Things to Do in Sacramento and Beyond

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


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Deftones bassist Chi Cheng remains in a coma following a Nov. 3 car accident near San Jose. Now, Cheng's family and friends are trying to raise money to help pay for his medical bills,

Fans can donate money through the One Love for Chi site and all proceeds will go directly to Chi's mother, Jeanne Cheng.

The goal is to raise a minimum of $20,000 - so far they've netted just under $5,000.

In addition to donating, fans can also keep up with Cheng's status via family blog updates.

The Deftones are scheduled to play their first show without Cheng, April 5 at the Bamboozle Left Festival in Irvine, Calif,

Former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega will perform in Cheng's place. Vega is a friend of the band's and has filled in for Cheng in the past.

No word yet on when "Eros" the album the band was recording before Cheng's accident, will be released but look for another benefit show in the coming months as well as more Deftones dates.

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Sasha Soukup wanted to get away from it all. So, she and husband Chris Streng packed up their San Francisco home and moved to Grass Valley.

Soukup found it quiet and peaceful and, well, kind of boring.

"We lived by ourselves at the end of a dirt road and I got really tired of myself," Soukup says. "I needed some hobbies and I'd started to notice my own crappy patterns when it came to not making art."

And, so armed with a desire to get something done, she joined a local artists' group and started exploring music. Soukup had sang and played before - but never really beyond her bedroom.

"I had terrible stage fright," she says.

But, as she started to feel at ease with her art, Soukup decided it was time to take it public - with a little help from her husband and a set of makeshift drums.

"We didn't have drums at first, he was just playing on pans and a bucket."

That stopgap approach fits the music.

Anchored by Soukup's raw, punk voice, the Shamrocks, who recently added bass player Taylor cook, make music inspired by everything from '50s pop vocals, and doo wop to calypso, punk and pop.

"I've been listening to a lot of music from the San Francisco psychedelic music scene lately - a lot of Jefferson Airplane," she says.

"We've been doing a cover of White Rabbit' - I love the way Grace Slick sings, it's so operatic and trippy."

Sasha & the Shamrocks

Song: "Happy Anywhere"
Style: Lo-fi experimental pop with a nostalgic flair
Behind the song: The musical structure came first.
"It's just a fun little thing, the chord is a happy little thing."
The lyrical content follows a parallel to Soukup's life.
"The words are all about different places around the world - places my close friends have been," Soukup says. "There's someone who spent time on a fishing boat in Alaska, another friend lives in Dubai.
"It's just about making that choice to move out of our comfort zone, when you get that bug to change something up geographically."

Listen to "Happy Anywhere" here;


See them: Saturday at the Center for the Performing Arts (314 W. Main St, Grass Valley). Uni & her Ukulele and Tippy Canoe also perform. The 8 p.m. is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information: www.thecenterforthearts.org and (530) 274-8384.

On the Web: myspace.com/sashaandtheshamrocks

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Chelsea Wolfe was a good girl. The Sacramento singer-songwriter still is actually.

"I don't think I've ever been a rebel - I've always considered myself a good person," Wolfe says. "I believe in honesty and kindness and integrity and kindness.

But...

"I have a dark side that I keep to myself - I only show it through my music. The rest of the time I'm very happy-go-lucky."

Certainly, with its ethereal dirge of guitars, keyboard and strings floating beneath a mournful voice, Wolfe's music is anything but cheerful. Still, its roots have somewhat happier origins.

The 20something Wolfe's been making music since she was nine and she and her sisters crafted "gothic hip-hop" songs in her country musician dad's home studio.

"They were hilarious but some of the songs were kind of awesome considering we were so young," she says.

Now, she adds, it seems as if she's "been writing songs forever."

It took her years to get them out of the house. Wolfe didn't start performing live until 2005, a year after she returned home from Capetown, South Africa where she'd been attending bible school and working with children.

Today, Wolfe says, her Christian faith is still part of her music.

"There are a lot of themes that relate to spirituality," she says. "It inspires the things I write."

Wolfe is currently at work on a new album. It will be, she says, "grittier" than her first CD, 2006's "Mistakes in Parting."

"I'm working with a friend (Sacramento musician) Scott McChane but it's mostly self-produced," she says. "I'm using some of the original demo tracks for the songs so rather than having everything sound so sparkling clean, it has a much more personal sound."


Chelsea Wolfe

Song: "Underwater"

Style: Ghostly folk-pop

Behind the song
: Wolfe's new album follows a delicate thread of self-doubt.

"It's about feeling you're going crazy, like you're lost in your head, attempting to fit into a normal world," Wolfe says. "This song is the first track and it sets the mood. I wanted it to be droning and spacey and moody."

"Underwater"'s narrative draws on the story of the writer Virginia Woolf's suicide by drowning.

"I wanted to explore her situation - what drove her to walk into a river with stones in her pocket," Wolfe says.

"I wanted it to sound like what it felt like when she went underwater."

See her: 7 p.m Saturday, March 14 at the Blackwater Cafe (912 North Yosemite, Stockton).

For more information: www.blackwatercafestockton.com/

Listen to "Underwater" here:


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It feels like it's a lifetime away but mark your calendars: Rod Stewart will bring a new greatest hits tour to Sacramento, August 5 at Arco Arena.

Greatest hits? He has them.

Rod "The Mod" Stewart's career spans several decades and boasts countless hits including the seminal "Maggie May," "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and "You're in My Heart."

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14 through Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.

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Why let Second Saturday have all the fun? Get some art action a week early this Saturday when the Artisan (1901 Del Paso Blvd.) hosts "Movement in Design," an evening of music, fashion and art.

"Movement in Design" - a.k.a. MODSAC - will highlight fashion area boutiques and designers including Van Der Neer, United State and Havoc. There will be live music too via DJ Greg J, the New Humans, Diamond Monsterrr and DJ Rock Bottom.

There will also be a "Battle of the Boutiques" fashion-inspired art exhibit.

The all-ages event starts at 6 p.m. and costs $5 at the door.

For more information www.modsac.com

small_smlogojpg.jpg Mike Farrell didn't really want to make music anymore - much less a rock record. But there was the well-known Sacramento guitarist with a batch of songs and some pals who wanted to finally hear them.

"A friend reminded me that I'd made a commitment to do a record," he says. "I sort of reluctantly started the record, not really feeling very confident."

Farrell's brush with a self-imposed musical exile came amid some personal upheaval but as the singer recovered his footing in life, he also regained a sense of ambition - and direction.

"(The new album) was going to be more of a country record (because) as much as I'm a fan of rock, I don't really feel like I have the voice for it," he says.

"That's one of my biggest pet peeves - that I don't have one of those cool, screaming rock'n'roll voices."

Usually that doesn't matter. In Daisy Spot, the Brazilian pop-influenced band he's fronts with friend Tatiana LaTour for example, the songs are decidedly soft and mellow. Elsewhere, he gets by with a little help from his friends.

"In a band like Th' Losin' Streaks I'm not the main focus- I have other people to rely up on to bring the rock," he says.

"To do this on my own is more of a challenge."

So, finally alone behind the microphone, Farrell worked on finding his voice.

"It took a lot primal scream therapy," he says. "I just had to scream it out, get it out and feel comfortable."

Farrell's new album is due in May. Until then, preview a track, "Ain't it Funny" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle.

Mike Farrell

Song: "Ain't it Funny"

Style: Brooding rock'n'roll

Behind the song: The track, produced by Dana Gumbiner, came together in the studio with Mike Curry on drums and Lee Bob Watson on the clavichord.

"The demo was really bare bones and I was very skeptical about how it would turn out," he says.

"But Mike Curry nailed it and Lee Bob - I didn't even have to give him direction - he just came in and nailed it on the spot."

Farrell wrote the song in 1992 yet despite the seven years between writing and recording, he says it's particularly apropos of the times.

"The very first (line) is 'it seems that things won't get much better' which seems to reflect the state of the world right now - I didn't mean for it to be a topical songs but it's really perfect for right now."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/darksunskypilot

Listen to "AIn't it Funny" here:



If you're still on the prowl for things to do this weekend (and ever-so-slightly beyond), here are a couple of good possibilities.

Tonight at Luigi's Fun Garden (1050 20th St), it's Detroit garage rock band Tyvjk with Sacramento pop band Desario and, straight outta Davis, some country via San Kazakgascar. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $6 at the door.

Saturday night there's a great hip-hop show at Harlow's (2708 J St) with Lyrics Born. A little pricey - $25 a ticket - but worth it if you've got the cold, hard cash. Starts at 9 p.m., 21-and-over.

Finally, skipping over Sunday, there are not one but two good shows on Monday night. For jazz fans there's the Mitch Marcus Quintet, an SF ensemble whose live shows are equal parts improvisation and crafted composition. Also on that bill, Sacramento's delightful electro-pop duo Hearts + Horses. The all-ages show is at the Java Lounge (16th & Broadway), costs $5 and starts at 8 p.m.

Finally, also on Monday night, L.A. rock band Everest returns to Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.) The band, which makes pretty 70s-era pop rock, just finished a tour opening for Neil Young. The Cowboy Killers are also on that bill. The $8 show is 21-and-over and starts at 8 p.m.

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Rock, rock til you drop: Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick are embarking on a 40-city tour this summer and the show stops here, Sept. 3. The venue's yet to be named, but I'm guessing it lands at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

Wherever it's at, tickets go on sale next Friday, March 6 via LiveNation.com. Or, if you're a Citi credit card member, you can get special pre-sale access beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 4. Visit privatepass.citi.com for more information.

Hip-hop star Lil' Wayne will bring his "I Am Music" tour to town, March 30 at Arco Arena. The rapper, perhaps best known for his smash "Lollipop" single, will be joined by T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keri Hilson.

Tickets ($39.75-$79.50) go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, March 2 via LiveNation.com


Just a reminder, tonight is that A.C. Newman show at Harlow's (2708 J St, Sacramento). The New Pornographers singer is playing songs off his two solo albums including the most recent, "Get Guilty."

Also on that bill, Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele, The Mississippi-based singer-songwriter plays quirky, sophisticated pop and is signed to the Animal Collective-founded label Paw Tracks - if that's not enough to get your music geek-loving heart out of the house, I don't know what is.

The 21-and-over show starts at 8:30 p.m. and costs $14 at the door.

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Nick Shoman - aka DJ Oasis - bought his first turntable when he was 10; retired from deejaying at the tender age of 13 and then, finally, as he reached adulthood decided to stage a comeback.

"When I started I was inspired by DJ Premier and DJ Kool Herc - the real pioneers (who) could play old James Brown records and old groove jazz records and get people breakdancing," he says.

Once in high school, however, the budding turntablist decided to take a break - discouraged by what he described as a lack of "spirit."

"I could just see things were changing - hip-hop was going in a different direction," he says.

"I just let everything collect dust."

The spark reignited years later when a friend asked Shoman to show him the basics of deejaying.

Happy to be making music again, Shoman also realized he could, perhaps, make some money at this as well.

It wasn't easy, however.

"You could be the best DJ ever but some (clubs) won't give you a chance," he says.

After a few fruitless attempts at getting his set into various Sacramento clubs, Shoman teamed with the Neighborhood Watch, a local coalition of deejays, musicians and artists.

Now, with a little help from his friends, the 22-year-old has performed at Harlow's, the Press Club, Empire and Capitol Garge.

"We're just a group of people who work together - we're friends who give each other a push."

DJ Oasis

Song: "Well Connected (Introduction)"

Style: Jazzed-out noises and pop samples

Behind the song: "This is the first track I did after I started deejaying again," he says. "I wanted to make something that served as introduction to me, expressing who I am."

Shoman mixed the melody from the old '70s pop tune "Baby Come Back" ("I just thought the beat was so crazy") with riffs created on a computer. All those bits and pieces, he says, add up to one voice.

"I speak with my hands because I'm deejay," Oasis says. "I cut up a bunch of different (sounds) to make myself heard.

See him: Wednesday, March 4 at Capitol Garage (1505 K St, Sacramento) with DJ Matt Kelly. The all-ages show starts at 10 p.m. and is $5 at the door. For more information: (916) 444-3633

On the Web: www.myspace.com/djoasis

Listen to "Well Connected (Introduction) here:




February 20, 2009
Babies on the brain

Someone here was surfing the web - in the spirit of Furlough Friday - and stumbled across the makemebabies.com site.

This awesome little time-waster of a URL lets you see what your offspring would like if you paired up with some amazing genes - say those of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.

So, naturally, the entire office had to get in on the action. I mean, who wouldn't want to know what their precious Marilyn Manson spawn would look like?

It works like this: You upload a photo of yourself - just a headshot - and then pick a celebrity from the MakeMeBabies vault.

One of my editors did a cute little mash-up with "American Idol" superstar Carrie Underwood - adorable.

I went, naturally, with Justin Timberlake (and this is the part where that one guy calls or e-mails me to complain about my crush on JT and how it pervades everything I do, every minute of the day. And your point is?).

So, upload, click, pick the gender and voila! Oh, and you also get to name your new tot - I tried to go with something vaguely Hollywood appropriate, marrying my name with Justin's, so, thus: Rastin

And, so I give you:

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So cute, I think she has my eyes.

After skipping Sacramento on the last go-round, Coldplay is scheduled to bring its latest tour to town. The Grammy-winning band performs July 14 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

Amadou & Miriam, Kitty Davis and Lewis will also perform.

Tickets ($35.50 lawn, $80-$98 reserved seats) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday via LiveNation.com

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David Shapireau first picked up the guitar to play funky Southern-tinged R&B in high school. Now, several decades later, the 58-year-old musician, building on musical liaisonswith the likes of Norton Buffalo, is finally fronting his own rock'n'roll band, West of Next.

"I've had my own jazz bands before but never anything like this - it's the first time I've ever sung," he says. "I'm enjoying it very much."

The path to this point was long and musically winding. Shapireau moved from Europe (by way of Baltimore) to California in 1972 and quickly became immersed in the Northern California rock scene, playing with, among others, Norton Buffalo, Jerry Garcia and Maria Muldaur

Shapireau's personal set of songs arrived long before he had a band to call his own.

"I just got this songwriting fever in 2002 and had hundreds and hundreds of songs - I finally decided I should do something more with them than just sing them to myself."

And so, finally, after moving to Sacramento in 2008, Shapireau put together a band that reflected his musical aesthetic (everything from western swing and bluegrass to Zydeco), all cut with a diamond-like precision.

"I have a background in jazz composition ... and I needed someone who could play very well technically and read music."

Shapireau found like-minded musicians in guitarist Steve Randall, drummer Tony Dey and bassist Paul Knutson.

Now, West of Next's sound is an amalgation of eclectic sounds, melancholy observations and pop sensibilities.

It is, he says, an equation that adds up to the unexpected.

"The average rock band doesn't usually do it that way."

West of Next

Song: "Something to Go On"

Style: Off-kilter pop

Behind the song: "Most of my songs are about melancholy and loneliness but this is more positive," Shapireau says.

"I just thought that everyone needs something to get them through - we all have our belief system, be it religion or another person."

The song's structure, he adds, diverges from rock's usual verse-chorus-verse framework.

"Most of my songs are usually very Broadway or Beatles," Shapireau says.

"I'm not exactly sure why this one came out different but when you're writing you want the mood to fit the lyrics - I wanted something upbeat but, because of my personality, also a little eccentric."

See them: Thursday at the Java Lounge, 2416 16th St, Sacramento; the all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/davidshapireauwestofnext


Listen to "Something to Go On" here:


The local Circle of 5ths entertainment / promotional group is hosting a Valentine's Day benefit tomorrow at Club Retro (6251 Hazel Ave., Orangevale).

The all-ages show benefits the UC Davis Children's Hospital Benefit and scheduled performers, among others, include Larisa Bryski, The Grumpy, Fair Game, Early States, Man Automatic and Save and Continue.

Admission is $8 at the door. For more information, visit Club Retro's MySpace page

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It began as a simple idea: A classic bar band that married rock music with a twist of twang.

Brian Guido, on break from his guitar duties in Grub Dog & the Amazing Sweethearts, decided the time was right to start his own band.

"I'd been writing music but I really didn't know how people would respond," Guido says.

The Regulars, CA's first incarnation fit that rock-meets-country vibe but as members came and went, the music evolved.

The band's current line up, rounded out by Jay Shaner (guitar), Mason DeMusey (bass) and Ross Levine (drums,) has pushed the band in a different direction - the band'ssecond album, "Songs About Love & Depression," is a mix of no-frills rock and hooky pop.

"The songs have progressively been getting more pop-oriented," Guido says.

"There's still some rock involved but not as much of that country twang."

Their name, a nod to the Replacements tune, "Here Comes a Regular," epitomizes the local music scene and the band's place in it.

"Everyone in Sacramento plays in three bands and everyone knows everyone," he says

"We are the regulars. Whether we're playing or not, we go out all the time and see (our friends) play."

The Regulars, CA

Song: "Songs About You"

Style
: Melancholy rock

Behind the song
: "The album is about a certain period in my life - I guess the only good thing that comes out of depression is that it inspires you to write and be creative," Guido says.

"This song is about trying to kill the thing inside of me that makes me feel down."

Guido says he relies on his band mates to take his ideas and make them better.

"I come in with a song and everyone is involved in the process," he says. "Ross adds a lot of music theory to the process. Mason and Jay can really change it up too, (suggesting) we make a part shorter or longer.

"I trust them and just let them do their thing," he says. "It makes me a better songwriter."

See them: Friday at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St, Sacramento). The Tattooed Love Dogs and Kate Gaffney are also on the bill. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $7 at the door.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/regularsband

Listen to "Songs About You" here:


Robert Plant and Alison Krauss cleaned up at the Grammys, winning a total of five trophies - including the big one for Album of the Year.

Yes, this means they won out over Ne-Yo's "Year of the Gentleman" which, in turn, means the Stereotypes crew lost out on their second bid for a Grammy.

Jeremy Reeves reaction (via text) "We lost! It's rigged"

and then

"Ha ha"

Seriously, you can't complain too much, losing out to the likes of Plant and Krauss and it's a good call on the part of the Grammys. "Raising Sand" is a complex and sophisticated record that's also immensely emotional and catchy.

It's the kind of record that'll make your year-end favorite list and your mom's. And I mean this in the best way possible.

As for the Stereotypes' double-loss. These guys are still at the beginning of their career. My guess is these won't be their only career nominations.

I'll admit I didn't realize that the great Rev. Al Green finally won an R&B Grammy. He's previously won some in the gospel category but - and this is no slight to the gospel category - never in the higher-profile R&B category.

That's finally changed, Green took home the R&B performance by a duo or group for his work with John Legend on "Stay With Me (By the Sea."

And, his stagework with Justin Timberlake wasn't too shabby, either.

Ok, so seriously - we thought something was wrong with our work TV set during that M.I.A. performance with T.I., Jay-Z and Lil Wayne on "Swagga Like Us."

As soon as Queen Latifah introduced them and the camera cut away - poof! black and white!

For real, I almost got up and hit the TV, Fonzi-style but then I became so entranced with M.I.A's maternity outfit.

My guess is you won't find that lil' frock over in the Target Liz Lange section.

It was - how do I put this delicately? - wrong, wrong, wrong.

Also, although the British singer was wearing sensible sneakers but I was still worried that all the weird squatting dance moves would induce labor.

But back to the color, or lack thereof. Apparently this was intentional on the part of the Grammy producers - it was a "black-and-white throwback performance."

Throwback to what? To a time when our sets transmitted shoddy images and/or our parents were too thrifty to upgrade to color (hi mom!).

Weird and not particularly effective.

I have a love-hate relationship with John Mayer. I think he's an immensely personable, funny and smart guy but too often his music doesn't reflect that. In short, most of his music is boring and predictable. (Live, it's a slightly different story if you've got an appetite for endless blues riffs.)

That said, it makes sense that he won for pop male vocal. Even if there were arguably more deserving artists who should've been nominated, Mayer was sort of a shoe-in in this category.

The reasoning:

James Taylor and Paul McCartney skew a little too old and many of the Grammy voters may not really know who Jason Mraz and Ne-Yo are - despite the latter's huge success with his "Year of the Gentleman" album. Thus, Mayer gets the majority of the votes because he's younger, hipper and safe enough.

Now, don't send me hate e-mails defending Mayer - this is a case of hate the game, not the player, folks.


I'll admit that the whole Grammy eligibility consideration thing confuses me - it seems as if an album has extraordinarily long window in which to be considered.

Take, for example, the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album, "Raising Sand."

It was released in October 2007 yet was nominated for a bunch of 2008 Grammys.

Huh?

That quibble aside, this marriage of the Led Zeppelin front man Plant and bluegrass goddess Krauss has made for an amazing album that's completely deserving of its nominations. Thrilled to Plant and Krauss "Please Read the Letter' win for Record of the Year. I didn't know, until today, that this was actually an old song that Plant wrote with his old Zeppelin pal Jimmy Page. Plant and Krauss gave a decidedly sad, folksy twang.

So, unfortunately, Stereotypes - Jeremy Reeves, Jon Yip and Ray Romulus - lost out on their first Grammy nod for the work they did on Ne-Yo's "Year of the Gentleman."

Instead, Mary J. Blige picked up the trophy for best contemporary R&B album.

Reeves, texted me right after the award was announced:

Jeremy: We lost to Mary J. Blige

Me: Too bad, but at least you're in good company

Jeremy: True, true

Read the Stereotypes story here.

Still on the horizon

...Well it felt like the 1,000,000 time anyway. Seriously, I know that was THE song of summer but it's now February and they're still trotting her out to sing that tune?

She does have other singles, ya know.

Perry's a cute girl - love the gittery fruit salad romper - and she's got some pop-punk chops. She reminds me a bit of a cross between Cyndi Lauper and Madonna.

My guess is that her career will end up more like the former's than the latter's though.

But I've been wrong before.

February 8, 2009
Live blogging the Grammys

The Grammys are already under way but don't start their broadcast here until 7 p m.

I'll be live-blogging here and you can also read tweets at twitter.com/sacbee_music.

Jeremy Reeves, the local guy I profiled a week ago - and his Stereotypes producer pal Jon Yip are up for two Grammys for work they did with Ne-Yo - sent me this star-sighting text: "I practically ran over Paris Hilton ha ha"

Stay tuned for more

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The Deftones will perform their first show since the November car accident that left bassist Chi Cheng in a coma.

Rick Gershon, a Warner Brothers publicist for the band, confirms the Sacramento hard rock band is scheduled to perform April 5 at the Bamboozle Left Festival in Irvine, Calif.

Former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega will perform in Cheng's place.

The 38-year-old musician, seriously injured in a Nov. 3 car accident near San Jose, remains in a coma.

The band explained its decision to regroup on stage in a recent blog entry:

For everyone that knows Chi, knows that he never wanted down time. Chialways wanted to keep working and never slow down, which is why we feel confident in returning to the stage at Bamboozle in April. Chi would want it, and we want to make sure we're keeping his legacy alive.


It won't be Vega's first time with the band. He temporarily replaced Cheng when the bassist took a brief break from the Deftones in 1998.

The band is also still at work on a new album, "Eros." It's the same disc the Deftones were recording before Cheng's accident. Once slated to hit record stores this month, Gershon says its release timetable is now indefinite.

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Will the fourth time be the charm for brothers Don and Ryan Clark? The siblings, who grew up in Laguna Creek and now live in Seattle, were recently nominated for a Best Recording Package Grammy for their work on the Hawk Nelson CD, "Hawk Nelson ... Is My Friend"

The nomination is technically only in Don Clark's name but, says the 33-year-old artist, he and his 29-year-old brother share an even split of duties in their Seattle-based graphic design firm, Invisible Creature.

"We pretty much have the same skill set and work in the same style," Don Clark says, on the phone from Seattle.

Indeed, it was Ryan Clark's name on the nomination for last year's Grammy bid for Norma Jean's "O God, the Aftermath" disc. (The brothers' other two noms were for packages designed for the post-punk band the Fold and Christian punk band Fair).

The Clark brothers' resume is even more impressive - the two have designed album art and posters for the likes of Will.I.Am, Kings of Leon, the Foo Fighters, Kanye West, Tool and Pennywise.

The Hawk Nelson album artwork is a colorful '60s-style illustrated cover that folds out into a full board game. The actual CD disc doubles as the spin wheel that keeps the action moving.

"The band came up with the idea for a board game but they didn't really think it would be playable," Clark says.

The brothers took that idea a step further, creating a four-player and researching and referencing old '60s and '70s board games for inspiration.

"The goal is to see who can get to the show first and, during the game, the band drops in to help you get there quicker," he says.

The pair will attend the Grammys - their category will be awarded during the daytime ceremony - but don't really expect to win against a group that includes the Thievery Corporation and Metallica.

But, Clark says, no worries - they enjoy just getting the chance to hang out

"The night before the Grammys there's a merit award ceremony and that's way cooler than the (televised) Grammy awards because it honors lifetime achievement,' he says.

"It's like this cool little club that we snuck into."

To check out more of the Clark brothers' work, visit InvisibleCreature.com

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Lux Interior, front man for the groundbreaking punk band The Cramps, died today in a Glendale, Calif., hospital due to complications from a pre-existing heart condition, according to a news release issued by the band's publicist. There are conflicting reports about the singer's real age but IMDB.com lists it as 60.

Lux Interior, born Erick Lee Purkhiser, formed The Cramps in 1972 after meeting Kristy Wallace in Sacramento. The two, who lived in Midtown, shared a love for surf rock, rockabilly, B-movies and other bits of so-called "trash culture."

Interior took his name from an old car commercial, and Wallace, who changed her name to Poison Ivy, attributed her new music moniker to a vision she received in a dream. The couple dubbed its music as "pyschobilly" - taking the term from an old Johnny Cash tune.

The Cramps moved to Ohio in 1973 and, in 1976, migrated to downtown Manhattan where they joined a burgeoning punk scene populated by the likes of the Ramones, Blondie and Television.

The band's 30-plus years on the punk scene spawned 14 albums, a seemingly endless tour schedule and an indelible influence on artists such as the Black Lips, the Reverend Horton Heat and Sacramento's own (now-defunct) Groovie Ghoulies.

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The 2009 Noise Pop schedule is now up and it's a winner. While the San Francisco music festival, which runs Feb. 24-March 1, doesn't have quite the same industry recognition as, say, South By Southwest, it's nonetheless a pretty awesome way to check out great new bands, established indie acts and certifiable rock gems.

How's this for starters: Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh) and Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) will give the keynote address for this year's conference. The one-day event will examine the state of independent music and how it intersects with new technologies, touring and industry trends. Confirmed panelists include singer-songwriter Penelope Houston; Live 105 music director Aaron Axelson and Wired magazine's writer Nancy Miller.

Mould also headlines the February 28 show at the Swedish American Music Hall (a tiny little place above Cafe DuNord at 2170 Market St., SF),

Other scheduled acts include the French Kicks, Martha Wainright, Stephen Malkmus, A.C. Newman. Matt Costa, Kool Keith and Ra Ra Riot.

The festival, now in its 17th year, also highlights art and film and this year's line-up includes a screening of the 2008 documentary "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison."

The 2008 Bestor Cram film chronicles Cash's (pictured, right, outside Folsom Prison with then-girfriend June Carter Cash) 1968 Folsom Prison concert (and its subsequent concert album). It also touches on the political and cultural events that shaped the event and includes archival footage and interviews with people who witnessed the show.

"Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison" will screen Wednesday, February 25 at the Roxie (3117 16th St.)

For a complete list of performers, films, exhibits and ticket prices visit the Noise Pop web site.

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It's been nearly two months since DJ Rated R was injured in a Philippines car crash. Now, the Sacramento-based musician born Ronald Florente is undergoing physical therapy in Visalia and, friends say, is on his way to a full recovery.

"He's doing really good at the moment," says Justin "Self" Brown, Florente's band mate in the Sacramento hip-hop group Live Manikins.

Florente, who was performing in the Philippines with his other group Live Audible Soul, was seriously hurt in a Dec. 11 crash near Baguio City.

The accident occurred when the brakes gave out while the van in which Florente was riding crashed after its brakes gave out. Florente, 26, was in the van's back row of seats and went through a window upon impact, sustaining major head and spinal injuries as well as a broken collarbone and clavicle.

Another member of the group, Runt Rock (real name: Gabriel Pizarro - he also performs in Live Manikins), was also injured but only suffered scrapes and bruises.

Florente, who underwent several major surgeries in the Philippines, was finally allowed to return home in mid-January..

Live Manikins will briefly regroup for a "Rock 4 Ron" show to benefit Florente but, Brown says, he hopes the whole crew will be back on stage by March.

"We don't want to really play again until Ron's back," Brown says.

"He's the backbone of our sound and it doesn't feel right without him."

Live Manikins

Song: "Malfunktion"

Style: Rock meets hip-hop

Behind the song: "We were hanging out one day, playing with music and Ron was scratching this guitar riff and when he started riffing Gabe started putting down drum beats and freestyling," Brown says.

The track, Brown says, epitomizes Brown's energy.

"Most of the sounds on this track are just Ron scratching," he says. "The vibe is "like Run DMC and Aerosmith on 'Walk this Way' - it's not crazy or dangerous angry it's just us rocking out."

See them: Thursday at the Image VIP Lounge (705 J St). Addict Merchants and Righteous Movement are also on the bill. Admission is $10.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/livemanikins

Listen to "Malfunktion" here:


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Tesla fans take note: The band will appear at R5 Records (16th & Broadway, Sacramento) today at 6:30.

The quintet will be on hand to sign autographs and commemorate the release of its latest album "Forever More" in a limited edition run of collector, 180-gram vinyl.

It's the band's first vinyl release since 1990's "The Great Radio Controversy."

In an interview I recently did with the band (which you can read more about in this Friday's Ticket section), Tesla bassist Brian Wheat said that, in this era of CDs and MP3s, they were happy to get another chance to use the medium.

"We wanted to put (2004's) 'Into the Now' on vinyl but the record company wouldn't let us," he says. "Now we do things on our own and we get to do what we want."

The band will also debut its latest video, "Fallin' Apart," during the appearance.

Tesla will also perform live this Friday at the Memorial Auditorium (1400 J St, Sacramento). Tickets are $29.50. For more information call (916) 808-518 or visit Tickets.com.


As a teenager, Sacramento hip-hop artist Tais co-opted other people's music to make his own.

"I think I started out just like everybody else - (writing songs) over other people's instrumentals," he says.

"This was back when artists would release a single that had an instrumental (version of the song) on the other side - I wrote my first song to an Outkast tune," he says.

"I don't even remember what song it was - just that it moved me."

Eventually Tais graduated to spoken word before hooking up with some old high school friends to form the local hip-hop group Righteous Movement.

"We're not a band so much as a collective," he says. "We're four MCs and everyone gets to do solo albums and side projects.

Tais's first solo CD, "Truth Arises in Search of Mixtape," is an ode to his ongoing journey - artistically and personally.

The mix, he says, is mature and soulful.

"This is about me being on the outside looking in," he says. "It's about how I've grown as a man."

Tais, now 27, still crafts his songs with a cut-and-paste aesthetic.

"Hip-hop started with people making mixtapes and taking other people's music and making it their own," he says.

But the idea, he says, now goes well beyond his high school days of merely dropping rhymes over someone else's music.

"My angle is this: Let me take this music and reintroduce it to you."

Tais' efforts have already earned him some prominent recognition: URB magazine just named Tais one of its "Next 1000" important hip-hop artists to watch, praising his "authenticity" and "light, breezy" sound.

A big honor, sure, but Tais says he's already found his biggest influence, inspiration and fan in six-year-old son Noah.

"He comes on stage with me and is so into it - he could be my hype man," Tais says.

"And if I stop rhyming, he just keeps on going."

Tais

Song: "Introduction"

Style: Sweet, melodic hip-hop

Behind the song: Tais kickstarted the song by sampling a track from the Seattle-based hip-hop group the Boom Bap Project.

"It's just a beat that hit me - a kind of rough beat that's slow and really embodies my style."

The song's message is simple.

"It came out of the way people introduce each other at shows, When you perform before an audience for the first time you have to (address) that people are asking 'Who is this guy?'

"A lot of people just know me as Tais from Righteous Movement so this song is a way for me to introduce myself on my own," he says.

"It just breaks it down: This is who I am and this is where I'm going."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/tais

Listen to "Introduction" here:


Sacramento rapper Sub-Zero has been inducted into the West Coast Hip Hop Hall of Fame. The artist formerly known as MC Prince Julian used to perform with Sactown's Beat Boys back in the day - i.e. the early 80s.

Sub-Zero's latest disc, "S.M.D. PART 2" features a guest appearances by Twista, the Dogg Pound and the late Mac Dre. A new disc, set for a May release, will include appearances by Snoop Dogg, E-40 and Suga T.

Check out Sub-Zero's music here.

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Word is there are still a few tickets left for tonight's TRV$DJAM show at the Park Ultra Lounge.

TRV$DJAM is, of course, the two-man musical mayhem featuring Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrated club mixmaster DJ AM (aka Adam Goldstein). Together the two create a mix that covers everything from hip-hop to '80s rock.

Both men, as you probably remember, were badly injured in a September air crash that killed Barker's assistant, Roseville native Christopher Baker. It was a tragic accident that left two musicians injured and grieving - but also with a renewed sense of spirit and an appreciation for life. It's good to see them back on their feet so soon.

The pair perform tonight at the Park Ultra Lounge (15th & L Streets, Sacramento). Doors open at 8:30 p.m.. $40 tickets available via WanTickets.com.

His idea was to keep it simple: Guitar, bass and drums and an exploration of the spaces in between each sound.

Dan Elkan was on break from a guest stint playing for Hella on tour and the former Pocket for Corduroy musician wanted to put together another band of his own. So he contacted his old PFC bandmate Thad Stoenner who was living in Elkan's Nevada City hometown.

Next thing Elkan knew he'd moved back to the foothills and, with the addition of drummer David Torch, had put together Them Hills.

The band was born in January 2006 but wouldn't play its first show until the end of that year.

"I didn't want to just start a group and play before we were ready," Elkan says.

During that time, the band explored its dynamic.

"Most bands have two guitars, bass and drums - or maybe even more (instruments) than that, I wanted something that was simple," he says. "I wanted to (work on) creating a sound where each instrument would matter more than if you had a bunch playing - especially in a live setting."

The band tried to capture that ethos on its debut CD, "Greener Grassing."

"I wanted to have a simple sound that was (also) dynamic," he said. "I wanted there to be more spaces where instruments were not playing - it's like when you think about a song like U2's 'With or Without You.' That's a powerful sound but it's just bass."

Them Hills

Song: "Grow Down"

Style: Jangly indie rock

Behind the song: The track stemmed from a single drum beat, Elkan says.

"David came up with this really quirky punk sounding (riff) and the concept came out of just us thinking about punk rock," he says. "It's about how you deal with the idea of getting older while still keeping your mind young and fresh."

It's OK, he says, to not conform to so-called "adult" standards.

"That's an old punk idea: You can grow up but still be young at heart."

See them: Jan. 25 at Luigi's Fun Garden, 1050 20th St, Sacramento. Tera Melos and Sbach are also on the bill. $5.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/themhills

Listen to "Grown Down" here:


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Lake County artist Ron Keas has several original Barack Obama oil paintings on display at a Denver museum during Democratic National Convention. That high-profile exposure led to an offer to feature his work in a new Obama calendar.

Keas' portrait of the Obama family (Barack, wife Michelle and kids Sasha and Malia) will illustrate the month of August in the new "Obama DIversity Calendar." now available for $15 here.

Visit Keas' web site to check out his other Obama-themed paintings.

U2 fans hungry to hear the band's new album "No Line on the Horizon" don't have to wait until the disc's March 2 release date to hear some music. They don't even have to wait until Feb 15 - the day the album's first single "Get on Your Boots" is set for release.

This Monday (Jan. 19, to be exact), KWOD 106.5 will be playing "Get on Your Boots" throughout the day starting in the morning during "The Adam Corolla Show" which airs from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Wow, that's almost enough incentive to get me to tune into Carolla's show.

Or, I could just wait until after 10.

Either way, enjoy.

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OMG grab your eyeliner, Fall Out Boy is headed to Sacramento.

Just two years after the emo-pop band cancelled its headlining appearonce at Sleep Train, the band is now scheduled to bring its Believers Never Die Part Deux tour to town, April 8 at Memorial Auditorium.

Also on the bill: Cobra Starship, Metro Station, All Time Low and Hey Monday.

Tickets go on sale Jan. 23 through Tickets.com but if you're part of the FOB fan club you can get in on some pre-sale action on Jan. 21 via OvercastKids.com.

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That icon of 70s pop-rock Fleetwood Mac's been talking reunion for a while and now the rumour is true. Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood (but, sadly, no Christine McVie) just announced tour dates and Sacramento made the list.

Fleetwood Mac Unleashed: Hits Tour 2009 will arrive May 18 at Arco Arena.

Pre-sale tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. this Saturday. Get details via the band's Web site.

May 18 at Arco Arena.

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Erstwhile Davis mixmaster DJ Shadow has nabbed a sneaker deal with Reebok.

Shadow (aka Josh Davis) is a preeminent hip-hop instrumentalist. His 1996 full-length debut "Endtroducing ..." is, in my opinion, one of the best albums of the '90s and still stands up today for its moody yet alluring mix of jazz, hip-hop, funk and other audio bit - all sampled from vinyl. The cover of "Endtroducing," by the way, is a photograph of the dusty, album-clogged interior of Sactown's own Records store (taken in its original K Street location).

Anyway, back to the sneakers.

The shoes are available on DJ Shadow's site and feature the cover image from DJ Shadow's 1995 EP "What Does Your Soul Look Like?"

They'll set you back $104.99 - a small price to pay for such cool comfort (via Pitchfork).

matthewgerken_small.jpgThe name of J. Matthew Gerken's band Nice Monster explains exactly what his intentions are for its music.

"I don't like writing songs that have typical guitar strums - you know, ba-ba-BA-ba bum. I like using odd time signatures and syncopations - that's the 'monster' part, (writing) difficult or interesting rhythms," he explains. "But at the same time I like but at the same time, I really like catchy melodies."

Gerken, along with friends Jefferson Pitcher and Christian Kiefer, is also part of the recent Of Great and Mortal Men project which recently released the highly lauded three-CD set, "43 Songs for 43 Presidencies" (Standard Recordings, $30).

The brand-new, self-titled Nice Monster EP swaps politics for a rich mining of sonic spaces, experimental yet accessible noise pop and complicated emotions.

Nice Monster is rounded out by Jason Roberts (guitar), Greg Aaron (drums), Chad Wilson (bass) and Gerken's girlfriend Heather Phillips (piano, vocals).

The new EP was recorded in the home shared by Gerken and Phillips and the experience, he says, was mellow with a focus on fun instead of technical perfection.

That relaxed vibe was aided by the arrival of a puppy.

"Heather and I were looking for a new puppy and in the middle of recording, a rescue puppy became available," he says.

The presence of Mickey, a Black Lab/Border collie mix, gave the recording sessions a playful mood.

"It was just really fun and created such a relaxed, flexible atmosphere," he says. "The fidelity might not be as pristane as it would be if we'd recorded at a studio but I think the performances are better."

Nice Monster

Song: "Down"

Style: Jazz pop

Behind the song: "It's similar to a lot of Nice Monster songs because it doesn't have a verse-chorus-verse (structure)," says Gerken who cites artists such as John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Wilco and Radiohead among his influences and inspirations.

"Down" starts with a slow, deliberate mood before shifting, half-way through, into something decidedly more upbeat.

"Those kinds of shifts happen a lot (in our songs)," Gerken says. "The texture, the time feel, the meter, even the lyrical topic - it can all change."

The song's subject matter, Gerken says, is a "tongue in cheek reflection" about childhood.

"The first part of the song is about a person wondering why they are the way they are," he says. "In the second half of the song, there's the realization that 'oh yeah, it's because of this stuff that happened when I was a kid.'"

The song's actual lyrics, he adds, are pretty "ambiguous."

"You almost need liner notes to understand them," he says. "I like to leave room for people to make their own interpretations."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/nicemonster or www.nicemonstermusic.com

Listen to "Down" from the new Nice Monster EP here:




After weeks of teasing listeners with ads promising a "change" for the station, Capitol Public Radio debuted a new show "Off Air." The hour-long music show makes its weekly debut every Thursday at midnight with a playlist that covers everything rock, punk, folk, pop, etc.

The show is hosted by Nick Brunner who, so far, has injected a nice dose of hip but thoughtful music sense into his program. This week's program featured songs by Iggy & the Stooges (a nod to this week's passing of Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton), the electro-pop sounds of Ladyhawke and erstwhile Sacto musician Jefferson Pitcher singing with neo-folkie Rosie Thomas.

I particularly like how Brunner doesn't just stick to the ultra-obscure or so brand-new-hip-that-it-hurts type of musuc. He's just got a good ear for mixing up sounds, old and new.

Looking forward to what Brunner plays next week, in the meantime you can listen to the first two shows at SmartRockRadio.org.

December 31, 2008
Favorite songs of 2008

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

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


  1. "American Boy" - Estelle with Kanye West

  2. "Oxford Comma" - Vampire Weekend

  3. "White Winter Hymnal" - Fleet Foxes.

