What's it doing there, anyway?
To clear up confusion, Universal is offering a sing-along version of its popular, Meryl Streep led movie musical, starting Friday. Fans can follow along to the lyrics on the screen and sing to their hearts' content at three local theaters: Century Stadium, Century Laguna and UA Roseville.
And yes, this will be your chance to show that you really can sing better than Pierce Brosnan!


July 7, 2008
An extended visit



It's midway through 2008, and therefore time to take a look back at the excellent films released so far this year in Sacramento. It shouldn't take long, since by my count, there have been two: "WALL-E" and "The Visitor."

Since everyone and their 3-year-old is aware of the charms of "WALL-E," I will focus on "The Visitor," my favorite film of the year so far.

The story of hemmed-in college professor (the superb Richard Jenkins) invigorated by unexpected relationships with an immigrant couple (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira, both revelations) and the man's widowed mother (Hiam Abbass, stunning in every sense), "The Visitor" is the kind of carefully observed character study that reminds film lovers why they fell for this particular art form in the first place.

The characters are so well-rounded, and their behavior so emotionally authentic, that this quiet film engages the viewer more thoroughly than any pyrotechnics-filled summer action movie.

What's especially nice about "The Visitor" is that it's stuck around for two months -- an unusually long run for a small film.

Bryna Lovig, box-office manager at the Crest Theatre, where the film will play at least through the weekend, says film-goers are seeing "The Visitor" more than once. The movie's percussion-heavy soundtrack (Sleiman's character is a professional drummer), which the Crest features as its "walk-in," or pre-show, music, "is also getting rave reviews," Lovig says.

The film's trailer (shown above, via YouTube), should give you a sense of its loveliness and emotional power. But for the full impact, go see "The Visitor" this week at The Crest.
It's showing at 5:50 and 8:40 p.m. and is rated PG-13.



July 1, 2008
A shot at filmmaking

Given the advancements in digital filmmaking and editing technology, it's never too late - or too early - for filmmaking hopefuls to become actual filmmakers.
Organizers of the North American All Youth Film and Education Day, scheduled for Oct. 3 at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, are encouraging filmmakers ages 13 to 20 to submit entries.
Virtually all types of entries are accepted - from live action to animation, from dramatic narrative to experimental - as long as they run between three and 40 minutes.
The deadline for submissions is July 9.
For information, call (916) 798-4000. For a complete list of guidelines for entries and to download an entry form, go to the Web site for the event.
.

June 24, 2008
Paris in Sacramento

The Sacramento French Film Festival has confirmed the lineup for its 2008 event, to take place July 18-20 and July 26-27 at the Crest Theatre.

As always, the selections range from the humorous ("OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies," an espionage spoof opening the festival) to the scary (the psycho-horror midnight offering "High Tension"), and from the ground-breaking to the classic.

Put simply, this festival offers cinematic opportunities unavailable anywhere else in Sacramento, during any other time of year. Like the opportunity, at this year's festival, to see Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" on the big screen.

The festival still is a few weeks away, but the fun already has started with the promotional video shown above (via YouTube). It features key players from behind the scenes, including festival co-founders Cecile Downs -- and Connie Georgiou, as pals on their way to see a show.

(Spoiler alert: the stranger getting fresh with Downs actually is her husband, strong>John)

For the complete festival line-up, see festival's Web site


June 19, 2008
The bounds of PG-13


When you see as many movies as I do, you get a sense just from watching a film what it's going to be rated.

But my rating abilities have proved faulty lately. Certain that the innuendo-filled "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" and "The Love Guru" (opening Friday) were rated R, I was surprised to find each rated PG-13.

Now, PG-13 always has been amorphous, allowing all sorts of questionable material as long as certain body parts and curse words stay under wraps.

I often have lamented, in print and in person, the amount of violence the MPAA allows in PG-13 films. I then follow -- at least in person -- with a kicker about how Americans are prudes about sex and far too accepting of violence. (This observation usually leads my friends, gathered around me in a dark coffeehouse, to nod so vigorously in agreement that the berets nearly slip from their heads).