  4. "Mercy" - Duffy"

  5. "Pretty Bird" - Jenny Lewis

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

  7. Miniature Birds / Grand Archives

  8. "Cane Cola" - Desario

  9. "Skinny Love" - Bon Iver

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

  11. "Sunday Afternoon" - Rachael Yamagata

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

  13. "You" - Two Sheds

  14. "Chasing Pavements" - Adele

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

  16. "4 Minutes" - Madonna

  17. "No Pause" - Girl Talk

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

  19. "Wishes Were Horses" - Lucinda Williams

  20. "Life Is Better" - Q-Tip

  21. "Tell Me Now" - Baby Grand

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

  23. 'Get Better" Mates Of State

  24. "Nothing Ever Happened" - Deerhunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James George Serrett: "Living in Slow Motion"

Style: Soft rock

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

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

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

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

On the Web: cdbaby.com/cd/jgserrett2

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to "Pvt Ledbetter" from "Forever More" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle

Tesla

Song: "Pvt Ledbetter"

Style: Emotional, rockin' power ballad

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

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

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

Listen to "Pvt Ledbetter" here:


On the Web: www.teslatheband.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tickets go on sale Friday via LiveNation.com and TicketMaster.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nope, not even one tantrum.


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

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

The Pus Cavern Allstars

Song: "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"

Style: Rockin' around the Christmas tree

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

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

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

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

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



Download "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" for 99 cents at iTunes.com. All proceeds benefit the Sacramento Children's Chorus (www.sacramentochildrenschorus.org).

For more information and a complete list of participating musicians visit www.myspace.com/puscavernrecording


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

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

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

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

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

For more information: (916) 441-4693 or Harlows.com

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

He just didn't want to sing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christopher Fairman

Song: "Pages"

Style: Slow, meditative Americana

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

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

Eventually, the words came into sharper focus.

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

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

See him:

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

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

On the Web: www.myspace.com/christopherfairman

Listen to "Pages" here:




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

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

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

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

twosheds1_small.jpgCaitlin Gutenberger had never been in a band, hadn't really sang - certainly never in front of anyone - had never written a song.

She didn't have the experience but she did, however, find she had a musical connection with husband, bassist Johnny Gutenberger and his Jackpot bandmate Rusty Miller.

"Johnny and Rusty had some downtime and I wanted to learn to play drums so we'd just goof off and we had this real chemistry," she says of the collaboration that eventually became Two Sheds.

"So I wrote a few songs and then switched over to guitar and Rusty started playing drums."

Yes, it really was that simple.

"I was freaked out at first - I never thought I could write songs - I was an English major, used to writing things that were longer," says the 27-year-old singer.

"But then I got over the hump and wrote a handful of songs really fast.

That was 2004 and in the years since, Two Sheds, also featuring James Finch Jr. on guitar, has released a album (2006's "Strange Ammunition") and this year's digital-only, self-titled EP.

The music, grounded by Gutenberger's soft yet decidedly assured voice, is a mix of ghostly folk-pop and bouncier indie rock.

With Two Sheds geographically divided - the Gutenbergers live in Sacramento, Miller and Finch live in San Francisco - it's sometimes difficult to get the band in the same room for anything other than a show.

Still, the members of Two Shed are planning on spending some quality time together in 2009 with plans for a tour, a South By Southwest appearance and a new album on the calendar.

The new record, Gutenberger says, is still little more than a hazy notion.

"Second records are weird because the first one is just a big solo barf," she says with laugh.

"I have a lot of ideas that are all over the place but I really don't have a clue what it will sound like - we'll see what happens in the studio. I just want it to be (recorded) in a cozy environment with no pressure."

Two Sheds

Song: "WTF"

Style: Upbeat yet moody, wistful pop

Behind the song: The track's sunny sound belies its dark take on a particularly bad spell and a chorus which, yes, is acronym for "What the #$• !."

"Have you ever had one of those days or weeks or months where a bunch of bad things happen?" Gutenberger asks.

It's just, perhaps, a rhetorical question but the her viewpoint is disarmingly straightforward.

"Honestly, it's just one of those stupid choruses because I couldn't think of anything else to sing," Gutenberger says.

"I wanted to think of a more lyrical, nuanced way to say that but this is what came out instead."

Initially, "WTF" was a slow, meditative song but, over time, evolved into something faster and brighter.

"We just started playing it fast at practice because we wanted it to have this Tommy James & the Shondells sound - very 'la la la' with a quiet little heartbeat," she says.

"It just ended up being very fun."

See them: Tuesday, December 9th at Luigi's Fun Garden,

1050 20th Street, Sacramento. The 8 p.m. show is all-ages and $5 at the door. Chelsea Wolf and the Parson Redheads are also on the bill.

On the Web
: http://www.myspace.com/twosheds

Listen to "WTF" here




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The collaboration started a decade ago in a Sacramento High School classroom.

Lee Bob Watson was a musician but he was also a substitute teacher and, sometimes between classes, he found himself talking music with one of his students.

That student, Derek Taylor, had a band called Bucho and he invited Watson to come check them out sometime.

Watson did and, now 10 years later, the teacher and the student are bandmates in Happy Mayfield, which releases its debut CD Friday at Old Ironsides.

The four-piece, based in Sacramento and San Francisco, connects its members' electric influences to craft an oddly compelling hybrid of folk, soul, hip-hop, world beat and rock.

For Watson, who's played with the likes of Jackpot and recently released a solo album, it's an affirmation of how music can define your life. The birth of Happy Mayfield, he says, came at a point when he'd started to question the very act of making music.

It was 2004 and, back home after a stint teaching English abroad, Watson reconsidered his path: Playing endless bar gigs, touring on the cheap and subbing to make ends meet.

"It'd been 10 years of the grind of doing music and so I took a hiatus and stepped away for a minute - I just had to take it all in and ask myself, 'is this what I want to do?'" It's a crazy life."

Finally, he decided yes - but with a catch.

"I wanted it to be fun and positive, I wanted to find something that was uplifting."

That meant sifting through the sounds that got him interested in music in the first place - old funk, soul and jazz.

Watson, already writing and recording music for his 2007 solo CD "Aficionado," set aside songs that didn't quite fit that album's Americana vibe.

"Sometimes I'd write something that was more upbeat and dance-oriented, so I put them aside and waited until the time came when I would have the proper band."

The time arrived when Watson approached his old friend and student.

Watson had jammed with the members of Bucho before and now he wanted them to give his songs new life.

"The first batch I wrote came out pretty realized but I'm an old school cat and I knew that ... they would bring in some more contemporary influences."

By this point Bucho had disbanded and Taylor was living in San Francisco, playing drums with his old Bucho bandmate Josh Lippi and pal Ben Schwier in The Park, an ensemble that combines funk and jazz with hip-hop and R&B.

Taylor was ready to play.

"Lee used to burn us mix CDs and really opened my eyes to old (music)," says Taylor, whose Bay Area band now backs up neo-soul and pop acts such as Alice Russell and Nino Moschella.

"I loved his songwriting - when he had this Happy Mayfield idea, it just seemed totally natural."

And, although Watson already had the songs, Taylor says, Happy Mayfield has transcended the sum of its parts to create not just a sound but a sense of place,

"We're all from California and we all have this genuine love for soul and dance and that kind of cross-cultural sound."

Bassist Josh Lippi sees Happy Mayfield as unmistakably "authentic" but also something larger-than-life.

It's like we all are (playing) as these alter-egos," he says.

"Lee Bob's coming from this folk singer-songwriter background but in his heart of hearts he's this real James Brown kind of soul singer."

Dana Gumbiner was also struck by the band's dramatic flair - both on stage and in song.

"Lee Bob has this real cinematic way of looking at music, it's almost theatrical," says Gumbiner, who produced the Happy Mayfield record at his Grass Valley-based Station to Station studio.

And with songs that touch on everything from love and religion to outlaws and inspiration, it's Watson's viewpoint that keeps it fresh.

"It's like Happy Mayfield became this character with a sub-narrative on subjects" Gumbiner says,

"That's what makes it click."

Still, although Happy Mayfield may be Watson's creation, the singer-songwriter says the rest of the band is force that makes it breathe.

"This is all happening because the band is hitting its stride," he says.

"They've played with tons of different people and they bring a playfulness to the music that pretty much goes beyond any boundaries."

Happy Mayfield

Song: "Happy"

Style: Jazzed out, Booty-shaking funk

Behind the song: The track, which references everything from street poet/ R&B singer Gil Scott-Heron to the El Camino High School-run station KYDS 91.5, chronicles Watson's lifelong musical journey - and sets the mood for the rest of the record.

"I wanted to write a bio for the band so I started writing down things and it occurred to me that it was a song - a declaration of principles," he says.

"This song became a genealogy of Happy as a character - why I feel the way I do, why I feel I have the right to say this."

See them: Friday at Old Ironsides(1901 10th St, Sacramento); the 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $7 at the door. Friendly Creatures and Casual Fog are also on the bill.

On the Web: myspace.com/happymayfield

Listen to "Happy" here:



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Autumn Sky had 150 songs from which to choose so when it came time to narrow the selection down for an EP she wanted to pick songs that represented her range of musical loves and influences.

"A lot of pop, a lot of toy pianos and little bell sounds," Sky says. "(But) then there also my angry songs and things that are serious."

Just six songs long, "Diminutive Petite" packs a Goliath-sized wallop and is an aural history of Sky's musical progression. The Orangevale resident started playing piano as a child and, by the age of six, already had already written a several dozen tunes.

She eventually moved on to the cello and then the guitar. Now, a voice major at American River College, Sky is studying voice and jazz, Recently, she and a group of classmates formed a jazz combo which, she says, has had a major impact on her songwriting approach.

"It's difficult (because) I don't really know jazz chords so it makes me respect my limits - it's made me more creative and more respectful of all the people who came before."

Sky, who grew up performing in worship groups, also credits church as an important, if subtle, influence.

"I don't write Christian music, per se, but spiritually definitely influences what I choose to write and how I write about," she says.

Simply put, she says, her faith helps her set a personal songwriting standard.

"I would never write a song that I wouldn't my little brother to hear."

Sky will release a full-length album in April. Her EP will be available Thursday at a Luigi's Fun Garden CD release show or online at iTunes or CDBaby.com.

In the meantime, listen to "Our Little Boy" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle.

Song: "Our Little Boy"

Style: Slow, melancholy torch song

Behind the song: "It's a very sad song about a woman who is regretting a decision she made to not follow a romantic interest."

But, by the end of the story, Sky says, the woman's decides to live with her choice - and any lingering sense of remorse.

"I wanted it to have this wistful, melancholy feel," Sky says.

Recorded at Sacramento's Hangar Studios, Sky recorded the song in just one take with piano player Evan Palmer and drummer Kayla Schureman, both from the local band All on Seven. It was record

"We've played it live so many times we were able to just go in there and capture it," she says. "I think that gives it a really cool, organic feel."

See her: Thursday at Luigi Fun Garden (1050 20th St, Sacramento) with Lynus and A Happy Medium. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/autumnskymyspace

Listen to "Our Little Boy" here:



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Sometimes, Jeanette Faith admits, it gets a little confusing. She and husband Wes Steed had a band called Park Avenue Music and then that evolved into the side project Hearts+Horses. But now Park Avenue music has an album out that's called - you guessed it -"by hearts+horses".

The differences, Faith explains, aren't just about words.

"Park Avenue Music was very structured: Song, song, song," she says. "But then we started Hearts+Horses, it was just improvising, even when we were recording.

"I don't really like writing songs or lyrics - they usually sound forced," she says. "I wanted to break away from that and create a soundscape, a mood."

Now, Faith says, the focus is on of-the-moment sound and emotion.

And, yes, that spontaneity also happens on stage.

"The shows can be really great - or sometimes just a lot of noise," Faith says. "It's kind of scary but it's also kind of exciting."

Faith taught herself to play piano as a child and is also an accomplished cellist and singer. Now, as she plays the keyboard or piano and Steed turns the dials on a modular synthesizer, their music reflects a deep love for everything from jazz and classical to pop and new wave.

"I'd like it to have more of a modern, classical sound but it doesn't always turn out that way," she says. "It usually ends up sounding like a soundtrack."

But that's OK, too.

"I always wanted to be a score composer - that's where my songs come from, I'm always seeing movies in my head and just telling that story."

Park Avenue Music

Song: "Tufts"

Style: Dreamy, delicate and exquisite

Behind the song: "I just sat down at the piano and started playing and the mics were there and Wes just happened to record it," Faith says. "(Later), I added melodica and Wes added drums and effects on the vocals."

The piece grew out of an image playing in Faith's head.

"It's a story about this girl, driving around the block. She's dropped this guy off and the (relationship) that isn't turning out the way she wants it to and she's thinking it's going to change, that's it's going to get better," Faith says.

"Finally, she realizes, 'this is stupid - I'm just driving around in circles'."

Musically, that translates to something ethereal and sad but also uplifting.

And, Faith says, because it was recorded live on a whim it's also imperfect - but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's not the ideal recording but I'd rather keep the (song's) original feeling. When you try to rerecord it never turns out as good as the demo," she says.

"There are some mistakes in it but I don't care. It gives it a freer sound, It's real, it's raw."

On the Web: www.heartshorses.com or www.myspace.com/parkavenuemusic

Park Avenue Music will release another record later this year. Until then, listen to"Tufts" here:



Dream of becoming a famous drummer? (Insert drummer joke here). This weekend you'll have the chance to learn what it really means to pick up the sticks when Korn's Ray Luzier, Coheed & Cambria's Chris Pennie host a drum clinic on Sunday at Skip's Music (2740 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento.)

The clinic is part of the Show No Mercy Tour and sponsored by Sabian ABX, a company that makes high-decibel cymbals.

You've been warned - bring your earplugs.

For more information, www.skipsmusic.com.

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Matt Sertich and Kirk Janowiak have been playing together for more than 15 years so when the pair's latest band, The Generals, was suddenly whittled down from three to two, the old friends took it in stride and decided to remain a duo.

"The idea just seemed kind of fresh," says Sertich, who previously played with Janowiak in Pocket Change and Zero to Heaven.

"We just have a really good chemistry - we write really well together," Sertich says.

With a shared love of 80s rock and British pop, Sertich (guitar, keyboard, vocals) and Janowiak (drums, keyboards) started writing songs after Zero to Heaven disbanded in 2005. They played its first show, with bassist Blane Barker, in 2006.

Now, Sertich says, no bassist is no problem - even on stage.

"We just program the bass into an iPod - the strings and other stuff, too," he says.

"It's awesome and it doesn't take away from the spontaneity when we're playing live."

The Generals released its debut album "Save Me" earlier this year and plan to enter the studio this month to record another. In the meantime, check out "Trains" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle

The Generals

Song: "Trains"

Style: Spacey, reflective rock

Behind the song: "I'd just made a lot of changes in my life at the point when I wrote this song," Sertich says. "I lived ... near the train tracks and every night I'd hear the train go by. It shook the house but it was really very comforting."

That song, he says, is about a past relationship and changes he's made in his life since it ended.

With a swooping melody, "Trains" hits its rhythmic stride mid-way through the song - just like a locomotive gaining speed..

"It starts off pretty soft but once that pre-chorus hits it sounds really big."

On the Web: myspace.com/thegeneralsmusic.

Listen to "Trains" here





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With a pedigree that includes Papa's Culture, Seventy and the Original Heads, Harley White Jr.'s been making music in Sacramento for years now, playing everything from jazz and hip-hop to rock.

These days, White's concentrating on jazz but still wearing many musical hats as the songwriter, arranger, stand-up bassist and leader for his big band-styled Harley White Jr. Orchestra.

"Doing the big band - it really covers everything I want to do," White says. "It allows me to do all those things that I'm interested in doing."

And what interests him, White says, is incorporating all of his musical loves - pop, jazz, hip-hop, rock, swing, etc - into one cohesive sound.

White finds inspiration in two music greats.

"Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones are my ideal musicians," he says. "They have hubris - they see the whole picture."

As such, White says he has no plans to release a CD version of his big band work.

"To release a big band record that sounds like a big band record? I wouldn't do it when Duke Ellington's already done it so perfectly," he says. "Those guys were on the road 200 nights out of the year and the music they play sounds like it - it was done so perfectly."

Fans can, however, find the Harley White Jr. Orchestra online as White turns to the Web to release experimental versions of his music. Check out one of those tracks, "Autumn Returns" at www.sacbee.com/ sacramentosingle.

Harley White Jr. Orchestra

Song: "Autumn Returns"

Style: Ethereal, dubbed-out jazz

Behind the song: "This a Harley White Jr. Orchestra song remixed by the Original Heads," White says. "I went into the studio with producer William Prince and we started with a regular square mix - like what you'd hear the band do at a show - and then dubbed it out.

"Dub (music) is what happens when you strip things out - it's about the (concept of) less is more."

Here, less is more means taking out some sounds while giving new life to others.

"You start with a bare bones skeletal mix and then add reverb and delays," he says. "It's about making the music more spooky and ethereal. "For example, there's a horn sound that, in the original version of the song goes "pow!"

Then, White says, lowering his voice to a whisper, "when you dub it out for the remix, it sounds like 'pow, pow, pow."

"It's about finding the subconsciousness of the song."

See them: Friday at the Distillery (2107 L St, Sacramento ) with the C.U.F. and Red Tape; the 21-and-over show starts at 10 p.m. and is $7 at the door.

Or, Nov. 11 the HWJO plays World War II-era music at a Veteran's Day party at Club 21 (1119 21st St, Sacramento). Patrons are encouraged to dress up in their best '40s finery. Admission is $10 and the music start at 9 p.m.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/hwjo

Listen to "Autumn Returns" here:




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It took Jay Shaner a year to record his solo album, "Best Laid Plans." The process, says the Sacramento musician, taught him a lot about what it means to be a songwriter.

"I was working with (other artists) but ultimately I realized that I've come to a point where I have to have the artistic vision for where the music is going."

That recognition of responsibility was freeing says Shaner who also sings and plays guitar in the Cowboy Killers.

"You take music seriously but ultimately you've got to let it go - leave the guitar part alone," Shaner says. "It doesn't need to be pristine it's fine the way it is. I ended up making the album that felt right to me."

Shaner's been playing music nearly his entire life but only started writing his own about a dozen years ago.

It was the Cure's "A Letter to Elise" that inspired him to try his hand.

The sweet, sad pop song moved him, Shaner says, for the way it layered its emotions.

"To be able to say something deep that struck you on more than just a superficial level t the best songwriters write songs that can hit you both a visceral and a cerebral level."

Jay Shaner

"The Astronaut Song"

Style: Quiet, reflective folk-pop

Behind the song: "The song is about regret and coming to the point where you realize you're not going to be the person who, in your grandest dreams, you set out to be - but ultimately, you can still be happy with yourself."

Reconciling the music with the lyrics proved challenging, Shaner says.

"Early in my songwriting life I erred on the side of making things too catchy," he says. "I wanted this to be more melancholy - less dramatic."

To achieve that, Shaner experimented with a less traditional structure.

"I wanted to keep the middle (of the song) more ethereal and textural instead of (sounding like) a melodic break," he says. "So we brought in more drums at the end to make it more intense instead of adding another melody line.

Listen to "The Astronaut Song" here:



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The members of Sacramento's Must.Not.Die are both deejays and musicians. Yes, Miguel Francis and Quinten Larsen, both 24, play records and remix songs but they also create their own music.

"We DJ really fun stuff - a lot of indie, electric dance music," says Francis of the tunes he Larsen spin at clubs such as R15, Old Ironsides and the Blue Lamp. "But the stuff we make is really different - we're going for that whole shoegazer, wall of sound, sample-based sound."

Francis and Larsen, who attended different area high schools, met through their school's theater programs and quickly bonded over a shared love for "nerdy music."

"We geeked out on stuff like Edit and Glitch Mob and then we just decided to start producing stuff on our own," Francis says.

Now the two tap into their other, disparate tastes - Larsen likes groove-oriented hip-hop, Francis prefers indie and math rock - to fashion new sounds.

"We'll work out something from a synthesizer and then create our own melody," he says.
"Quinten's good at laying down tracks and (creating) the rhythm section - I'm more involved in the melody so we'll just throw something out there to see what direction we go in."

They also use music samples in their songs -but with limits.

"We'll use samples as a pop element but when we do they have to be short and unrecognizable by the time we're finished," he says. "We don't want you to be able to tell what song it's from."

The two are currently at work on an EP, which Francis describes as "edgy and rough."

"It has a caustic energy - I'm just trying to represent my world view which is very imperfect, brooding and anxious."

The EP will be released by the end of the year, until then listen to the single "Attachment Interlude" at www.sacbee.com/ sacramentosingle.

Must.Not.Die

Song: "Attachment Interlude"

Style: Surreal, dreamy electro-pop

Behind the song: "This song came out of a break-up," Francis says. "I was really in love but we weren't talking and I was listening to this one Pete Yorn song over and over. There was a small loop (in the song) that asked this question about not talking."

Francis took a three-second sample of the loop and then deconstructed, distorted and sequenced it into a brief, tense melody.

"It builds into this energy and madness that I was trying to convey," he says.

"I just wanted to personify that question of (not knowing) and have it build and build until it finally releases to the point where you let go."

See them: Must. Not.Die deejays Wednesday at Barcode Nightclub & Lounge, 1890 Arden Way, Sacramento. The 18-and-over dance club opens at 9 p.m and is $12 at the door.

On the Web: myspace.com/mustnotdie

Listen to "Attachment Interlude" here:




Former Davis resident John Brown marries politics with pop culture on his latest track, "Sarah Palin (I Wanna Lay Pipe)." which, incidentally, just made Rolling Stone magazine's Hot List.

The 1998 Davis High School graduate, of course, was a runner-up on VH-1's "ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show."

In its Oct. 16 issue, Rolling Stone praised the "Sarah Palin" track: "The ... new rap jam may be sexist but dude makes some good points ... "

Indeed, mixing Palin sound bites with a groove-laden rhythm, Brown's song muses on the vice presidential candidate's image in - how do we say this? - less than gentlemanly terms.

Want to hear for yourself? Visit Brown's MySpace page to check it out.

brighter GOW.jpgEarl Brooks only moved to Sacramento five months ago but he's had one toe-tapping foot in the River City for much longer.

Brooks' band, Ghosts of Wyoming, was born in Seattle - his home for 26 years. But, after meeting Sacramento guitarist Jerry Lewis at a gig, the band slowly shifted to include more parts Sac than Seattle.

"I just woke up one day and decided it was time for a chance so I made my girlfriend mad and told her I was moving," he says

The pair still talk on the phone twice daily and her influence is notable in the lyrics Brooks writes for his rollicking country-rock tunes.

Drawing from true life inspiration, he says, is the only way he can write.

"I can't write from anyone else's perspective but my own," he says.

"I can't sit down and say 'I'm going to write about a truck driver -it just comes out sounding like a 17-year-old's essay."

Ghosts of Wyoming

Song: "I Have a Brain"

Style: Bar room brawlin' Americana

Behind the song
: "I really like this song because it's got a great opening line, 'I was born in a one stripper town," Brooks says.

"That's a running joke with me and my sweetheart - her dad was an oil executive in Los Angeles ... and I grew up in eastern Idaho and Wyoming so the song is about the dynamics of two very different people coming together."

In addition to Brooks and Lewis the band also includes bassist Brad Moore,singer Mary Louise Picerno and keyboardist / lap steel player Brett Lemke.CQ

Much of GOW's music reflects influences such as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Neil Young but "I Have a Brain" also taps into his love for the Flaming Lips.

"There are these two lap steel parts buried in the mix and they just come in and out of the song," he says. "The Flaming Lips have really tweaked my head as far as emotional content and general weirdness. There's a certain joy to their music that's really powerful."

See them
: Saturday at the Ryan Seng Collective, (1301 I St.) The artists' reception starts at 6 p.m., the music starts at 10 p.m. Free.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/ghostsofwyoming

Listen to "I Have a Brain" here:


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Because, as I always like to say, Thursday is the new Friday there are a couple of good shows to check out tonight (you know, after the vice presidential debate). Best of all, given the troubling economy, they're both on the cheap side.

In Sacramento at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.), check out quirky folk-pop singer-songwriter Ricky Berger with San Francisco band Uni & Her Ukelele (pictured) and, coming atcha live from Foresthill, the wonderful western swing'n'twang sound of the Poplollies. That show is 21-and-over and costs $5 at the door. For more information: myspace.com/theoldironsides.

Or, head over to Sophia's Thai Kitchen (129 E St, Davis) to check out Tim Williams. The New York-based singer-songwriter crafts moody, earnest pop and because there's a melodica in the mix it all sounds so sparkly and pretty. That show is all-ages and only $3. For more information: myspace.com/sophiasthaikitchen.

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Local musician Martin Birke looked far beyond Sacramento to bring an international flair and depth to his latest project.

Birke founded Genre Peak as a electronic pop trio in 2004 but after a band mate moved to New York, he turned to the Internet to add to the core that includes guitarist Christopher Scott Cooper.

The result? Collaboration with influential British bassist Mick Karn (Japan, Kate Bush) and the Spanish electro-pop group Stereoskop as well as a new Canadian vocalist, Tara C. Taylor, found via MySpace.

Now Birke says, Genre Peak reflects its players exhilarating take on collaboration.

"I gave up my rock star dreams a long time ago," says Birke, whose past projects include Casualty Park, a synth pop duo that composed work for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the 1998 Joe Carnahan film, "Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane."

"Now there's a real joy in getting to work with people who have the same ideas I do - I think that's the success of the album."

"Preternatural" is available online at CDBaby.com and locally at The Beat and R5 Records.

Listen to the single "Wear it Well" at www.sacbee.com/ sacramentosingle.

Genre Peak

Song: "Wear it Well"

Style: Densely layered, soaring electro-pop

Behind the song: "This song (originated) from a drum program I created several years ago," Birke says. "I went back to it with the idea of getting a new lead vocalist.

"I was tired of hearing my own voice (because) I always get compared to Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, so I sent the rough demo to Tara," he says.

When Taylor sent him back her vocal demos, Birke knew he'd hit on the right sound.

"I told her, 'this is good - we need to get you down in the studio," Birke says.

"Wear it Well," he adds, served as the album's launching point.

"I hadn't consciously been thinking about doing an whole record but after that song, but that's the track that the album grew from - the rest of it just came so easy."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/genrepeak

Listen to "Wear it Well" here:




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The show's not listed on the club's calendar yet, but looks like Mates of State will be playing a show at Harlow's on Oct. 6.

The Kansas-based married couple - they used to call San Francisco home - are on tour with Santogold. The Brooklyn artist doesn't list Sacramento on her tour calendar but here's hoping that hip-hop /pop (hip-pop?) singer will also make the show.

If you have yet to hear Mates of State's latest album, "Re-Arrange Us," give it a whirl. It took me a while to take a shine to the critically acclaimed disc but then after about the 10th listen all if its beautiful nuances clicked into place (I'm a big fan of their earlier discs so I knew it was just a matter of being patient).

Mates of State's Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner recently did a Peta ad - kind of a surprising choice for the animal rights organization given that the duo's not very well known outside of indie rock circles.

Maybe it's just that they look so darn good all naked-like.

Stay tuned for show details.

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Waltzing melody lines and two-step beat changes - it's easy to imagine swinging through a
ballroom to one of Keith Gray's quirky pop songs. Recording and playing under the Bicycle Rider moniker, Gray crafts indie pop that reflects his love for the baroque and theatrical.

"I'm really into classical music and musicals," he says. "I love Julie Andrews kind of stuff - 'The Sound of Music' and 'Mary Poppins.' "

Although the Bicycle Rider is, essentially, Gray's solo project, the 25-year-old musician has nonetheless enlisted some stage and studio help from drummer Matt Spahn and bassist Todd Coleman.

"They both bring such style and a real presence to what we do," Gray says. "They bring a really warm vibe to the music."

Gray and friends are working on a new album with local producer Matt McCord. The CD won't be out until February; until then, check out the single "Only This Time, This Year."

The Bicycle Rider

Song: "Only This Time, This Year"

Style: Quirky ballroom pop

Behind the song: "This is one of the first ones written, and it helped put me in the direction that I'm going now," Gray says.

While the song's lyrical focus is simple - "It's about family and relationships and hardships and trying to get through them all" - its makeup is more complex.

Gray initially crafted the tune, also featuring Harley White Jr. (bass) and An Angle's Kris Anaya (piano), with a particular sound in mind. The finished song, however, ended up in an entirely different direction.

"I began it with a classical guitar pattern, and then it just started developing into something else - this nursery rhyme just came out." Such evolutions are becoming a familiar part of Gray's songwriting process.

"I find that a lot of the music I listened to as a kid (is) now coming out in my writing," he says.

"I think it works, and I think people (relate to it) because the sound is not completely outrageous - but it's not completely normal, either."

On the Web:

www.myspace.com/thebicyclerider

Listen to "Only This Time, This Year"



bucklley.jpg

It's homecoming week for Brian Buckley
. The Bella Vista High School graduate is back in town for his 10-year reunion and, to celebrate, brought his band with him.

It'll be Buckley's first time in front of a Sacramento audience.

"I've been playing music all my life but just started playing in front of others a few years ago," he says.

The Brian Buckley Band, featuring Mike McGraw (guitar), Albert Estiamba (drums) and Dan BodemanQ (bass) is finishing up work on a new CD.

"We're done recording and we were very blessed to work with Mark Howard who produced Bob Dylan, the Red Hot Chili Peppers - everyone," Buckley says.

"We recorded at the Mack Sennett Stage - the oldest sound stage in LA; it has 100 foot ceilings and is the size of a football field - the whole thing was pretty unreal."

The album won't be in stores until February, until then you can preview the sound with "My World," a cut off Buckley's self-titled 2007 debut.

Brian Buckley


Song
: "My World"

Style: Epic, orchestral rock

Behind the song
: "I'm a real fan of using separate time signatures - speeding things up and then slowing them down," Buckley says.

"I had the idea of starting the song in a particular way and it just ended up having all these parts - (there's a) an acoustic bit and then the chorus and a B-section bridge followed by a hard rock piece and then a quiet, almost ballad-like ending."

For Buckley, much of the song's success is owed to an appearance from noted session drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell).

"Vinnie really made all those parts stand out," Buckley says. "He makes all those motions with tempo and time changes feel seamless - that's a tough thing to do and he just makes it all seem like a wheel that's just rolling along."

See them: Wednesday at Marilyn's (908 K St, Sacramento). The 21-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. and is $8 at the door.On the Web: www.myspace.com/brianbuckley

Listen to "My World" here:



Jessica-CD.jpg


No, that's not an inappropriate question - I really do want to know.

Tom Mailey, of KNCI's Pat & Tom Show Morning Show e-mailed me today with a Very Important Question: What is that yellow thing sticking to Simpson's leg on the back cover photo of her new CD "Do You Know"?

Simpson, as you know, just pulled up her pop-gospel roots to replant herself as a country singer.

Intrigued, I dug my copy of the CD out from underneath the mountain of discs on my desk and, yep, sure enough - there's something really weird about that photo.

(Read my review of the CD here.)

So far, Mailey says, listeners have weighed in with guesses ranging from " a sun reflection (or) summer squash to a penalty flag (our fave, given her relationship with Tony Romo)."

Mailey has a different idea.

"I think it's a foam pad or pillow they put their to elevate her leg to make it look sexier, with the intention of airbrushing it out later," he says. "But somebody neglected to do so, probably because they were hypnotized by that come-hither stare."

Any guesses? Musings on the manipulations of photos in the entertainment industry? Leave your thoughts in the comments section or head over to the KNCI site.

OfGREATMEN.JPG

]t's nearly impossible to write about politics without being political.

Christian Kiefer admits that much is true.

But still, the Rocklin-based musician says, he and friends Jefferson Pitcher and Matthew Gerken aimed to "minimize the rants and raves" on their new project, the three-CD, all original set "Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs For 43 Presidencies." (Standard Recordings, $30).

"We tried to present songs that would have longer legs than our current political concerns," Kiefer says of the all-original tunes.
"We didn't want this to be politically offensive - it's too easy to take cheap shots."

The project was conceived in 2006 when Pitcher, a former Davis resident now living in New York, decided to take the February Album Writing Month challenge. The annual event was launched in 2004 by a musician who was inspired by November's better-known National Novel Writing Month exercise.

The Rocklin-based Kiefer jokingly said he'd join in, too - by writing sequels to Pitcher's songs. That was before he even knew the subject matter but once he did, Kiefer says, he was amused and intrigued.

The idea blossomed further after the two invited Sacramento bassist Gerken to join them. The three split up songwriting duties, each taking on 14 former chiefs-of-state and then collaborating together on the 43rd song, George W. Bush's "Through the Night."

Throughout, the task proved daunting, Kiefer says, as they tried to layer their songs with political, historical and cultural context.

"Some of the lesser-known presidents were difficult to write about (and) I found myself thinking I should say something concrete about them," Kiefer says.

"Everyone knows George Washington so you can be quirky with his story - you can't do that with Millard Fillmore," he says. "I wanted to teach people something."

While the songs were written in a month, it took the next year-and-a-half to polish the lyrics and fill in the musical gaps.

To help complete the songs, Kiefer, Pitcher and Gerken called on friends such as Sacramento musicians Vince DiFiore, Matt McCord and John Gutenberger. They also corralled a who's who of nationally known indie musicians, including Rosie Thomas, Bill Callahan and Low's Alan Sparhawk.

The Mortal Men project will continue, past the Nov. 4 election, with a song for the 44th president, either John McCain or Barack Obama. And, yes, again, the songwriters will strive to write something that straddles the party line.

For Gerken, it's the only way to ensure their songs will endure.
"(These songs) have to place the presidencies in historical context," he says. "They have to make interesting commentaries that could be challenging and maybe critical - but not whining."

Of Great and Mortal Men

Song: "Washington Dreams of the Hippopotamus"CQ

Style: Brooding, surreal political pop

Behind the song: "This was the first song I wrote and it came together very quickly," Kiefer says of the album's inaugural track about George Washington.
"The song is basically about George having teeth that are not made of wood but actually carved from hippopotamus teeth - which is actually the truth. I learned that in my research.
"It's about how (Washington) basically lived a lie (about his teeth) his entire life and, at the end of his life, he had these nightmares about the hippopotamus (coming) back for the teeth."
It was fun to play around with the Washington mythology, Kiefer says.
"For some reason it really came together effortlessly," he says, laughing. "If it hadn't been so easy to write, I might not have gone on with the rest of the project."

See them: Saturday9/13 at the Fox & Goose (1001 R St, Sacramento).CQ The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $3 at the door.
On the Web: www.43presidencies.com.CQ

Listen to "Washington Dreams of the Hippopotomus" here:



babyband.jpg

Sacramento's Baby! is, with just five shows played a, well, baby of band. But that doesn't mean that the trio doesn't have chops.

Fronted by Roach, formerly of the longtime area punk band, Groovie Ghoulies, it also features Kortnee (Riff Randals, Whiz-Bang!) on bass and Christine (The Pizzas) on drums.

The group is so new, they've only recorded a few songs so far - one of which written specifically for Roach by a Dutch rock'n'roll pal, Jerry Hormone.

Baby!

Song: "You Better Run"

Style: The Shangri-La's amped up on punk

Behind the song: "I thought the song was great when I first heard it," Roach said. "Now I'm trying to get other guys to write songs - I want to release a CD called 'Roach & Her Boy Toys.'"

So far however, she hasn't had much luck.

"I don't think (the guys) are going for it," she says, laughing.

Although the band stayed pretty faithful to Hormone's original demo, they did add a few personal touches to the track.

"We added a real rock ending - I needed it to have fireworks," Roach says.

Hormone, in an e-mail from Rotterdam, admits writing a song, from way across the Atlantic Ocean, was a bit of a challenge.

"I didn't really know what (her) band sounded like yet but I knew - and really dig - Roach's guitar sound from her stuff with the Ghoulies.

"I figured I'd make it a garage-y early 70's glam tune, because it's got these boogie woogie chords that really fit her style."

See them: Friday at Capitol Bowl's 300 Room, 900 West Capitol Ave, West Sacramento. The Enlows and the Boyfriendz are also on that bill. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is free.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/babysactorock

Listen to "You Better Run" here:



People Brooks.jpg

The first thing I thought last night as the Democratic convention came to a close and the Brooks & Dunn song "Only in America" filled Invesco Field was, well: "Weird."

Second thought? "Ah, politics - it's all about the strategy."

What's next? McCain busts out some U2, Will.I.Am or Kanye West? Afterall, those artists aren't just some of Obama's personal favorites - they're also ardent supporters of the Democratic candidate.

Then again, the Brooks & Dunn song has already been around the political block: Both George W. Bush and John Kerry used the track during their 2004 presidential campaigns. Brooks & Dunn have also done some in-person campaign time with Bush.

What did the country superstars think of the choice? Kix Brooks offered this centrist point-of-view.

"Seems ironic that the same song Bush used at the Republican Convention last election would be used by Obama and the Democrats now," Brooks said in a written statement released to the press this morning.

"(It's) very flattering to know our song crossed parties and potentially inspires all Americans."

Spoken like a true American - and politician.

THE GRUMPY BAND PIC.jpg Sacramento rock trio The Grumpy have a lot of reasons to be, well, not so grumpy. Not only did the band just release its latest album "Throes of Contemplation" but they've also got a sweet gig opening for the Sacramento Monarchs before tomorrow's game at Arco Arena.

The band, featuring Cameron (vocals, guitar), J.W. Brooks (drums) and Jake Ferguson (bass), has a decidedly American rock sound - aggressive, yet slick. Perfect for, say, a sporting event.

The Monarchs game (against the Houston Comets) starts at 7 p.m., the band performs at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $10-$90 via TicketMaster.com

Don't want to pay that much? The band also plays Friday, Sept. 5 at Ugly's (7161 Auburn Blvd. , Citrus Heights). The 9 p.m. show is 21-and-over.

August 27, 2008
Pants off, dance off

chkchkchk.jpg
The band may list Brooklyn as its hometown on its MySpace page but the members of !!! wanted to make one perfectly clear: Sacramento was, is and always will be home.

"This band is not afraid to say it's from Sacramento," said back-up singer Shannon Funchess as the band played to a packed house at Harlow's on Tuesday night.

"Sacramento you own !!!."

And Sactown made good on its investment as the band ripped through its blistering set. With singer Nic Offer - clad in a polo shirt and shorts - leading the groove, there wasn't a stationary pair of feet in the building.

Well, there was that one guy in front me who kind of barely tapped his Converse in time to the rhythm, but he doesn't count. Seriously, how can you go to a !!! show and not shake what your mama gave you?

As always, !!! (pronounced "chk chk chk" - or you can use any rhythmic, repetitive sound really) proved that "disco" and "punk" aren't mutually exclusive tunes. Moving through tracks off of their three albums, the band delivered beats so raw they seemed to cut to the very core of your soul. With horns, keyboards, tambourine and killer guitar riffs, !!! marries its dance floor vibe with gospel, soul and hard rock.

The show, a benefit for Concerts 4 Charity, also featured Touchez in the opening slot and more skinny jeans, thrift store tees and ironic mustaches per square foot than is probably legal. But I mean that in a good way, really. Hey, if you're not too cool to dance (Converse-tapping guy, I'm looking at you), then you understand what I mean.

drayton.JPGFox40 (KTXL) anchor Thomas Drayton has confirmed he's leaving the station.

But he can't tell us where. Or exactly when.

OKayyyyyyy,

Seems like Drayton, who currently co-anchors the 10 p.m. news with Donna Cordova, is not at liberty to divulge such pesky details at this time.

Who knew media job switcheroos could be so Secret Spy-like?

Drayton can, however, tell us this The new gig is as the lead anchor in a Top 5 market and he'll be leaving Sacramento the first week of September and, in all likelihood, starting his new job by mid-September.

Although he's excited to take on the new assignment, Drayton said he's sorry to say goodbye to Sacramento and Fox40.

"I had every intention of re-signing (with Fox40)," Drayton said. "But then I was contacted by this station and it was a great opportunity."

Drayton said he'll keep up with Fox40 and its upcoming changes.

"It's an exciting time to be at Fox40 - we're about to launch a new, expanded morning show with a brand new look," he said. "But at some point, you have to decide if you want to continue with what you have or do you want to move on. And now was the time for me to make this transition."

Fox40 news director Brandon Mercer praised Drayton's talents.

"Thomas helped Fox40 get to where we are now and we wish him the best of luck," said Mercer who also confirmed that Fox40 is indeed launching a new morning show in the near future but declined to give the specifics at this time.

Finding a replacement for Drayton will be tough, he added.

"We've got to do an anchor search - to replace him we need to find someone who knows news, someone who's able to ad lib, someone who's authentic and someone who has a voice that (viewers) will respect)."

We'll keep you posted on the details.

August 25, 2008
Wilco at Outside Lands

wilco_outside.jpgI'm not a huge fan of gigantic outdoor music festivals - they're crowded, stinky and unless you get there at an indecently early hour, chances are you'll barely be able to see the bands.

Even this weekend's Outside Lands Festival didn't quite pull at me - as much as I'd like to see Radiohead or Beck or Tom Petty again or even as much as I'd love to check out newer, younger acts such as Bon Iver.

But, I am a huge fan of Wilco and because the Chicago-based band was otherwise bypassing Northern California, I decided to make the trek to SF's Golden Gate Park to check out their set on Sunday.

I'd actually hoped to also see Canada's Broken Social Scene because I imagine that, like the Arcade Fire, they're quite an exciting band live.

But, alas, Muni is not my friend and after the N line dropped us off somewhere near one tail end of the park, it took us nearly an hour (for reals) to find ourselves to the Twin Peaks stage - exactly 10 minutes after BSS finished its set.