But "Zohan" and "Love Guru" suggest the MPAA is loosening up on the sex front - a development I'll file in the "careful what you wish for" category.

Because when I call the MPAA raters prudish, I am referring to their stance on sex scenes between attractive people, not their views on penis jokes delivered by comic characters.

Maybe it's not sexuality that discomfits the ratings board after all, but the sincere expression of it.

I think the MPAA has intimacy issues.


June 16, 2008
Read it on purpose

We don't usually cover books at 21Q, but this one has a movie tie-in: Mary Pols, former movie critic at the Contra Costa Times, has written a terrific memoir called "Accidentally on Purpose" (HarperCollins, 272 pages, $24.95).

Beginning on the night she got pregnant -- by a nice young man she didn't know very well -- "Accidentally on Purpose" details Pols' transition from 39-year-old single film critic to working mom trying to negotiate motherhood, a career and a tricky relationship with her child's father.

There's loads of insight along the way, punctuated by tremendously funny and achingly sad passages and related with a level of candor that's unusual even for a memoir. Reading "Accidentally on Purpose" is like entering someone's mind and heart.

I couldn't put it down. And I'm not saying this because I know her -- because I didn't really know her until I read the book.

Most of the times I have seen her -- at film screenings or at meetings of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, a group Mary founded -- we have talked almost exclusively about movies. And real life, as we all know, is far more interesting. "Accidentally on Purpose" testifies to that.

For information on the book, click here ...

The locally themed short films "Kindred" and "Being Lisa" have been honored with "Hometown" awards by the Alliance for Community Media in Washington, D.C. The films were made as part of Access Sacramento's 2007 "A Place Called Sacramento" program, which asks filmmakers to compose 10-minute shorts with local themes.

"Kindred" (shown below via YouTube) imagines a physician whose vivid dreams evoke the 1850 cholera epidemic in Sacramento. The film's director, Sacramento graphic designer Scott Howe, 43, arrived at the idea for the film while his father was in the hospital getting his kidney removed. He came up with a location while working at his former job at California State University, Sacramento.

"I noticed that the basement of the library building looked just like a hospital,"
says Howe, who now works for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.


"Being Lisa" (below) involves a fledgling romance between and man and a transgender woman who meet over a business dinner.
.

The experience of making "Being Lisa" convinced co-director/co-writer Becca Louisell, 34, who works for a local nonprofit, to apply to film school.

The project helped inspire her to "get work out there that has some kind of meaning," says Louisell, who co-wrote the film with Gene Hoisington, Steven Bourasa and the film's star, Amara Stefani, and directed it with Hoisington and Bourasa. She since has been accepted into the prestigious USC film program.

"Kindred" and "Being Lisa" will be honored in the "cultural perspectives" and "gay/lesbian" professional categories, respectively, at the ACM "Hometown" awards ceremony July 10 in Washington.

For information on the 2008 "A Place Called Sacramento" contest, now in the production stage, go to www.accesssacramento.org.

June 5, 2008
Of mice and movies


Last week I wrote a short news story that combined by favorite subject, movies, with one of my least favorite subjects, rodents. And I am still torn.

The closed theaters and snack bar at the Century Stadium 14 soon were up and running again, after being re-inspected. The county returned again Wednesday to make sure things remained up to snuff.

But as I said, I am torn. Having worked in food service in my youth, I know it takes constant vigilance to keep pests out, and that it's naive to think a place where customers routinely leave sodas, popcorn and candy on the floor wouldn't attract elements even less desirable than people who talk on cell phones during movies.

I just wish I had never seen behind this particular curtain. The Century Stadium 14 is one of my favorite places to see a movie in the Sacramento area. I especially love the smaller theaters, where the screens are big and the sound terrific.

Indeed, my love for these theaters is so great that I think it outweighs the creep-out factor. So ... I will heed the judgment of county inspectors and head back to the Century Stadium 14.