Note to festival organizers: Signs pointing the way to the appropriate entrances would've helped. Really.

Sigh.

But, all was not lost. That still gave us plenty of time to get a much-needed beer and find a spot on the grass for the show - only about five miles out (see accompanying photo for lack of detail).

And, although I wish Wilco had been the headliner instead of Jack Johnson and, thus, played beneath the night sky, they still put on a great show.

A grew show that was, however, definitely geared toward the latter half of the band's catalog. Playing for about an hour-and-a-half, Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline and the rest of the band stuck mostly to fare from their last two albums, 2004's "A Ghost is Born" and 2007's "Sky Blue Sky."

They did pull out a few older tracks including "Via Chicago" (from 1999's wonderful "Summerteeth" record) and "California Stars" (from the band's 1998 "Mermaid Avenue" collaboration with Billy Bragg).

But, if you were hoping for a dose of early country-rock ("Casino Queen" or "Passenger Side" anyone?!?), then this wasn't the show for you.

Instead, the band stayed pretty faithful to its current noise lovefest. What do you expect, that's why they hired Nels Cline to be in the band. The guitarist, who's played with everyone from Charlie Haden to Thurston Moore, is an amazing musician and his very presence lends to Wilco's current obsession with noisy, noodle-y rock and guitar solo freakouts.

If you can get yourself out of the past (and it's hard, I know, it's hard), Wilco is still a great band - albeit a very different one that rose from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo in 1994..

Still, the best moment for me, came via 2001's pretty, quiet "Jesus, Etc." And, judging from the chorus of cheers that rose from the crowd as the band struck that song's very first note, I wasn't alone in my happiness for its inclusion.

Wilco will probably never get the acclaim or even album of, say,a Radiohead who, of course, headlined Friday's Outside Lands set to much fanfare.

But, for me at least, they were more than worth the drive, public transportation adventures, endless walking, that really bad overpriced vegan burger and the slightly nagging feeling that I'd gone to all the trouble to watch a band from a distance that approximated at least one full city block.

What a girl won't do for rock'n'roll, y'know?


alseconds.jpgAllyson Seconds is well-known around Sacramento. Over the years, she's been in numerous bands including Go National and Ghetto Moments but it'd been years since she'd performed front and center, with the spotlight of attention shining solely on her.

So, the 39-year-old musician, ready to find her voice, called on longtime friend Anton Barbeau, currently playing music in the U.K., to help her make some music. The resulting songs, which will appear on the upcoming album "Bag of Kittens," are sweet pop gems steeped in melancholy and regret.

Allyson Seconds

Song: "I Used To Say Your Name"

Style: Soft, hypnotic pop

Behind the song: "This was the first song I heard, I loved it right away," Seconds says. "Anton did exactly what I was hoping - write a song with my voice in mind. It's my favorite out of all the ones he did; I really love the piano.

"I went to Europe to play with Anton - every time I even do an open mike in Sacramento I get butterflies like crazy," she says. "But I thought, what better way to throw myself into singing then go to a different continent and play to a roomful of strangers?"

Barbeau says Seconds has made the song entirely her own.

"It doesn't even sound like something I've written," he says. "I just feel like it's her song. She has a lovely voice and a very relaxed style and when she's up there singing she's just very true to herself."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/bagokittens

Listen to "I Used to Say Your Name" here:



The show must go on. The Dave Matthews Band show scheduled for Monday at Raley Field will still happen despite the death of longtime DMB saxophonist LeRoi Moore.

Moore, 46, died Tuesday due to complications from injuries he sustained during a June ATV accident. Moore was not playing the tour and Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones) will continue to play his parts through the remainder of the band's shows.

I spoke with DMB violinist Boyd Tinsley on Monday - the day before Moore's death. At the time, Tinsley and the rest of the band were still hopeful he'd make a full recovery and join the band on the road for the next round of dates.

"LeRoi's playing came from the heart and soul" Tinsley said at the time. "Everybody in the band has realized you can't replace him."

You can read my interview with Tinsley, Sunday in the Bee's Explore section.

Tickets ($58-$70) are still available through TicketMaster.com. For more information, visit the Raley Field site.

nyoung.JPGOK, Neil Young fans, this may be the closest you get to heaven.

Young just announced a new North American tour and while, so far, it's not coming to Sacramento or even San Francisco, he will play Nov. 1 at the Reno Events Center.

Death Cab for Cutie and Everest will open the show.

(To be honest, I love Death Cab but I'm more than a little bit disappointed that Wilco's run with the band starts at the end of November. Now that would be a perfect show.)

Tickets ($75-$250) go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster

Want to get a preview of Everest? The buzz band is playing Sunday at Old Ironsides for a whole lot cheaper. The 21-and-over show is $7 at the door and also features The Parson Redhead and local band An Angle.

For more information: myspace.com/theoldironsides

nin.JPG

Nine Inch Nails just announced dates for its upcoming Lights in the Sky tour and Sacramento made the cut.

Look for the Trent Reznor-fronted icons of industrial rock, Dec. 12 at Arco Arena.

No word yet on when tickets go on sale to the general public but if you're a registered member of the band's Web site, you'll get first dibs on a pre-sale tickets, premium seats, etc.

Visit www.NIN.com for futher details.

Lovely Builders.jpg

Local jazz musicians Ross Hammond and Scott Amendola had played together many times before but when the two were paired on a recent project, they decided to continue the partnership by forming a duo.

The Lovely Builders is Hammond on guitar, Amendola on percussion and both on electronics and the resulting sound is playful, confident and, as the name may suggest, exquisitely innovative.

The Lovely Builders

Song: "Vote"
Style: Sprawling, free-form jazz
Behind the song: "We had some extra time in the studio and just started playing through some ideas we'd sketched out. 'Vote' just came out of that," Hammond says.
"We wrote it around a rhythmic figure as opposed to a melody or chord progression - Scott is really a mad scientist, he's an incredible, great drummer but he's also into electronics, (creating) lots of sounds - it's like 'where the hell is that coming from?' It's fun, it's cool."
See them: August 25 at the Java Lounge, 2416 16th St. Sacramento.
The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door. For more information: (916) 441-3945
On the Web: www.myspace.com/rosshammond

Listen to "Vote" here:



BottomDwellers1.JPG

With banjo, accordion and a stand-up bass, Woodland's Bottom Dwellers conjure sounds of an old ghost town, backwoods bonfires and the long and lonesome open road.
The band, featuring Ivan Sohrakoff (vocals, guitar, banjo), Adam Hancock (vocals, guitar, lap steel), Mark Eagleton (upright and electric bass) and Chris Eynon (drums), has two albums under its western wear belt.

The Bottom Dwellers

Song: "Think I Need a Drink"
Style: Twangy Americana / classic country
Influences: Buck Owens, Neil Young, Hank III
Behind the song: "Every now and then a song comes in and, instantly, everyone knows it's something special," Eagleton says.
For Sohrakoff, the track stood out among the band's rowdier songs.
"We do a lot of songs that are fast-driving, honky-tonk, truck-driving songs and this one was relaxed and laid-back," he says.
See them: Tonight at the Buck Owens tribute at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St); the 21-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. and is $8 at the door. Or, Saturday at Sophia's Thai Kitchen (129 E. St, Davis). The all-ages show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $3.

On the Web: www.bottomdwellersmusic.com

Listen to "Think I Need a Drink" here:



knockknock_.jpg

Knock Knock's latest album "Girls on the Run," released on the band's Wilde Records label, is the perfect mix of beachy, breezy pop and frenetic rock.
The four-piece, featuring singer-songwriter / bassist Allen Maxwell, guitarist Heather Conway, guitarist Mike Cinciripino and drummer Nicola Miller, is on hiatus through the early fall but plans to start working on a new album or EP soon.

Knock Knock

Song: "She Knocks Me Out"
Style
: Punchy power pop
Influences: Indie rock and punk meets classic rock
Behind the song: "It's a really old song (from when) Nicola and I had a band called Slumber Party," says Maxwell. "At some point, in Knock Knock we were going all these old songs and this is one that we ended up using.
"It sounds really different now (because) Mike and Heather obviously put their own thing into it. Mike came up with the intro and then we all added the hand claps."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/knockknocktheband

Here's the player to hear "She Knocks Me Out"



PLAIN_WHITET.JPG Rock Band, the popular video music game, is the sponsor of a new mammoth emo-pop tour.

Break out the Kleenex and black eyeliner: Panic! At the Disco, Dashboard Confessional, Plain White T's (pictured) and cab will headline Rock Band Live, scheduled to arrive Oct. 12 at Arco Arena.
.

There will also, apparently, be a chance for local bands to compete for the opportunity to take the stage. Details are pending but I'd suggest you do more than just practice your Kurt Cobain riffs on Rock Band if you want a shot at 15 seconds of fame.

I'd also suggest checking with the Panic! at the Disco site for more info.

Tickets go on sale Aug. 8 through TicketMaster.com.

u2_.jpgIt's Tuesday which means today's the day for new CD releases / downloads, etc.

A couple that have caught my attention: U2's new self-titled six-disc deluxe edition box set.

The set, sold exclusively by Amazon (Island, $79.98) includes expanded, remastered two-disc versions of the band's first three albums, "Boy," "October" and "War." Each bonus disc includes B-sides, live takes and other rarities.

There's also room in the set for a fourth, as yet-to-be-released album.

Also out today, The Walkmen's "You & Me." The New York-based indie rock band is releasing the album - for now - exclusively through the Amie Street online music store. For the next three weeks you can get it for just $5. For each album purchased, Amie Street will donate $5 to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as part of the site's ongoing Download to Make a Difference campaign.

And, finally, Mojave 3's Neil Halstead has a new solo disc, "Oh! Mighty Engine" (Brushfire Records, $13.98). I've yet to hear the whole disc but I love Halstead's dusky voice and smart, melancholy lyrics so it's pretty high on my to-buy list. You can sample songs here.


desario.jpeg

Sacramento's four-member Desario crafts perfect slices of soft, jangly pop.
The band, with John Conley (guitar, vocals), Mike Carr (bass), Michael Yoas (guitar) and Jim Rivas (drums), is like a Who's Who of the NorCal pop scene - their musical pedigree includes members of California Oranges, Holiday Flyer, Sinking Ships and Rocketship.
Desario's new album, "Zero Point Zero," will be released in October on Darla Records.

Until then, get your sugar fix by listening to "Cane Cola"

Desario
Song: "Cane Cola"
Style: Sweet, melancholy power pop
Influences: XTC, Interpol,the Shins
Behind the song: "We were at practice, and John (Conley) and Mike (Yoas) started fooling around with the two-part guitar interplay you hear at the beginning of the song," explains Desario bassist Mike Carr. "I really liked what I heard - it already sounded like a (finished) song. I just assumed it was a song they had already played in some other band together. I love it - it's one of the band's favorites."
See them: Desario performs at 9 p.m. Friday Aug. 1 at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St.).
On the Web: www.myspace.com/desario

Here's the player to hear "Cane Cola":


CarolinaLiar _HilaryWalsh.JPG

If you missed the Carolina Liar's last Sacramento performance, you're in luck. The Los Angeles (by way of, well, South Carolina) band is going to play the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Plaza on Monday.

But you can't exactly buy tickets to the pop band's performance - you have to win them via 106.5 (KWOD).

Which means if you snag a pair, they're free.

Visit the Hard Rock site or the KWOD site for details.

Read my story on the band, who just finished a tour with OneRepublic, here.

Yes, it's another casualty of the smoke: KVMR's 30 Years in Your Ears festival that I wrote about in The Bee yesterday.

Don't worry, it's still happening but the Street Fair scheduled for tomorrow is now moving inside the Miners Foundry (325 Spring St, Nevada City). Time is the same: Noon-6 p.m.

For more information, visit the KVMR site.

PK KCRA WALKER HART_blog.JPG

The rumors have been swirling for months but Channel 3 (KCRA) stalwarts Dave Walker and Lois Hart refused to confirm the buzz that they were set to leave their anchor desks for good this year.

Until today.

"Yes, we are going to retire at some point, later this year," said Lois Hart
, reached on the phone as she took a break from jury duty. "But I can't really tell you more than that."

She wasn't even sure she wanted the news out just yet.

"Dave? Should we talk to The Bee?" she said, calling over to her husband. "Can we tell them we're retiring?"

Walker, apparently, gave the nod of approval and so, there you have it.

While the anchors declined to give a specific date, Hart did talk aspirations.

"I'm very comfortable telling you that I'm thinking of travel - Costa Rica, Truckee.
she said. " Actually, that's all I've had time to think about at this point."

Walker and Hart both worked in Sacramento during the 1970s before launching CNN's inaugural broadcast in 1980. The pair returned to KCRA in 1990 and, in 1994, started anchoring its late night news broadcast. Currently, they work the 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. shifts.

Hart promises that more information regarding an exact exit date and whether the two will remain involved with KCRA is soon forthcoming..

Stay tuned.

July 8, 2008
Back in (Lewis) Black

lewisblack.JPGI got quite a few anxious phone calls and e-mails last week after writing that comedian Lewis Black was scheduled to make a local appearance.

The problem? The venue - UC Davis' Mondavi Arts Center - had no mention of the show on its Web site.

You can all breathe a deep sigh of relief now, we have the most official of confirmations from the Mondavi camp.

Lewis Black. September 19. Mondavi Arts Center.

Tickets ($49.50 and $65.50) go on sale Aug. 2.

And, no, the event still isn't listed on the Mondavi site but, relax, it's really happening.

For more information, call (530) 754-2787.

Tough economic times call for - softly rocking Americana songs that are absolutely free?

Well, in my little corner of the world, yes.

Life as Ghosts, a local five-piece whose music reminds me of a cold desert night, is offering a free download of its newest song "El Famino."

It's a great way to preview the band's sound - they've got a record out "Sea to Shore," available now at The Beat (1700 J St. Sacramento) and R5 Records (2500 16th St.).

Visit the Life as Ghosts' MySpace page for the download and more info.

gits.jpg

As part of its ongoing "Movies on a Big Screen" series, Shiny Object will host two screenings of the brand-new documentary "The Gits."

"The Gits," which shows at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday, tells the story of the famed Seattle punk band fronted by Mia Zapata until her murder on July 7, 1993.

Zapata's murder was still unsolved when director Kerri O'Kane started shooting "The Gits" in 2002. In 2003, DNA evidence linked Jesus Mezquia to the crime and in 2004 he was convicted of the crime and is now serving a 36-year-sentence.

"The Gits," which also details the closely knit, grunge-era Seattle scene, includes an interview with Joan Jett, After Zapata's death, Jett recorded an album with the surviving members of The Gits called "Evil Stig" - "Gits Live" backwards.

Shiny Object is located at 600 4th Street in West Sacramento. TIckets are $5. For more information visit the Shiny Object site. And, for more information on the film, go here.

Last month we told you about that !!! show scheduled for Aug. 26 at Harlow's (2708 J St, Sacramento).

Now, at long last, the ticket details on Sacramento's favorite dance-punk expats.

The show is a benefit for local Concerts 4 Charity efforts and proceeds will sponsor student music lessons.

Tickets ($12 - or $13.29 with the service charge) are now available through the Brown Paper Tickets site.

Well my bad, yesterday I told you that of all the local TV stations, only Fox40 had an active Twitter account. Turns out KCRA does too. Never mind that it's not that easy to find if you search the Twitter site, the address is Twitter.com/kcranews.

I'm not the only one who had trouble finding KCRA's Twitter feed, apparently - as of this posting they only had 58 followers (one of whom is now me).

Of course, that does beat Fox40 - as of this posting, they only have 49 followers (again, I'm one of them).

Which, of course begs the question, if a station Twitters and no one reads, does it have an impact?

Oh, and for the commenter who made this snide comment "Twitter and widgets? What about Doohickeys and Thingey's." (sic):

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows you to post 140-character entries and "follow" other feeds - friends, family, TV news stations, etc. It's what the kids are into it, so make fun of it today, adopt it tomorrow, I guess.

In a push to engage online news users, the tinkerers behind Channel 13 (KOVR) and Channel 31 (KMAX) have finally given their web sites a little Web 2.0 spit and shine.

Specifically, you can now add Channel 13 and 31 "widgets" to your blog or social networking page (think Facebook, Myspace, et. al).

Widgets, by the way, are Web applications that deliver content to your site. The Channel 13 and 31 widgets can (depending on your preferences) deliver news feeds, videos. links and, yes, advertisements.

The stations' newest tech addition got me thinking - how useful / tech-forward are the other local TV news station Web sites?

While News10, KCRA and Fox40 offer mobile updates, none of them deliver widgets.

And, as far as I can tell, Fox40 (KTXL) is - surprisingly - the only local station with an active Twitter account.


E-mail
me your thoughts on local TV web sites - what works, what doesn't (feel free to politely point out anything I've missed). Or, leave a comment below.


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In this dog-eat-dog economic slump it helps to know people. People who can get you free stuff, that is.

Here's the deal, my buddy Ian - a former Bee employee, by the way - works for the Lied Center of Kansas which is the University of Kansas' performing arts center and is similar to UCD's Mondavi Center. Anyway, he tipped me off to a great iTunes giveway the center is sponsoring.

E-mail the powers-that-be at
lied@ku.edu
to nab one of 50,000 iTunes cards good for 20 free songs.

It's not just any 20 songs, mind you. Rather, the card gets you 20 tunes by the likes of Phillip Glass, Laurie Anderson (pictured), the Soweta Gospel Choir, the Turtle Island String Quartet and Interpreti Veneziani.

They're all acts on the Lied Center's 2008-09 events calendar. Some of them, by the way, are also on Mondavi's calendar. Think of it as not just a great way to get free music - but also an opportunity to preview some of the performers visiting Davis this year (check out the Mondavi 2008-09 calendar here).

For more information, surf over to the Lied Center site.

jewel-04.JPG One of the topics that came up when I interviewed Jewel, who appears Saturday at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre with Brad Paisley (read my story here here) was the subject of women in music and what it was like for her when her debut album "Pieces of Me" was released in early 1995.

Alanis Morissette released her debut album "Jagged Little Pill" later that year and, Jewel, notes there were big differences in the way the two artists were received. For one, Jewel's sound was a soft folk-pop and, initially, radio stations wanted nothing to do with her.

"When I first started out Nirvana and Soundgarden were king and they wouldn't arrest a girl," Jewel says.

Then Morissette exploded on the scene with her first single "You Oughta Know."

"Alanis sounded like one of the guys - it was very angsty rock and I was just this sincere little songwriter - very traditional sounding," Jewel says. "Getting me on the radio was (still) heck. I couldn't get my first single, 'Who Will Save Your Soul" on the radio for 10 months."

Once she did make it on the radio, of course, Jewel did very well; she's sold more than 18 million records since the start of her career. But, she adds, being a woman in music during the mid-90s definitely had its downside.

Jewel's success, along with that of Morissette's and others such as Meredith Brooks, Jill Sobule and Hole's Courtney Love meant that most female musicians - regardless of their sound - got lumped in together.

And it was the women who came before them that paid the real price, Jewel says.

"It was insulting - there were so many great women that came before us and (the press) was trying to act as if we invented the concept of women in rock," she says.

"We didn't - Joni Mitchell and Carole King and Rickie Lee Jones came before us. And before that it was Josephine Baker and Etta James and Nina Simone - there were always these women who did amazing, revolutionary things with music."

Consider yourself schooled.

I'm pretty sure the Beastie Boys had something else in mind when they sang "I did it like this, I did it like that, I did it with the Wiffle Ball bat" but, whatever, I'm still going to suggest you make like Boys and grab one of the plastic, perforated balls - for a good cause, of course.

That's because there are still a few slots open for the 4th Annual Pat and Tom / Clint Howard Wiffle Ball Challenge, scheduled for June 28 at Howe Park (2100 Howe Ave).

Yes, that would be Pat and Tom of 105.1 FM (KNCI) and, yes, that would be Clint Howard - Ron Howard's brother.

Here's the deal (and long story short), DJs Pat Still and Tom Mailey interviewed Clint a few years back and, somehow, the topic of Wiffle Ball came up; Howard told the guys how much he and Ron used to love playing the game and, from the sparks of an off-handed conversation, was born the idea for a charity tournament.

The tournament raises money and awareness for the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders), a research organization that studies causes of and seeks treatment for various neurodevelopmental disorders.

It's a cause that's close to the heart for the country radio deejays, Still's son, who is autistic, is treated by doctors at the institute.

Howard, by the way, really does participate in the tourney; the first year they played was the same weekend that Ron Howard's "Da Vinci Code" opened in theaters and, after the tournament, Clint told the deejays that he'd had the better weekend - and that his brother would probably agree with him.

In addition to all the Wiffle Ball games, there'll also be a home run derby, raffle and lunch. Still and Mailey are hoping to get 32 teams of three players; team slots are now available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Interested? Learn more by visiting the Wiffle Ball Challenge site.

Out of the ashes of Prosper magazine, Sacramento-based business and lifestyle monthly that ceased publication in November, comes a blog aggregator with a local focus.

The new RiverWrap.com blog feed, which went live last week, currently features feeds from dozens of Sacramento-based blogs as well as other blogs that write about the RIver City.

"That's what's really unique about this blog aggregator - we're bringing in blogs from around the world, not just Sacramento," says Zach Melchiori, a web analyst for the midtown-based Prosper Media company that produces the site.

"We'd much rather have someone blogging in Cleveland about Sacramento than someone in Sacramento blogging about their cat," Melchiori said.

What that means is a focus that is squarely Sacramento-centric, focusing on the region's culture, food, politics, media, entertainment, etc.

Some of the usual Sactown suspects are already finding a presence on the site, including Heckasac, The Sac Rag, Sac Foodies and yes, even 21Q.

In addition to the standard blog feed - updated entries from the local blogosphere, RiverWrap features recent headlines (including, yes, from stories in The Bee) and a Top 10 Blog Posts chart highlighting entries with the most hits.

There's also a Flickr feed - any photos submitted to the popular photo-sharing site and tagged "Sacramento" will show up here.

In the future, Melchiori says, look for more site interactivity including the addition of user comments.

"We really want to drive more dialogue," Melchiori says.

In the meantime, RiverWrap fills a nice niche; the site is hardly exhaustive in its representation of Sacramento bloggers but it's nice to look at, easy to use and, at the very least, neatly echoes the voices of Sacramento.

And I'm not just saying that because a post I wrote just made the Top 10 chart. Honest.

Wednesday, I asked readers to weigh in with their opinions on how local TV stations were covering the regional fires.

And, aside from some readers who groused that The Bee wasn't covering the media coverage enough, results were pretty much divided among "too much" and "not enough."

Barbara Boudreaux commented in an e-mail that she thought "the fire coverage by KCRA is not only excessive but obsessive. If there is a fire anywhere, even a grass fire, it is always 'top of the news' and their cameras linger for long periods on the flames."

Meanwhile, Barbara Sanfilippo appreciated KCRA's coverage - mostly.

A blog reader identified as "RepublicanKid" believed News 10 (KXTV) was the clear winner.

"While I don't know if they broke into programming, News 10 had the best overall coverage. They utilized their website very well with live video until late afternoon with a live chat going between a producer in the newsroom and viewers, who often reported developments as they saw the smoke."

And, finally, Susan Read believed all broadcasting outlets dropped the ball.

"I work (near) Kiefer Blvd. and Jackson Highway and I could not find anywhere, on TV or radio, that would tell me if and which streets were closed to fight the fire," she wrote. "Bottom line, with all the coverage of the fire, road closures should have been at the top of what to report."

Thanks to everyone for the input, you can read all the blog comments here.

From the thank-goodness-this-wasn't-local files:

There are stupid anchor moments and then there unbelievably head-shaking, OMG-anchor moments.

All I can say is that Ken Bastida, an anchor for San Francisco's CBS affilliate, Channel 5 (KPIX), might want to take a refresher course on the importance of smooth transitions.

I mean, seriously.

And, by the way, Dana King, the co-anchor in question, is alive and well.

(Via, of all things, VH1's Best Week Ever blog)

Less than three months after being laid off by Channel 13 (KOVR), reporter Reggie Kumar is back on the air, this time at Fox40 (KTXL).

Fox40 news director Brandon Mercer confirmed in an e-mail to The Bee that Kumar is working in a "freelance capacity."

"Reggie has a talent for finding interesting stories, and bringing energy and creativity to his live reports," Mercer says.

And, in other local TV news, representatives from just about every station have called or written in to trumpet their respective station's coverage of the fires in the Sacramento and Stockton region.

It's certainly arguable (and I know you're ready to debate this) but it seems as if Channel 3 (KCRA) "won" the day by breaking into regular programming with two-hours-plus of mid-day coverage.

But, is quantity synonymous with quality?

As firefighters continue to battle blazes today, I'd like to hear from you - how well are the stations covering the story? Too much? Not enough?

Leave comments below or e-mail me at rleibrock@sacbee.com

In May, Sacramento media blogger RadioMatthew called it quits but now he's back - sort of.

RadioMatthew - who asks that we don't publish his offline, real-world name - tells us he's accepted a job as a Web producer with Fox40 (KTXL).

What this means for the rest of us, RM says, is that he may also soon return to the blogging realm.

So, you know, stay tuned.

Last week we told you about Channel 3 (KCRA)'s extended morning news coverage and extra chopper duty for the big I-5 fix.

Well, I was walking through William Land Park yesterday morning around 7:30 a.m. - near the Sutterville / I-5 juncture - and there were, I'm here to tell you, about a million helicopters hovering through the sky.

OK so maybe it wasn't a million, per se, but the sky was buzzing and I'm not quite sure what causing more of a problem traffic: The I-5 closure or all the people craning necks out their windows trying to see the hovering vehicles.

This morning it was just as bad - a colleague told me the 'copter noise interrupted her beauty sleep at 5 a.m..

Tell me, does anyone else out there think that, perhaps, just maybe, there's a bit of chopper overkill going on? (I won't even get into the topic of overall I-5 fix topic saturation.).

Oh, and all you eagle-eyed viewers who wrote in to note that former Channel 3 pilot-for-hire John Hamilton had shifted gears to work for Channel 13 (KOVR), sorry to disappoint you but Hamilton's not a permanent part of that news family (yet).

Hamilton, along with former KFBK guy Commander Bill, did indeed pull first-day commute duty for Channel 13 but station news director Cameryn Beck tells us it was just a one-time thing.

For now.

"John Hamilton and Commander Bill did fly for us Monday morning as part of our comprehensive coverage," Beck explained in an e-mail to The Bee. "It was one morning only, but we always keep all of our options open."

Stay tuned - and keep your eyes to the sky. Or not. Maybe we shouldn't encourage the mile-high congestion.


Brightman.JPGPop singer Sarah Brightman just announced dates for her Symphony World Tour and Sacramento made the cut.

Brightman is scheduled to perform December 16 at Arco Arena.

Brightman, once married to Broadway composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, is widely known as the inspiration for Christine in Webber's adaptation of "The Phantom of the Opera."

Off Broadway, she's earned a reputation as an accomplished pop singer whose songs are imbued with an operatic flourish.

Ticket details still pending so stay tuned.

May sweeps came to a close last week and, judging by some of the comments left here at 21Q (and similar e-mails in my in-box), a few of you are dying (dying!) to see the results in print.

Everyone take a deep breath now - the world is still spinning on its axis, with just a slight tweak of degrees.

Anyway, yes, folks, the rumors are true: For the first time since the dawn of time, Channel 3 (KCRA) did not take the 11 p.m. news time slot.

And, if we're looking at just the 11 p.m. slot, that win went to News10 (KXTV), with a 4.6 rating over Channel 3's 4.3 rating.

(Ratings chart the percentage of all homes with television; shares measure the number of TV sets turned on at a particular time.)

However, if you want to include the 10 p.m. news when talking about "late night" (and whether you do depends on whom you ask. Or which way the wind is blowing - take your pick), then Channel 13 (KOVR) actually nabbed the win, with a 5.5 rating.

(Oh yeah, and Fox40 (KTXL) also showed up to the party with a 3.7 rating for its 10 p.m. newscast, while Channel 19 (Univision) brought in a 1.0 rating for its 11 p.m. broadcast.)

Still, any way you slice it or dice it, it's a noticeable slip for Channel 3 from its February numbers in the same time slot (5.7).

Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams blames his station's notable dip on its parent network.

NBC's shown a decline in ratings across the board, Williams says.

"When prime-time viewership is down, then we have a harder time," Williams says. "Sometimes, we're the victims of what our networks give us, but I believe we're still in a solid position."

Certainly, there's no reason to cry them a river (yet). Channel 3 easily nabbed the midday news market, with a 3.3 rating over Channel 13's 2.8 and Channel 10's 2.7.

They also owned the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, with 8.1 and 7.1 ratings, respectively, compared to Channel 13's 3.2 and 2.6 and Channel 10's 2.4 and 3.5.

The real story here, though, is just how poorly most of the stations are doing in the morning news race. While Channel 3 posted a gain at 5 a.m., eeking out a 2.2 rating over February's 1.8, it dipped ever-so-slightly at 6 a.m. (4.1, down from 4.2).

Channel 10 relatively stayed the course at 5 a.m. with a 1.1 rating but slipped at 6 a.m.with a 2.1 rating, down from February's 2.3.

Channel 31 (KMAX)'s numbers were down at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. (slipping from 2.1 and 2.7 ratings to 1.9 and 2.4, respectively), but up at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. (3.1 and 2.6 vs. February's 2.4 and 1.9).

As for Channel 13 (KOVR): That station showed no signs of life, dropping to a .7 rating at 5 a.m. - down from 1.0) and to a .99 at 6 a.m., down from 1.4.

Ouch.

Channel 3 (KCRA) will temporarily extend its morning newscast by a half hour, Mondays-Fridays. The goal, says news director Anzio Williams, is to offer a guide for those trying to make sense of any I-5 closure-related commuter headaches.

So, starting Monday, anchors Deirdre Fitzpatrick and Walt Gray will take their places behind the news desk at 4:30 a.m. instead of the usual 5 a.m. start time.

"We'll have helicopters out there navigating at 4:30 a.m. so no matter where you're coming from, you'll be able to figure (your route) out," Williams says.

The freeway closure is expected to run through July; the extended newscast will run through at least June 20.

Or, of course, you also could check out The Bee's up-to-the-minute 1-5 site to sign up for mobile alerts and track traffic conditions and routes. Just sayin'.

Fox40 (KTXL) general manager Bob Ramsey just confirmed the obvious: Not only was Brandon Mercer just named the station's new news directorbut Tom Burke, the guy who previously held that title has left the building.

Ramsey, calling from his office, declined to discuss the specifics of the shake-up, saying only that Burke is no longer with Fox40. Instead, Ramsey focused on Mercer's qualifications - Mercer's last gig was with Channel 13 (KOVR), where he worked as executive producer.

"We're looking to expand our news offerings in the morning and Brandon brings a ton of experience in that area," Ramsey says. "He has an incredible wealth of knowledge of the news market in Sacramento and incredible knowledge of successful news programming."

No word yet, however, on when viewers may expect to see more a.m. offerings.

"Stay tuned," Ramsey says.

Tom Burke has been replaced by Brandon Mercer as Fox40 (KTXL)'s news director. Mercer station-hopped over from Channel 13 (KOVR), where he was executive producer.

No word yet on the hows and whys of the change, and a spokesperson for the station has yet to return calls. Stay tuned.

A while back we told you about Sactown magazine's three Maggie awards. As it turns out, another Sacramento-based publication also won one of the coveted Western Publication Association awards.

California Builder, the California Building Industry Association's bimonthly membership magazine, earned recognition as Best Association publication for its May/June 2007 issue.

Click here for more information on the magazine.

And congratulations..

Those of you who tuned into Tuesday afternoon's Michael Savage show on KSTE (650 AM) were subjected to the conservative talk show host's not-so-charming reaction to the news that Sen. Edward Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

First, the San Francisco-based Savage, whose show airs from 3-6 p.m. on 650 AM, played some "Kindergarten Cop" audio clips featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger declaring "It's not a tumor."

Nice.

But, wait, there's more. Unfortunately. Declaring that he was showing respect for the senator, Savage played "California Uber Alles."

Yes, that would be a song by the Dead Kennedys.

Never mind that DK singer Jello Biafra has said that the band's name isn't actually (as many people believe) a reference to the senator's assassinated brothers, John and Bobby Kennedy. After reading lyrics from the song, Savage went on to say: "No gloating today, no laughter, all serious. You don't joke about a man's cancer."

Except, he just did.

Contrast this to local KSTE hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, who also took on the subject during their radio show this morning but with - and I never thought I'd say this - a million times more tact and respect.

While the duo didn't shy away from discussing Kennedy's 1969 Chappaquiddick scandal, in noting the differences in media coverage then and now, Armstrong and Getty managed to avoid any cheap jokes.

Actually, they didn't make any jokes at all - even so-called jokes dressed up as "tributes."

And to that, I'm not afraid to say, good job.

It's come to our attention that the pro-Hillary Clinton/anti-NBC protest we told you about Monday is actually happening today.

Protest organizer Tanya Clarke blames the wrong date on crossed wires but assures us they'll be out at 3 Television Circle at 5:30 p.m.

And, judging by the number of comments the last post generated, I'm guessing there's high interest in this demonstration - which is also happening at other NBC affiliates nationwide. Stay tuned.

Hillary Clinton supporters are set to demonstrate outside the Channel 3 (KCRA) studios (3 Television Circle) at 5:30 today as part of a nationwide protest against NBC.

Members of the HillaryClintonforum.net, allege that NBC displays an "anti-Hillary" bias in its news coverage; protests are planned at NBC affiliates across the country today.

Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams declined to comment on the impending protest other than to say, "We're a television station and we cover (all the politicians) in an equal way."

A representative for the protest could not be reached for comment.

They're not billing it as a debate, per se, but we're certain some political sparks will fly when mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson and Mayor Heather Fargo sit down for an in-depth interview on today's "Insight" radio show.

Hosted by Jeffrey Callison, the show airs from 2-3 p.m. on KXJZ 90.9 and will focus on Johnson and Fargo's visions for Sacramento.

Callison, who covers everything from music and movies to books, current events and politics on his show, is an interesting and provocative interviewer so it should be good one.

For more information, visit the "Insight" Web site.

After just a year and pocket change on the job, Matt Coker has been fired as managing editor over at the Sacramento News & Review.

SNR president and CEO Jeff von Kaenel confirms that Coker, who came here from the OC Weekly in April 2007, was dismissed May 7.

von Kaenel also confirms that the paper's arts editor, Jonathan Kiefer, has resigned.

von Kaenel declined to offer additional info, other than to say that longtime SNR editor Melinda Welsh will serve as managing editor until a permanent replacement is found.

"(Melinda and I) have worked together for 20 years and we'll continue to make sure we're putting out a great paper," von Kaenel says.

News10 (KXTV) is laying off eight newsroom employees, Russell Postell, the station's president and general manager, has just confirmed.

Actually, that's not quite how he put it.

"It's a realignment of resources - I don't call these layoffs," Postell says.

Whatever you call it, eight people will be "transitioned" - Postell's words - out of their jobs between now and November.

All of those positions will in the master control and graphics departments, and no on-air talent, reporters or producers are affected, Postell says.

Reason? In a move that echoes Channel 13's layoffs in March, new technology is being blamed.

"We'll be installing new technologies that allow us to produce more efficient newscasts," Postell says. "It's not about finances - it's about the development of technologies that (allow us) to continue to provide quality content."

More specifically, some of News10's graphics will be outsourced to a Denver-based hub that also will provide art for other Gannett-owned stations.

Viewers won't notice any changes, Postell says, other than "except maybe higher-quality graphics."

He declines to discuss severance packages or if the station is planning any future layoffs. Or, for that matter, realigned resources.

Due to illness, the Etta James show scheduled for Friday evening at the Radission Hotel has been canceled.

Ticket refunds are available at the place of purchase.

For more information, go to the Radisson Web site or Ticketmaster.com, or call (916) 920-7310.

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Sactown magazine nabbed three Western Publication Awards - a.k.a. the Maggies - last week, besting some impressive competition, including Mother Jones and Sunset magazines.

The honors: Best Series of Editorial Photographs/Consumer for Max Whittaker's Afghanistan photo essay in the June/July issue; Best Overall Design - Consumer, for the April/May issue, and City & Metropolitan/Consumer for the August/September issue.

Whittaker's winning photo essay, by the way, also has been chosen to appear in the upcoming "Photography Annual for the Communication Arts." The book also will feature photos from the likes of Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone magazines.

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Fine. You win, "Good Day Sacramento," you win.

We tried - tried hard - to avoid blogging about Mark S. Allen's run-in with a cow at the Dixon May Fair - and this, despite a prediction that the cow-patty clip would end up on this here blog. It all just seemed too, well, easy.

But then the rest of the world caught wind - sorry - of Allen's smelly bovine encounter (Lucky us that "GDS" is not Smell-O-Vision equipped - yet) and, well, here's to the 15 minutes of fame that Allen's long-ago Comedy Central stint didn't earn him.

Seriously, TMZ (I know, right?!) and Dave Barry blogged about the clip.

Gives new meaning to the term "viral video."

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The Northern California Area Emmy Awards were handed out in San Francisco Saturday, with several of the shiny statues going home with Sacramento winners.

KUVS Univision 19 was the big local winner, taking home 38 statues in 13 categories, including Feature News Report - Light series; Continuing Coverage, and Public/Current/Community Affairs - Feature Segment.

Perhaps even more impressive, reporter Santiago Lucero (pictured in a photo courtesy of KUVS) snagged five awards, including a nod for Specialty Assignment Report, to make him the most-honored individual overall.

Other Sacramento area winners include Channel 13 (KOVR) for Informational/Instructional Feature Segment, and Channel 6 (KVIE) in the Writer/Program category.

For a complete list of winners, visit EmmySF.tv.

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OK, so I've kinda been avoiding posting about all things Armstrong & Getty lately, and I already wrote about the folks over at "Good Day Sacramento" once this week....

But....

Honestly, this really feels kind of cheap and easy - like shooting talking fish in a barrel.

But, again....

What the heck? I'm not going to editorialize, I'm just going to set up the premise and then let you draw your own conclusions (or make your own jokes).

The deal: On Wednesday, KSTE (650 AM)'s Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty were doing their radio show and also watching Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento" (with the sound off) when one of them made a comment along the lines of "I don't know who freaking watches that mindless crap."

After professing love for "GDS' " Mark S. Allen, Nick Toma and Chris Burrous, the pair went on to speculate that people who willingly watch early TV shows much be a) fat, b) somehow physically limited, or c) stupid.

OK, so the "GDS" folks - alerted by a loyal watcher - weren't too happy by the characterization, obviously. And after much harumphing about how Jack & Joe used to have a morning TV show, but obviously that didn't work out and blah blah blah, they challenged A&G to a paintball battle.

And then, this morning, to reiterate their points (and the challenge), they lugged their cameras into the A&G studio to "confront" the duo.

All of which kind of makes me think this is just sort of in-cahoots sweeps stunt.

But hey, I said I wasn't going to judge....

Watch the "Good Day Sacramento" clip and decide for yourself.

You also can listen to the original A&G remarks here, or today's comments here.

Like I said, cheap and easy. I feel so dirty now.


SWITZERLAND TURNER.jpg

Legendary singer Tina Turner's hitting the road again with those fabulous gams of hers (and, of course, vocal pipes).

The show, scheduled to arrive Oct. 22 at Arco Arena, will showcase the highlights of Turner's enduring, influential career and will include a full band with flashy choreography and lights.

Awesome.

Tickets ($57.75-$150) go on sale at 10 a.m. May 19 through TicketMaster.com.

And, speaking of awesome, another enduring diva is packing her road trunk.

Yes, the one-and-only Madonna is launching her globe-trotting Sticky & Sweet tour this summer.

But you're gonna have to make the 90ish mile drive for that one, cos she'll be in Oakland, Nov. 1 at the Oracle Arena. Tickets ($55-$350) go on sale at 10 a.m. June 1 through LiveNation.com and TicketMaster.com.

Don't know about you, but I actually really like her new album "Hard Candy" - especially the title track and the "4 Minutes" single.

Oops, now that song's going to be totally stuck in my head again.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go hyperventilate into a paper bag at the diva awesomeness of it all.

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So "Good Day Sacramento's" Mark S. Allen was in Davis this morning, shooting a hard-hitting piece about a kid trying to catapult a Curious George doll through the city's Slide Hill Park.

Aside from the burning questions as to why someone would want to do this and why the heck you'd even send a reporter out to cover it, that's not what caught our attention.

Here's the deal: Park supervisors weren't too keen on the kid's plan and apparently called in police for backup. The police, however, weren't really sure if it's a crime to catapult a stuffed monkey, admitting that the action fell into a legal "gray area."

So, as the police tried to figure out the ins-and-outs of the doll-launching laws, Allen decided it was time to hurry up with the show and just shoot the damn thing already.

Not so fast. Turns out the park supervisors really didn't like the idea and decided to stand in the direct path of the unlucky plushie.

So, Allen, not wanting to invite a possible lawsuit, trotted off to ask them to move.

And, get this - they refused. The nerve! Seriously folks, Allen is peeved, protesting "We're on live TV right now!" Meanwhile, back at the "Good Day Sac" ranch, things go from stupid to embarrassing when anchor Nick Toma gets really put out by the whole affair, going as far as to fake-snore (because park supervisors bore him?) and even boo loudly.

A few other Toma gems:

"Is there any wonder why people make fun of Davis?"

and:

"Kinda makes me want to hit (the park supervisor)." (C'mon, Toma - even Mark S. Allen didn't think that was a good idea.)

and:

"I'm looking up another word for 'Jerky McJerkestein.' "

Huh?

Watch the clip and decide who the real Jerky McJerkestein is.

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Here's a show that slipped in past the deadline for today's Coming Distractions column: Teddy Geiger and Hilary McRae, June 13 at the Empire (1417 R St.).

Geiger is a 20-year-old pop phenom (and occasional actor: TV's "Love Monkey" and the upcoming flick "The Rocker") - he reminds me of a young Rufus Wainwright.

McRae (pictured, photo by Henry Diltz) is an up-and-coming pop-jazz vocalist - and the first new, developing artist to be signed to Starbucks' Hear Music label. Yes, that's her debut album "Through These Walls" that you see every time you order that double-whip, half-caf frappucino.

Tickets ($10 advance, $12 door) for the all-ages show go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through the Beat, R5 Records, Dimple Records, Armadillo Music, all Tickets.com outlets (inside select Raley's and Bel Air Supermarkets) and Tickets.com.

May is sweeps month - that time when broadcasters try to grab your attention (and, thus, more advertisers).

Sometimes, this can be a good thing, with stations adding interesting content. And, sometimes, well, not so much.

Which is where you come in. If, during your daily channel surfing, you come across anything particularly weird, outrageous or just plain stupid in local broadcasting, send me an e-mail (and please include your name and city of residence).

But, please, local stuff only - there's no way I can even try to keep up with the Heidis, Paulas and Dr. Phils of the world.

Your suggestions may or may not end up as part of a future 21Q post - but just think if you do - finally, a chance to be Internet Famous.

Thanks in advance!

Bummer news in the Sacto blogger realm: Local online media scribe RadioMatthew has called it quits, blog-wise.

In an entry posted today, RadioMatthew (a frequent 21Q commenter, btw), explained it thusly:

I was offered a competitive position at a local Sacramento television station that I believe deserves my focus now. The position will start out as an internship and hopefully grow to be something more, though time will tell on that one. I look forward to this exceptional opportunity the station has given me to prove myself to them.

In the meantime, I intend to take this free time away from the blog by spending it with the people who matter the most to me—people who have been very supportive during my blogging career and understood the sacrifice in time and presence I needed in order to keep this running daily.

Good luck, but hopefully this doesn't mean RM will be permanently MIA from this part of the Interweb. One thing's for sure: RadioMatthew posts will remain archived at the site and you can still check out his other venture, the SactownMedia forum and wiki pages.

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Time for another installment of "Where in the World is...?" A reader e-mailed inquiring on the whereabouts of Fox40 Morning News reporter Kye Martin.

Seems like Martin's been MIA for a few months now, although a Google search of her name still turns up a bio on Fox40's Web site.

In actuality, Martin left Fox40 (KTXL) earlier this year, but someone forgot to tell the Internet.

Fox40 news director Tom Burke, for one, was surprised that the reporter's bio page was still on the station's site.

"That's still on there?" Burke says of the errant page. "It lives!"

While the IT guys scurry to fix that little detail, here's the dish: Martin left the station in January to move to Chicago to be with her fiance.

"We were disappointed that she left - we thought the world of her," Burke says. "She was exactly the kind of reporter you wanted for a morning show - quick turnaround and quick energy."

Speaking of Fox40 (and we were - stay with me now), tonight, the station is launching a new six-part series examining the complexity of mother-daughter relationships.

"Mothers and Daughters: The Joys and Tears" will air Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 10:15 p.m. through May 14.

Topics include body image, boys, teen privacy and my personal favorite: "I'm turning into my mother!"

"We'll be looking at these issues and conflicts, talking to local moms and daughters," Burke says.

It's just in time, of course, to capitalize on Mother's Day (May 11, FYI), and the latest Miley Cyrus scandal.

Actually, Burke says, the series is a natural fit with Fox40's regular Tuesday/ Wednesday night programming, which, of course, includes "American Idol."

"We have a phenomenal amount of viewers - women and teen (girls) - watching Fox40 on those nights," Burke says. "(During those time slots), our share on the 18-49 female demographic is through the roof."

Sacramento's Univision affiliate today expanded its weekday morning news show, boosting "A Primera Hora" from one hour to two. Here's how it'll work: Previously, "Primera" aired from 6 to 7 a.m. on Channel 19 (KUVS); now viewers can tune in for an extra hour - from 7 to 8 a.m. - on sister station TeleFutura 64 (KTFK).

The second hour features "Primera" anchors Maribel Lopez, Gustavo Ortiz and Viviana Paez.

"This is a way for Univision to get local news on KTFK," says
Univision spokeswoman Kristie Gong.

In addition, Univision is rebroadcasting "Voz y Voto" - a locally produced political-topics show that airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays on Channel 19 - at 7:30 a.m. Sundays on TeleFutura 64.

Several alert local news watchers have e-mailed me in the last week to inquire on the whereabouts of Channel 3's John Hamilton.

Seems that KCRA's veteran LiveCopter pilot has been MIA recently, away from his usual gig alongside Dann Shively.

And unlike the also-absent KCRA meteorologist Eileen Javora, currently at home recuperating from a broken arm, it doesn't sound like he's coming back.

That's because Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams confirms that Hamilton left KCRA two weeks ago. Williams declined to give a reason, instead directing questions to Hamilton, who also runs his own helicopter service.

Calls to Hamilton by 21Q, however, have so far gone unanswered.

So there's your answer - kind of. Stay tuned.

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Poor Carly Smithson (pictured, photo courtesy of Fox) got the boot Wednesday night on "American Idol," but at least the Irish rocker can take comfort knowing she'll be part of this summer's American Idols Live tour.

Which, by the way, is scheduled to hit July 9 at Arco Arena.

In addition to Smithson, this year's talent show lineup features current contestants Brooke White, David Archuleta, David Cook, Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado.

Also on the bill: Ousted singers Chikezie, Kristy Lee Cook, Michael Johns and Ramiele Malubay.

Tickets go on sale May 17 - stay tuned for more details or visit tour.americanidol.com.

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Here's some real, er, breaking news:

If you're wondering why Channel 3's Eileen Javora's gone missing, rest assured - the KCRA meteorologist is still with the station. Javora (pictured, courtesy of KCRA) is just enjoying the cool spring weather from the comfort of her home.

Reason: Javora broke her arm.

Ouch.

No, it wasn't an on-the-job injury. Reporting on the weather can be dangerous, but not usually in that way - unless, of course, you're Anderson Cooper.

"She was playing around with some friends and broke her arm - now she's in recovery," explains Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams.

"We're not really sure when she'll be back, but she will be back."

Money's tight these days, but if you have a couple of bucks to spare, consider sending them to Davis.

More specifically, to UC Davis' college radio station KDVS 90.3, which is hosting its annual on-air fundraiser through Sunday. Monies raised will go toward station costs and operations.

You can pledge as little or as much as you like and, in return, snag cool goodies such as T-shirts and music. A $100 pledge will get you the chance to host your own hour-long radio show - finally, the chance to subject the world to show off your awesome music knowledge and tastes.

Tune into 90.3 on the FM dial for more info, call (530) 754-5387 or (888) 654-6294. Or kick it new school by clicking here.

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Just in case today's Coming Distractions column wasn't jam-packed enough for your sonic likings, here are a few more shows that just hit my desk this morning:

First up, the California State Fair folks have announced this summer's concert line-up. The fair runs Aug. 15-Sept. 1 and those set to take the stage include Weird Al Yankovic (Aug. 18), "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens (pictured, Aug. 22), and Grand Funk Railroad (Aug. 29).

Concert admission is free with the price of State Fair admission. You can, however, also snap up special reserved "Gold Circle" seats. All tickets (including general admission tix) go on sale May 1 through Tickets.com.

For more details, check out my colleague Bruce Dancis' story.

Then, when summer's over (well, in the datebook at least, if not in regards to temperature), mark your calendar for the big Music Builds concert, Sept. 28 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

The Christian rock show features Jars of Clay, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Switchfoot and Third Day. Stay tuned for ticket info.

So, I was listening to my new BFFs, Armstrong & Getty, this morning and the duo was talking up politics (yeah, that's right - politics) in regard to the Obama-Clinton race.

Specifically, they were discussing the way the rival Democrats have been courting the "regular guy" vote by quaffing regional drinks of choice. You know, Clinton and the now-infamous Crown Royal shot-heard-round-the-world, for example.

Anyway, Armstrong brings up Obama's March 28 trip to Johnston, Pa., during which Obama took a swig of the local drink of choice.

"There was a widely distributed picture of Barack Obama chugging a Yuengling brew?" Armstrong says, sounding mystified by the, uh, exotic-sounding beer. "Is that like a local Pennsylvania microbrew - Y-E-U-N-G-L-I-N-G? Yeungling? Or is that a Muslim thing?"

Although Armstrong's remark elicited an appreciative cackle from Getty, all I can say is:

Dude.

C'mon guys, we all know you pride yourselves on just how low you rank on the political correctness meter (I've long learned to just roll my eyes at all your anti-feminist remarks), but, seriously, "Or is that a Muslim thing?" Stupid, offensive, immature and definitely not cool.

Listen for yourself here.


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Bryan Patrick/Sacramento Bee file


So, apparently, Tuesday's cover story in Scene on talk radio - and the demise of locally produced, politically oriented shows - touched a nerve.

Specifically, many readers were shocked - shocked! - that I (along with my Bee writing partners Sam McManis and Dan Vierra) didn't include KSTE's Armstrong & Getty in the round-up.

Their exclusion is proof positive, many a reader posited, that I am (take your pick) showing my liberal bias, a terrible journalist, and/or the living incarnation of the devil. OK, that last one's not a direct quote - but, terrible journalist that I may be, I can kinda read between the e-mail lines.

Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty were also outraged at being left out and, on their show this morning, pointed out that "we're the No. 1 freaking show."

Of course, from there, they go on to draw the same conclusion that I - along with my editor - made when deciding to not include them:

"We're not a political show, we talk about everything."

And that is, precisely, why they weren't included.

Certainly, you could debate the validity of their exclusion six ways to Sunday and, you know what?, I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say, hey, yeah, perhaps, they could have merited a footnote.

Or, at the very least, a whole blog entry!

Seriously guys, the exclusion wasn't personal. Or a sign that I didn't know you guys existed - I did, I do.

You can listen to A&G argue their point here.

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Time to mark your ballots - and your summer calendar, KWOD 106.5 just announced the line-up for its Rock the Vote concert, scheduled for June 6 at the UC Davis Pavilion at the A.R.C. On the ticket: Pennywise (pictured), Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, MGMT, The Whigs and local band MC Rut (aka Middle Class Rut).

And, while that's one hard-rockin' bill, the purpose of the show isn't just music - it's about getting people registered to vote (Republican, Democrat, whatever). Tickets ($20 UCD students, $25 general) go on sale Friday through R5, the Beat, Dimple Records, Armadillo Music, Tickets.com outlets (inside select Raley's and Bel Air supermarkets) and online at Tickets.com.

Motley Crue, on the other ear, are apparently only out to rock your eardrums. The vintage heavy metal four-piece just announced Crue Fest 2008 - and they're billing it as "the loudest show on earth."

Buy your earplugs now, the festival, also featuring the likes of Buck Cherry, Trapt, Sixx:A.M. and Vacaville's Papa Roach, will play Aug. 5 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre. There's a pre-sale April 24, stay tuned for further ticket info.


Nominations for the 37th annual Northern California Emmy Awards were announced Thursday, with Sacramento-area media outlets nabbing 42 nods.

At the head of the pack: Channel 19 (KUVS) with 17 nominations, including outstanding achievement in General Assignment Report, Continuing Coverage, Feature News Report (Serious Series), and Public Affairs (Segment Program).

Channel 3 (KCRA) came in with an also-impressive 12 nominations, including Outstanding Achievement in Station Excellence, News Excellence, Newcast - Daytime (Larger market), and General Assignment Report.

Cbannel 6 (KVIE), Channel 13 (KOVR), Fox40 (KTXL) and Channel 10 (KXTV) also earned nominations.

Winners will be announced May 10 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. For a complete list of nominations, visit EmmySF.com.

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So, I was hanging out at the Channel 13/31 mothership on Thursday, when morning anchor Chris Burrous wanted to show me a news clip of which he was especially proud.

Now, the clip in question hints at something somewhat publicity stunt-esque but, I've got to admit, it's one a fellow media drone can appreciate.

The deal: Mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson agreed to sit down with Channel 13 for a March 31 interview - under a few conditions, Burrous says: No Heather Fargo, no questions about those sexual abuse allegations, and absolutely no live calls from viewers.

Well, OK. Now, normally, most media outlets (newspapers, included) balk at such pre-interview rules. Generally to ask such as thing is considered rather - take your pick - diva-like, rude or naive.

In any case, Channel 13 really wanted that interview and, to their credit, deftly found a way to get around Johnson's stipulations, all the while maintaining a tiny shred of integrity: They posted the rules for all their viewers to see and explained just why the upcoming interview "might look a little different than what we usually do."

By far, the best moment of this whole set-up is what happens when Channel 13 cuts away from said "rules" back to Johnson's face. The mayoral candidate's slightly horrified, slightly confused expression is, well, priceless.

Watch the clip here - Johnson's reaction is at at the 39-second mark.

As several alert readers pointed out to me - Fox40 (KTXL) does have a morning news show, every weekday from 6-8 a.m.

Um, can you tell I'm not a morning person?

Anyway, in all seriousness, my bad. Mea culpa. Big apologies.

Of course, this doesn't change the fact that the station's new general manager Bob Ramsey will still be beefing up the news coverage - so stay tuned on that front.

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Well, I kinda sorta did a pinky swear, promising not to announce this one until Wednesday, but seeing as how a national music mag just leaked the news, I feel as though I better pipe up now or risk being late to the party. So, drum roll please:

Pop-blues rocker John Mayer will bring his summer tour to town, July 25 at Sleep Train Amphitheatre; L.A.-based singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat opens the show..

Now, here's the thing about Mayer - I'm not the biggest fan of his music but, frankly, it's impossible to not like the guy. He's funny, charming (and I know this firsthand because I interviewed him once) and wicked smart. An all-around good guy - heck, he even managed to date Jessica Simpson and keep his dignity somewhat intact.

Anyway - tickets go on sale Saturday, April 19, through TicketMaster.com.


Day three of his new media life and Bob Ramsey tells us he's still adjusting to his role as Fox40 (KTXL)'s newest general manager/vice president.

"I'm not really settled in yet - it's a work in progress," Ramsey says. "But so far, so good."

Among his top tasks: "Capitalizing on (the Fox network's) success...and expanding the role of news."

So - should viewers expect more local news programming sometime in the near future? Like, say, a morning or afternoon news show? (Currently, KTXL only broadcasts a 10 p.m. local news broadcast).

"I'd say that's a pretty good assumption," Ramsey says. "We're going to look at the news from all angles."

Ramsey's previous job was as general manager/vice president of San Diego's KSWB - a CW affiliate that, later this year, will officially switch its loyalties to Fox.

Same gig - but then again, not, he says.

"(KTXL) is a much more mature station - it's been with Fox since Day 1 and it's also a much larger market, covering several counties," he says. "The sheer geography and size of Sacramento makes the job very different."

Just a week after Audrey Farrington resigned from her post as vice president/general manager of Fox40 (KTXL), the station's parent company, Tribune Broadcasting, named Robert "Bob" Ramsey as the station's new head.

It's a lateral move for Ramsey, who previously served as the veep and GM at San Diego's KSWB station.

Actually, it's a teensy bit of a move up as the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto market is ranked 20th in the nation, according to Nielsen Media Research. San Diego is ranked 27th.

A Tribune Broadcasting press release trumpeted the change as an opportunity to "expand local news programming...into other parts of the day."

Fox40 news director Tom Burke says Ramsey comes into his new job "with real strong news background" that will help the station meet new demands.

"The times we live in - with the convergence of the Internet and broadcasting (means) there is a greater sense of immediacy - in not waiting and getting it done now," Burke says. "This (management change) goes along with the times."

So how will such change translate for viewers?

"That remains to be seen," Burke says.

Literally and figuratively, we presume. Big changes have been afoot at other Tribune-owned stations. Ramsey's former stomping grounds, for example, just switched allegiances; in the fall, KSWB, now a CW station, will become a Fox affiliate with management promising a pronounced emphasis on local news programming.

Ramsey was not available for comment. Stay tuned.

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That Alicia Keys show I told you about earlier this week now has an opening act: "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks will open the May 11 concert at Arco Arena.

Now, just between you and me - Sparks (pictured in a photo courtesy of MTV) is cute, charismatic and definitely gifted - but does she really have the emotional depth to match Keys' extraordinary talent and range?

I guess that's why Sparks is the opening act - she's still honing her stage chops so why not learn at the microphone stand of one of mainstream pop's best?

Well played Sparks, well played.

Anyhoo, tickets ($37.75-$123.25) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday via TicketMaster.com.

In the wake of the now-infamous John McCrea is(n't) dead April Fool's Joke of 2008, not only have the folks over at Sacrag.com deleted all April Fool's Day-related posts, they've issued an apology.

Sort of.

The typist behind the Internet tempest, Dan "Stickie" Scott, sent an e-mail to The Bee that read, in part:


On April 1, in honor of the great American tradition of April Fools Day, I posted the fictional saga of the death of John McCrae (sic) on the SacRag. Some of you were not amused. Some of you were. Regardless, we at the Rag are questioning the boundary of good taste and the possibility that the joke may have crossed it.

This especially becomes a consideration for family, friends or acquaintances of the subject of the joke. It is one thing to chuckle, roll your eyes, or be offended at a story about a random dead person. It is a different matter altogether when that person is a real flesh and blood human for whom you care. This is how we truly misstepped and crossed that line that we should not have crossed ....

(T)o those who were truly hurt, shocked or discomforted by my idea of humor, we at the SacRag offer an apology and ask that you don't hold it against us. Everyone else, remember that most things in life should be approached with a wink and a smile and you'll probably enjoy the ride a little more.

By the way, for the record, Sacrag did not delete the posts (there were several "updates") in question (or their other> April Fool's Day joke regarding Sacto media, uh, icon Mark S. Allen) because they were tasteless but, instead, because they were passe. At least that's what Scott tells me.

"Like many other websites, all of the April Fools Day posts came down because it is no longer April Fools Day," Scott writes in an e-mail.

But, he adds, although the stories are no longer on the site's main page, links to the archived posts will be posted shortly.


Jeez people, can't you take a joke? Not only is Cake singer-songwriter John McCrea not dead, but apparently, Sacrag readers don't have a very good sense of humor.

So says Dan "Stickie" Scott, who penned the, er, offending entry.

"I thought it was pretty obvious that a (post) about the lead singer of Cake being killed by a pastry truck while eating pastries was a joke," he says when reached by phone. "But, obviously, different people have a different BS meter."

OK, but what about those people who "got" the joke, but still didn't think it was funny.

Well, y'all should step off, too.

"Is this one of society's sacred cows that I shouldn't have slaughtered?" Scott asks. "Well, I don't think I necessarily slaughtered it, but I did milk it a bit."

Besides, Scott adds, not only is he a huge Cake fan, he'd love to get the band's take.

"I'd be really amused to hear from them - to see if they thought it was funny," Scott says. "Of course, they have every right to be offended or insulted."

There's one serious point Scott does want to make about Sacrag.

"It'd be one thing if The Sacramento Bee ran this story - that would be out of line," he says. "But we're just a local blog that does a pretty good job of running useful stuff about Sacramento's lifestyle. But we're not responsible for the news."

It's April Fool's Day, which basically means that any self-respecting American will have gotten out of bed today with both eyes wide open and his-or-her irony meter set on high.

That said, even I did a double take when I read the Sacrag headline: Sad story: John McCrea R.I.P..

A traffic accident has taken the life of John McCrea, lead singer and songwriter for the band Cake. No official statement has been made by the band’s management, but sources close to the Rag report that the incident occurred last night after their sold-out show in Bordeaux, France.

Band members were noshing at a patisserie when a delivery van for the business jumped onto the sidewalk and crashed onto the patio seating. McCrea was killed instantly. Trumpeter Vince DiFiore has reportedly been hospitalized, but his condition is unknown.

It only took a few minutes and some light Google searching to realize that A) No one else was reporting this "story," and B) the Sacramento-born band isn't even on tour right now, much less hanging out in Bordeaux, France.

OK, great, it's April Fool's Day - you got me. So funny.

Actually, Sacrag readers don't seem too amused either, with comments decrying the joke as "cruel," "insensitive" and "tasteless."

One poster put it this way:

If this is an April Fool’s Joke, which it must be, because there is no other news reporting this, it’s in incredibly poor taste, and totally immature ... Your joke is totally offensive and should be removed.

While a call to Sacrag has yet to be returned, the blog has since updated its joke by trying to up the silly factor with posts such as this one: Sinister Baker Sought in Rock Star Slaying.

OK, sure, that reads more like satire, but guess what?, in light of the first post - still not too funny-ha-ha.

Now, Sacrag's gag on Mark S. Allen hosting "American Idol," also posted today? That's funny.

Or, from another corner of the Internet, how about this plea from Sacramento's Smosh duo, begging fans to help pay off a $20 million Pokemon copyright infringement suit? Hilarious.

But joking - and stupidly, might I add - about someone's death? That's just mean. And not snarky mean - because we all know how much Sacrag prides itself on the snark - but just mean mean.

KSAC (1240 AM) station manager Paula Nelson says that, frankly, she's happy her station made the switch today from progressive talk radio to gospel.

Oh, and it's not just any ol' gospel - it's hip-hop gospel. Think anything from Yolanda Adams to the Rooftop MCs.

"It's got all the good beats and an inspirational, positive message, too," Nelson says of the new format, which went into effect late Saturday night. The call letters officially switched today.

And, right about now, Nelson says, she could use some positive.

"I was ready for this change - I just wasn't having fun anymore," Nelson says. "The whole political thing has gotten nasty, dirty and contentious."

And it didn't help that major political companies didn't support the station during its four years as a liberal talk radio station, she says.

"There are all these Sacramento Democratic organizations that haven't spent a dime on (advertising) for our station," Nelson says. "To them I say, 'You did this - you were complicit, you shut us down.'

"If you're not sending us the marketing dollars, then you're part of the problem."

Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Malloy just called in to confirm that the KSAC (1240 AM) rumors (see my posting below) are true:

The station is changing to a gospel format come Monday morning.

"I got the call from (KSAC general manager) Paula Nelson today - she told me it broke her heart to have to make the change," Malloy says.

The Atlanta-based talk show host says he first heard about the switch earlier this week via his boss, Nova M Radio CEO John Manzo.

Manzo, on the phone from Phoenix, also confirms the switch.

The reason? Economics.

"They don't have the revenue to support the format," Manzo says.

Malloy put it in even clearer terms.

"It's not a ratings thing - we have plenty of listeners," Malloy says. "KSAC is experiencing what most other liberal talk show format stations are experiencing - it's not a lack of audience, it's a lack of business support."

In other words, not enough advertising dollars.

Big-name, deep-pocked businesses, Malloy says, are turned off by the station's progressive format.

"If you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, you'll hear (plenty) of national ads," he says. "If you listen to someone like me or Randi Rhodes, there's a complete lack of those types of sponsors."

It's a problem plaguing liberal talk radio in markets across the U.S., he adds, noting that stations in San Francisco and San Diego have been forced to make similar changes.

Messages left by The Bee at the offices of KSAC have yet to be returned. Malloy says Nova M is searching for another local station to carry his talk show. ("I love Sacramento"). In the meantime, listeners can stream his show at MikeMalloy.com.

Posters on the radio-info.com message board are buzzing today about a possible format switch over at KSAC (1240 AM).

According to one post by Mike Malloy, the nationally syndicated talk show host whose show airs daily on KSAC, the progressive talk-radio station, the format will flip to gospel come Monday morning.

(Malloy has yet to respond to an e-mail from The Bee seeking to clarify his remarks.)

The Internet's been speculating about a possible KSAC format switch since February, but is this for real - or an early April Fool's joke?

KSAC general manager Paula Nelson has yet to return our calls and subsequent calls to the station have yielded nothing but an automated message indicating that the office is closed - even though its stated business hours are 8-5.

So what's up with that? Did they close up shop early to make the switch? Tired of fielding phone calls? Or is the receptionist just taking a potty break? Hey, it happens to the best of us.

As they say in the radio biz, stay tuned.

Bruno Cohen, president of Channel 13, just confirmed that two reporters - Reggie Kumar and Kristina Lee - were among those laid off by the station Thursday.

And while at least one of the comments attached to online items posted here at 21Q and elsewhere on sacbee.com have indicated that "dozens of people were laid off in all departments today, from floor crew staff to some writers, editors, photogs and even a director" (to see, click here), Cohen refuses to give specifics on any other eliminated jobs at the local CBS affiliate.

"I will confirm those layoffs (Kumar and Lee) because they were on-air talent, visible to viewers," Cohen says.

The two reporter layoffs, he adds, were part of an overall restructuring that utilizes "new technologies to make our station more efficient and to grow our audience."

Specifically, he says, Kumar and Lee's jobs were eliminated, in part, because the two half-hour editions of "The Sports Show," which currently air at 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, are being reduced to 15 minutes per episode and folded into Channel 13's 10 p.m. weekend newscasts.

And although neither Kumar and Lee worked on those shows, "we just don't need as many on-air people," Cohen says.

Of course, Cohen's comments today would appear to contradict his assertion Thursday when first called about layoffs that the results of the layoffs will be mostly "invisible" to viewers.

UPDATE, 1:56 p.m.: Bruno Cohen has confirmed that staff members who will be laid off are being notified today via a series of meetings with Channel 13 executives.

Bruno Cohen, president of Channel 13 and its sister station Channel 31, just confirmed that Channel 13 is laying off employees at the news station.

However, Cohen declined to confirm the number of jobs or to identify affected positions at the local CBS affiliate, instead explaining that the layoffs are "the consequence of new technology."

That technology, he went on to say in a phone interview, allows for more "automation in our production" and "nonlinear, computer-based editing."

"The software that drives that (editing) and the time it takes to produce it is much more fast and rapid and allows our editors to be more efficient," he said.

The result, he added, will be mostly "invisible" to viewers; the only on-air change will be to the two half-hour editions of "The Sports Show," which currently air at 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Those shows will be folded into Channel 13's 10 p.m. weekend newscasts, airing in 15-minute segments from 10:45-11 p.m., Cohen said.

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OK, so it's not Journey Journey - you know, the classic version with Steve Perry, but still...here's a whopper of a post-summer tour: Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick (pictured), Sept. 26 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

You, me and everyone we know? So totally gonna get our 1978 on.

Anyway, this mega-nostalgia tour was just announced so stay tuned for ticket details.

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This show is my show - this show is your show: If you were hoping to go to Thursday's Country Joe McDonald tribute to iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie at the 24th Street Theatre only to learn that tickets are sold out, well, cheer up - McDonald's just added a second local date.

The second show will be April 24 at Marilyn's (908 K St.). Tickets ($25) are available through the venue's Web site.

(For more, read my colleague Bruce Dancis' story behind the McDonald/Guthrie story here.)

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If you're a fan of Kevin Seconds' musical tastes, but can't seem to tune into KSSU 1580 (the Sac State station that "rocks the block" but not much more) for his Monday-night radio show, well, here's an alternative.

Head over to iTunes to check out the veteran musician's AbsoluteRants&Ruckus radio show. Just search for "Kevin Seconds" under the podcasts link and check out shows featuring great pop-punk playlists that include local tracks and live performances from the likes of the Secretions, Brian Hanover and Kepi.

Subscribe for weekly installments - don't worry, it's free.

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It's Friday - which means a three-day weekend for a lot of folks. (Why they get a three-day weekend, I don't know. Life, as mama told me, is not fair.)

Anyway, if you're lookin' for something to do, something to buy and something to look forward to, here's your fix:

Tickets for V101.1's Summer Soul Music Jam just went on sale today . The May 31 show takes place at Raley Field and will feature Dennis Edwards & the Temptations Review, the Original “P” Parliament/Funkedelic, Evelyn “Champagne” King, A Taste of Honey, Tone Loc (pictured), and DJ Mixxula.

I know, Tone-Loc! Awesome - even if this does mean I'll have "Funky Cold Medina" stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Get tickets ($45 stadium seats, $57 reserved floor seats) through the Raley Field box office (400 Ballpark Dr., West Sacramento) or via Ticketmaster.com.

So, I've been awfully remiss in not telling you sooner about Rex Babin's show at Sierra College.

Babin, of course, is The Sacramento Bee's award-winning political cartoonist (not to mention 2003 Pulitzer Prize finalist). He's also just an all-around swell guy with - and maybe you didn't know this - a love for indie and underground music.

Anyway, back to the show.

Check out a collection of Babin's political cartoons at the Sierra College Ridley Gallery (5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin). It runs through April 4. For more information, visit the Sierra College site or call (916) 789-2866.

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Break out the pillows and Rice Krispy treats, Raven-Symone's Pajama Party Tour will come to Arco Arena on July 13.

In case you're not familiar with her, Raven-Symone's (pictured at right, photo courtesy of MTV) the star of Disney's "That's So Raven" series and the smash 'tween flick "The Cheetah Girls."

Or, you may remember her as young Olivia on "The Cosby Show."

Or, maybe like me, you know her best as Lindsay Lohan's old roommate. For reals, people, you can't make this stuff up.

Anyway, the stage will be made up to look like a teen girl's bedroom and fans are encouraged to rock the house by showing up in pajamas. No word yet if anyone needs to be worried about being subjected to bedtime games such as "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board."

Ms. Raven-Symone has a new album out next month (her fourth), so expect to hear plenty of new tunes.

No on-sale date for tix yet, but stay tuned to RavenSymonePresents.com for pre-sale information.

So Thursday, I was excited to tell you that groovy soul act Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings were opening the Dave Matthews Band show Aug. 25 at Raley Field (400 Ballpark Dr., West Sacramento).

Well, easy come, easy go.

Turns out - whoops!- the promoter meant to say "Robert Earl Keen Jr." instead.

Actually, that's a pretty good switch - the Texas singer-songwriter is a great musician and storyteller.

All the other details remain the same. Tickets ($70 floor, $58.50 stadium seats) are available through a presale via the Dave Matthews Band fan club site through March 17. Tickets go on sale to the general public March 29 through Ticketmaster.com.

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Country crooner Brad Paisley will bring his Paisley Party Tour to town on June 21 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

Jewel, Alaska's most famous folk-pop singer, ever, is also on the tour.

Paisley is the reigning Country Music Awards Male Vocalist of the Year; Jewel's newest record "Perfectly Clear," due in stores June 3, takes on a country flavor -the singer-songwriter recorded it with producer John Rich of Big & Rich fame.

Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough also will be on that bill.

There's no ticket sale date yet, but keep your browser pointed to BradPaisley.com and Jeweljk.com. Also, of course, we'll keep you posted.

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You can tap into that summer-lovin' feeling right now because we just got word that the Dave Matthews Band will perform Aug. 25 at Raley Field (400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento).

On this tour, DMB will reportedly be debuting new songs that'll appear on a new CD scheduled for release later this year.

Sharon Jones and Dap-Kings will open the show - and here's the thing: I just popped their CD "100 Days, 100 Nights" into my car CD player this morning (for reals!) and it's a good one. Jones is an old-school soul singer and the Dap-Kings have gotten buzz recently for working with British neo-soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse.

Tickets ($70 floor, $58.50 stadium seats) don't go on sale to the general public until March 29, but if you're a member of the DMB fan club, then head over to the band's fan club site and get in on a pre-sale that runs today through March 17.

You also can check out RaleyField.com and TicketMaster.com for more information.

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Indie rock icons Pavement just might get another moment in the spotlight.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly posted today on the magazine's Web site, Pavement's Stephen Malkmus admitted that members of the long-defunct band have kicked around the idea of a one-off Led Zeppelin-styled meet-up.

“Something small in 10 years like (a one-night) Zeppelin thing sounds good to me,” Malkmus told the magazine. "Obviously, the arena would be smaller than theirs, though.”

Might we suggest the Memorial Auditorium?

The Stockton-born band honed its noisy, fragmented pop chops in Sacramento clubs such as Old Ironsides before going on to international acclaim for albums such as 1992's "Slanted and Enchanted" and 1994's "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain."

Pavement co-founder Scott Kannberg, now fronting Seattle's Preston School of Industry, pushed the possible reunion date up a few years to 2009 - just in time to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of its longtime label Matador.

Can't even wait that long? Head over to Matador's Pavement site to download Pavement ringtones and exclusive MP3s.

You can also check out Malkmus' latest band, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (featuring Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss), April 28 at Harlow's (2708 J St.).

Tickets ($15 advance, $18 door) are on sale through R5, the Beat, Dimple Records, Armadillo Music, Tickets.com outlets (inside select Raley's and Bel Air supermarkets) and online at Tickets.com and Harlows.com.

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If you have a high threshold for cacophony, discordant blips, bloops, booms and other bits of sonic bedlam, then you won't want to miss the Sacramento Sound Arts Festival Friday and Saturday at the Vox Gallery (19th & X streets).

Hosted by the folks who bring you the aural whirlwind known as the NorCal Noise Festival (the 18th annual incarnation of which will happen in October), the SSAF features a who's who of local noisemakers.

Among the scheduled acts: Chemical Angel, the Instagon Free Jazz Army, Ross Hammond (pictured, with an instrument of the quieter variety), Shane Grammer and Uberkunst's Bill Burg.

The shows start at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday; admission is $7 per show or you can get a major deal by ponying up $10 for a two-day pass.

For more information (or to just get an idea of what you'll be hearing), visit the SSAF's Web site or MySpace page.

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It's Friday - so, what are you doing tonight? You could stay home and watch "The Best Week Ever" - but isn't that why you're paying for TiVo?

Instead, head over to the CoolCat Gallery (918 24th St.) and help a venue out, already.

Tonight at 9 p.m., it's a CoolCat fundraiser show with local bands the Ancient Sons and Two Sheds (pictured). Your $5 (plus $3 annual membership fee, if you haven't already ponied up for that) gets you some great live music, plus chow from cooks Burgess and Kate Alaimo.

In case you missed my story on the CoolCat, this is a unique midtown spot that does everything from live music and art to classes, yoga and film. Plus, they have a cute storefront boutique that sells recycled clothes, local designer picks, jewelry, sketchbooks, stuffed animals and more.

And oh yeah, the CoolCat is normally an all-ages venue, but tonight - sorry kids - it's 21-and-over only.

For more information, visit myspace.com/coolcatgallery.

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If, like me, you were charmed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's performance and win for "Falling Slowly" (from the Irish indie film "Once") at Sunday's Academy Awards, here's a chance to catch the "Best Song" winners in concert.

The Swell Season, featuring Hansard and Irglova with a band, will perform April 26 at Oakland's Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland).

If you're not already familiar with it, the Paramount is a big, gorgeous theater - I've seen Elvis Costello, Bjork, Wilco and Beck play there over the years. In other words, it's quite a decent bump up from the small clubs Hansard and Irglova were playing when they started promoting "Once" in 2007.

I had the chance to interview the pair, along with "Once" director John Carney, before the film opened in Sacramento last spring. (That's all of them pictured, as photographed by The Bee's Michael A. Jones.)

They were sweet, funny, smart and engaging - I'm guessing you'll get more of the same in a live setting.

And yes, you can expect to hear more of "Once's" beautiful folk-pop songs. Who knows? Maybe Carney - Hansard's bandmate from his other band, the Frames - will pop in for a guest appearance. I'm hoping so.

Tickets ($29.50-$40) go on sale to the general public Monday through TicketMaster.com or you can head over to the San Francisco-based KFOG radio station Web site for info on a pre-sale happening now through Friday. You can also check out Frames site for more information.

Sorry to all you who were excited about that Van Halen show, but I've just been notified by the promoter that tickets are not going on sale March 1, after all.

Indeed, thanks to a couple of East Coast show cancellations, the Sacramento on-sale date has been postponed until further notice.

No, I'm not really sure what one has to do with the other, either, but there you go. The local show is still happening as far as I know - you'll just have to cool your heels a little longer before plunking down all that cold, hard cash.

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If you didn't get enough Van Halen when the band powered through Sacramento last November, buck up - the boys will be back in town April 25 at Arco Arena.

And yes, they're all apparently still getting along, which means David Lee Roth is still the singer - for now, anyway.

Eddie Van Halen, his son Wolfgang Van Halen and Eddie's bro, Alex Van Halen, make up the rest of the band.

Tickets (oh-so-not-cheap at $49.50, $79.50 and $149.50) go on sale at 10 a.m. March 1 through LiveNation.com and Ticketmaster.com.

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I heard a buzz about this show earlier in the week but couldn't get confirmation on it until today - just in time to tell you about a special presale ticket offer.

So a) Yes, Death Cab for Cutie is playing April 22 at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall. The band, whose new album "Narrow Stairs" will be released May 13, has only announced a few dates so far - so glad we made the cut.

And b) Presale tickets are on sale right now via the band's fan club site. If you're not already a card-carrying member, that will set you back $30. (Heck, the annual fee gets you a fan club exclusive T-shirt, a seven-inch single (featuring previously unreleased material, on colored vinyl no less) and, of course, a card to carry in your wallet.

No word yet on when tickets go on sale to the general public, but I'm guessing it's sooner rather than later, so you might want to keep an eye on the Freeborn Hall site for more information on that one.

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So, I'm sitting here, listening to Whitney Matheson's weekly Pop Candy podcast, and the USA Today blogger's latest has a catchy little track by the Philadelphia-based rappers the YMD.

The song: "From Stockton to Malone," a very Beastie Boys-esque ode to great basketball players such as the famed Utah Jazz pair John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Anyway, I'm listening and I'm working on a story when suddenly I sit up straight in my seat (you know, just like my mama always tells me to) as they're dropping cold rhymes (their words, not mine), and I hear "doing it blah blah blah like Kevin Seconds/bring the beat back - yo, his kids will wreck this."

OK, they didn't really say "blah blah blah," but I've since listened to this track like, a million times, and I still can't figure out what it is they are doing like Seconds (pictured).

Anyway, the important thing is that Seconds is the frontman for 7Seconds and a singer with Go National, as well as the co-owner of our very own True Love Coffeehouse in midtown Sacramento.

Cool.

It's also cool that Seconds is a huge NBA fan.

Here's another thing: The YMD's full name is the Yah Mos Def, a nod to the Yah Mos - the local cult faves who later spawned the likes of !!! and Out Hud. The rappers reportedly changed it to the YMD after having a bit of a name tug-of-war on MySpace with the original band, although their new album is still called "This is the Yah Mos Def."

Yeah, I know, weird - what are a bunch of Philly kids doing all up in our NorCal business? Actually, they name-drop a ton of people, including 2Live Crew, the S.F. band Cars Get Crushed, and Peter Fonda.

You can listen to the track by downloading Matheson's podcast or check out other tracks at myspace.com/theymd.

Warning: Some of the tracks are a bit explicit, but I know you can handle it.

And while you're listening, try and figure out what they're trying to do like Seconds, will ya? Do they "jump and dive" like him? "Punk and die"? Let me know, cos it's gonna really bug me until I found out.

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Well, here's a sweet double whammy for your Valentine's Day:

The Police with Elvis Costello and the Imposters, July 17 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

Just in case you're not getting the magnitude of this: The Police had the top-selling tour of 2007. On this trek - reportedly their last and most final one ever - the trio is playing cities they skipped on the last go-round.

And, yes, that skipping thing? It included Sacramento. The Police bypassed Sac last time in favor of Oakland, so now we're finally getting our due.

OK, confession: Even though my 8th grade "Every Breath You Take"-lovin' self would be flipping out over this news, my, er, older persona is just a wee bit more excited about seeing Costello. Really, it's just the teensiest bit more of a wow factor for me - built on a foundation of having experienced several awesome Costello shows during my adult life.

Still, obvs, I've never seen the Police (as I was so not cool enough to go see them in 1983), so this is a good deal all around.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and - duh - they ain't cheap: $40.50 for general admission, and $90.50 and $225.20 for reserved seats. Get them through LiveNation.com, TicketMaster.com or by calling (916) 649-8497.

Grammy Awards Show.jpgAs mentioned in today's Coming Distractions column, Kanye West's bringing his sense of entitlement Glow in the Dark tour to Sacramento on April 18.

The tix officially go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, but here's a little more info on how to get those pre-sale tickets that will be available Wednesday.

Starting at 10 a.m., just head over to this TicketMaster.com page and enter the promo code "Stronger" to get in on the action. Tickets will set you back $37.75-$70.75.

Oh yeah, and Rihanna, N.E.R.D. and Lupe Fiasco are also on that bill.

P.S. You know I just like to kid about Kanye's ego, right? Sure, he's had some sore-loser moments, but I really do love his music. "Jesus Walks" is brilliant.

P.P.S. I didn't think I liked Rihanna much, but I've had "Umbrella" stuck in my head for days now - and not in that Flo Rida kind of way. I'll give it up: Girl's got chops.

Word.

That Lynryd Skynrd show I told you about in this week's Coming Distractions column is definitely a go for July 11.