I just won't be wearing my flip-flops.


"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" isn't the only movie game in town this weekend. Here are some of my other recommendations:

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
3 stars
In a series of touching montage-flashbacks in this decidedly naughty but big-hearted film, we see how Peter (Jason Segel), a composer for a TV crime drama starring Sarah (Kristen Bell), gladly took a back seat to his actress girlfriend. He happily wore the hideous shirts she bought him and generally thought everything was great until the moment she left.
Rated R

Iron Man
3 stars
Scenes set in Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) workshop highlight his playful relationship with his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Downey locks his eyes with Paltrow's in a way that tells us that Pepper might be the one to change Stark's playboy ways. Paltrow looks terrific here, playing her character with a constant hint of a smile that says Pepper is wise to Stark's ways but adores him anyway. Though it's odd to see Paltrow in a supporting role in a comic-book film, she does a lot with it.
Rated PG-13

The Visitor
4 stars
Director and screenwriter Tom McCarthy 's exceptional way with actors doesn't surprise: He recently played the fabulist newspaper reporter on HBO's "The Wire." But he's a marvelous storyteller altogether, injecting humor into his film while exploring the serious topic of the treatment of illegal immigrants.
Rated PG-13

April 2, 2008
A class event

cheerleaders

The Trash Film Orgy Spring Break, an event whose title flirts with redundancy, will offer the 1976 film "Revenge of the Cheerleaders" as well as the TFO-made short film "Cheerleaders from Hell" on Saturday at the Crest Theatre.

"Revenge of the Cheerleaders" features the first big-screen appearance of David Hasselhoff. That's right: The Hoff was big in high school exploitation films even before he was big in Germany.

Doors open at 11 p.m. for the 18-and-over event. For more information, go here.

November 8, 2007
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Every week in Friday's Weekend Ticket section, I review new movies and I recommend previously released ones. Can't wait to read it? Well, this feature now appears at 21Q each Thursday afternoon.

My picks among recently released movies:

American Gangster
3 stars
Steven Zaillians script contrasts cop Richie (Russell Crowe, pictured below) crowe
and drug dealer Frank (Denzel Washington) in interesting ways. Richie is a womanizer and an inattentive father whose saving grace is his professional honesty. Frank, on the other hand, holds things together quite well in his criminal and personal lives until his affection for the one-time Miss Puerto Rico (Lymari Nadal) leads to an action that seems out of character and proves to be a mistake.
Rated R

Bee Movie
3 stars
This animated film really springs to life when the buff pollen jocks let puny Barry (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld) tag along for a flight through the park. An extended sequence in which Barry experiences city life from a bees-eye view offers an amazing display of animation. An interaction with a mosquito (a hilarious Chris Rock) teaches Barry a thing or two about survival in the big city.
Rated PG

Lars and the Real Girl
3 stars
This heartfelt film focuses on the sweetest romance ever to involve a blow-up doll. As a seriously shy young man whose efforts to fit in are a bit unorthodox, Ryan Gosling shows why he is one of todays most sensitive and talented young actors.
Rated PG-13

October 11, 2007
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Every week in Friday's Weekend Ticket section, I review new movies and I recommend previously released ones. Can't wait to read it? Well, this feature now appears at 21Q each Thursday afternoon.

My picks among recently released movies:

Eastern Promises
3 stars
Viggo Mortensen always has been magnetic, but never more so than in his role as Nikolai, the Russian-born driver for a mobster named Kirill (Vincent Cassel). Nikolai is not just great-looking (though in a decidedly been-to-prison way), but smart and decisive. Superior to Kirill in every way, he doesn't take guff from his boss but doesn't cross the line into disrespect.
Rated R

Into the Wild
4 stars
intothewild The young and wandering hero (Emile Hirsch) of director Sean
Penn
's breathtaking, compassionate film seeks adventure while also trying to escape his past. That past intrudes when strangers inquire about his parents, gently urging him to contact his family. It's always clear that this is the type of single-minded journey that can be celebrated only when embarked upon by a young person. An older man, with more emotional attachments and fewer childhood-based resentments, would be less likely to take such a trip - and less sympathetic if he did.
Rated R