And, even better - you know, if you're a big fan like that - there's a pre-sale on Friday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Visit TicketMaster.com and use the promo code "MEDLOCKE" during checkout.

Or, you can just wait an extra day and get your seats with the rest of the common folk on Saturday when the tickets officially go on sale at 10 .m..

Either way, either day, they'll set you back $45-$75 plus all the usual handling and service charges.

Visit the Raley Field Web site for more information.

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Tickets for this one don't go on sale until Feb. 9, but I know you'll be so excited to hear about it that you'll need this next week just to recuperate from the awesomeness of it all.

So, deep breath everyone: Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood's Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour lands at Arco Arena on March 12.

Again, tickets don't go on sale until Feb. 9. They'll set you back between $33.75-$73.75. Here's a tip from me to you, however: Take a peek over at TicketMaster.com or LiveNation.com (or, for that matter, KeithUrban.net or CarrieUnderwoodOfficial.com) sometime Tuesday morning and see if maybe, just maybe, there's not some way you can get your seat early.

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Confession: I had every intention of coming here and making some schlocky "Wayne's World"-type jokes about Tia Carrere. You know, something along the lines of, "Boy, Miss Babelicious has an album out that maybe you would've cared about in 1992"

But, that's not fair. Because a quick trick over to Carrere's IMDB.com page reveals that the actress is actually enjoying a healthy career. It's not A-list, mind you, but she's still acting regularly in shows like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Nip/Tuck."

And how could I forget that she was on an episode of "The OC"? Really, I'm almost ashamed of myself.

Oh, and this new album that I was set to make fun of? "Hawaiiana" is a collection of (duh) Hawaiian songs and, get this, was just nominated for a Grammy in the best Hawaiian music album category.

Who knew?

Yeah, I'm just going to shut the snark up right now.

So, here's the deal: Carrere will perform songs from that album at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borders (2339 Fair Oaks Blvd.); go here for more info.


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As a kid, I always had a pet dog and now, as an adult, I'm pretty much a certified Crazy Cat Lady. (Ask around, it's true). That said, here's a show I can really give a paw stamp of approval to.

This Friday at the (aptly named) Fox & Goose, proceeds from the Music for Mutts show will benefit the Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary.

Happy Tails is a local no-kill facility dedicated to protecting and caring for homeless and abused animals. You can learn more about them here.

Not only will the show give a boost to your karma points balance, but the lineup's a good one: Richard March (pictured), Danny Secretion, Pushtonawanda, the Inversions and 2Me.

The 21-and-over show starts at 8:30 p.m. and costs $5 at the door. The Fox & Goose is at 1001 R St. For more information, visit the pub's Web site.

Just got word that Friday night's Shaun Slaughter good-bye party that I told you about in today's Coming Distractions column is in search of a new home.

The festivities were supposed to take place at the Townhouse, but apparantly the Townhouse was forced to shut down late last week and now there's no word on when it may re-open.

Oh, also - not sure why the midtown venue's been shuttered. Working on that one, but if anyone has any info, please give a holler.

In the meantime, Slaughter and company are hustling to find a new spot. Stay tuned for details or visit Shaun's MySpace Page for updates.


January 18, 2008
Five for Friday

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It's a sunny Friday, and I've got weekend fever. This one's gonna be a good one - there are places to go, people to see, songs to hear. Here are a few things on my to-do list:

1. "Sonic Youth: Sleeping Nights Awake"
This new documentary, which airs tonight in West Sacramento as part of the Movies on a Big Screen series, shows the legendary noise-pop band (pictured) playing a 2006 show in Reno.

The flick was shot by seven high school kids who made the film as part of Project Moonshine, a nonprofit group aimed at teaching documentary filmmaking to students.

The screening takes place at 600 4th St. in West Sacramento. Show time is 7 p.m. and it costs $5 at the door.

2. Knock Knock, Them Hills, Radermacher, Death to Anders at Old Ironsides
I know I already mentioned this show in my Coming Distractions column, but I just can't stop listening to the new Knock Knock album, "Girls on the Run." The local band's second full-length is just pure pop goodness - it really reminds me of another fave, Imperial Teen. Think boy-girl harmonies and killer hooks.

The 21-and-over show is a CD release for the band, so bring your money and be prepared to throw down. Starts at 9 p.m. and admission is $7 at the door.

3. The Cassidy's: "Girlfriend in a Coma"
The local alt.country band does a really sweet, kind of trippy, take on the Smiths classic. You can listen over at the band's MySpace page.

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4. Concordia / Discordia T-shirts
Local artists Graciela Guardado and Richard St.Ofle - a.k.a. Concordia / Discordia - just made up some awesome new T-shirts (pictured) and you can snap them up at Olipom (1115 21st St.).

They're $18 each - a low, low price for such stylishness. Call ahead to Olipom at (916) 442.4470 to make sure they have your size in stock or visit the Concordia / Discordia MySpace page for more information.

5. Chelsea Wolfe: Last Days of Summer Sessions CD Release Party at the True Love Coffeehouse
The beguiling singer-songwriter celebrates the release of a CD with a name that makes us long for iced teas and flip-flops. Also on hand: Jay Shaner, Bobby Jordan, Noah Nelson and all those yummy True Love coffee drinks.

Show starts at 9 p.m. and is all-ages. The True Love is located at 2315 K St. For more info, go here.

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Honestly, I don't know if there's anything scarier than last Friday's bone-chilling, fence-killing, power-defying winds, but here's a little something that might come close:

This Friday, the Trash Film Orgy people bring you "The Monster From Bikini Beach." The campy horror film is a throwback to all those fun '50s and '60s-era exploitation flicks and features a ton of familiar faces, including Sacto expat Amber Kloss and RetroCrush blogger Robert Berry.

The film's plot is about what happens...oh, come on, do I really need to explain?

Monsters. Bikinis. A Beach.

You get the picture. Or, rather, you should, Friday night at the Crest (1013 K St.).

Show time is 9:30 p.m and tickets are $5.50 at the box office. This is a one-night only thing, kids - you snooze, you lose.

A word of warning: "Monster From Bikini Beach" is unrated, but we've got word that there's some, um, bare flesh on the screen. So you might want to keep the little ones at home - just sayin'.

Visit the "Monster's" MySpace page for more info or to check out the film's trailer.

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Lucky me, I've never been subjected to wearing an ugly bridesmaid dress. Well, at least, I didn't think it was ugly. Hopefully, no one was snickering behind my back.

Anyway, in case you missed my bridesmaid story in today's Scene section, we're looking for photos of the ugliest, saddest, most tragic, Goodwill-bound bridesmaid dresses, ever.

You know, kind of like the sherbet-rainbow oddity that Katherine Heigl sports in the upcoming flick, "27 Dresses" (pictured).

E-mail your photos to bridesmaids@sacbee.com and we may include it in an upcoming online photo gallery. Because the whole world should know about that evil lime-green number that your so-called best friend made you wear.

Oh, and please, don't e-mail them to me - I don't think my eyeballs could handle the horror.

January 7, 2008
'Top Model' arrest update

Here's the latest on that Elyse Sewell/Marty Crandell scuffle.

Crandell's label, Sub Pop, issued a press release to Pitchfork and other media outlets acknowledging Crandell's arrest:

Marty Crandall and his ex-girlfriend Elyse Sewell were both arrested over the weekend following an argument at a Sacramento hotel, which resulted in hotel staff calling the police.

They were both taken into police custody and released over the weekend.

There will be no further comment at this time and we would appreciate their privacy being respected.

Crandell, who plays with the Shins and Sewell, a former "America's Next Top Model" contestant, are expected, according to Pitchfork, to appear in court in Sacramento later this week.

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OK, normally we like to reserve the salacious gossip and news tidbits for our US Weekly-reading pals, but this one's too big (and bad) to let go without a mention.

According to her own blog, model Elyse Sewell was arrested on Friday, Jan. 4, along with her now ex-boyfriend Marty Crandell. The pair, she says, was nailed on domestic assault charges in a Sacramento hotel following an alleged fight.

Sewell (pictured in a photo property of The CW) is, perhaps, most famous as the witty med student-turned- "America's Next Top Model" hopeful. She was eliminated third-from-last on the show's first season. Crandell, meanwhile, plays with the Shins, a popular Portland-based indie pop band whose 2006 CD "Wincing the Night Away" earned rave reviews.

The two, Sewell wrote, were traveling through Sacramento on their way to Portland. Here's her entry on the incident Sunday on her LiveJournal blog:

Think you had a (bad) weekend? Nah. Why not compare it to mine?

1.) On the drive home (home?) from Albuquerque to Portland, my ex-boyfriend got (drunk) and roughed me up in a Sacramento hotel. I escaped from the room through a blitzkrieg of violence and talked to hotel security, who called the fuzz.

2.) Because he had a bite mark, inflicted in self-defense, on his arm, Marty told the police to PRESS CHARGES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST ME. Now I am a felon.

3.) I spent the night in jail.

The entry, posted by the Pitchfork music site, was previously available for anyone to read, but in a new entry posted Sunday night, Sewell had a change of heart, explaining, "I've decided to heed the advice of many commenters (lawyerly types) and lock my last entry about the legal foibles between me and my ex-boyfriend.

(That was, of course, after we were able to eyeball it!)

Sewell says she was released Saturday morning and, according to the Sacramento Sheriff's Web site, Crandell was released on Sunday. According to Pitchfork, both are expected to appear in court here in Sac later this week.

So, here's the deal: I would not normally come here and tell you about the show my husband's band is playing tonight (kind of tacky to do so, right?), but since there's a chance the show might be cancelled, I thought this might be a good opportunity to advise y'all to check on the status of any show you were thinking about attending.

That said, tonight's Baby Grand and De Luxe show at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd.) may go dark because, well, the Blue Lamp is dark. Yup, no power. So, you might want to call (916) 455-3400 to make sure it's still on. The show, that is. Who knows, maybe they'll do an accoustic, candle-lit set. Would be very Nirvana "Unplugged," don't you think?

(Side note: I just totally loved getting ready for work in the dark this morning, only to have the power go back on right as I was leaving the house. Nice - and I have the bed head-esque hair to show for it).

To recap: Planning on going to a show tonight? Call ahead to make sure it's still on.

Or, you know, just stay home and watch the season premiere of "1 vs. 100." Normally I wouldn't advise such a thing, but for once, I think the network-TV game show option might be the safer, potentially less painful way to go.

Hey, remember that time I told you that Roger McGuinn canceled his Feb. 1 show at the Mondavi?

Well, guess what? He really didn't.

Confused? Well, join the club. No, actually - McGuinn's booking agent canceled the show, you see, but McGuinn's manager didn't. So, what I'm trying to say here is that Roger McGuinn - broken wrist, be damned - will still be playing Feb. 1 at Mondavi's Jackson Hall.

Get your ticket info here.

December 31, 2007
My Top 10 of everything

So, here's the deal: As a general assignment entertainment/pop culture writer for The Bee, I cover a lot of things: movies, music, books, the Web, fashion, TV, the media. And mostly, that's a good thing. But sometimes, I'll admit, I feel a bit left out when it comes to the year-end Top 10 lists because I don't get asked to contribute.

I know, I know, boo-whatever-hoo.

But just indulge me, OK? Please?

With that, here is my Top 10 of Everything for 2007:

AgentRibbons_3.JPG Top Album
Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible"

This sophomore album was as smart, heartfelt and as adventurous as their first.

Top Album - local
Agent Ribbons (pictured at right) "On Time Travel and Romance"

Gorgeous, sultry orchestral pop

Top Song
Rilo Kiley- "Silver Lining"

If only for the lyrics "I was your silver lining but now I'm gold." Love it so much, in fact, that it's my ringtone. A very close second: Lily Allen's "Everything is Wonderful" for its peppy little cynicism.

Top Song, local
Agent Ribbons - "Chelsea, Let's Go to the Circus."

Again, there were a lot of great local songs this year (from the likes of Mariee Sioux, Lee Bob Watson, Knock Knock, Ancient Sons, etc.), but this one really stuck with me. It's whimsical, melodic and crafted like a fine short story.

Top Local Show
Way too many shows to list, but trust me, the aforementioned Agent Ribbons, along with the Poplollys, Knock Knock, An Angle, Jackpot and the Helper Monkeys, all delivered some magic performances.

Top Show Not By a Local Band
!!!

This April show at the Library rocked. I danced all night. Enough said.

Top Film
"Once"

I almost chose "Juno," but I've seen "Once" twice, just got it on DVD and am dying to watch it again. Plus, the soundtrack was in heavy rotation all year. Just a heartbreakingly awesome film.

Top TV Show
"Lost"

SOOO hard to choose this because I've kind of been a couch potato lately. Runners-up include "The Sopranos," "Flipping Out" and "The Office."

Top TV Show That I Just Discovered
"Ugly Betty"

I seriously watched all of season one on DVD in about a week. Told you I'd been a couch potato lately.

Top New Book I Actually Read
"No One Belongs Here More Than You," Miranda July.

I tend to be cheap when it comes to new books and wait until they come out in paperback, but I bought this new hardback collection of short stories the second it came out and devoured it right away.

So that's it - thanks for letting me vent share. I feel better now and ready to take on 2008 with a refreshed sense of optimism and anticipation. Or, something like that.

Got an iTunes gift certificate burning a hole in your pocket? Here's a little something to help you spend it that much faster. Helper Monkeys' bassist/singer Jeffrey Valentine has a new album out called "J.V. Bangers."

Sure, you could trek to your neighborhood record store (remember those?) and buy it there. But here's your chance to get all digital and download it from iTunes for $9.99.

Here's the thing - the Helper Monkeys are one of Sac's best punk bands. Valentine's solo stuff, however, is way more diverse than his monkey roots would suggest. Think country, electronica, pop and lots of other good stuff - all topped off with Valentine's quirky lyrics.

Want to preview some of the songs? Visit Valentine's MySpace page.

Roger_On_Stage_Sharp.JPG

Time to unmark your calendars because it looks like ex-Byrd Roger McGuinn has been forced to cancel his Feb. 1 appearance at the Mondavi Center.

Reason? Broken wrist. Yeah, ouch.

But, here's the good news: There is a chance that McGuinn may reschedule shows for later in 2008.

Course, you didn't hear that from me. After all, details on the cancellation and any new dates are supposed to be hush-hush.

So - as they say in the biz - stay tuned.

Tired of being fashionable? Here's an excuse to break out the tacky and dated: Lipstick's Ugly Holiday Sweater Party at 10 tonight at R15 (15th and R streets).

Yes, if it has sequins, sparkles and oversized Christmas trees, put it on and proudly show it off. Bonus points for synthetic fabrics.

Admission is free and, in addition to spinning via deejays Nick, Roger and Shaun, there'll be holiday movies and seasonal drinks.

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If you have yet to completely burn out on holiday music, then here's a little treat for you:

Former Sacramento resident Rose Melberg just put a new holiday MP3 on her MySpace page and it's a sweet little doozy: A cover of the Ramones "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)," recorded with her pal Gregory Webster.

Melberg is, of course, the singer-songwriter famed for her work with the pioneering early '90s band Tiger Trap which, sadly, only released one full-length album. The band earned a loyal, international following for its sweet grrrl group pop sound.

Melberg later played in bands such as the Softies and Go Sailor and now does mostly solo stuff from her Canadian home base.

Anyway, her rendition of the classic holiday punk tune is, just as you'd expect, simple and pretty.

Listen to it here.

December 17, 2007
21Q: We've moved!

Location, location, location - any savvy-minded businessperson will tell you that that's half the battle to getting noticed and staying ahead.

Not that I - or any of my 21Q colleagues - have had anything against our virtual address at SacTicket.com. But hey - who doesn't like the chance for fresh digs now and then?

So, our new address is www.sacbee.com/21q, because "SacTicket.com" officially "retires" in a few days to sip frozen daiquiris somewhere in the Bahamas while the rest of us slave away.

But, don't worry. If you forget the new address, you'll still be automatically redirected to the new place. And, except for a few visual tweaks, nothing else is really changing - you'll still find tons of insider media scoops, fashion tips, band updates, movie picks, theater tidbits and other cool local happenings.

And snark. Plenty of snark. We love the snark - it makes our day go by just a little bit faster, you know?

So come on by and stay a while.

I have a feeling I'm going to get in a whole heapa trouble if I don't tip you off to this little tidbit.

So, this one's for the kajallion George Strait fans who've been calling and e-mailing me about his upcoming Sac show. (OK, it's really only been about five people, but still....)

Ta da!: Tickets to George Strait's Jan. 31 show at Arco Arena go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through Ticketmaster.com.

Oh, and Josh Turner is also on the bill. Tix will set you back between $54.50-$64.50.

Happy now?

I know I am.

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There are a million and one reasons why I love Ellen Page in "Juno" (opening Friday in Sacramento - here's my interview with Page that ran in Sunday's Ticket+), but maybe one of the biggest is that, like me, she's a self-confessed music freak.

"I'm a huge music fan and I get very emotionally connected to music," Page told me during our recent interview.

Which meant that when "Juno" director Jason Reitman asked Page what kind of music her pregnant 16-year-old character might like, the 20-year-old actress (pictured with movie baby daddy Michael Cera) already had it figured out.

"I told him the Moldy Peaches - Jason didn't know who they were so I played him a CD and he just totally fell in love with them," Page says.

Loved 'em so much, in fact, that Reitman contacted Moldy Peaches singer Kimya Dawson to see if she wanted to contribute to the film's soundtrack.

Dawson's solo stuff, like her band's, is part of the so-called "anti-folk" movement - meaning it's soft and acoustic but not exactly sweet, placid, earnest or rabble-rousing.

It is, however, intimate, sassy and smart and perfectly fits the film's quirky nature - and young Juno MacGuff's personality

So much so that Juno gets to sing the Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else But You" in a scene for the film.

It almost goes without saying that Page was over-the-moon about this opportunity.

"That song's been in my life for years - it's on a lot of my 'Hey, good sir, want to fall in love with me?' CD mixes," she says. "I put that song on the mix CD I gave to my first boyfriend in high school."

And yes, just like Juno, Page can sing and play guitar - she's even done a few coffeehouse gigs in her native Halifax, Nova Scotia.

You know, if this acting thing doesn't work out for her (although Page did just snag a Golden Globe "Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical" nomination for her "Juno" role), it's good to know she's got another talent to fall back on.

Also, the "Juno" soundtrack doesn't come out on CD until Jan. 15. Until then, check out Dawson's music over at her MySpace page.

BraveryColorPic07 smaller2.JPG

Hmm, for some reason, the Bravery decided to book a local show and not really tell anyone.

Well, except, maybe their most loyal, diehard fans.

But even if you're just a casual listener - hey, sometimes I get "An Honest Mistake" stuck in my head - here's the skinny:

The New York-based modern rock band is going to be at the Boardwalk (9426 Greenback Lane, Citrus Heights) on Jan. 28.

Tickets aren't on sale to the general public yet, but if you visit the band's Web site, you can get in on a special pre-sale.

There's a four-ticket limit and they're $16 each.

petercase.JPG

It's time for a change of plans if you were thinking of attending today's Peter Case in-store at R5 Records. The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter has postponed that performance as well as Thursday night's show at Marilyn's.

In a post on his blog, Case explains that a "family health situation" forced him to cancel the last few dates of his North American tour.

There are plans, however, to reschedule all shows for sometime early next year and, in the meantime, refunds are available at place of purchase.

Because I feel it's my duty to help you stay out of the malls this holiday season, here's a tip on what promises to be a great shopping alternative. On Saturday, the Sol Collective arts and cultural center is hosting Urban Mercado, a vendor fair featuring music, food and art.

The event - admission is free - will run all day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 2010 Del Paso Blvd. Bonus: DJ Crush Delight will spin tunes while you browse - in other words, no having to listen to the umpteenth instrumental version of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

Visit the Sol Collective site for more information.

MUSIC JOEL2.jpg OK, don't try to pretend you're all hipper-than-thou - I know you're, like, way excited to learn that Billy Joel is playing Arco Arena on Feb. 26.

Hey, it's OK to love the Joel.

Anyway, the Piano Man will be the star of one of those very special "An Evening With ..." type of shows (meaning no opening act, just you and B-Jo).

Tickets ($41.25-$96.75) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday via Ticketmaster.com.

jr black full -- cwb.JPGI'll admit it - I have a spot in my heart for good ol' Joan Rivers. A hard, barbed wire-covered, snark-filled little spot.

So, yay, Joan "Can We Talk?" Rivers is coming to Cache Creek on Jan. 19!

Yes, the mean queen of comedy (not to mention reigning Dowager of Plastic Surgery - hey, even she'll say it), is bringing her stand-up act to the casino's Club 88 stage.

Good thing, because ever since the folks at E! kicked her to the TV Guide Channel, which then kicked her to the curb, I've really been missing Joan's weirdly inappropriate red carpet act. You know, those not-so-subtle digs at celebrities, the mangling of names, the confusion about who-played-who-in-the-what-now.

The details: Tickets are $59 and $69 and available through Ticketmaster.com. For more info, visit the Cache Creek site.

APTOPIX Springsteen E Stree.jpgAs a lady of a certain age, I still remember Bruce Springsteen's ""Born in the U.S.A." tour and how I couldn't get tickets and then the day after the show all the cool kids in school were wearing their Bruce t-shirts.

So, now, maybe I'll get a chance to fix that high school bummer: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, April 4 at Arco Arena.

Yes, the Boss, who recently released his 23rd album, "Magic" (which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, thank you very much) just announced a new set of dates. The 27-city jaunt builds on the first tour's first half which covered several North American cities and much of Europe.

And, not surprisingly, the folks over at Rolling Stone and the Washington Post have pretty much done cartwheels over those earlier shows, so you know you're going to get something pretty awesome.

Me? I'm gonna finally get that T-shirt.

Anyway, tickets are currently set to go on sale Jan. 19. Stay tuned for more details.

When I interviewed Nevada City native Mariee Sioux (read my story in Weekend Ticket and listen to a
podcast), I wasn't really surprised to learn that the 22-year-old singer-songwriter doesn't own an iPod.

Sioux's folk-pop music sounds like it comes from another time, so why would she be a part of the digital age?

In fact, Sioux told me she doesn't even really own any CDs - she's more of a vinyl kind of girl.

"I mainly have records," Sioux says. "But sometimes when I'm on the road, I'll listen to a CD or tape."

So, while she couldn't really answer my "what's on your iPod?" question, Sioux did share with me the four albums she's got in current, heavy rotation:

"Saturate Before Using" - Jackson Browne
"After the Gold Rush" - Neil Young
"Ladies of the Canyon" - Joni Mitchell
"Line on the Paper" - Kate Wolfe

In case you hadn't noticed, none of these albums was released before the 21st century.

"Yeah, it's mostly just all of the good, old stuff," she says.

Also on Friday: Check out Sioux's album release show (and yes, you can buy "Faces in the Rocks" on CD) at the Center for the Arts (314 W. Main St., Grass Valley). Show time is 8 p.m. and costs $15 at the door. For more info, visit the venue's Web site.

OK, this just in: I've been a little sleep-deprived lately, so that's my excuse for listing the wrong venue in Tuesday's Coming Distractions column for the Pinback, Louix XIV and Rogue Wave show.

The show is at Empire (14th & R streets).

And, here's a bonus - it's all-ages. So bring your kid sister and swear her off the Hilary Duff forever. She'll thank you later.

Oh, and here's some new info that zipped into my e-mail box: The three-fer is being billed as this year's KWOD 106.5 holiday show with the dare-to-dream name of "Indie Blog Heaven."

Actually, I kind of like that - it's non-secular but kind of dreamy, too. You can check out Kwod.net for more info on that.

Anyhoo, all the other details remain the same:

Tix ($19.99 advance, $20 show) are available through The Beat, R5 Records, Armadillo Music (Davis), Tickets.com outlets (located in select Raley's and Bel Air supermarkets) and online at Tickets.com.

BRITAIN KRAVITZ.jpgSo, here's a little holiday show that slipped in under the radar:

Unless, of course, you're a big fan of KZZO 100.5 FM. Otherwise, you might not have heard about the radio station's Little Christmas Show on Dec. 13 at the Memorial Auditorium.

The lineup features Lenny Kravitz (pictured), Vanessa Carlton, Mat Kearny (confidential to The Zone - y'all spelled his name wrong. It's Mat with just one "T"), Blue October and Pat Monahan (Train).

But you can't buy this present just yet - unless you're one of those aforementioned diehard Zone fans (who had access to a special presale today).

So, stay tuned for ticket info - or point your browser over to www.radiozone.com.

In the meantime, here's hoping Kravitz busts out with some "Run Rudolph Run."

srandon_enchanted.JPG Susan Sarandon was getting over a cold when she called to discuss her new film "Enchanted," but the 61-year-old actress hardly phoned it in during the interview. OK, well, technically, she phoned it in because she was calling from L.A., er, on the phone - but you get my drift.

In the film (which is part animation and part live action), Sarandon plays a wicked queen out to destroy the pretty princess (played by Amy Adams), who had just managed to take a not-so-fairy tale detour to New York City. (By the way, "Enchanted" also stars Patrick Dempsey, whom I also spoke to, and opens Nov. 21. Check out my story in Sunday's Ticket+. And see my colleague Carla Meyer's review in Scene on Nov. 21.)

Anyway, even though Sarandon was probably on her millionth interview and nursing a sore throat ("Forgive me if I start coughing"), she gamely chatted about the film as well as some upcoming roles, including one in "The Lovely Bones."

That Peter Jackson-directed film, scheduled for a 2008 release, is based on the Alice Sebold novel about a young girl who watches from the afterlife as her family deals with her brutal murder and rape at the hands of a neighborhood killer.

Sarandon plays the deceased girl's grandmother and, while some Hollywood types might not like the idea of sliding into a new age range, Sarandon says she was thrilled.

"This is my first grandma role - I'm pretty happy about that."

In fact, she says, she's pretty pleased about how her career's been going lately. True, there are fewer leading roles for women of a certain age (yes, even Oscar-winning women; Sarandon snagged a Best Actress statue for 1995's "Dead Man Walking"), but supporting roles can be just as rewarding.

"There are some very rich parts out there - of course, they're not all leading parts, but I don't feel compromised," Sarandon says.

"I would rather play an interesting part than a boring lead," says the actress, who can also be seen in the upcoming "Speed Racer." "It's actually kind of nice because, sometimes, those roles just take a few days or weeks.

"If I was just looking for a huge salary, then maybe I'd be in trouble."

What? No Heather Mills?!

Nope, that "Dancing With the Stars" alum won't be among those featured when "Dancing With the Stars - The Tour" moseys its way into Sacramento, Dec. 20 at Arco Arena.

But here's who will be on foot: Wayne Newton, Cheryl Burke, Sabrina Bryan, Drew Lachey and Joey Lawrence - not to mention dancing pros Karina Smirnoff and Kym Johnson.

Tickets (ranging from $50.50-$160) go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through Ticketmaster.com or by calling (916) 649-8497.

kategaffney_toddcrawford.jpgI know you're looking for something to do Thursday night (scientifically proven fact: Thursday night is the new Friday night - look it up) and, also, I totally meant to put this in today's Coming Distractions column, but didn't. So, here ya go:

Thursday night, head over to Marilyn's (908 K St.) and check out Kate Gaffney's Rock 'n' Roll Show.

The East Coast-native-turned NorCal homegirl has a new CD due out in January, "The Coach," produced by Barrie Maguire (The Wallflowers, Natalie Merchant), and featuring an all-star cast that includes Jackson Browne and Jackie Greene.

So hey, get a sneak preview at Marilyn's. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $7 at the door. Liani Moore is also on the bill..

For more info, hop on over to Marilynsonk.com.

Rick Byrd has had epilepsy all his life, but the seizures have gotten worse in recent years.

So the 49-year-old local musician - he used to sing with the Ronnie Montrose rock band Montrose and currently does time with Mick Martin & the Blues Rockers - is set to undergo experimental brain surgery at UC Davis.

And you can help.

Tonight at the Torch Club (904 15th St.), catch Byrd with Mick Martin & the Blues Rockers. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and all proceeds will go toward Byrd's medical bills.

So, you know, feel free to donate more than the $8 cover charge. For more information, call (916) 443-2797 or visit www.torchclub.net.

RP CHRIS ANAYA STEPS.JPGOn Oct. 23, a four-alarm fire destroyed four midtown homes just down the street from 21Q's headquarters at 21st and Q.

Luckily, there were no fatalities - unless you count An Angle's music tour.

The acclaimed local rock band was on tour in Arizona when singer Kris Anaya learned that the blaze had destroyed his home.

In a message on the band's MySpace page, Anaya informed fans of the tour's cancellation, noting that "I am needed back at home to help deal with the situation. We'll do our best to get back on the road once this mess has been sorted out."

I had a brief e-mail exchange with Anaya (pictured on the steps of his now-destroyed home, in a photo taken by Bee photographer Randy Pench in May 2005), who said he and the rest of the band hope to make up the dates in January or February.

In the meantime, Anaya's dealing with what's left.

"I lost a lot of things, but we were able to salvage a couple of instruments," says Anaya in his e-mail. "(But) the house is ruined."

Send well wishes or keep up with An Angle's tour plans via its MySpace page or Web site.

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If, like me, you missed the Bravery's September show at the Hard Rock Cafe, here's another chance to catch the band - this time from the comfort of your desk chair. (And if that desk chair happens to be at work, don't worry, my lips are sealed.)

Yes, a video of the show - which was available to KWOD listeners on a win-a-ticket basis only, will be streamed over at Kwod.net starting Thursday.

Here's the catch (yes, I know, there's always a catch): You must register with The Club - KWOD's online spot for free tickets and other goodies - by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. (Relax, it's free and easy - just like you. Kidding. I kid.) Do that and you'll get a link to a video stream of the band performing such songs as "An Honest Mistake" and "Time Won't Let Me Go."

Enjoy.

Sure Cover Big.jpgWow, has it really been a year since Sacramento native A.J. Stewart was kicked off of "America's Next Top Model"?

Yep - and she's still modeling.

Yes, my dear Tyra Banks fans (OK, maybe not so much), even though Stewart told us at the time that she was relieved to have that whole stiletto-wearing ordeal behind her, the model bug apparently took a bit of a nibble out of the leggy 22-year-old.

In addition to gracing the cover of Supermodels Unlimited magazine this summer, Stewart's been modeling steadily in Asia. In fact, she's headed to Hong Kong this week for a bunch of gigs.

Stewart's mother tells us A.J.'s also got the cover of the Korea-based Sure, a magazine devoted to fashion and beauty.

Yes, that really is her - in a blonde wig.

As for this season's "Top Model" cycle, not sure if A.J. is watching, but I'm totally rooting for Heather.

Garth Brooks Press Conferen.jpgSo Garth Brooks isn't going to physically be in Sacramento anytime soon - but you can still catch him live in concert. Kind of.

Actually, more than 300 cities can see him live in one night. Again with the "kind of" attached.

Brooks, who hasn't toured in nearly a decade, will perform in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 14, and - here's the thing - fans around the U.S. can watch a live simulcast of the performance at their hometown theaters.

In Sacramento, the concert will be shown at the Century Stadium 14 (1590 Ethan Way), the Century Downtown Plaza 7 (445 Downtown Plaza), the Natomas Marketplace Stadium 16 (3561 Truxel Road), and the Century Roseville 14 (1555 Eureka Road).

Showtime is 6 p.m. PST and tickets - $10 with a 10-ticket-limit per person - go on sale at noon Friday through garthbrooks.com or the participating theaters.

Two-fer Tuesdays are so five minutes ago - local band Bright Light Fever is offering up four free tracks for downloading on its MySpace page.

The tracks are:

Te Voy a Matar
Norman Bates
Monarch
Welcome To Your Doom

The tracks were recorded at a friend's house in Billings, Mont., and that first track, in my humble opinion, totally makes good on the Pixies' influence on the band. In any case, they'll only be up for free downloading for a short time, so get 'em while you can.

Also: Bright Light Fever is embarking on a U.S. tour later this year and you can catch them Nov. 19 at the Boardwalk (9426 Greenback Lane, Orangevale) with Portugal The Man; tickets are $12. For more info, visit Boardwalkrocks.com.

So, the other day I e-mailed Abstract Entertainment show promoter Brian McKenna, asking him for contact info on the Pipettes.

"Let me try to be the kiss of death on the Pipettes," I wrote - a joking reference to how my love for the now-cancelled Jenny Owen Youngs show had apparently killed it dead.

Well, guess who just got a phone call saying that, yes, the Pipettes have cancelled their Oct. 28 show. Reason: They're going to shoot a video that day instead.

"Guess that (kiss of death) worked," McKenna says in his voicemail.

Wow, I'm two for two - who wants to be next? C'mon, bring it.

Oh yeah, and if you've already purchased Pipettes tix, you know the drill: Refunds are available at place of purchase.

Apparently, my insane happiness over the news that Jenny Owen Youngs was going to play Harlow's in November was too much for the universe because it imploded and Youngs cancelled her Sacramento date for scheduling reasons.

Boo. Refunds available at place of purchase, blah, blah, blah.

But, in happier news, we're getting another great show as a consolation prize. U.K. band the Pipettes is set to play Oct. 28 at Harlow's.

The Pipettes are sort of like Amy Winehouse - all '60s girl group glorious, times three - but without all the annoying eyeliner and potentially troublesome rehab issues.

Tickets are $12 and on sale now through R5 Records, The Beat, Dimple Records, Armadillo Music, Harlows.com and Tickets.com.

MTV Awards Show.jpg
Say what you will about Britney Spears' dismal performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in September (and we have), but the girl still knows how to cut a single.

"Gimme More," which Spears debuted on the VMAs, is catchy, tight and in-your-face. Heck, those qualities came through despite her lackluster appearance (pictured) - thank goodness for lip-syncing, y'know?

Now, with "Gimme More" perched atop both the iTunes digital singles chart and Billboard's Hot Digital Songs, Spears' label, Jive Records, has announced it's moving the release of her album "Blackout" up to Oct. 30. The singer's fifth album was originally scheduled for release on Nov. 13.

A Jive press release cites "numerous unauthorized online leaks" as the reason for the change.

Now, I'm not saying that I know anything about those unauthorized leaks but -and this is totally just speculation, y'all - let's just say I did maybe hear the new album. My guess is that you might actually like it.

(Hey, as a music writer, it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility for me to know people who know people who, um, know other people who, every now and then, could send a copy of something or other cross my desk. I'm just sayin'.)

That said, if the songs I'm hearing are what actually turn up on "Blackout," well, all I can say is, welcome back Brit-Brit. (This, with news that Spears is reportedly patching up her relationship with her mother - well, it's enough to bring a tear to my normally jaded pop culture eye).

Not every song's a slam-dunk - Spears' thin and breathy voice sometimes has to compete too much with the aggressive dance beats - but the tracks that are good are actually really good.

In addition to "Gimme More," also of note are: "Cold as Fire," with Brit recalling early Madonna (i.e. kind of squeaky, but charmingly so) over guilty pleasure pop hooks and lyrics such as "I'm as cold as fire baby / hot as nice / if you've ever been to heaven baby this is twice as nice."

On "Everybody," Spears samples the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" with sassy aplomb.

But my fave so far is "What Ya Sippin On" - a little drinking tune with guest rapper AC throwing off lines such as "I'm with Brit, while K-Fed is watching the kids."

And OK, maybe she shouldn't let her parenting coach hear that track.

October 9, 2007
Adrian Tomine on Pop Candy

shortcomings_.JPG OK, first a gripe. I wanted to interview Adrian Tomine- the Sacramento- born- and- bred comic book/graphic novelist whose new book, "Shortcomings" (Drawn & Quarterly, $16, 108 pages), just hit shelves.

But Tomine, who lives in Brooklyn, only wanted to chat via e-mail, which is usually not the preferred method of interviewing 'round these parts.

Then, I surfed on over to the Drawn & Quarterly site and discovered that Tomine's book tour is totally bypassing his hometown. Um, Sac's only 90 minutes from Berkeley (where Tomine will read on Nov. 15 at Cody's Book Store). What's up with that?

But, enough about me and how I'll be nursing my reporterly wounds for the next couple of days - all you need to know is that one of my favorite bloggers has just posted a great podcast with Tomine. (See, I can be big about these things).

Whitney Matheson, who writes the awesome Pop Candy blog for USA Today, interviewed Tomine about the book, race, pop culture and the possibility of a movie based on Tomine's "Optic Nerve" series.

Check out Matheson's blog entry. From there, you can download the podcast from iTunes or stream it as a Windows Media file.

Enjoy.

bluemanlookingup.JPGBreaking Blue Man Group news! Fans of the wacky performance ensemble - you know, the ones where the players are literally painted blue - should be tickled pink to learn that the group's latest tour, How to be a Megastar 2.0, will land at Arco Arena on Jan. 18.

I know, I know, so far away.

No ticket details yet - but what I want to know is, will "Arrested Development"'s Tobias finally (finally!) get his chance to shine as an understudy? Stay tuned.

So, my friend Kortnee is obsessed with Guitar Hero - the video game that lets you act like a pinwheelin' guitar god, Dance Dance Revolution-style.

Now, a new version of the game is on its way. Rock Band, as the name suggests, lets you take on everything from bass and drums to guitar and vocals. So awesome.

But hold on to that drum solo - Rock Band will be in stores in November. The good news is, however, that you can preview it today through Sunday.

MTV Games, Harmonix and EA are bringing the Rock Band Tour to Sacramento. Check it out today until 6 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. at Sac State's (6000 J St.) Serna Plaza. Or on Saturday from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., visit the Rhythm and Ribs Fest in the Raley Field parking lot (400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento).

And, if you're brave enough to try the game on a "Rock Off" main stage, you can compete for the chance to win a trip to New York and hang out with a "real band." No word on who this quote-unquote real band is, but you'll also have an opportunity to show your stuff on MTV's "TRL" video show, so who really cares, right?

Happy rocking!

Music Van Halen.jpgYeah, we're runnin' a little bit hot tonight
I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off
You know what I'm sayin'
Ahh, I reach down....

OK, maybe I better stop right there - but now that I've got "Panama" stuck in your head (and mine), no better time than to tell you that tickets for the Nov. 27 Van Halen show at Arco Arena are going on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Yeah, I know - finally.

Just in case you weren't aware of this earth-shattering concert news, Van Halen is reuniting this year for a massive tour featuring original lead singer David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen on the same stage. Question is - will their respective egos implode and blast the whole thing to smithereens before the tour even takes off? Guess only time will tell.

Anyway, all this nostalgic craziness will set you back between $47.25-$147.25; just point your browser to Ticketmaster.com to get in on this reunion frenzy.

A friend and I were driving down Del Paso Boulevard the other day, noting all the spruced-up buildings and cute new shops that seem to be opening up, and we agreed that, maybe this time around, the district really is enjoying something of a resurgence.

More proof: Movies on a Big Screen, the ongoing film festival/micro-cinema collective, is staging a movie night at the Artisan Theater, 1901 Del Paso Blvd.

This Saturday night, check out two films, "From a Silk Cocoon" and "Homecoming". The former, directed by Sacramentan Satsuki Ina, is about what happens to a family when it discovers a small metal box containing family secrets.

The latter, directed by Adam Hauck and George Gawood, is a documentary about the lives of 15 men and women who grew up in both public and private orphanages. Hauck and Gawood, by the way, are also of Sacto -they now live in SoCal - and they'll both be on hand for a Q&A.

The evening starts at 5 p.m. and admission is $15 - that includes some wine (if you're 21 or over, of course) - and net proceeds wll go to the Capitol Church Clothes for Career Project.

For more info, visit the Movies on a Big Screen MySpace page.

And, for more details on all the good stuff happening on The Boulevard, visit the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership site.

Richard Thompson.JPG OK, it's Tuesday and I'm already wishing it were Saturday, but here's a little something to boost my spirits and hopefully yours, too - news of a Richard Thompson show, Dec. 5 at the 24th Street Theatre.

Do I even need to tell you how cool this is? I mean, you already know how awesome it is that Thompson, who normally performs at places like the Crest (or bigger) is playing a more intimate gig, right? And, of course you know how important, influential and just plain good Thompson's work is considered, right?

The former Fairport Convention singer-songwriter, after all, is responsible for - along with now ex-wife Linda Thompson - one of the best break-up records ever, 1982's "Shoot Out the Lights."

But did you know that Thompson also does a mean take on the Britney Spears hit "Oops! ... I Did it Again"? And by "mean," I'm not talking mean-spirited but more "Oh, wow, maybe that really is a good song."

The details: Tickets ($32.50 advance, $35 door) are on sale Oct. 1 at R5 Records and The Beat or through inticketing.com.

Frank_Black_uke_hi.JPGSometimes shows slip in past the Coming Distractions deadline - this week, three noteworthy ones managed to sneak in.

First up is comedian Neil Hamburger Sept. 27 at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd.). Hamburger is one of those guys whose fame sort of defies logic - his stage presence is often awkward and cringe-inducing. But, if you can stick it out, you'll be rewarded with some truly off-kilter humor. It's no wonder the hipster kids love him. Pleaseeasaur opens the show. Tickets ($8 advance, $10 door) are now on sale.

Then, Black Francis (pictured), Oct. 7 at Harlow's (2708 J St.). The Pixies frontman was going by the "Frank Black" moniker, but now he's re-adopted the name he went by during the iconic rock band's run. I know, I know - it can all get so confusing. But either way, the show is a must because Black Francis' solo stuff is pretty great. Tickets ($15, $18 door) are now on sale.