The Jane Austen Book Club
3 stars
It doesn't seem like a movie featuring such a large, accomplished cast would lend itself to scene-stealing. But Emily Blunt ("The Devil Wears Prada") stands out with her multilayered performance as Prudie, a high school French teacher who fancies herself more intellectual than everyone else.
Rated PG-13

October 4, 2007
Carla Meyer's Movie Picks

Every week in Friday's Weekend Ticket section, I review new movies and I recommend previously released ones. Can't wait til Friday? Well, this feature now also appears at 21Q each Thursday afternoon.

My picks among recently released movies:

Across-the-Universe.jpg
Across the Universe
2 1/2 stars

Julie Taymors Beatles musical goes on too long and lags in stretches, but some production numbers are truly magical. At its best moments, the film mixes great sophistication with goofy charm. (Check out Eddie Izzard, pictured, as Mr. Kite.)
Rated PG-13

Eastern Promises
3 stars

Anna (Naomi Watts), a midwife tangling with mobsters, isnt a criminal, but that doesnt mean shes easily put off. Watts has played amateur sleuths and/or imperiled women for much of her career, yet she still lends a freshness to Annas determination and naivete. She also shows tremendous chemistry with Viggo Mortensen, who plays an enigmatic mob chauffeur.
Rated R

3:10 to Yuma
3 1/2 stars

As loyal second to criminal mastermind Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), Ben Foster looks like Billy the Kid as outfitted by the wardrobe person for Velvet Revolver. Foster goes big with his performance a gambit that works surprisingly well as counterpoint to the more subtle work by Crowe and Christian Bale.
Rated R

September 17, 2007
The 'Flawed Estate'

A few months ago, I wrote in The Bee about the portrayal of journalists in movies. Inspired by "A Mighty Heart," I contrasted that film's depiction of journalists as resourceful and intelligent with most films' portrayals of news folks as ethically challenged and/or likely to sleep with their sources.

jodie

A quick glance at current films shows that journalism remains the go-to profession for screenwriters out to create morally murky characters. In "Interview," which I mentioned in July but which just reached Sacramento, a political reporter's (Steve Buscemi) transgressions while interviewing a starlet (Sienna Miller) start with being unprepared and then escalate.

In "The Hunting Party," opening Friday, a disgraced television correspondent played by Richard Gere oversteps journalistic bounds in about a hundred ways. But the worst has to be Jodie Foster (pictured above) in "The Brave One."

Foster's character guns down criminals, then shows up, microphone in hand, to interview a detective (Terrence Howard). At least her character is more radio host than reporter, which is some comfort.

August 22, 2007
Curse or bad judgment?

Nicole.jpg
Warner Bros.

You've probably heard about the "Oscar curse", the theory that the next step after an Academy Award is "Boat Trip" (Cuba Gooding Jr.) or "Aeon Flux" (Charlize Theron).

Missing from the Berrys and Benignis that inevitably get mentioned is one name, Nicole Kidman. Yet a glance at Kidman's resume since she won her Oscar for 2002's "The Hours" shows a string of box-office disappointments, the most recent of which is the clunker "The Invasion" (pictured).

I know, I know. That's partly because she chooses quirky and/or arty projects such as "Dogville," "Birth" and "Fur." But I'm pretty sure "Bewitched" and "The Stepford Wives" weren't just labors of love.

Kidman will star in two promising films in the coming months. They include "Margot at the Wedding," from Noah Baumbach, director of the indie gem "The Squid and the Whale," and "The Golden Compass," a potential monster hit of a fantasy film.

But the days of $17 million paychecks (Kidman's reported asking price) might be numbered.