Finally, acclaimed singer-songwriter Meshell NdegeOcello plays Oct. 21 at Harlow's. In the early '90s, NdegeOcello was one of the first artists signed to Madonna's Maverick label and since then she's collaborated with the likes of John Mellencamp and Chaka Khan and racked up a few Grammy nominations. Tickets ($22.50, $25 door) go on sale Saturday.

Tickets to all show are available through R5 Records, The Beat, Dimple Music and Tickets.com. You also can get tix for the Harlow's show via Harlows.com.


Just because Justin Timberlake doesn't want to party, Sac-style, doesn't mean Good Charlotte is pulling the plug, too.

Well, kind of. The pop-punk band, of course, won't be playing Arco Arena tonight - thanks to JT's "doctor-mandated" cancellation, citing a need for "vocal rest." Yeah, whatever - I blame it all on Britney Spears' abysmal showing at Sunday night's Video Music Awards in Vegas. Timberlake must be emotionally scarred by how badly his ex-girlfriend crashed and burned during her "performance."

Anyhoo, Good Charlotte may not be able to rock the big house tonight, but the band will still do a free in-store show at the Verizon Wireless Communications Store (3635 N. Freeway Blvd.) between 4:15 and 5:30 p.m., as we had told you last week.

In addition to a quickie set, the Brothers Madden (Joel and Benji - duh) and the rest of the band will sign autographs.

Take that, JT.

September 7, 2007
Another shot of (Tila) Tequila

tila2.JPGWell, I'm not going to say that I was right about the public's desire to watch a Tila Tequila reality show, but I will say that at least I wasn't wrong since - want her or not - they're going to get her.

I interviewed the famous-in-a-MySpace-kind-of-way model/actress/singer back in May. Fast-forward a few months and, MTV's just announced the arrival of "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila." In it, the L.A. resident will be at the center of a dating show in which 16 men and 16 women will wrangle for her love. Or attention. Or residuals of her D-List fame.

The series is set to debut Oct. 9 on MTV. (I will admit that I was wrong about that - I had reported that her series would air on sister network VH1, but in my defense, no one at either network felt it necessary to correct me at the time.)

My interview with Tequila was by phone as she was leaving a Hollywood restaurant. As we chatted, I envisioned her in a pair of Juicy Couture sweats - maybe clutching a teacup-sized dog, keeping an eye out for the paparazzi in the hopes that they'd be chronicling her every move.

But Tequila, who was polite, if not a wee bit chilly, wanted to make it very clear that she is not another Hilton or Richie, trying to get famous for the sake of being famous.

"I don’t do anything that will make (me) famous," Tequila told me. "I do things that are fun and that suit me."

So, there you have it.

Good Charlotte.jpg

Attention Good Charlotte fans:

The Madden Brothers-fronted band is, as you already know, opening for Justin Timberlake this Monday at Arco Arena.

But, did you also know that Benji and Joel will be doing an in-store acoustic performance before the big rock show?

Yep - on Monday, you can catch them at the Verizon Wireless Communications Store (3635 N. Freeway Blvd.) between 4:15 and 5:30 p.m.

In addition to a short music set, they'll be signing autographs. So bring your copy of the pop-punk band's latest album, "Good Morning Revival." Or, maybe, one of those tabloid pictures of Joel Madden and baby mama Nicole Richie.

Kidding! We kid.

Can't get off work early enough? There are still tickets available for the Arco show. Visit Ticketmaster.com and be prepared to cough up between $56-$152.75 per seat.

Music Kelly Clarkson.jpgWell, Kelly Clarkson is nothing if not determined. No, seriously, the original American Idol winner is quite the talented Top 40 singer and, lucky you, she's giving the world of touring another chance.

As you may remember, Clarkson's "My December" tour was scheduled for a summer trek (oh, the irony), which included a July stop in Sacramento. But then, citing poor ticket sales, Clarkson pulled the plug.

It probably didn't help that the "My December" album hadn't even hit shelves yet or that Clarkson was publicly fueding with her record label boss Clive Davis.

But, we digress.

Now, summer's over, Clarkson's record is finally out and, well, whaddya know?, mama's got a brand new attitude. Not only has K.C. publicly apologized to Davis, but she's just announced the relaunch of the "My December" tour.

Now, what you need to know: She'll be in town Nov. 14 at the Memorial Auditorium. If you're astute like that, you'll notice this is a much smaller venue than the original Arco Arena destination. We're thinking that's a smart move.

Anyway, tickets go on sale Sept. 15 - price info is pending. Stay tuned.

anangle.JPG So, I think I'm doing a possibly stupid thing Saturday night - going to the State Fair on what may turn out to be the hottest, muggiest night of the year.

I mean, I love the baby animals, the photo booths and all the people-watching but factor in the dust and the fact that, well, people-watching means crowds and, well, you'll see why I'm recommending you head on down to the Townhouse (1517 21st St.) instead.

Why? Because in addition to the free a.c., there's going to be a totally rocking show with An Angle, E for Explosion and Chase Pagon.

Oh, and there'll be deejays too. Look for the likes of DJs Trent, Jonny, Andrew and Josh - upstairs and downstairs. That's one of the cool things about the Townhouse -it's got that midtown house party vibe.

And did I mention the free air conditioning? OK, it's not really free - the entire show will set you back $5 (plus drink money, if you're so inclined.). Sorry, kids, 21-and-over only.

As a big fan of the quarterly Sellout / Buyout shopping bazaar, I'm happy to see there'll soon be another local craft / vendor market in town.

IndieSacramento will host its first indie / alternative craft fair on Dec. 1 from 2-9 p.m.

The free event will be held at the YWCA at 17th and L streets and will feature free swag bags, door prizes, a fashion show music, free craft sessions for the kids, do-it-yourself classes and, of course, tons of locally crafted goods to satisfy

Just in time for the holidays - but why am I telling you now when December feels like it might as well be three years away, not three months.

Simple, the IndieSacramento folks need you - the industrious, creative crafter that you are. Or maybe you're part of a business or band that wants to participate?

Mosey on over to IndieSacramento.com to find out more.

hsm.JPG Don't let Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens have all the fun and get all the acclaim. Here's your chance to prove you've got "High School Musical"-worthy talent.

Tonight the Hard Rock Cafe (545 Downtown Plaza) hosts a High School Musical 2 Time for Talent competition, open to area high school age students.

The requirement: Just sing and /or dance along to your favorite "High School Musical 2" song.

Grand prize is a copy of the "High School Musical 2" soundtrack, tickets to the upcoming High School Musical: The Ice Tour (skating into Arco Arena, Nov. 2 and Nov. 4), a Radio Disney prize pack and an entry into a national drawing for a trip to New York.

The event starts at 6 tonight; attendance is free and all-ages - so come on down whether you've got a musical number up your sleeve or are just a fan of the wildly popular Disney franchise,

jetfuel2.JPGIn January, I interviewed Dan Goodson, the Chico father of three autistic sons - two of who'd formed a rock band Jet Fuel Only.

Goodson encouraged his sons to start the band after seeing an article about the positive effects music can have on autistic children.

The band, featuring 13-year-old Sawyer and 12-year-old Evan, got to show off their rock chops on the "Rachael Ray Show."

Today, Jet Fuel Only, which also includes Emma Blankenship on bass and back-up singer Holly Rumiano, is still going strong, and Goodson tells us, the Lifetime cable network is considering a movie based on the family's experience.

In fact, a script writer's headed to Chico this week to interview the family and check out the band at a Monstros Pizza gig on Friday.

That show, set up by one of my personal indie rock heroes, singer-songwriter Barbara Manning, is free and all-ages. Jet Fuel Only will kick off the night at 8 p.m. and Manning, along with a few other acts, will also perform. Monstros is located at 628 W. Sacramento Ave. in Chico.

The Lifetime deal, Goodson adds, is just "in development" but the family's hopeful that Blueprint Studios, the production company interested in making the flick, will want to make good on its 12-month story option.

Dad adds that he's the one most excited about the prospect.

In typical rock star fashion, he says, the boys are more interested in going back to school and getting into the studio to record some songs.

For more info on the Monstros show or to hear some Jet Fuel Only tracks, check out the band's MySpace page.

August 15, 2007
Anniversary bash at Faces

You have to wait 21 years before you reach legal drinking age - but why let that be the ultimate birthday bash?

Faces celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, and owner Terry Sidie is doing it up right Friday night with a blow-out party.

Earlier this year, the venerable gay (and straight-friendly) club (at 20th and K streets) unveiled an awesome $2 million remodel that includes the ultimate see-and-be-seen swimming pool - so what I'm saying here is, it's August, folks. Where else do you want to be than poolside at Face's big birthday party?

The festivities get underway at 7 p.m. and will include a free buffet that goes until 9:30. There's also a $2,200 cash prize balloon drop and tunes via DJ Escape.

Best of all, it's free. Free!

What to expect as the club enters its 23rd year? Sidie promises more live entertainment, plus Club Papi, a cool Latin-themed dance party on Sept. 14.

For more Faces info, visit Faces.net.

August 9, 2007
Free L'Bel spa treatments

I don't know about you, but I've had a very stressful week. Like nail-biting, sleep-losing, comfort-food-indulging stressful.

It'll take a while to get my nails looking better, and let's not even talk about those five pounds that will surely overstay their welcome. But the lack of sleep? Well, luckily, all it takes is a little solid shut-eye and some sweet pampering to reverse the damage.

So, here's your (and my) official reminder: theL'Bel Mobile Spa is at the Blue Oaks Marketplace in Rocklin today (at the corner of Blue Oaks and Lone Tree boulevards). You'll have until 5 p.m. to take advantage of free mini-facials, skin care, makeup touch-ups and beauty tips.

Can't make it today? You'll get another chance Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m.-6 pm. at the Downtown Plaza. Again, more feel-good treatments all for the low, low cost of nothing.

Because nothing says "relax" like "free."

The blaze is - thankfully - long out, but Lake Tahoe is still dealing with the aftermath of June's brutal Angora fire.

Thursday night's Angora Fire Benefit Show at Marilyn's (908 K St.) aims to help lessen the impact. There'll be 11 artists on hand, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the Lake Tahoe Angora Fire Fund.

Cool, huh?

The rock, pop and funk line-up features the Jahari Sai Trio, Bonfire, Nathan Croswhite, Katie Jane, the Velvet Jones, Ricky Berger, David Houston, 2Me, Justin Farren, Out of Place and Abandon Theory.

A raffle also will be held; donated prizes include a two-night stay at Lake Tahoe's Montbleu Hotel & Casino, movie tickets, and a California State Fair gift package.

The 8 p.m. show costs $10 at the door and is 21-and-over only.

For more info, visit MarilynsonK.com.

I know it's only Monday (insert "Office Space" case-of-the-Mondays joke here), but it's time to look ahead to the weekend.

Because I just know you'll be out cruising all those midtown Second Saturday events, and here's a nice way to cap off your evening:

Local artists Dusty Brown, Scissors for Lefty, the Ancient Sons and the Generals will be playing the Townhouse (1517 21st St.).

DJs Samijam and Adam J. will also be on hand, spinning some fine tunes.

The show is hosted by Concerts4Charity, a national organization that benefits charities such as HeadCount, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the American Red Cross.

What this means for you is that admission for the 9 p.m., 21-and-over show is however much you feel like donating.

Suggestion: Karma is a you-know-what - so be generous, 'kay?

This one's still more than a week away - but hey, I like to give you plenty of time to plan whenever possible.

So...on Wednesday, Aug. 8, my pal and Bee colleague David Barton will be performing at Marilyn's (908 K St.) as part of that club's weekly Americana Ramble showcase.

Among other things here at The Bee, Dave writes for our weekly Outbound section on Thursdays, but as many of you know, he also used to be the paper's pop music critic. And he's definitely still a music fanatic - I can say this with impunity because it's my desk that David always rifles through on his never-ending quest for new music. (Confidential to David: Finally got that new Spoon record if you want to give it a listen).

Anyway, back to the show: Here's the twist - also on that bill? Sacramento News & Review music writer Jackson Griffith. Griffith, of course, used to write for the now-defunct Pulse magazine and then later served as SN&R's arts editor. These days, he's a freelancer, but still just as passionate about music, new and old.

Both will play acoustic, solo sets.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., is 21-and-over only and costs $6 at the door. For more info: (916) 446-4361 or Marilynsonk.com.

Just in case you were planning on attending Thursday's Tower of Power and David Sanborn show at the Radisson - bad news, it's been cancelled.

Or, at least, postponed indefinitely.

Here's the skinny: Sanborn, currently on tour in Europe, is suffering from sort of a flu ailment and is unable to travel. Word is he's expected to be fine - but you know how it is when you're feeling sick - the last thing you want to do is get on a crowded, noisy plane.

The powers-that-be are hoping to reschedule the show at a future date but, for the time being, ticket refunds are available at place of purchase.

July 22, 2007
Potter Blog: The end

That's it. Done.

Absolutely done.

Sadly, done.

It's hard to believe it's really the end, but the end it is.

And, yes, I teared up. Several times, in fact. For many, many reasons. I also let out several more shrieks. Again, for many different reasons.

There were also plenty of "A-ha!" moments and several "Wait, what just happened?" parts, too.

Sorry, I'm just not going to tell you how it all wraps up. True Harry Potter fans, I think, want to get there on their own. For the rest who are merely curious - keep movin' along; nothing like that to see here.

I will say this: The book definitely exceeded my expectations - both as a superfan and as an objective critic.

I'm curious to see what the rest of you think - feel free to post comments here at 21Q. But, for the love of all that is J.K. Rowling, please:

NO SPOILERS!

But I didn't really have to remind you of that, now did I?

Also, on Monday, check out the Scene section in The Bee or sacbee.com's Harry Potter page for my review.

Final tally:

Hours read: Roughly 16.
Coffee consumed: Nine cups.
Diet Cokes consumed: Three.
Sugar consumed: Too much to count.

Finally, this Harry Potter read-a-thon is officially dedicated to my cat Sophie. I know she can't wait to find out how it all ends and she's the only pers-, er, living being that I'm going to tell.

IMG_0067a.JPG Grrrr. Not enough sleep.

I swear, the only thing keeping me going is a) the thought of knowing how it all finally ends, and b) the thought of a nap.

Because, yes, I'm old like that.

OK, I've got my coffee and my book and I'm ready.

I do have to say, however, that the closer I get to the end of the book, the more I keep getting a glimpse of You-Know-Who's snake on the back dust cover.

Creepy.

Onward! Must. Finish. Book.

OK, here we are, page 608 - which means I have 151 pages left to go.

Can I just say that this is the most action-packed "Potter" book yet?

Can I also just say that I'm really exhausted and my brain feels all slurry - if that's even the proper use of the word. If it's even a word.

Also, I'll admit that in one crucial scene, I jumped ahead to the end of a paragraph because I was dying to know the outcome. I let out a cheer of approval and than hastily backtracked.

As I mentioned before, there's not a ton of backstory in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." It's clear that Rowling, when writing this book, wasn't about to be bothered taking up precious space with various explanations. Which means I've spent quite a bit of time at sites such as The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet, trying to figure out the who-what-when-why-and-wheres of a few people and events.

That's been kind of fun, actually. It's like a game, trying to fit together the puzzle based on my own recollections, fan sites and Rowling's writings.

Finally, one last thought before I head to bed (finally!): I accidentally saw the title of the epilogue and my heart sort of skipped a beat. It gave me an idea of what might be in store. Part of me is a bit annoyed that I read the title and the other part of me is intrigued and curious. We'll see what it all really means.

Diet Cokes consumed: Two.

Hours read in this last go-round: Five and a half - although minus about an hour or so that was lost to a quick power nap and various snacks, bringing us to a grand total of roughly 12 hours of reading.

And this is really my last thought for the night, er, morning: Apparently reading makes me very, very hungry. OK, not quite hungry - craving sugar, to be more exact. I'm guessing I've gained a few pounds in just the last 24 hours. It's one of the perils of the job, kids.

Once again, good night for now.

July 21, 2007
Potter Blog: Oh. No.

Page 475: Yes, I actually yelled. Out loud. I wasn't expecting that at all. And I'm horrified that it happened.

Wow.

OK, deep breath. Must read 125 more pages tonight - it's time to hunker down and get serious.

But, still, wow....

Wow, food really does wonders, doesn't it? I'm fed and I'm ready to read.

Two hundred more pages to go before I can call it a night. At the rate I'm going, that's at least four hours. But, factor in another break or two, and we're probably looking at something more like five or six.

The good thing is that my husband's going to go out for the night. Not anything against him, of course (no, really!), cos the fewer the distractions, the better.

Besides, he keeps asking me, "What's happened now? Anyone die?"

He's just going to have to wait and find out that for himself. Sorry, dear.

Page 400. Whew. More than halfway through now...some answers but a lot more questions.

Like...what's the deal with Dumbledore? That's the thing that perplexes me the most. It's kind of upsetting. I'm very curious to see how that all shakes out.

Some very nail-biting moments, too. That one with the Horcrux? Yikes.

My eyes are pretty bleary now - time to go home and eat some dinner and recharge before diving back in. The goal is to reach page 600 before I go to bed. That would leave just a few more hours of reading Sunday morning.

Cups of coffee consumed: Two.

Total hours read so far: Eight and a half.

IMG_0066.JPGNow, that's better. The break took a little longer than I anticipated, but I'm now freshly showered and hunkered down at Espresso Metro.

I'm armed with a giant mug of hot coffee, some water, free AC and, of course, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

The goal: to read another 150-180 pages in the next three hours. And then, home again for another five hours of reading.

Before I left the house, my husband wanted to know if "anything big" had happened since I'd last updated him the night before. Not really anything major, I told him, but we seem to be working up to something.

So, onward.

July 21, 2007
Potter Blog: Break time

I think I'm going to have to rethink this whole 60-pages-an-hour calculation. It seems like I'm only doing about 50 pages an hour. Not sure why there's a slowdown this time around, but there you have it. I'm only 250 pages in!

Which means that (times 10, carry the one), I have roughly 10 more hours of reading left.

That's totally managable, right? My review isn't even due for another 26 hours. I think I can even squeeze in a nap later today. I wonder if it's just Muggles who nap - you never really read about Harry or Ron taking a power snooze.

Also, I should look on the bright side: the book is about 25 pages shorter than I thought it would be (759 pages instead of the widely reported 784), and I'm now approximately one-third of the way done.

(An aside: Very interesting development on that R.A.B. thing, don't you think?)

Cups of coffee consumed so far: Three, or roughly, one per hour.

Time for a shower - I'm feeling grimy.

Was that really the alarm? OK, I'm up, I'm up. And tired. But, ready to read. But, not ready to read any Potter-related stories. I'm officially on a self-imposed media blackout.

I don't even want to run the risk of reading between the lines and figuring something out just from how a story is reported.

But enough chitchat, I'm sure some kid somewhere has already started to re-read "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," so it's time for me to get moving.

First things first, though: Coffee!

I'm almost 100 pages in but seriously starting to lose focus. I had to reread the last page a couple of times for comprehension before realizing it was a lost cause.

But, this is what we have so far: A lot of action. Those of you (OK, me) expecting the usual chunk of backstory that Rowling typically starts her books with - well, not so much here. Very little, in fact. It's like she's saying, c'mon kids - we've been through this together for 10 years now, I expect you to keep up!

Also: There's already been some major death and mayhem. That's all I'm going to say on that little matter, however.

Goodnight for now.

avidreader1.jpgOK, well that kind of took longer than I thought it would. We arrived at the Avid Reader at approximately 11:40 p.m. And since I'd already paid for my copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," I headed over to the "pre-paid" line to pick up my pass.

Number 162!

I swear, there were at least four times the amount of people than when I did this two years ago.

It was kind of a chaotic scene - the folks at the Avid Reader had been showing one of the Potter films and kids were running around all crazy-like with the special glow-stick wands that came in the goody bags the bookstore was handing out.

Anyway, we finally got herded into one of four lines - the last line, of course - and after what seemed like forever, we finally got to head toward the bookstore entrance so that I could nab my copy.

That process was actually pretty fast, but what really surprised me is just how heavy J.K. Rowling's final Potter book feels in my hands. I mean, I knew it was 784 pages, but now the reality of having to read this whole thing by Sunday afternoon hits me like a giant brick.

Or a giant book - take your pick.

hpbookcover.jpgOn the way out, we ran into a friend who's come by to pick up the book for his wife and son. I donated my goody bag to him because, well, frankly, I won't have much time for coloring and stickers this weekend.

Too bad.

All right - 784 pages. Judging by my past experiences with these books, I think it'll take me approximately 13-14 hours (at 60 pages an hour) to read this one. Throw in some sleep, a shower, some food and I'll be golden.

At least that's the idea.

OK, it's 12:53 a.m. - time to get crackin'.

OK, just one hour left! I know, I know - if I were a true Potter fanatic, I'd already be in line down at the bookstore, ready to call dibs on my copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". But c'mon, I'm not a kid anymore - I need to rest up for these kinds of things!

Speaking of which, I just finished an iced coffee and I'm thinking some sugar would be good. All in all, however, I don't know if I'll stay up much later than 2 a.m. - it's just been that kind of a week.

Anyway, I'm heading over to the Avid Reader in just a half-hour. Hopefully I will survive the hysteria.

And, no, I am not wearing a Potter-themed costume, but thanks for asking.

potterlibrary.jpgWell, Harry Pottermania has clearly taken off in the Sacramento area, and with less than 12 hours until the book goes on sale, it seems everyone's got "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" on the brain.

In fact, I just got back from a trip to my longtime vet, the lovely Dr. Rose at Midtown Animal Hospital. And as Dr. Rose looked through my cat's chart, she said, "Hey, I read in the paper that you're going to be reading the whole book this weekend and blogging about it."

Yep.

Then she asked the obvious question: "Shouldn't you be at home asleep right now?"

Yep.

Actually, I'll be napping later this afternoon so that I'm bright-eyed come midnight (12:01 a.m. to be exact), when I pick up my copy over at the Avid Reader bookstore on Broadway.

Believe me, I'm pretty excited about finally adding the seventh and final Potter book to my collection but even though I've done this whole read-the-book-in-a-weekend thing twice before, the pressure's a little heavier this time around.

In previous years, I haven't had to file my review until Monday afternoon. This year? My review for that 784-page book is due by 3:30 on Sunday.

Sunday!

So, yeah, wish me luck and check back here over the course of the weekend to read my real-time book updates.

P.S. Dr. Rose and her husband will both be reading the book over the weekend, too. They're getting separate copies, in fact, so they don't have to deal with that pesky sharing issue. Smart move, I say. Lucky for me, my spouse is still a few books behind.

P.P.S. My cat, Sophie, is doing fine - just dealing with a few issues, the kind that seem to strike ladies of a certain age. Lucky for all of us, she's a real trooper.


Henry-Rollins.jpgOK all you Henry Rollins fans - this Friday the 13th is gonna be a lucky one for you. That's cos that is when - at 10 a.m. specifically - tickets for the iconic artist's Nov. 4 date at the Crest Theatre will go on sale.

Rollins, of course, used to be in the legendary punk band Black Flag and also has fronted his own Rollins Band. He's a prolific writer and poet and hosts "The Henry Rollins Show," a smart, funny and provocative mix of talk and guests that covers everything from politics and current events to movies and music. You can find that at 8 p.m. Friday nights on the Independent Film Channel.

His Crest show, btw, is part of Rollins' upcoming "Provoked Spoken Word Tour."

I've interviewed Rollins a couple of times and I have to admit that the first time, I felt plenty intimidated - I mean, come on - he was in Black Flag! He's also super-political and outspoken. You just don't want to trip up and say something stupid when you're talking to him, right?

Actually, wrong. Rollins, as it turns out, is a super-nice and polite guy. Which is not to say you don't want to be up on your current events and all when you talk to him - but, either way, his mama apparently brought him up right.

For example, Rollins once called in for an interview on his cell phone - he was on tour and phoning from the middle of nowhere. The connection was bad but he was game - which is more than I can say for a lot of celebs who get frustrated with bad cell connections and act like I'm in evil cahoots with their wireless carrier. (Hello, Lily Allen!). After we eventually got cut off for good, Rollins actually sent me a follow-up e-mail, apologizing for the technical difficulties and with the offer to answer any more questions via e-mail.

Like I said, nice guy that Rollins.

Anyway, the 411 on tickets: Like I said, they officially go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through the Crest box office (at 1013 K St.; call (916) 442-7378 for more info.). Or, get them via Tickets.com.

But, if you are a super-savvy fan, you might just want to head on over to that Web site, uh, now. Because maybe we've heard something about an Internet-only presale that's going on at this very second.

Which means that maybe today is actually your lucky day.


top model_AJ.jpgIt's been nearly a year now since A.J. Stewart was eliminated, but we're still smarting over the Sacramento native's untimely dismissal from "America's Next Top Model: Cycle 7."

Lucky for us fans, the one-time art student continues to log plenty of time in front of the camera. In fact, as her proud mama Robyn Boyer tells us, she's making a steady climb in the modeling world.

In addition to a slew of recent gigs in Asia (where ANTM is wildly popular), Stewart's featured in the July issue of "Supermodels Unlimited Magazine." It's a quarterly trade pub outta NYC and we're trying to get our hands on a copy to check out the article and images.

Stewart's also been busy trying to raise awareness about HPV - the human papillomavirus that can lead to cervical cancer. Stewart was diagnosed with HPV at age 18. You can watch Stewart talk about her experiences in a video over at the Cervical Cancer Facts Web site.

So Tyra Banks and Company may have kicked our hometown girl to the curb, but the rest of the world totally sees her potential. And we think that's fierce.

Kevin-Sharp.jpgIf you're headed out to Wednesday night's Sacramento Capitals event at Roseville's Westfield Galleria, here's a bonus: Redding native-turned-Nashville country singer Kevin Sharp will be kicking off the evening with a concert.

Sharp, in case you didn't know, is the survivor of a rare form of cancer who has balanced a steady music career with stints with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Hard not to like the guy, y'know?

He'll be performing at 6 p.m. and the tennis match, against the Houston Wranglers, starts at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10-$99; go here gocaps.net for more info.

June 29, 2007
Alert: Stolen band gear

OK, so I imagine this is not what we Sacramentans want to be remembered for. But on June 21, Oklahoma band Aranda played Old Ironsides to a small crowd, made $50 and, happy with even that amount, called it a night.

Then, the next morning, they realized all their gear had been stolen - a discovery that quickly put an end to their tour.

Among the missing items: a Yamaha p150 keyboard, various drums, including a Jeff Ocheltree Phantom Snare (14', black), and several Sennheiser microphones.

The complete list is too extensive to list here, but if you have any inkling of what may have happened or have further questions, contact the band, which is back home in Oklahoma City, via its MySpace page.

June 28, 2007
Serenading Sactown

Well, it only took several years for me to discover this clip - but then again, in my defense, I'm not much of a fan of wrestlers-turned-action heroes. Anyway, Sacto blogger Code Monkey just posted this clip of The Rock singing a song about Sacramento during a 2003 stop at Arco Arena.

Take a gander and, what the heck?, laugh along as he disses (in slightly blue language) the Sacramento Kings and just about everything else River City-related. Because if you can't take a joke ....

ford.jpg Here's a show that managed to slip past this week's deadline for "Coming Distractions":
Larry Carlton and Robben Ford Aug. 2 at the Crest Theatre (1013 K St.).

Carlton is a jazz-blues-fusion guitarist - he's played guitar with everyone from Joni Mitchell to Quincy Jones and Dolly Parton - who's made a name for himself with his eclectic solo work.

Ford is a renowned jazz-blues-fusion guitarist (catch the theme here?) who's played with the likes of George Harrison, Jimmy Witherspoon and Joni Mitchell. Oh, and yeah, he's also made quite the mark with his work.

To catch them together, make sure you're up by 10 a.m. Friday - that's when tickets ($39.50 and $69.50) go on sale through the Crest box office. Get them by calling (916) 442-7378, or checking out the Crest's Web site or Tickets.com.

Think you have an eye for the ultimate pin-up shot? No, we're not talking cheesecake, but lovely postcard-worthy images of your favorite city, Sacramento.

The Downtown Sacramento Partnership has just announced an open call to photographers for the 2008 Downtown Sacramento Calendar.

What you need to know:

* All entries are due by Sept. 7, 2007.

* All photos must be submitted via e-mail in digital format.

* Snail mail entries will NOT be accepted.

For more info, call (916) 442-8575 or e-mail dsp@downtownsac.org. Or check out the Web site.

... Craft mafia, that is. Or, more specifically, Sacramento Craft Mafia.

Don't worry, no one's gonna get whacked - except maybe a bolt of fabric.

The Sacramento Craft Mafia is a local collective of DIY crafters, artisans and all-around makers-of-cool-things. And, this Sunday, you'll get a chance to benefit from their crafty mischief.

Head on over to Willemina's Restaurant & Bar (1023 Front St., Old Sacramento) from 2-10 p.m. and check out "Get Made" - a "showdown" of hand-crafted goodness featuring jewelry, housewares, clothes and more from Sac's finest indie designers.

There'll be music, too, via the Tip Top Trio.

Bring cash, y'all. Credit cards are the epitome of corporate uncool.

tomine_newyorker.jpgIn case you've missed seeing the June 11 & 18 New Yorker (its summer fiction double issue) on newsstands, Sacramento expat Adrian Tomine did its charming, slightly melancholy cover (at right).

Tomine, a Rio Americano High School graduate, now lives in Berkeley and has made quite the name for himself via his "Optic Nerve" graphic novel series. This is the 32-year-old's third New Yorker cover.

True confession: When I was in my early 20s, I stumbled across an issue of "Optic Nerve" (I didn't even know Tomine was a Sacramento native at the time) and was so struck by just how darn cute the girl in the cover illustration was - thrift-store dress, cardigan, Mary Janes - that she immediately became something of a style icon for me.

Yes, I took my style cues from a comic book girl - what of it?

Anyway, I had the chance to interview Tomine a few years back for The Bee and found him to be quiet and shy but nonetheless friendly, funny and sweet. Just as I imagined the man behind such drawings would be.

I still love Tomine's work - both the illustrations and the stories. If you haven't read the poignant "Summer Blonde" (Drawn & Quarterly, $16.95, 132 pages), this collection of stories originally published as "Optic Nerve" issues 5-8 is a lovely peek into Tomine's Raymond Chandler-esque literary style.

A new book, "Shortcomings," is due this fall.

June 14, 2007
Deftones it on up

That Stockton Deftones show I told you about in Tuesday's Coming Distractions column now has a new date.

Scratch that "Deftones! Awesome!" notation off the July 3 space on the calendar and pencil it in on July 1 instead.

All the other info remains the same. Dir En Grey opens the show, which takes place at the Stockton Civic Auditorium. Tickets are $27.50 and available in Sac at Dimple Records and The Beat, and in Stockton at the Music Box and Replay Records. Or, get 'em online through StocktonTickets.com.

Seems like "American Idol" champ Kelly Clarkson's been everywhere lately, talking about everything to anyone who'll listen about that alleged clash with her record label boss Clive Davis (everything's fine, she says, thank you very much), her new record "My December" (Clarkson wrote much of it herself) and her love life (apparently non-existent).


clarkson_tour2.jpg
There's one place you won't see or hear Clarkson, however: the concert stage.

Following on the heels of a report that Clarkson has just fired her manager comes the news that the pop queen has shelved her summer concert tour, which included a stop in Sacramento. So, don't go looking for her on July 15 at Arco Arena.

Reason? It's plain and simple, according to the concert's promoter. Ticket sales were flatter than Sanjaya Malakar's voice.

"(T)icket sales have not been what we anticipated and we came to the realization that we had bit off more than we could chew," says LiveNation CEO Michael Rapino in a prepared statement. "In the end, we are in the Kelly Clarkson business and for that reason, we believe that this decision will only benefit her and her fans in the long run.”

Clarkson explains it this way on her Web site:

"I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to getting out there to perform for y'all. In the craziness of the music business, performing is what I look forward to doing the most, so it really is disappointing for me to have to tell you that I won't be coming out to tour this summer. The fact is that touring is just too much too soon. But I promise you that we're going to get back out there as soon as is humanly possible to give you a show that will be even better. Thanks for all of your love and continued support."

So there you are. Refunds are available at point of purchase.

June 13, 2007
'Good' news

Update on the Justin Timberlake front: The "SexyBack" singer is making an interesting departure on his latest tour, which arrives at Arco Arena on Sept. 10. Instead of going for the more obvious R&B or dance-pop opening act (i.e. Pink), Timberlake's tapped pop-punkers Good Charlotte to open his shows. (Super-producer Timbaland is also on the bill.)

Then again, maybe it's not that odd of a choice. Good Charlotte's got its own tween-pop fan base - singer Joel Madden used to date the squeaky clean teen pop singer Hilary Duff before moving on to his current squeeze Nicole Richie.

Anyway, mindless celebrity gossip aside, tickets are $56-$152.75 via Ticketmaster.

June 7, 2007
Greatest hits

It's time once again to start with those Second Saturday plans - and there are plenty of promising options out there this month.

Some possibilities I'm mulling include the Vox Cafe's shindig (at 19th and X streets) featuring art by the likes of James C. Collins and Charlotte Prince, plus music by Toronto Blessing. That starts at 6 p.m.

fisheyeview2.jpgAnd, of course, there's Sellout/Buyout at the Fools Foundation (in the basement at 19th & K streets) - this is the quarterly extravaganza where you show up with a fistful of cash and browse art, clothes, jewelry and crafts from a ton of local artisans.

Speaking of Sellout/Buyout - its host Olivia Coelho also owns the Olipom clothing store at 1115 21st St. Stop by there between 6-9 p.m on Saturday to check out Jyoti Alexander's "B Sides & Rarities" photography exhibit.

The 28-year-old Sacramento artist is heading off to art school shortly, but in the meantime you can peruse her slightly surreal portraits and still lifes - such as the slightly mind-bending "Fish Eye View," pictured at right. The show runs through July 12. You also can check out her MySpace page for another peek at her work.

As you may recall, I recently told you about KWOD 106.5's local band contest. You know, the one where 10 bands vied online for the chance to open the Summer Buzz show featuring the Bravery and the Kaiser Chiefs at the Memorial Auditorium?

dedc4.jpgWell, in case you missed the update in this week's Coming Distractions, we have a winner.

(Drumroll please.)

With more than 17,000 votes tallied, the alt.rock kids the Dead Celebrities snagged the biggest piece of the pie, which in turn earned them a 20-minute spot on the Memorial stage.

The show, which also will feature the Silversun Pickups and Shiny Toy Guns, starts at 5 p.m Sunday and costs $30. Get your tix by calling (916) 264-5181 or by heading over to Tickets.com.

June 5, 2007
Stone cold Daughtry

TRL-DAUGHTRY.jpg
The good people over at the California State Fair have just announced a few more concert acts, including KC & the Sunshine Band, Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom and what has to be the biggest boldface name in the entire series -"American Idol" reject turned mega-star Daughtry.

The bald rocker takes the stage Aug. 22, and although the concert is free with admission ($10 general, $8 seniors, $6 kids under 12, free for kids ages four and under), we know you are the ultimate Daughtry fan and want to catch the show from the "Golden Circle." In fact, you are so hard-core, you don't even blink at the idea of paying $59 to get within spitting distance of some stone cold Daughtry action.

(We're not judging - merely observing).

So here's the info you need, oh dear Daughtry addict. If you point your browser over to the State Fair site, you can sign up for their e-letter. Do this by Thursday, and they'll e-mail you a special access code that allows you to get in on some Saturday pre-sale action.

Otherwise, you're gonna have to mingle with the rest of us common folk and buy the tickets on Monday via Tickets.com.

May 29, 2007
Oh the horror!

I'll admit I'm kind of squeamish when it comes to horror films. Unless the effects are really campy and over-the-top (like, I want to have no doubts that that's fake blood squirting out of a totally and obviously fake body part). Otherwise, I'll probably spend the entire film peeking at the screen between my fingers. I'm more of a Hitchock thriller kind of girl, you see.

But you don't care about that - you are totally into horror films, campy or otherwise.

And that's why you aren't going to miss the Sac Horror Film Fest that's happening Thursday (that's June 7) at Willemina's Bar (1023 Front St. in Old Sac).

Hosted by Cinema Insomnia's Mr. Lobo, the fest promises "high weirdness" on 16mm film. Expect lots of B-movie goodness - gore, monsters, cleavage, bad acting.

It' starts at 9 p.m. and will cost you $8 at the door. Visit the SHFF MySpace page for more info.

May 22, 2007
Buzz-worthy

A while back, I told you about KWOD 106.5's Summer Buzz show featuring The Bravery, Kaiser Chiefs, Silversun Pickups and Shiny Toy Guns.

As I told you then, in addition to featuring all the headliners, KWOD is also hosting a contest for local bands and asked area artists to submit an entry for consideration.

The entries are now in and here are the 10 bands up for consideration:
UVR, Dead Celebrities, Rise of New Audio, Warp 11, Without Tomorrow, Eightforseaven, An Angle, Brilliant Red Lights, Jackson Road and Crash Avenue.

This is where you come in: Head over to Kwod.net and vote for your favorite. The winning band gets to open the Summer Buzz show.

Oh yeah, the show details: June 10 at the Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are $30 through TicketMaster.com.

miranda1.jpgEarlier this week, I got my happy little hands on a copy of Miranda July's new short story collection "No One Belongs Here More Than You" (Scribner, $23, 224 pages). I even put it in my weekly To-Do List.

Thursday, I had an assignment in San Francisco that required a lot of sitting around and waiting so, naturally, I brought my new book along for company.

If you're not familiar with July, she's the writer/director/actress behind 2005's wonderfully strange and sweet indie film "Me and You and Everyone We Know." July also plays music and writes for different publications.

"No One," which features stories previously published by the New Yorker, the Paris Review and Tin House, is her book debut, and the writing here is really fresh, funny and straightforward. And sometimes, just a little bit unsettling.

july_book2.jpgBut that's not the point here. The point is, there I am, sitting in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton reading "Majesty" - a story about a 46-year-old woman's obsession with Prince William. Yes, that Prince William - and suddenly, mid-passage, the narrator namechecks The Sacramento Bee. Yes, that Sacramento Bee.

This is how it went down:


I got out of bed and, as if I needed more evidence, I opened The Sacramento Bee, and there, in the World News section, was an article about Prince Charles' visit to a housing estate in Glasglow, a trip he he took with his son, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis.

I know - random. And yes, I checked The Bee archives for the story in question and no, I couldn't find it.

So, why then, The Sacramento Bee? Who knows? July spent much of her career in Portland and now lives in L.A. - but she did grow up only a stone's throw away from here, in Berkeley. Anyway, if anyone can more concretely connect the Miranda July/Sacramento degrees of separation, please let me know.

In the meantime, all I can say is this: The reference only fuels the fantasy I have of running into July at, say, the Temple Coffee House, and, of course, immediately becoming BFF.

I also know this: You should really read the book. Don't believe me? Everyone from David Byrne and Dave Eggers to Bust magazine has praised July's literary flair. She's that good. Check her out.

Second Saturday is coming up fast and I know how you are - already a million possibilities on your calendar. Well, here's one more thing to throw on it.

File this one under: Favorite new-ish (to me, anyway) local band that I've yet to see live.

Davis' Buildings Breeding is playing a Second Saturday show at Cuffs (26th & J streets).

Haven't heard 'em yet? Kind of electronica indie rock/pop. If that description doesn't quite wet your whistle, give the band a listen at their MySpace page.

Oh yeah, and there will also be art by Natasha, wine and snacks.

All that, and again, it's free.

Starts at 7 p.m. See ya there.

If you don't have any Cinco de Mayo plans yet for the weekend, here are two shows that might add a little spice to your life.

Both are at the Hard Rock Cafe (545 Downtown Plaza), and the first should be a real treat for local, uh, hard rock fans: Tesla's Frank Hannon, Dave Rude and Jeff Wheat on Friday, May 4. They'll each be promoting their own solo work and then, after the show, will stick around to sign guitars for a special benefit auction. The free, all-ages show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Then, on Cinco de Mayo proper (that's er, Saturday, May 5), it's "Mas Tequila" night with Dallas singer-songwriter Manny Trevin, plus plenty of festive cocktails. Proceeds from the night will benefit Fundacion Pies Descalzos, an organization dedicated to building and improving schools in Columbia as well as helping children there who are the victims of violence. The 21-and-over show also starts at 9:30 p.m and costs $6 at the door.

For more info: www.hardrock.com.

chkchkchk.jpg
Can I just say that, sometimes, a girl just needs to dance?

So thanks to !!! for giving me the perfect reason to shake it. Monday night's homecoming show for the Sacto expats was, once the band finally hit the stage, total funky fresh fun.

(Read my interview with !!! guitarist Mario Andreoni that ran in Sunday's Ticket+.)

Which is not to say that I didn't have my reservations going into the night - mostly because the show was at the Library, a venue not necessarily known for its superior acoustics.

(The club's somewhat grimy atmosphere is fine by me - in fact, I kind of miss the extra layers of dirt and graffiti that used to coat the place in its Cattle Club days. But, then again, clean bathrooms are always a plus. I guess it all balances out in the end.)

Also, there were two opening bands, which is usually fine and all - but seriously, how long did it take the second band to set up? Forever, that's how long, and then it took !!! another forever to set up before its headlining performance.

Those quibbles aside, once !!! started, it was nothing but Dance Party U.S.A.

As the band herked and jerked and sweated its way through songs such as "Pardon My Freedom," "Must Be the Moon" and "Heart of Hearts," much of the crowd danced along. My friends and I danced the entire 45 minute-plus set and I've now decided that my new workout is going to be an hourlong iPod dance-a-thon. I'm working on the playlist now and you can bet your sweet bottom dollar that it's going to be chockfull of !!!

It's good to see people not afraid to move at a rock show - I know I'm too often guilty of the stone-faced, arms-crossed stance and it felt good to shake that off.

Oh, and for the record, the Library's sound? Totally muddy. But !!! managed to break its way through the sonic goo with a healthy, kinetic dose of attitude and spastic energy.

April 30, 2007
I scream, you scream

Drumroll please ... Time to ready your tasting spoons - come Wednesday, it's Baskin-Robbins' 31¢ Scoop Night.

That's right. On Wednesday, from 5-10 p.m. and for just 31 cents per scoop, you can enjoy Jamoca Almond Fudge, Old Fashioned Butter Pecan or whatever your kid-like heart desires.

I mean, really, who doesn't love ice cream? It's cold, it's creamy and even if you're anti-dairy or anti-fat, you can still get that ol' ice cream feeling with some sorbet.

My personal fave: the simple and sweet Mint Chocolate Chip.

Proceeds benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. (Baskin-Robbins, fyi, also will donate a cool $100,000 to the organization).

Visit the Baskin-Robbins site for more info and store locations.

clarkson_tour.jpgThere's no release date yet for Kelly Clarkson's new album, "My December," so until then, we'll all just have to make do with a Kelly Clarkson tour.

Yep, the Texas native kicks off her U.S. tour at the July 7 Live Earth concert in New Jersey. And then, look for her in Sac on July 15.

More details later - as for now, I'm totally not ashamed to admit that I've got "Since U Been Gone" stuck in my head.

As I was TiVo-ing my way through "American Idol" Wednesday night, I couldn't help but think how Clarkson, the original "Idol" winner, really kind of kicks everyone's butt.

Like, she can pretty much out-sing, out-cute and out-charisma most of this year's contestants. I mean, maybe if you married Melinda Doolittle's vocal chops with Jordin Sparks' magnetic personality - then you'd have a contender. Just sayin'.

(By the way, for more on "Idol," check out my colleague Leigh Grogan's blog,
Idol Chatter.)

Well, I could lie to you and say that y'all are the very first peoples with whom I shared this info, but in reality, I e-mailed my bestest dance-party girlfriends the very nanosecond I heard that Justin Timberlake is, indeed, bringing his 2007 FutureSex/LoveShow world tour back to Arco.

The date: Sept. 10.

Yes, that is five months away. And no, I can hardly stand it.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday (that's April 28, to be exact). They'll set you back $56-$152.75.

If you head on over to JT's Web site, you may be able to dig up some pre-sale info (nothing's posted as of this moment, but they've been doing them for most major cities so it's worth a check back).

Or, just wait until Saturday and snap 'em up through TicketMaster.com.

April 23, 2007
Via Sacramento

Planning a trip to New York City in the next couple of months? If you are, here's one more activity worth squeezing in.

Esteemed Sacramento artist Fred Dalkey (husband to The Bee's art correspondant, Victoria Dalkey, of course) will have an exhibit at the Paul Thiebaud Gallery from May 8-June 23.

The "Life Drawings" show has another local connection - it was curated by the acclaimed Wayne Thiebaud (who, yes, is father to Paul Theibaud).

So if you find yourself in the Big Apple, the gallery is at 42 E. 76th St. Visit its Web site for gallery hours.

Excited about the upcoming “Spider-Man 3” film that hits theaters on May 4? Thought so, and here’s a little tidbit to hold you over.

My colleague, Bee film critic Carla Meyer, just got back from a L.A. press junket (jealous!!!) and not only did she get to attend a sneak preview of the hotly anticipated sequel, but she also got to attend a press event for the film. And who was at said press event? Yes, Spidey himself, Tobey Maguire (I am now, officially, consumed with jealousy).

Anyway, Carla e-mailed us a little candid peek:

“After five years of playing Peter Parker and Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire has learned that it’s better to maintain the Spidey illusion when approached by young fans.

When a little boy once asked him how he climbed buildings, Maguire responded truthfully, informing the kid that that on-screen buildings that appear vertical are actually horizontal, allowing Maguire to crawl across them.

“The kid was just, like, really bummed out,” Maguire said.

The actor then had to work extra hard to win back the kid’s favor. “But we ended up hugging," Maguire said with a grin.

So there you have it. Tobey Maguire – talented actor, hot action star and kid-friendly, too! Gotta love it. And I would, if I could just get that taste of bitter-green envy out of my mouth.


April 18, 2007
Triple whammy

OK, as I told you in Tuesday's Coming Distractions column, Def Leppard is playing Sept. 14 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

That's cool enough - in a musty, good memories sort of way - but now, it turns out that Foreigner and Styx also are on the bill.

Wow, talk about your nostalgia trip.

True story: First records I ever purchased with my own, hard-earned babysitting money were the "Grease" movie soundtrack and Styx's "Paradise Theater." I was in the fifth grade.

I also once owned Foreigner's "4" but lost the album after I left it under the gym bleachers during an assembly on my last day of the seventh grade. Bummer. I lost my Go-Go's "Beauty and the Beat" album that day, too, but I quickly replaced that one.

(Question to self: Why were you toting such highly unportable vinyl albums to school? Like they were going to let you rock out "Juke Box Hero" during English Lit? As if.)

And no, I don't currently own either the Foreigner or Styx albums on CD - although I do have some Def Leppard tracks on my iPod.

No details yet on ticket prices or when they go on sale, so stay tuned.

April 17, 2007
My chemical memories

I know you know April is National Poetry Month - and here's another way you can show some respect to this official celebration of word and thought.

"A Mimeo Gathering," which starts at noon Saturday at the Book Collector (1008 24th St.), takes a look back at that archaic form of mass communication - the mimeograph.

For those of you too young to remember, it's a '60s and '70s percursor to the copy machine and inexpensive computer printer. I remember them from junior high school when, in class, we received freshly mimeographed handouts, tests, etc. Decades later, I still recall how a stack of still-damp papers felt in my hand, how the ink was purple and smelled slightly sweet, in a chemical sort of way.

I'm not sure why I feel nostalgic about the paper on which I took an eighth grade English exam on "Animal Farm" - but I am.

OK, moving on - "A Mimeo Gathering" pays homage to the mimeograph as a cheap means of distribution for chapbooks, zines, etc. The event is part of the local Poems-for-All series hosted by the Book Collector's Richard Hansen. It's fitting really - Hansen is, of course, the guy who puts out those tiny "Poems-For-All" chapbooks. Ok, they're not mimeographed, but still, you get the spirit of the idea.

Here's a rundown of the readers:

At noon, check out Lob, James Lee Jobe, Josh Fernandez, Crawdad Nelson and Kevin Jones.

Then, at 8 p.m., take a seat for Sal Mimeo & the Process Rebels Without Applause Tour of Words.

Also on the bill: John Dorsey, S.A. Griffith and Bill Roberts.

For more information, call (916) 442-9295 or visit the Poems-For-All site.

Being the music geek that I am, I'm always on the Internet prowl for groovy music-related Web sites. A while back, I was hunting around the Net for stuff about local band Agent Ribbons and came across Muted and Tender.

It's an MP3 blog with downloads by artists, including Agent Ribbons, Norwegian pop singer Sondre Lerche and '80s throwback, the B-52s - and it just happens to be local. Well. Kind of.

The blog is run by artist Graciela Guardado, who attended UC Davis and now lives in L.A. Hey, makes her local to me. And, yes, that’s the same Concordia/Discordia artist whose work you’ve seen at the Fools Foundation gallery and in Exit Strategy magazine. So, if that doesn't make her local ....

Anyway, each download comes with a post about the song or artist - or sometimes just the feeling or memory that the music evokes. It's like reading someone's music diary - kind of intimate and personal.

Just wish they'd update more often. Please.

April 11, 2007
Can't. Look. Away.

If you haven't already been e-mailed the link to this site like, a million times, it's high time you checked out Truly Awful Stuff.

The blog is the brainchild of local comedian and writer Keith Lowell Jensen and his Hollywood pal Brett Wilson. And, well, the name kind of says it all.

Simply put, this is a place "dedicated to the truly awful things we've given each other over the years."

Intrigued? Sorry, but of the many items of questionable taste on display here, the only example my editor will probably let me tell you about is the "Easter Bunny's Headstone" lawn ornament.

Nice! Makes a person long for the understated kitsch of a hot-pink plastic flamingo.

That said, Truly Awful Stuff is like an Internet trainwreck - you kind of feel bad reading about (and looking at photos of) some of these items, but once you click there, it's really, really hard to click away.

And apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way, because after the Metafilter link portal spotlighted the site last week, Truly Awful Stuff has logged thousands of hits.

Which is truly cool.

As I mentioned a few weeks back in my Coming Distractions column, Placebo's coming to town - that would be April 25 at Harlow's.

Now, because I love y'all, I give you the chance to star in one of the London band's upcoming videos.

OK, so the video for "Running Up that Hill" won't be all you, all the time. (But, yes, that is a cover of the awesome Kate Bush song).

Rather, the idea is that you'll shoot a video of yourself singing the song, in its entirety, and if the folks in the band like what they see, they'll include you as part of the fan montage.

The contest is hosted by Motionbox, a personal video-sharing site. Go here to check out the contest's rules, download lyrics and upload your artistry. Hurry, the contest ends April 13.

Oh, and for more on the band's Sac show, visit Harlow's Web site.

ALLEN_LILY_CD.JPG
I will admit I went into Sunday night's Lily Allen concert with some low expectations. I mean, I love her album "Alright, Still," but this is her first major tour and, well, frankly, I'd read a couple of lukewarm reviews.

With that in mind, I was more than pleasantly surprised by her show at the Crest. (Read my Ticket+ interview with Allen here.) First of all, it was great to see someone who's only working her first U.S. single and album actually sell out a decent-sized venue like the Crest. Also, it was great to see such a mixed-age group - tweens and teens all the way up to a couple of gray hairs.

As for Allen herself, the 21-year-old London native wowed the crowd with some smokin' renditions of "Smile," "Knock 'Em Out," "LDN," and my personal favorite, "Everything's Just Wonderful." Oh yeah, and a killer take on Blondie's "Heart of Glass." Backed by a seven-piece band - including three horn players - the music leaned heavily toward the reggae and ska sounds that flavor her album. Cool by me because it gave the night even more of a party feel.

Now, some people in my group weren't totally enthralled with Allen's attire - a loose-fitting (OK, we'll say it: maternity) sundress worn over cut-off jeans and paired with a new pair of "trainers" (i.e., some white Air Jordans). I, however, was kind of charmed by her loopy style statement. Then again, maybe that was due more to Allen's sparkling, albeit potty-mouthed persona.

Really, don't all swear words sound better when uttered in a clipped British accent?

Anyway, fun show - she could've played longer (Allen clocked in at under 90 minutes), and word has it that she pretty much uses the same stage banter, word-for-word, show-to-show. But, whateves, she seemed to be in good spirits, was friendly to the enthusiastic crowd (including the, at times, overly zealous front-row attendees), and I woke up this morning humming a Lily Allen medley. Works for me.

March 26, 2007
Smosh hit

smosh2.jpgToday, YouTube announced the winners of its first-ever YouTube Awards and, frankly, I'm not at all surprised that locals Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox scooped up an award for Best Comedy Video.

Padilla and Hecox are the dynamic duo known as Smosh (I interviewed them last summer for The Bee) and in the last year or so, the Carmichael residents have been tearing up YouTube with their kinda-goofy, crazy-funny clips.

Anyhoo, Padilla and Hecox's clip for "Stranded" was the one that nabbed the YouTube award. (They're in good company, too - OK Go and the "Ask a Ninja" team also were honored. For a complete list of winners, go here.)

And, because awards mean attention, Padilla and Hecox are already getting some major notice. The pair appeared this morning on NBC's "Today" show. Jennifer Padilla, Anthony's stepmom, tells me that the pair got the good news Saturday but had to keep it top secret until today.

"We're all so thrilled and ecstatic and so proud of them," Padilla says.

Best of all, she adds, success hasn't spoiled them.

"They're still humble and polite and just want to keep doing what they're doing," she says. "They're just focused on putting out more videos."

For more on Smosh, visit Smosh.com or the pair's MySpace page.

March 22, 2007
On the Record Club

recordclub.jpgSo this was the dilemma: It was Wednesday night - an evening usually spent with friends, going to dinner, catching up and then getting catty with "America's Next Top Model." (Oh, shut it -you know you love hating on The Tyra). And then, of course, there's "Lost." I wait all week for a new episode, and this week's was supposed to be a killer, what with the whole "John Locke wheelchair mystery" finally to be answered.

I love my "Lost" more than just about anything so you have to know that - TiVo or no TiVo - it takes something pretty special to get me out of the house on a Wednesday night.

That said, I really didn't want to pry myself off my friend's couch at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday night but - and this is what we call total disclosure - my husband's band was playing at the Press Club (21st and P streets). Now, I'm not the kind of wife who feels the need to attend her spouse's every show (and good thing, too, because he's in three bands), but this was part of Roger Carpio's new-ish Record Club.

Carpio is, as you may already know, one half of the team that brings you Old Ironsides' Tuesday-night Lipstick dance party.

Record Club is part show, part dance night - think live bands with DJ sets wedged in between the acts - and the vibe is totally laid-back and congenial.

As we hung out, sipping on drinks, I caught myself at several points doing that sort of unconscious foot shimmy. You know, the one where you're deep in conversation with someone but then you realize that your feet and hips are moving around as if they're off in their own private dance universe?

Anyway, long story short, the bands were great, but the atmosphere is really what made it all worth missing "Lost" for. Carpio's got an ear for unpretentious, dance-worthy music, and the Press Club is light years improved from the place we used to call the "Depressed Club." It's clean and shiny and friendly. Sure, the stage is kind of awkwardly angled in a corner, yet somehow it works. Probably because, unlike in the '90s, when the band played beneath cartoons of big-busted women, I am no longer distracted by a smelly bathroom or all the fights breaking out on the sidewalk. Say what you will about the evils of gentrification, but I like the new Press Club a whole lot better than the old one. I'm in my 30s now and grime no longer really holds a certain charm for me - just sayin'.

Oh, one more important thing: the Record Club is actually and officially held on the first and third Sundays of the month, which means that, next week, I don't have to have the inner "Lost vs. Dance" debate. So, this coming Sunday, check out Goldenboy and Agent Ribbons.

Carpio's also hosting a show with the Smiths tribute act This Charming Band on Friday night at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra) as well as a pre-Apples in Stereo DJ set on Saturday night, also at the Blue Lamp.

See you there.

P.S. Do not even THINK about posting "Lost" spoilers in the comments - I'm watching it the second I get home today.

March 16, 2007
For the Tim and Faith-ful

PEOPLE-MCGRAW-HILL.jpgIn Tuesday's Coming Distractions column, I told you that those Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert tickets were going on sale Saturday.

Well, turns out that was a L-I-E (why is it that when I write country music-related entries I suddenly feel as if I'm penning a Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn song?)

The publicity types got their info all messed up. So if you wake up all early-like tomorrow to try and buy into the country couple's Soul2Soul Tour 2007 (set to hit Arco Arena on Aug. 6), you're just gonna end up with a broken heart and wasted morning. (See what I mean?)

The tix are actually and for reals going on sale next Saturday, March 24. But I'm told all the other particulars remain the same: On-sale time: 10 a.m.. Cost: $49.75-$89.75.

March 15, 2007
Squirrely

ar_m.jpg I love thrift stores almost as much as I love music, so this is kind of like my dream blog entry. Random, but a dream nonetheless. Anyway. Earlier this month, I spent the afternoon interviewing the women of Agent Ribbons (pictured at right), an up-and-coming local pop duo. (Read my story in Weekend Ticket.)

Singer Natalie Gordon and drummer/multi-instrumentalisit Lauren Hess live in (separate) apartments in a Victorian that sort of straddles that downtown/midtown cusp. And while hanging out in Gordon's upstairs apartment -with its crazy-yet-fun assortment of vintage furniture and accessories, I could tell that these two obviously love the thrift like I love the thrift.

Besides, they personally handcraft all of their CD covers using vintage charms, fabrics and photos - so of course they know and love secondhand stores.

Anyway. On my way to see them, I noticed a small SPCA thrift store a few blocks away from them and asked Lauren if she'd ever checked it out.

"It's awesome," she says.

All the ringing endorsement a diehard thrifter ever needs.

I headed over and started checking out the goods. Among my scores: a 1950's cheese board with a cute, Mary Blair-esque illustration; a 1953 Better Homes & Garden magazine, and a pretty jewelry box.

But my real find came when, digging into a rack of "sewing and craft supplies" (or so the sign told me), I came across a big plastic bag filled with squirrels.

No, really, squirrels. Not live ones, silly, but two-inch-high creatures fashioned out of shellacked walnut shells, pipe cleaner and paint.
There must've been a dozen of these little critters staring back at me through the bag.

419531082_9c88c6c8e9_m.jpg Best of all? The label read, in all earnestness, "Bag of Squirrels $1.98."

I get a kick thinking about the SPCA thrift store worker (they're all volunteers there, by the way) who wrote that label and then decided on the squirrels' monetary worth.

And, although I had absolutely no idea what I might do with a Bag of Squirrels, I snapped them up without hesitation. Gleeful with my "thrift score," I e-mailed Lauren the next day.

Her reply?

"No way!!! I was going to buy that bag of squirrels but I thought to myself, 'I don't need this whole bag of squirrels....' I'm glad you picked them up and now they are in a good home! Could I bother you to spare one??"

But, of course! I'll be taking one to Lauren when I go see Agent Ribbons play Friday night at Old Ironsides (9 p.m., yo, at 1901 10th St.). I'm kind of secretly hoping the little guy ends up on a future Agent Ribbons CD cover.

Now, the funny thing is, seems like everybody suddenly wants a squirrel. Whenever I repeat this story, it inevitably ends with the other party - co-workers, friends, whomever - declaring that, hey, they, too, need a squirrel.

And, really, who doesn't? Could be my best find, ever.

March 12, 2007
Norm!!!

12AngryMenTour068.jpg It's almost too perfect. Guy walks into my favorite neighborhood bar and - guess what? - turns out to be Norm from "Cheers."

The only thing that makes this less-than-amazing is the fact that I was not there to witness George Wendt - a.k.a. Norm from the long-running sitcom "Cheers" - rock out to live music Sunday night at Old Ironsides.

Club manager Kim Kanelos tells me it was really as awesome as it sounds. Wendt (pictured here, at left, with fellow TV alum and current co-star Richard Thomas) is in town, appearing as the foreman in the Broadway Series production of "Twelve Angry Men."

When he's not busy being all actor-like, Wendt says he relaxes by taking in local clubs, bars and restaurants. He especially loves indie rock (who knew?!), he told Kanelos, who adds he was "totally into" the show, which included Cuesta Drive and San Diego band Transfer.

Best of all Wendt, who ordered a Red Horse Ale, was friendly and more than approachable - although wisely, Kanelos says she put the kibosh on the doorman's plans to prompt a club-wide cheer of "Norm!!!"

"As if he's never heard that one before!," she says.

So true.

And yes, Wendt sat at the end of the bar - could it be any other way?

Oh, and "Twelve Angry Men" plays at the Community Center Theater (1301 L St.) through Sunday. For more info: (916) 264-5181. And to read the four-star review by The Bee's very own Bruce Dancis, go here.

March 7, 2007
Get amplifier-ed

CMA-AWARDS.jpg OK, Brad Paisley fans, I'm posting this now so you don't have to wait until Tuesday's Coming Distractions column because then you'd be all like doh! and I'd be like oops, sorry! and there'd be that awkward tension between us and, well, anyway - you know what I'm getting at.

What I'm getting at: Paisley (pictured, left, at the 2006 Country Music Awards) is arriving May 19 at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre and tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday via TicketMaster. They'll set you back between $20-$49.75.

If you don't want to use the dot.com for your ticketing needs, just dial (916) 649-8497.

Paisley's Bonfire & Amplifiers tour also includes Jack Ingram, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift.

February 26, 2007
On Beyonce, Abigail and Oscar

KNOWLES-BLOG.jpgWorking the Oscars Sunday night - here's proof that I toiled the evening away - mostly meant eating a lot of food, wishing that my office TV had TiVo, and trying to contain the snark as I channeled random thoughts into blurbs.

Some caffeine-fueled brain flashes didn't make it into the paper:

* If Beyonce's as bitter about her non-nomination as all the tabs would have us believe, then the girl deserves an Oscar for Best Game Face. Seriously, Beyonce's winning smile when J-Hud snagged her Best Supporting Actress award made us sorry we'd ever doubted the ever-lovely B-Yon (pictured, right). Also, I think I'm in the minority here, but I liked her seafoam green dress. Then again, she looks great in just about anything. So jealous.

* Watching Ryan Seacrest handle E!'s red-carpet duties just confirmed that he's truly the heir to Dick Clark's genial media throne. Seacrest makes kissing up to celebs and consoling "American Idol" losers look easy. Billy Bush should take notes.

* "Little Miss Sunshine's" Abigail Breslin seems refreshingly normal - especially if you compare her to that other pre-teen phenom, Dakota Fanning. I mean, I kinda liked that Breslin, nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category, looked bored during the ceremony - she even slumped down in her seat at one point. Really - if you were 11, wouldn't you be bored too? (Except for those moments, of course, when say Ryan Gosling or Jack Black saunters by).

* Anna Nicole Smith dissed! What, films such as "Illegal Aliens" and "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" weren't high class enough to earn Smith a spot in the annual Dead Celebrities montage? So not cool.

* BFFs Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts - what were you thinking? Alone, each actress's dress was something of a disaster - Kidman's with that giant bow, Watts' with that sloppy, sloping neckline - but standing next to each other? I'm still recovering from the satorial shock of seeing Kidman's flame red paired with Watt's canary yellow during a pre-show carpet stroll. The horror.

* Gwyneth Paltrow - we get it. You're smart and classy and know how to pronounce words better than we ever will. Fine. Whatever. But stop acting like you already know this and are, just for kicks, rubbing it in. It's just not nice.

That's it, at least until next year - anyone want to start making bets on the 2008 winners?

February 21, 2007
Police patrol

I know a lot of you out there are excited about the upcoming Police reunion tour (me, I can't stop thinking about how buff and yoga-ed out Sting looks for a guy who could be my dad).

Anyway - there's still no word of a Sacramento stop, but the band is expected to announce any second now the addition of a few new dates including Oakland's McAfee Stadium on June 13.

I suggest you head over to the Police's official tour Web site- if you want tickets, you're gonna have to act fast.

February 16, 2007
'Til Tuesday

This one's still a few days off, but what with the extended weekend (extended, that is, if you're lucky enough to get President's Day as a holiday), we thought it'd be good to give you an advance heads-up.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, local author/poet/screenwriter Terry A O'Neal will visit Franklin High School to help the school celebrate and observe Black History Month.

Born and raised in Stockton, O'Neal is the author of several children's, young adult and family-oriented books, such as "Ev'ry Little Soul" and "Sweet Lavender." O'Neal is also the founder and executive director of Lend Your Hand Inc., Educating The World's Children, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping kids across the globe.

O'Neal will speak to students from 8-11 a.m. at Franklin High (6400 Whitelock Parkway, Elk Grove). For more info, call (916) 714-8150.


February 15, 2007
No fooling ...

My favorite indie underground (literally) art/music space has a lot coming up in the coming weeks.

Just consider the calendar for the Fools Foundation (located in a basement at 1025 19th St.).

Tonight, get psyched with provocative Texas rock band Charalambides. Also on the bill, two Seattle bands, Climax Golden Twins and Factums. The all-ages show starts at 9:30 p.m. and is $8 at the door.

Then, next Friday, Feb. 23, as part of its weekly film series (co-sponsored by the folks at Shiny Object), the Foundation hosts a Media That Matters film festival featuring 15 shorts - each one clocks in under 8 minutes - that cover everything from race and sexism to food choices and, yes, the media. Each film was produced by a young and/or indie filmmaker. The set starts at 7 p.m. and costs $5.

The Fools Foundation also has a new weekly Sunday film series; on Feb. 25, check out "The Most Dangerous Game." This intense 1932 film starring Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong is about what happens to the sole survivor of a yachting accident.

It also happens to be the same film that figured rather prominently in the Zodiac serial killer case. Yes, the same case that's the subject of the upcoming Jake Gyllenhaal/Robert Downey Jr./Mark Ruffalo film "Zodiac" - that movie opens on Feb. 23, two days before this screening. Could make for a good movie-going weekend. (Read my previous "Zodiac" post).

"The Most Dangerous Game" screens at 3 p.m. (which means you could still make it home in time for that night's Oscar broadcast) and costs $5.

Check out the Fools Foundation's Web site for info on additional shows, movies and art exhibits.

February 14, 2007
Love songs and cupcakes

It's Valentine's Day and if you're not already maxed out on your fill of all things romance, flowers and chocolate (as if), then how about a suggestion for some ultra-cool Sweethearts Day festivities?

Tonight, Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.) hosts its annual Crooning Couples show, featuring Sacramento's finest musical couples performing sweet and/or saucy love songs.

Among the scheduled acts: Tim & Gerri (of Baby Grand), Amber & Sam (Spider Silk Dress), Kortnee & Ted (The Devastates), and Sonny & Lynn (Daycare/The Skirts).

The 21-and-over show starts at 8:30ish and costs $6 at the door. Oh, and we hear that the club's lovely mainstay Kim Kanelos is baking cupcakes for your Valentine's Day noshing pleasure. Sweet!

February 5, 2007
Bee minus

Just got back from a screening of the upcoming film "Zodiac" starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo.

The story, to bring you up to date, is based on the chilling saga of the Zodiac Killer - a serial killer who terrorized citizens of San Francisco, Vallejo, Benicia and Napa between Dec. 1968 and October 1969. The Zodiac Killer case stretched out much longer than that, though, as the killer sent a series of jeering letters to the press throughout the '70s.

One frequent recipient of the letters? San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery, who just happened to work at The Sacramento Bee during the '80s.

I couldn't help but laugh out loud during the screening when a crusty news reporter-type makes this snide remark about Avery in the movie: "It's an honor to leave the Chronicle and go work at The Sacramento Bee. Dare to dream."

Avery died in 2000 and, while I don't want to take anything away from the film - and it is a good one - I think it's hilarious (if not quite funny ha ha) that Sacramento still gets jammed into S.F.'s shadow.

Check out the Zodiac site to learn more about the film, which is scheduled to hit theaters on March 2.

And keep a watch out for our Ticket+ cover story, coming soon.

February 1, 2007
Let there be 'Potter'

It's official - the seventh and final (boo!) Harry Potter book just got a release date.

J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will go on sale Saturday, July 21.

The list price is a hefty $34.99, but I've already pre-ordered my copy from Amazon for just $18.99. Last time (way back in the olden days of 2005), I bought my copy at the now-shuttered Tower Books on Broadway. I imagine, however, that even with Tower gone, you can still find that I'm-standing-in-line-at-midnight-with-other-Potter-maniacs feel at local bookstores.

Me? I'm fine with letting the postman do the heavy lifting. That way, I can save my energy for some marathon reading. (As you may recall, I chronicled those sessions for The Bee.)

No page count for the latest book has been released yet, but I'm guessing this final tome is gonna be gin-nor-mous.

January 24, 2007
Adorably affordable

I'll admit it - I like the cheap. Thrift store clothes and flea market finds, used record bins, the super-duper sale rack at Macy's (where the stuff's gotta be at least 50 percent off the regular price before I'll even browse).

Enter local jewelry crafter Handmade Luck. With whimsical names such as "Hearts Afire," "Starry Night" and "Sleep With the Fishes," the bracelets, necklaces and earrings are crafted out of brightly colored beads, trinkets and wire. Check out the rocker-chic guitar pick earrings ($6.50).

The prices are already criminally cheap - $5-$15 - and now through Feb. 11, you can enjoy a special Valentine's Day sale: $1 off each item. Visit the shop's MySpace page for more shopping info.

January 22, 2007
Building blocks

Need a new music fix? Check out Davis' own Buildings Breeding; the electronica-tinged indie pop band has a new CD in stores Tuesday.

The self-titled record, out on Mushpot Records, was mixed, in part, by Aaron Prellwitz (Sun kil moon, Hella) at John Vanderslicke's Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco.

So far I've only heard a few of the band's songs on their MySpace page. But, hey, so far, so good - songs such as "Stars are Smitten" and "Emmawood" are pretty without being precious.

Buildings Breeding is planning a tour, as well as a stop at this year's South By Southwest in March.

Check 'em out.

January 4, 2007
Hooray for Hollywood

Our pal, Sacramento expat Amber Kloss, has a new online gig. Kloss, who recently moved to L.A. - she tells us she's now living in Punky Brewster's old Silverlake home. Awesome - to pursue a career in show biz.

Here in Sac, Kloss is probably best known for her work with the I Can't Believe It's Not Comedy troupe. Now, the B-movie horror fan is angling to become Hollywood's next Scream Queen.

In the meantime, in addition to the usual spate of commercials and print ads, Kloss is starring, with co-host Miles Miniachi, in a weekly Web program, The Movie Review Show.

It's a mix of film reviews, Hollywood gossip, interviews and just plain silly fun. Among the people and topics covered in the first episode: Nicole Richie, Tori Spelling, "Borat," and Mel Gibson.

Yep, we love it already.

If you haven't checked out the new True Love Coffeehouse (2315 K St.) yet, here's another reason to. Tonight, singer-songwriter Anton Barbeau moves his weekly showcase to Wednesdays. The showcase was previously held on Monday nights, which, in my humble opinion, are one of the least best nights to go out - what with still recovering from the weekend and all.

Just a note of caution: If you haven't already been to the new digs, well - they are a bit on the small side. The building itself is actually quite large (and the back patio is downright ginormous), but when it comes to the room where bands and artists play, it's a rather odd set-up in a room that's smaller than many bedrooms I've had. It's also kind of closed off from the rest of the cafe.

Basically, what I'm trying to say here is, get there early if you want to get a decent seat. If you're not actually in the music room, then you'll be listening from afar.

That said, here are the details: Anton Barbeau performs at 8 tonight. The show is free and all-ages. For more info, check the cafe's MySpace page.

December 29, 2006
The year in song

One of my many (and I do mean many) New Year's resolutions is to get out and see more live bands and to buy more live CDs.

I'm thinking it'll be an easy one to keep because 2006 turned out a ton of great live shows and discs.

Here's an informal list of a few of my faves. And, no, they don't include my husband's bands - cuz you know I can't officially brag about them even if I do think they're both the most awesome-est ever. (If you know me, you know which bands I'm talking about; if not, just be assured that they are, indeed, awesome.)

Anyhoo, on to the other local stuff I loved this year:

Pets: They've been a blast anywhere and anytime I've seen them. This duo is fun and fresh. They always look like they're having fun, too, and they pretty much double dog dare you to try and not dance along. Their debut CD "Pick Up Your Feet" pretty much stayed in my car's CD player for a month straight.

Agent Ribbons: This new duo really seemed to come out of nowhere and to impress just about everyone. With Natalie Gordon on vocals and guitar/banjo, and Lauren Hess on drums, Agent Ribbons puts a modern edge on old-timey-sounding folk-pop. Love it. Plus, their handcrafted CD cases are just too darn adorable.

The Little Medusas: This three-piece makes me wish I could go back in time and convince my teenage self to put down the TV remote and pick up the guitar. Featuring DinoGirl and Whitless - both 17-years-old - along with Goovie Ghoulies frontman Kepi on drums is just pure pop-punk fun. Seriously, I can't get their song "Zombie" outta my head.


BLF_taco.jpg
Bright Light Fever: These guys (pictured at right) are still really green but they make some supercharged indie rock and I'm curious to see how far they'll go.

The Helper Monkeys: Speaking of green - or bands that used to be - I remember seeing Panda Bear Greens wayyyy back in the day when they were just, literally, kids. Now it's fun to see what they grew up to be. Well, kind of. The Helper Monkeys may feature former members of PBG, but they're not really any more grown-up - and that's the fun.

The Devastates: Ted Angel, Kortnee Randall, Danny Secretion and Keith Lionetti make purdy country twang with a slight punk twist. It's like George Jones and Tammy Wynette for a new generation.

Danny Secretion: Speaking of Danny - I love the Secretions but I really love Danny's solo sets - his stuff reminds me a lot of Elvis Costello or Dwight Twilley...if they were writing about zombies and vampires.

An Angle: I'll admit I didn't love this band the first several times I saw them live - they reminded me too much of Bright Eyes and, while I love Bright Eyes, I don't necessarily love a band that comes along later and sounds like them. Then I saw a few more shows and then I really heard their song "Green River" and I was persuaded to join the legion of Sacto fans.

Army of Trees: I've only seen this band once but so far I like their brand of smart power-pop rock. Plus, they're super-nice guys. That always wins points in my book.

OK, that's it for now - send me local band suggestions and help me keep at least one of my 2007 resolutions.

December 21, 2006
Getting Smosh-ed again

smosh.jpg Speaking of our Smosh pals - the two budding film auteurs just got majorly namechecked.

The Dec. 25 issue of Time magazine just published a blurb on Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox (both based in Carmichael), dubbing them "the Saturday Night Live of YouTube."

Awesome.

Read the article here.

And, while you're at it, visit Smosh's MySpace page to download an MP3 of their new song "Boxman Christmas."

KG-FILM-GUYS-2.jpgIn August, I wrote about Smosh, two Carmichael guys who have conquered YouTube with their goofy, witty homemade videos. Said videos feature pals Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox either dancing and lip-syncing to kids' TV show theme songs or singing their own songs. One of their clips - "The Pokemon Theme Music Video," to be exact - is one of YouTube's most-viewed videos ever.

Fast forward to the present and the Smosh guys have uploaded a new video for you - just in time for the holidays.

The clip for Boxman's Christmas (also available at Smosh.com) is the heartwarming story of a, uh, lonely box who escapes near death (box cutter- wielding thugs) and, of course, discovers the true meaning of the holidays.

There's a rap, a lot of snow, danger, holiday lights and ... well, you kind of have to just watch it for yourself if you want to understand the worldwide phenomenon that is Smosh.

December 19, 2006
It's a Chrismukkah miracle!

What do you get when you mix the cold, hard commercialization of Hanukkah with the cold, hard commercialization of Christmas? A totally warm and fuzzy seasonal celebration called Chrismukkah

Chrismukkah, made most famous perhaps by "The O.C." (shut it - I love that show), is actually an age-old tradition. According to a 2005 exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Berlin, the practice dates back to German Jews in the late 1800s (i.e., my ancestral peeps) and was originally known as "Weihnukka."

OK, end of history lesson. This is what you need to know today: Our friends over at Lipstick (i.e. DJs Shaun and Roger) are mixing things up with the Lipstick Chrismukkah Party tonight. Rock on over to ye Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.) and get free cookies, candy canes and non-alcoholic eggnog.

Also in your Chrismukkah stocking: New tunes by LCD Soundsystem, Of Montreal, the Long Blondes and the Blow.

Party starts at 9 p.m. and admission is free before 10 p.m. After that, it'll set you back a whopping $3. Sorry kids, it's 21-and-over only.

December 15, 2006
+44, plus more

Natomas is going MTV this weekend with a visit from +44. The punk band, which features ex-Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, is playing the Boardwalk on Sunday (get the details at the club's Web site), but before the music starts, the band'll have a little meet-n-greet at the Natomas Tilly's store (3642 North Freeway Blvd.).

Tilly's, for the uninformed (read: me up until about five minutes ago), is an "action-branded" retail chain that caters to the kids, stocking shoes and accessories from the likes of Paul Frank, Roxy, Converse and Fly Girls. Think of it as a sort of Hot Topic for the surf- or- skate-enthused teen.

Anyhoo, back to the band: +44 will visit Tilly's from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday and fans will have a chance to win four tickets and a press pass to that night's show. Other prizes will include a +44 skate deck, an autographed CD and a Tilly's gift card.

Maybe you should head over and get in line now.

December 15, 2006
This one's a slam-dunk

The Sacramento Kings may be, to put it gently, stinkin' up the court these days, but sometimes, what they do off the hardwood is just as noteworthy. Maybe even more so.

'Tis the season for giving, and this year, Maloof Sports & Entertainment (the Kings' parent company, y'all) has teamed with Safeway for the fifth annual "Season of Giving" campaign.

What this means for an avid Kings fan such as myself is the chance to check out some of my favorite tall guys doing something other than the standard dunk, rebound or pass.

As part of the campaign, my not-so-secret-anymore crush, Brad Miller, took 25 kids from Big Brothers/Big Sisters shopping at Toys "R" Us on Wednesday. And on Sunday, you can check out my other secret crush, point guard Mike Bibby, as he treats 30 Serna Village kids to a holiday shopping spree, this time at Target.

Serna Village is a transitional housing project for the homeless and most of the kids who'll be hanging out with the Team Dime leader are in foster programs. (Bibby and the Maloofs will be in good financial company, with Wells Fargo making matching contributions.)

The shopping spree will run from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Target near Arco Arena (3601 North Freeway Blvd, to be exact).

Look for more Kings goodwill later in the week, with Ron Artest, Corliss Williamson, Kevin Martin and others donating time and presents to kids at Shriners, a Hmong women's association, Centers for Fathers & Families, and the Sacramento Children's Home.

Now if the Kings could only squeak a win past the Utah Jazz tonight, I might really believe there's a Santa Claus.

So Christmas is less than two weeks away and guess who's only bought, like, one present so far?

Yep. Me. Every year, it's the same ol' song and dance: Sometime around Halloween, I tell myself that I'm going to have all of my shopping done by the first of December.

And then, sometime around - oh, let's just say now - I realize that I've only crossed one name off my list. Compounding matters is the fact that I hate shopping malls with a fiery passion.

Grrr.

That said, retroCRUSH, one of my favorite local Web sites, has compiled a handy holiday shopping guide that'll keep you far, far away from the madding crowds. From nifty '80s tees to weird little action figures and statues, there's not a tie, pair of slippers or boring old scarf in the bunch.

December 12, 2006
Some sweet news... .

gwenstefanicover.jpgThumbing through the booklet for the new Gwen Stefani CD, "The Sweet Escape," the other day and guess what slipped out?

Yep, a tiny insert card announcing the platinum blonde's 2007 tour.

And yep, it looks like Ms. Stefani will be bringing her new yodeling act to the Sleep Train Amphitheatre on April 18.

While I'm not really sold on Stefani's new Michelle Pfeiffer-in-"Scarface"-meets-"The Sound of Music" act...well, the idea of a live Gwen show is, nonetheless, still sweet.

Stay tuned.

JC-CHASEZ.jpg
So let's say you're a JC Chasez fan and you just happen to want to hear the former Mousketeer-turned-'N Sync member right here in the River City.

Well, I can't say much more than this, but the oh-so-handsome Mr. Chasez is rumored (with an emphasis on I'm not spilling any details) to be in Sactown on Saturday.

Oh yeah, and he's got a new album coming out in '07, which features a single "Until Yesterday" that was co-written and co-produced with my secret pop idol crush, Justin Timberlake.

Want more info? I suggest you skim your radio dial Saturday...Sorry I can't share more than that. But, it's more fun this way, right? Right.

And your bank account will be, too, if you follow my shopping advice and bid on this 1966 Velvet Underground & Nico Acetate LP.

What? The $124,000-plus just kills your holiday budget? Well, consider this: According to the folks over at Saturn Vinyl, the Oakland-based record store behind this eBay auction, this is 12 inches of one-of-a-kind vinyl. You thought Velvet Underground & Nico was the legendary New York band's first album? Think again - this LP is actually the real deal.

An article in this month's Goldmine magazine and posted on the eBay auction page explains how the phenomenon first came into play:

In September of 2002 Warren Hill of Montreal Canada was perusing a box of records at a Chelsea, New York, street sale when he happened upon a nice Leadbelly 10" on Folkways, a water damaged copy of the first Modern Lovers LP on Beserkely, and a brittle 12" piece of acetone-covered aluminum with the words "Velvet Underground. 4-25-66. Att N. Dolph" written on the label. He purchased the three records for 75 cents each.

As the article goes on, this acetate pressing, recorded in a studio with "ghost producer" Norman Dolph and VU pal Andy Warhol, represents the band's first album "as Andy Warhol intended it to be released."

In other words, the current going auction rate of $124,740.50 is a real steal.

November 22, 2006
Plenty to be thankful for ...

Ah, Thanksgiving Eve - the night before the big feast. Shouldn't this day be just as big of an event as Christmas Eve?

I think so - after all, what better way to ramp up into the 2006 Holiday Season?

And I don't mean by watching "America's Next Top Model" - set the TiVo and enjoy the show Thursday while you're waiting for the Tofurky to roast.

Instead, get out of the house tonight for Old Ironsides' annual pre-Thanksgiving show. This year's lineup is a blockbuster one with Jackpot, An Angle and Ghosts of California.

All this for just $10 - and not a nosy relative in sight. Show starts at 10 p.m. and is 21-and-over only.

Visit the Old I site for more info.