August 16, 2007
Meyer's Picks

Each week in Friday's Weekend Ticket, I review the weekend's new movies. I also list recommendations for recently released films in a feature called Meyer's Picks. Now, you can find this feature each Thursday afternoon here at 21Q.

Here are my recommendations:

The Bourne Ultimatum
4 stars

The handheld camera work might unsettle some viewers, but it adds tremendous immediacy to this nonstop-action film. Memory-challenged CIA-trained assassin Jason Bourne is an implausibly resourceful character, but he always compels, in large part because of Matt Damon's performance. Resembling a bullet in build and determination, Damon's Bourne will attempt to eradicate all obstacles. He was trained to do so. But the key to his character's appeal is that he doesn't want to be what he is.
Rated PG-13

Stardust
2 1/2 stars

Shopboy-turned-adventurer Tristan (Charlie Cox) is a fool for a beautiful young woman (Sienna Miller), but not a fool altogether. As played by the likable Cox, he's a wonderful, even ideal, fairy-tale hero. Tristan is handsome and adventurous but sensible as well. As much as he enjoys engaging in witty repartee with a fallen star (Claire Danes) in the crater she created, he insists that they keep moving.
Rated PG-13

Hairspray
3 1/2 stars

John Travolta plays a woman here, but his singing voice was higher, not to mention stronger, in "Grease." Yet his performance, though always a curio, is completely infectious, because Travolta emanates such warmth and delight at being able to put on a show. His scenes with Nikki Blonsky, an 18-year-old newcomer and dynamo, brim with affection.
Rated PG

That's my list. Now let's see what you think. Just click on the comments button below.

By Carla Meyer
- Bee Movie Critic


July 20, 2007
July goes for GLBT

MTV-Film-Chuck-and-Larry.jpg
Associated Press

June might be designated as official GLBT pride month, but July is making a pretty good case for itself at local theaters. An unusual number of gay - or gayish-themed - movies open today in Sacramento.

These films range wildly in tone and content, from Sacramento French Film Festival opener "Les Temoins,", a moving drama set during the onset of the AIDs crisis in France, to the Hollywood comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," in which Adam Sandler and Kevin James (pictured above) play firefighters posing as gay for the domestic-partner benefits.

Right. Because gay people get all the great benefits.

While "Chuck & Larry" seeks a broad audience, the unrated "Boy Culture" sounds happily niche. The independent drama, which focuses on a male hustler, will play for one week at the Crest Theatre.

The wild card is "Hairspray," about which there is nothing overtly gay, as star John Travolta has pointed out. But given that Travolta plays a drag role associated with Divine and Harvey Fierstein, and the musical's origins as a 1988 John Waters film, we'll call it an honorary gay film.

To read my review of "Hairspray," click here.

July 18, 2007
Summer movies? Why yes!

Birds.jpgAugust tends to be a lackluster month for Hollywood movies, especially as it wears on. As parents' and kids' thoughts turn to the new school year, the studios' thoughts turn to burning off their non-starters.

The Sacramento film scene thankfully has taken compensatory measures. First and foremost is the Sacramento International Film & Music Festival Aug. 8-12 at the Crest Theatre. (Just
click here for more details.)

The event opens with "When a Man Falls in the Forest," a Sharon Stone-Timothy Hutton drama from Redwood Palms Pictures of Folsom. The festival also will feature an evening with homegrown director Joe Carnahan ("Narc"; "Smokin' Aces") on Aug. 10.

And for cinema lovers who prefer to bring their own seats, there's the free Screen on the Green outdoor film series on Saturday nights, presented by Councilman Steve Cohn. (All films start at sundown.)

On Aug. 4, Screen on the Green will offer "Ghost Busters" at East Portal Park, followed by "E.T." on Aug. 11 at Grant Park and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on Aug. 18 at Babcock Park.

The series concludes Aug. 25 at Glen Hall Park with Alfred Hitchcocks's "The Birds." (Tippi Hedren pictured.) The outdoor setting should increase the talon-on-the-head, chill-down-the-spine effect of that last one.



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