November 15, 2006
True Love always finds a way

As I had mentioned in Tuesday's Coming Distractions column, the True Love Coffeehouse returns today! In fact, festivities commenced just minutes ago. I, for one, am super-duper excited that owners Kevin and Allyson Seconds have resurrected their popular cafe.

HA-EXTERIOR.jpg As you may recall, the old TLC shut down about two years ago after the Seconds lost the lease on the building.

Now, they're in a new locale just around the corner, at 2315 K St. Doors opened at 5, with an art show featuring works by Kep from the Groovie Ghoulies, and live music with Anton Barbeau and Bobby Jordan.

Getting the True Love back - finally - brings back a lot of wonderful memories of the old digs (pictured in a shot by The Bee's Hector Amezcua). There's the time that Allyson threw Kevin a big birthday bash and the whole cafe surprised him with a cake and a rowdy round of "Happy Birthday." That was right after the cafe opened in 2001 and I think everyone was still really giddy about the place, with its couches, tiny wood tables, artwork and games - a real home away from home.

Then, that first summer, it seemed like I spent every other waking hour there. The back patio was the perfect place to enjoy an iced coffee and the cool Delta breeze. Sometimes I'd just order a small salad and sit on the couch in the front of the cafe and people watch.

Of course, there were always great music shows, too, including the weekend "waffle jams" at midnight featuring - you guessed it - waffles from the self-appointed Waffle King, Tom Hutchinson.

(The Waffle King even had his own theme song that went like this: "He's quiet, he's a riot, yeah the King is all right/but he's only making waffles late late at night.")

Then, there was Barbeau's infamous 23-hour "Anton-a-thon, showcasing the pop artist and a ton of his friends performing, yes, 23 hours straight. For some reason, my most vivid memory of that event is dragging my unshowered self over to the cafe early in the morning to catch a friend's set and being greeted by local promoter Jerry Perry, who had his hand stuffed in a box of cereal. I think it may have been Count Chocula.

Some of my favorite shows there, however, were the Christmas Eve sets. In the interest of full disclosure, my husband Cory usually played those shows with his band, the Haints, and let me tell you, there's no better gift than being able to tell your family (politely, of course) that you have to leave the get-together early because of a Very Important Commitment. And, best of all, once we got there, it always felt like we'd just moved from one family to the next. Only this one doesn't expect presents or make certain comments (again and again and again.)

Ah, memories. I really hope the holiday tradition is picked up again this year. In any case, I can't wait to see what the new TLC brings.

Welcome back.

November 9, 2006
Red alert

Yes, it is officially That. Time. Of. Year.

Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus /Chrismukkah.

They're here and the signs are clear.

No, we're not talking about the aisles of holiday decorations at Target or the festive, Christmas-themed TV ads popping up between episodes of "Gilmore Girls" and "The Office."

No, we're not even talking about the crazy neighbor who puts up holiday lights over Labor Day weekend.

It's that you know it's officially the holiday season when Starbucks rolls out its annual supply of red coffee cups.

Because nothing says seasonal cheer like sipping that extra-foam, no-whip gingerbread latte out of a poinsettia-red paper cup.

Starbucks even has a Web site - ItsRedAgain.com - devoted to its tradition. You can use the site to create personalized e-greetings or learn more about global holiday celebrations.

Nice idea, but why do I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those hoilday seasons that feels both excruciatingly long and goes away too fast?

Make mine a black coffee, straight up. I'm going to need it.

November 1, 2006
More Morbidity

And here's more on that Morbid Curiosity reading. KXJZ "Insight" host - and 21Q fan, we might add - Jeffrey Callison tells us that Morbid Curiosity editor Loren Rhoads will be on Callison's show at 2 p.m. Friday, calling in from San Francisco to talk about the publication.

But wait - there's more. So-called "normal guy" (and really, we want to know how exactly one defines "normal" when we're talking about morbid things) John Domeier will be in the studio on Friday, reading from his piece "The Fruit of All Evil."

"Insight" airs daily at 2 p.m. - tune into 90.9 on your FM dial.

November 1, 2006
The Morbid details

Halloween may be over, but there's still plenty to be grim about. Specifically, I'd suggest you check out the Morbid Curiousity reading at Luna's Cafe on Saturday.

Morbid Curiosity, for the unitiated, is/was an annually published literary magazine spotlighting the, well, ins and outs of all things dark, dangerous and morbid.

The latest issue of the San Francisco-based magazine is reportedly its last, so don't miss out on this chance to hear some of its contributors read their works.
Among them: comic Keith Lowell Jensen, writer/actress Becca Costello and "normal guy" Joe Domeier.

Morbid Curiosity editor Loren Rhoads will emcee the event, and collage artist M. Parfitt also will be there.

The reading - which is free, by the way - starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at Luna's (1414 16th St.) For more info, call (916) 441-3931.

mattpondpa.jpg I visited Harlow's Tuesday night for another show. Last week, it was Yo La Tengo; this time out, I wanted to check out Philadelphia's Matt Pond PA.

When I arived at Harlow's around 10:30, the band was about two songs into its set and the club ... well, the club was, predictably, not that full.

Although, actually, my first thought on seeing the approximately 40 to 50 people who had turned out was - and maybe this is sad - "Hey, not a bad turnout for Sacramento on a Tuesday night!"

My second thought was: "Why are so many people sitting down?"

Yes, Harlow's has all those nice seats and tables, but this is an indie rock show! Back in the day (when I had to trudge four miles in the snow, wearing threadbare Converse, to get to a show), one always stood to properly show some respect.

There's no sitting in rock 'n' roll, kids.

Anyhoo. The band delivered a really good, rockin' set - the kind that makes you tap your foot and shake your hips despite any better judgment about how such activities might actually make you look in public.

Afterward, I bought a CD and then joined my husband at the bar to talk to a friend. As I was standing there, clutching my CD, Matt Pond (the singer, not the entire band) walked by, noticed the CD and came over. He thanked us for coming out - in fact, he bought both my husband and I a beer and chatted with us for a while about books, touring and favorite bands. Still, I could tell he was a bit bothered by the show's relatively sparse attendance.

Looking at the room through his eyes, I understood how he could feel maybe a wee bit bummed out but, well ....

"It's not you, it's us," I said.

And then, I felt kind of stupid and guilty - how many times have I said that to a touring band that visits Sacramento? I hated to have to say it to a band that Rolling Stone magazine dubbed one of its "top 10 bands to watch" in 2005.

But really, it is us.

If Yo La Tengo can't sell out Harlow's, then it's no surprise that an up-and-coming indie band on a small label can't, either - even if they do really well in markets such as Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

Still, those of us who did show up could at least get up off of our collective duffs and stand there like we meant it.

October 24, 2006
Model behavior

AMERICA_NEXT_MODEL.jpg Calling on her cell phone from the Burbank airport, Sacramento's own A.J. Stewart sounded tired but game when it came time to chat about getting kicked off "America's Next Top Model."

Well, mostly game.

Actually, I have to applaud her honesty. When I asked the usual psychobabble question about "taking away anything good" from the reality show experience, the 21-year-old art school student was fairly candid.

"I'm sorry, but I'm really tired and I have to wait four hours for my plane," she says. "I don't know how to be positive right now."

But then, she sucked it up and said something about being grateful for the experience and the Earth continued to rotate on its axis and another PR crisis was averted.

And, good or bad, Stewart's discovering that her "Top Model" experience has brought her some fans. In fact, our converation was briefly interrupted after she was approached by some airport admirers.

"It happens quite a bit," she says, back on the phone after thanking her well-wishers. "I'll see (people) looking at me and then they look away."

Actually, she says, that part isn't new.

"I've always been awkward-looking," she says. "And people have always stared at me. I'm kind of used to people talking (behind my back) and saying that I look funny."

Yeah, but now, it comes with the chance for some real fame and/or fortune - now, there's an experience she should gratefully capitalize on.

For more, read my Q&A with Stewart in Wednesday's Scene section.

October 19, 2006
Not on top anymore

OK. Well. There you go.

Now that I've picked my jaw up off the floor, I'm here to ask the question that all Sacramento "America's Next Top Model" fans must be asking: What happened?

Last time we checked in with Tyra Banks & Friends, Sacramento contestant A.J. was riding high.

And then, then it was over.

Just. Like. That.

Frankly, I'm shocked.

OK, yeah, A.J.'s turn at "celebrity interviewing" (i.e., pretending to be an "Entertanment Tonight" reporter) was pretty dismal. And when the models were required to take a shot at dressing up as both halves of celebrity couples, A.J.'s turn portraying Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony? Yawn.

But still? Eliminated?

This for a girl who, until this last episode, was consistently at or near the top of the competition? This for the girl who not only won the viewer-picked "Cover Girl of the Week" honor last week, but nabbed it this week, as well?

It didn't even register for me at first. But, as I sat there with my "Top Model"-watching girlfriends, it sunk in. She was gone.

Then again, A.J. actually seemed relieved - no, make that happy, to go -and it made us wonder: What did we miss? What footage never made it past the editing room?

I will try to get to the bottom of this End of A.J. saga when I hope to interview the former contestant in the near future. But my first question for her won't be about her elimination. Rather, the most pressing question is why, oh why, she insisted on wearing that weird pink hat - the one that looked like a dog sweater - throughout much of the episode. Even the Queen of Tacky Mean, Janice Dickenson, was offended by her choice in chapeaus. That says a lot.

But aside from that major crime against fashion, I honestly think the judges went too far in kicking A.J. off this week. I don't think she got a fair shake, and I'm definitely interested to see where she ends up next.

Good luck - but lose the hat.

Tuesday's Yo La Tengo show at Harlow's was a reminder of how Sac still has some growing up to do.

While the New Jersey band is able to play three nights at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco (Three nights! In a decent-sized venue!), they couldn't sell enough tickets to fill our very own Empire, and thus the eleventh-hour venue switch. And even then, Harlow's was only about two-thirds full.

The change was a shame for the under-21 set - my 16-year-old niece, Amanda, had finagled a ride from me to the all-ages Empire, but is too young for Harlow's. Still, for the rest of us, Harlow's was a good place to see the noisy pop band (though I could've used more pop to soften the edges of noise). And kudos to Abstract Entertainment for continuing to put on such shows in Sacramento.

Abstract promoter Brian McKenna knows that many of the shows he puts on here could very well be a wash - it doesn't help that most indie artists can't get mainstream-radio airplay here - but he continues to book now and ask questions later.

On that note, y'all should go see Be Your Own Pet Monday at the Library or, on Tuesday, check out Matt Pond, PA at Harlow's. They're both up-and-coming acts that'll probably do really well in S.F.

We'll see how they do here.

Come on, Sacramento, represent!

October 12, 2006
She's a man-eater

Happy times. A.J. continues to impress - even when covered in fake blood and surrounded by creepy, fake body parts. The Sacramento resident and "America's Next Top Model" contestant did well once again on the show.

This week's photo shoot had the girls posing in "freak show" settings. While some of the aspiring models had the unfortunate luck of being asked to wear beards or bird beaks, A.J. had an assignment that lent itself to creating a dark and edgy prettiness.

Of course, A.J. had to remind us that she is dark and edgy - not the first time she's made that point for us. Obviously these shows were taped a while back, but if I could offer advice to the A.J. of a few months ago, I'd ask her to drop that schtick. She doesn't need a gimmick.

Anyway, her resulting pictures were fab. The shots depicted A.J. crouched over her "victim" with a bloody, man-eating grin and prompted host Tyra Banks to declare that A.J. was one of those girls who modeled "from the top of her head to her fingertips."

Totally.

Apparently she's a hit with viewers, too, nabbing enough votes for the latest "Cover Girl of the Week" award. (To garner homegirl another win, represent Sactown and vote here.)

I'm still thinking A.J. could go very far in this shindig. Caridee's the one to beat, but A.J. stands a really good chance if she keeps up this head-turning pace.

October 10, 2006
Busted ...

No sooner did I spit out the news about (+44) playing a show at the Boardwalk and, blammo!, I get confirmation that frontguy Travis Barker busted his arm and the tour has, indeed, been cancelled.

Dude, I could've told him that that's the sort of thing that happens to those who hang out with Paris Hilton - but he probably wouldn't have listened.

Anyhoo - refunds are available at point of purchase. And the band's rescheduled at least a few dates - the new tour starts Nov. 8 in Tampa. But no word yet on a new Sac show - as soon as I hear anything, you'll be the first to know.

October 5, 2006
Walk the line

Wow! Go A.J.!

Wednesday night, my impression of A.J. - contestant on "America's Next Top Model" and a Sacramento resident - amped up from an eh to a major woah.

As you may recall from my previous blogging on "Top," A.J. appeared to have no confidence and, perhaps even worse, the judges feared she had a lack of desire to be there.

This week, however, Miss Spikey Hair came back with a vengeance.

First, A.J. was picked as the winner in a challenge that required the model hopefuls to walk a straight line (in high heels, natch) on cobblestones. Girl rocked, impressing even the normally unflappable Mrs. J.

That win netted A.J. the opportunity to walk a real runway fashion show. Well, if by "real" you mean there were clothes involved. No offense to all those involved, but the Dennis Quaid Charity Weekend Fashion Show in Austin, Texas, doesn't exactly scream couture (Austin is the fashion capital of what - central Texas? And oh shut it, I can say that because I grew up there).
Actually, it looked like a fun show, and A.J. got to take two pals. (She picked the increasingly annoying Megg and serious contender Caridee).

Returning to Cali, A.J. continued to impress in a challenge that involved walking in heels on a wobbly runway perched precariously over a pool. While several of the contestants did do well during this photo shoot, A.J.'s strut earned praise all around, with one of the participating fashion designers declaring her presence "breathtaking."

Finally, pre-judging, the models were asked to don heels and do their best runway walk while balancing a fruit-filled bowl, Carmen Miranda-style, atop their heads.

And A.J.?

Killed. Tyra Banks called her poise "Zen" and bestowed upon A.J. the honor of being the first girl saved from elimination.

Awesome.

Based on Wednesday night's performance, I'd even go as far to say that we just might see A.J. get to the Final Four (along with Caridee and at least one of the twins). I know it's early, but her sudden spark of confidence (and ability) really won me over.

Stay tuned.

Mariah-Carey.jpg
Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

So Wednesday night, I had to TiVo "America's Next Top Model" to go see Mariah Carey at Arco. (Read my Carey review here.) I finished it at 3:30 a.m., thank you very much.

Tonight, it's the Strokes show at UC Davis' ARC Pavilion. (Read my Q&A with Drew Barrymore's guy and Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti here.)

And after the show? That's right. I'll be coming right back to write the review. It'll be on SacTicket.com first thing Friday a.m.

When's a girl to sleep? Energy drinks, here I come!

Whew! For a few minutes there, we thought that Sacramento's own A.J. was putting her pretty little head on the chopping block in the latest episode of "America's Next Top Model."

After all, the 20-year-old contestant got dangerously pouty during her makeover, making unhappy faces after the stylists lightened her "Goth" hair and calmed down the spikiness.

Complained A.J.: "I'm not a smooth girl - I like spikes."

Sweetheart, you tried out for "America's Next Top Model" - what did you expect?

This, after last week's confidence crisis - and, frankly, we thought A.J. might sink to the bottom two.

But, for better or for worse, she wasn't the only one who got upset. Melrose, Monique and Jaeda also were unhappy with their new looks and all four of them got a dressing down by set stylist Mr. Jay.

When all was said and done, Ms. A.J. pulled it out for her photo shoot - which, ironically enough, had the models outfitted in wacky hairpieces that covered up the drama-inducing new dos. As such, A.J. seems to have skated her way to the middle of the pack - the judges praised her look, but questioned her presence.

The ousted model? Pixie-haired Megan. We liked her personality, but it's true - those photos were anything but fierce.

Stay tuned.


Just in case you weren't tuned in to The End (KDND, 107.9 FM) this a.m., let me be the first to tell you about the station's Jingle Ball 2006 that's scheduled for Dec. 9 at Arco Arena.

PUSSYCAT-DOLLS.jpg Because I know you can't wait to see the Pussycat Dolls.

Don't be embarrassed - I totally sing "Don't Cha" in the car...Oh wait, did I just admit that? Moving on....

In addition to the Dolls, the Jingle Ball will also feature Nelly Furtado, Natasha Bedingfield and JoJo. Look for more acts to be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets ($20, $28 and $38) go on sale Friday, Sept. 29, via Ticketmaster.com.

September 21, 2006
Wanna be on 'Top'

Ah - it's not a new TV season until there's a fresh "cycle" of "America's Next Top Model."

Now, don't roll your eyes at me - this show is great. Any reality show with "challenges" that involve stilletos, kohl eyeliner and the wrath of host Tyra Banks, well, count me in.

If you happened to tune in to Wednesday night's two-hour season premiere, then you obviously got a glimpse of Sacramento's own A.J., whom my colleague Leigh Grogan first wrote about for 21Q. The 20-year-old college student not only made it to the final 13 but was also, happily, not the first to be eliminated from that group. (That unfortunate distinction went to Christian, the South Carolina bank teller who copped all the "Tyra" poses).

In fact, the pretty, quirky brunette seemed to do pretty well despite a strange little last-minute emotional meltdown. (Note to A.J.: The judges clearly picked you for the show because you're different.)

Own it.

The show airs in Sacramento at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on Channel 31, with a repeat showing at 9 p.m. Sundays.

September 20, 2006
Cartoon pop

Remember last month when I told you about local group Deathray's two tracks on the upcoming "Open Season" soundtrack? (The animated film is due in Sacramento theaters on Sept. 29).

One of the songs, "Wild as I Wanna," is a Paul Westerberg cover and the other, "I Wanna Lose Control (Uh Oh), is a Deathray original.

Now you can watch the video for that track at the Lost Highway records Web site. Of course, it's a bunch of animated clips from the film and doesn't actually feature any smiling Deathray faces - but it's still pretty cool.

Actually, the movie itself looks kind of cute - we might have to temporarily adopt a kid to go see it with...

As mentioned in Tuesday's Coming Distractions column, that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers show has finally been confirmed for Oct. 20 at Raley Field.

Tickets ($58.50 and $85.50) officially go on sale Sept. 23, but if you belong to the Tom Petty "Highway Companions" club, you can get a crack at seats starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19.

For more pre-sale info, visit Petty's Web site for more info.

Of course, not only does membership have its privileges, it also has its price. Your cost to become one of Petty's highway travellers? $30.

So, if like some of us you're more on the broke side and already balking a bit at the high ticket price, then you can get your tix (after Sept. 23, of course) via the
Raley Field box office (400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento), RaleyField.com, TicketMaster.com or by phone: (916) 649-8497.

September 11, 2006
Joker's wild

I don't know much about poker (I've played before but that's not really saying much), but I do know the basics of funny, ha-ha, so therefore I'm expert enough to tell you that you should check out "Poker with Jokers."

The event, which takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lucky Derby Casino (7433 Greenback Lane, Citrus Heights), features a dozen comedians from the Sacramento/Bay Area region - all competing in a comedy poker tournament. Some of the notables on the bill: Dennis Gaxiola ("Latin Kings of Comedy) and Sacramento comedian Del Van Dyke.

Hosted by SF-based comedian/author SpiritWalker, the event marries comedy and poker for the chance for one lucky contestant to be crowned "Best Sacramento Comedian Poker Player." Yes, there is a niche for everyone.

Here's how it works: the funny people in question will not only riff during the game, but each is required to turn out a five-minute routine when and if he or she drops from the game.

Admission is free but seating is limited. Call (916) 726-8946 for more information.

September 11, 2006
Sactown, represented

So, I was watching "Friends With Money" the other day (the Nicole Holofcener-directed film starring Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack) and noticed that Sac got a shout-out. Well, sort of.

SCOTT-CAAN.jpg It happens in that first scene with uber-jerk Mike (Scott Caan) and Olivia (Aniston). If you haven't seen the film, I won't give anything away except to say, wow, creepy guy - but that's not the point here. The point is that Caan's character is wearing a Deftones T-shirt. Check it out: Caan is wearing the shirt in question in the picture on the left, but you have to squint to make it out.

Seeing that got me trying to think of other films with similar, subtle Sacramento references. And, aside from a shot of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong wearing a Groovie Ghoulies T-shirt in the VH1 "Driven" special, I came up blank. I know there's got to be some movie with either a Cake shirt or poster and I need someone to refresh my memory.

If you know of any such pop culture-centric Sacramento movie (or TV) references, e-mail me and I'll write about it an upcoming post.

September 8, 2006
A new angle

RP-CHRIS-ANAYA-STEPS.jpgFans of local indie rock band An Angle (singer Chris Anaya, pictured left) should take note - the band's got a keen new marketing, uh, angle.

Fire up your mobile and send a text message with the words ANANGLE followed by your name to the numbers 66937. What'll you get in exchange? Band updates and access to free An Angle MP3s via Mozes.com (The song "I Promise You (We'll Be Okay)" is the band's current offering).

Of course, in a classic case of nothing-really comes for free, your cell phone carrier's normal text message rates apply.

September 5, 2006
More 'Minor' delays

Those of you waiting to see the Sacramento film "Her Minor Thing" in theaters will have to keep on keeping on. The Jim Meyers-produced romantic comedy, directed by Walter Matthau's son, Charlie Matthau, has been in the can for more than a year but still can't secure U.S. distribution.

Still, it's not all movie gloom and doom. "Her Minor Thing," starring Estrella Warren ("The Cooler") and Christian Kane ("Angel") and featuring notable bit parts by the likes of Rachel Dratch (ex-"Saturday Night Live") and comedian Kathy Griffin, is earning plenty of acclaim for its story about a computer specialist in love with a TV reporter.

In a recent e-mail, Meyers touted the film's success at the Phoenix Film Festival, where Kane nabbed a Special Jury Prize for his performance. It'll also be featured in the Kansas City Film Festival Sept. 18.

If you can't make it to Kansas, check out "Her Minor Thing" on the web or on its MySpace page.

September 1, 2006
Can you download a shout-out?

jonah.jpg A while back, I wrote about the Fort Minor single "Where'd You Go." To bring you up-to-date, I'd been hearing the song all over the radio, but didn't realize that Sac expatriate Jonah Matranga (pictured) was singing back-ups (along with Holly Brook) until I finally caught the video.

Fast forward to Thursday night, when I'm watching MTV's Video Music Awards (while getting ready for the Frank Black show at Harlow's), and guess who wins the VMA for "Ringtone of the Year"?

Yep, Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go." (And yeah, who knew there was even an award for that? Leave it to MTV).

Long story short: Matranga finally got his national due when singer Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park fame) gave Matranga a shout-out from the stage, not once, but twice.

I still think he should get more prominent credit for the song, but you know, whatever. It's pretty cool, so congrats to all.

More on Matranga: I got a chance to hear an advance of his forthcoming split vinyl-only 12-inch single with Frank Turner (due Sept. 5 on Welcome Home Records. Matranga's contribution is a cover of one of my favorite songs, ever: Billy Bragg's "A New England." Here, the tune is sweet and sensitive soft-core emo - in other words, 100 percent Jonah Matranga. He also covers Babybird's "All I Wanted." (Turner, formerly of the band Million Dead, turns in covers of the Lemonheads' "The Outdoor Type" and the folk-country classic "You Are My Sunshine.")

The State Fair's gonna be gone before you know it so, if you haven't already (or, if you're like some people I know, have had the need to visit multiple times), head out to Cal Expo for some deep-fried, roller-coaster fun.

AA-BRIAN-WHEAT-BEATLES1.jpg And oh yeah, don't forget the tunes. Tesla, Sacramento's own native-son rockers, are the headlining act on Friday. Part of the State Fair's AT&T Concert Series, this show is free, free, free.

Well, you could pay $10-$20 for choice reserved seats (available via Tickets.com but, if like moi, you're on a tight, end-of-summer budget, then free rock is a good, good thing.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

A plus from us: If you want to know what Tesla bassist Brian Wheat (pictured) has been up to lately, read my interview with him or check out our photo gallery featuring his cool, eclectic Victorian here.

And for more State Fair concert info, point your browser here.

August 24, 2006
Rumors, blowin' in the wind

No official confirmation yet on this one, but Pitchfork and BobDylan.com are reporting a Dylan/Raconteurs fall-tour pairing that's to hit Arco Arena on Oct. 18.

Now, I'm a big ol' Dylan fan and was bummed that I had to miss his last Sac-area show (that took place in Davis), only to find out from those who did attend that the whole affair was very hit-or-miss, musically speaking.

But, hey, he's Bob-freaking-Dylan and gets more than a few free passes. Personally, I'm very excited at a chance to see him.

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And, having the Raconteurs (pictured at right), featuring the White Stripes' Jack White and pop singer-songwriter Brendon Benson, on the bill is a major plus. The band's debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers," is (at least in my humble opinion) one of the best releases of 2006; the disc didn't leave my car CD player for months. If you haven't heard it yet, this is smart and snappy pop with a garage rock edge.

Rumor also is that Nashville's Kings of Leon will be the opening act.

More details as they emerge.

August 24, 2006
Deathray, redux

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Photography/Simon Weller


Here's the sweet and lowdown on that Deathray-Paul Westerberg connection we
told you about Wednesday.

Seems Deathray got the hook-up after a well-placed friend put a copy of the local (and currently unsigned) pop band's "Believe Me" record in the hands of a Sony Pictures music supervisor. Long story short, the guy liked it so much, he asked Deathray to cover a new Westerberg track for the upcoming animated flick "Open Season."

Deathray recorded the song at lead singer Dana Gumbiner's home studio, sent it back to L.A. and then got word that the studio liked the track well enough to include it on the film's soundtrack.

The overall experience, Gumbiner says, was "intense."

"It was crazy work, (with) deadlines and a lot of back and forth as the filmmakers were very particular and detail-oriented," Gumbiner wrote in a recent e-mail. "Plus, there were multiple directors working on the movie so the communication was challenging. But overall, it was totally fun and the people involved were so much easier to work with than anyone we've ever dealt with in the 'music industry.' "

The best part, Gumbiner adds, will come when he gets to take his 7-year-old son, Jack, to the September premiere in Hollywood. "He's excited because I've told him he'll be one of the first kids to see it."

And, as a fan of the Replacements, Gumbiner's excited, too.

"(Westerberg's) new stuff in the movie is really cool and
inspired; a few songs sound like they could be off of (the Replacements') "Let It Be" - they're very raw and unpolished," he says. "I just hope Paul Westerberg likes our cover."

August 23, 2006
Yes, it's that Deathray

"Open Season," the new animated film starring Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher, doesn't open until Sept. 29, but that's OK - I'm more excited about its soundtrack, which hits stores Sept. 26.

The 12-track disc features 10 original songs from my not-so-secret pretend boyfriend Paul Westerberg (you know, of Replacements fame) - two of which feature his former bandmate Tommy Stinson on bass. Westerberg also scored the film.

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But wait, there's more goodness! Local pop band Deathray is also nicely represented with two songs, "I Wanna Lose Control (Uh Oh)" and "Wild as I Wanna."

I know - what the hey? (Oh yeah, Pete Yorn and the Talking Heads are also on the soundtrack, but whatever....)

A quick e-mail to confirm that the Deathray in question was, in fact, the Deathray, netted this brief, coy response from singer Dana Gumbiner:

"Yes, that's us! Crazy, huh?"

Crazy, indeed. And super-cool. More details as fast as I can pry them out of Gumbiner.

August 22, 2006
October rising...

A couple of shows that slipped past the Coming Distractions print deadline. First, show promoter Jerry Perry tells us he's in charge of putting together this year's benefit for the Sacramento Housing Alliance.

The Oct. 8 shindig takes place at the Crest Theatre (1013 K St.) and will feature Antsy McClain & the Trailer Park Troubadours as the headliner. The show starts at 7 p.m. - stay tuned for ticket info.

Perry's also got two tribute shows coming. The first is actually part of a tribute double-header paying homage to bassist Erik Kleven, killed last month in an auto accident: On Oct. 14, tribute shows will take place at both Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.) and the Fox & Goose (1001 R St.). No word yet on the line-up, except for Kleven's longtime friend and musical colleague Anton Barbeau.

Then, on Oct. 21, pay tribute to indie pop songwriter Elliot Smith. Though the details surrounding Smith's 2003 death remain cloudy (it was officially ruled a suicide), one thing is clear: The Oscar-nominated artist left behind a beautiful catalog of moody pop.

Aside from the Kyoto Beat Orchestra, there's no definite line-up on this show, either. We'll keep you posted.

The new Bright Light Fever CD doesn't come out until September, but I found an advance copy in my mailbox and am now having a hard time taking it out of my CD player.

"The Evening Owl," set to be released on the Stolen Transmission label, is 11 songs that nicely capture this quartet's big-city-rock sound. Think lots of jangly guitars, snappy melodies and smart lyrics. I caught 'em live during a recent Old Ironsides show and yes, they've plenty of stage presence, too. They list the Beatles, Fugazi and Tom Waits as influences. We hear a lot of the Killers and Bloc Party - but that's not a bad thing. At all.

You can check them out during the Concert in the Park this Friday at Cesar Chavez Plaza (10th and J streets); on Saturday at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd.), or at old I (1901 10th St.) on Sept. 29.

Or, surf over to their MySpace page and listen to a couple of tracks.

The Buck Owens birthday show at Old Ironsides on Saturday was one of those nights that'll be remembered for years for its fun, inventive vibe. A dozen bands or so ponied up to the stage to pay tribute to the late country singer, and the results were totally rollicking and inspired.

It helped, too, that the bar was so packed you had to shimmy sideways just to breathe - that kind of crowded but controlled chaos always adds to the spirit and shared love for music.

Some of the highlights (aside from the Bud Lights we drank to feel more country): Rowdy Kate singer Kerry Carr has one of those pure, country-crooning voices, a la Loretta Lynn.

On the other side of the country-pop continuum, local duo Pets pulled out an amazing version of "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail." Leave it to them to turn a country-and-western standard into a modern, Jesus & Mary Chain-inspired noise-pop song.

And Th' Losin' Streaks, despite a Tim Foster confession that they'd only just practiced their set upstairs in the club office, turned in a short but raucous set that included a trashed-out version of "Act Naturally."

The Devestates with guest Bobby Jordan closed the night and really, if you haven't seen this band yet, you need to. Fronted by Kortnee Randall and Ted Angel, it's a showcase for Sacramento's own George Jones-Tammy Wynette dynamic - a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll and always heartfelt. Also featuring Keith Lionetti on drums and Danny Secretion on bass, the band played sweet versions of "Above and Beyond" and "We're Going to Get Together," plus a medley that included "Wham Bam" and "Cryin' Time."

The only thing missing from the night? The kind of chair-tossing bar fight we always mentally associate with an Owens-esque Bakeserfield bar. Just kidding. ...

I'm feeling a little bit like Ed Sullivan, 'cos we've got a really big show for you.

OK, well, not right now, but the tickets do go on sale soon.

Anyway, the show: On Thursday, Sept. 28, you'll want to be at the UC Davis ARC Pavilion to check out the Strokes and Muse. The show will be presented by KWOD (106.5 FM.)

The Strokes, of course, are credited with pushing garage rock back into the mainstream (and for also kickstarting that trend in which every cool band has a name that begins with "The").

Muse is a British trio acclaimed for its live performances - they played Empire a few years back. Here's another chance to see them before they blow up totally big.

The particulars: Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday; your cost: $35.
Visit the KWOD site or Tickets.com for more details.

August 3, 2006
Total trash

Fans of the Trash Film Orgy midnight-movie series will want to check this out: The Beach Blanket Benefit Show on Friday night at the Studio Theatre (1028 R St.).

The fun will start - when else? - at midnight (doors open at 11:30 p.m.) and seating is limited. Your $10 door charge will get you a screening of the "classic sea monster exploitation" film "Humanoids from the Deep"; there'll also be some short films, trailers, games and prizes.

Proceeds will go toward financing the film, "Monster From Bikini Beach," being produced by the folks with the Trash Film Orgy. These are the same people, of course, known for their scare-tastic B movies and campy, cheesy fun.

For more info, visit the Trash Film Orgy site.

August 2, 2006
Blondes have more fun(ny)

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There's "mom rock," "mom lit," "mom jeans" and now, "mom comedy."

But don't worry, there's nothing safe, staid or ill-fitting about the 3 Blonde Moms comedy troupe featuring Maryellen Hooper, Helen Keaney and Joanie Fagan.

The mothers, who dish on their "adventures in mommying," perform Aug. 3-6 at the Punch Line Comedy Club (2100 Arden Way).

And nothing's sacred:

Breastfeeding, for example: "My advice to you ladies who don't have kids but plan on breastfeeding: Switch sides - I was Pamela Anderson on one side and Calista Flockhart on the other."

The moms also dish on the PTA, personal hygiene and potty training. If you're a parent, you can probably relate. And if you're not? Sit back and laugh in horrified fascination.

Check them out during their four-day run at the Punch Line. Show times are 8:30 p.m. Thursday; 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15-$20. For more information, visit Ticketmaster.com.

July 31, 2006
Infused for inspiration

I was walking through midtown the other day and, as I marveled at the blistering heat, I decided to duck into the Infusion Cafe (17th and K streets) for an iced, caffeinated drink.

I hadn't been in there in a few months and cursed myself for letting so much time go by since my last visit - it's spacious and airy with ultra-cool, modern furniture and a lovely courtyard. And the people who work there? Super-nice. Case in point: On my way out, I ran into Megan, an Infusion barista who used to work at Cafe Melange in Curtis Park and then Luna's. Megan used to be a weekly part of my life when I was in grad school and spent every Sunday at Cafe Melange studying and writing. I'm done with grad school and now even have a tiny home office, but I still like to get out of the house for serious writing (theoretically there are fewer distractions).

Sadly, Cafe Melange has morphed into Crepeville and it's no longer a good place to spend hours writing.

Megan, rolling her bike outside, said "Hi" and told me I should make Infusion my new writing spot. And, looking around at the comfy, two-room coffeehouse, I agreed. With free WiFi and plenty of couches and tables, it's laptop-friendly and easy on the eye.

Finally, a much-needed jolt of inspiration - and caffeine. Because, of course, more importantly, their coffee is mighty tasty.

July 28, 2006
Meet the Hogans

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VH1/Gary Bogdon
From left to right, Nick Hogan, Linda Hogan, Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan

Because we know you couldn't get enough of the VH-1 series "Hogan Knows Best," it's our duty to inform you of Hulk Hogan's appearance tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe (7th and K streets).

The flamboyant, iconic pro-westler is in town to help daughter Brooke Hogan promote her new CD, "Undiscovered."

OK, but here's the hitch. While the Hogans are promoting Brooke's new CD, no Hogans will actually be performing any songs from it tonight.

Huh?

The official press release explanation is that the song also features another artist and "he will not be here" to perform. What, the Hulkster couldn't step up to the mike?

Wow, whatever.

Anyway, the Hogans' peeps want you to think of this as a "meet and greet" - there'll be DJs there and word is that even Hulk Hogan may do a bit of time behind the turntables.

Also - and this is the real reason you should go, my dear pop culture junkies - VH-1 will be on hand to film for a season three episode of "Hogan Knows Best."

The details: $20 at the door, 21-and-over only. Starts at 10 p.m. Call (916) 441-5591 for more info.

July 28, 2006
Greene alert

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This just in: Sacramento blues/folk star Jackie Greene will be making his network television debut on Wednesday. Look for Greene on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," where he'll be performing the song "So Hard to Find My Way" from his major label album, "American Myth."

Greene's manager, Dig Music founder Marty DeAnda, says the show was a last-minute deal. And even though the New York gig means a frantic rescheduling of flights to Greene's Thursday show in Boulder, Colo. - he'll be playing the Triple-A Radio Summit along with the likes of Los Lobos - DeAnda says there was never any question about going to the Big Apple.

"We were originally promised (a slot on "Conan") for the end of this year," DeAnda says. "But when this came up, we didn't want to pass it up and take the chance of missing out on the oppurtunity."

CAGE.jpg Bee Movie Critic Carla Meyer was chatting with Nicolas Cage on Monday, all Hollywood like. The actor, in San Francisco to promote his upcoming film, "World Trade Center," had other movies on his mind, as well.

This is what Meyer had to say:

"Nicolas Cage's attraction to rhinestones transcends his famous affection for Elvis Presley. The Oscar-winning actor plans to direct and star in a biopic of the late piano showman Liberace," Meyer says.

Cage explained it to her as such:

"(Liberace) was good at what he did, and he did expand classical music to a pop audience by integrating pop with classical, which was brave. But he also became incredibly self-indulgent, and I think that injured him, and that's the mythology I want to explore."

The mythology apparently extends to the singer's sexuality, Cage said. Though Liberace rose to fame at a time when gay entertainers had to stay closeted, he also paved the way for flamboyant performers, Cage said, who would add full disclosure to their fabulousness.

"When you think about (his) influence, which is pretty unsung now, I don't think there would be Elton (John), if Liberace hadn't done what he did," Cage said.

The Liberace project, still in its beginning stages, would return Cage to Las Vegas, location of his exuberant comedy "Honeymoon in Vegas" and the far-less sparkly "Leaving Las Vegas," Meyer notes.

As for more on Cage and "World Trade Center" - which opens in theaters on Aug. 9 - watch for upcoming stories by Meyer in upcoming issues of Ticket and Scene.

July 21, 2006
Get wasted

Because nothing says "projected high temperature of 100 million degrees" quite like standing out in the baking sun to watch car crashes, I give you the 2006 Crash-A-Rama.

Crash-A-Rama is pretty much exactly what it sounds like - cars, crashing. On purpose. It's one of the activities being offered as part of the Wasted Weekend III garage-rock fest, which takes place tonight and Saturday night at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.).

This is what I remember from the one I attended a few years back: Scorching heat, sunburned feet, dust everywhere, rock 'n' roll, crunching metal and, uh, scorching heat.

This year's car-jumping event, which will take place on Saturday at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville (800 All America City Blvd.), also will feature hot rod displays and rock 'n' roll from the likes of Sonic Love Affair, the Shruggs and Winelord.

Gates open at 10 a.m. and the carefully planned automotive melee revs up at 2 p.m. Admission is $10.

To read more on Wasted Weekend III events, go here.

July 20, 2006
Practically famous

Warren Buffett wasn't the only famous face to show up at R.C. Willey today. Kathy Ireland also made a special walk-on at the new home-furnishings store in Rocklin.

Only Ireland doesn't really see herself as one of those big-time famous people. Rather, the 43-year-old model/actress ("Melrose Place," "Suddenly Susan") is focused on her own Kathy Ireland Home line, which features everything from rugs and lighting to, uh, mattresses.

The fact that she is undeniably famous? Pretty unimportant, Ireland says during a mid-morning chat from her cell phone as she was whisked - celebrity-like - from the store back to the airport. Furthermore, her "star" status has little to do with her new vocation, she says.

"I was an OK model, but I certainly wasn’t 'super,' " she says. "I think celebrity endorsements are fine, but it wasn’t the path for me - and besides, it wasn't an option because no one was offering me jobs.

"If (building this) brand had been dependent on any celebrity (connection), we might have all been unemployed."

Hmmm ... not quite sure if we buy that - but, hey, who wants to argue with Kathy Ireland?

July 20, 2006
Hot August music nights

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Mark Pickerel, formerly of the Screaming Trees


Seems like August is shaping up to be a stellar month for live music in the 916.

There's the Jason Lytle show (Aug. 6 at Harlow's), Frank Black (Aug. 31 - also at Harlow's), the Buck Owens Birthday Tribute show (Aug. 12 at Old Ironsides) and Matt Costa with the Watson Twins (Aug. 30 at the Library).

Now, we have word of another cool show for the hot days ahead - Mark Pickerel on Aug. 9 at Marilyn's.

Pickerel, of course, used to drum on all those early Screaming Trees releases - and the Pacific Northwester's done plenty since, including two solo albums under the Dark Fantastic moniker. And a new album, "Snake in the Radio," just came out on Bloodshot Records.

No word yet on how much tickets will set you back, but we'll keeping checking the Marilyn's Web site for details.

July 14, 2006
Pet sounds

Local noise-pop duo Pets plays tonight at Old Ironsides (read our interview with them here and listen to some songs here).

The band, of course, is no stranger to Old I - they've played the club numerous times and seen more than a few inspiring shows there.

Allison Jones and Derek Fieth recall one gig as being particularly super-cool - last summer's slightly infamous Brian Jonestown Massacre show. That sold-out show was crowded and charged with energy as club-goers crammed in to see the cult band (the group's legendary rival with the Dandy Warhols is chronicled in the 2004 documentary "Dig!"). But Jones and Fieth didn't mind the masses - their focus was on the music and how it was being made.

Jones, in particular, remembers being awed by the band's impressive equipment line-up.

"The guitarist had all these awesome pedals around him," she says. "We have to buy more pedals, for sure. It'd give us more raunchy feedback - more to play with."

More pedals equal more sound, Fieth adds. "It's just the two of us, so we can make so much more of that with more equipment," he says.

The show at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.) starts at 9 p.m. and is 21-and-over only; tickets are $5 at the door. Also on the bill: Dana Gumbiner, Bright Light Fever and Social Studies.

July 13, 2006
Keep the Faith (and Tim)

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Those of you bummed about missing out on tickets for the upcoming Tim McGraw/Faith Hill Soul 2 Soul II tour - buck up, country-lovin' campers.

Starting Friday at 10 a.m., LiveNation will release more seats - which means you'll have the chance to snag tickets for the Aug. 12 Arco Arena show.

The cost: $65-$85 per seat.

For more info, visit TicketMaster or call (916) 649-TIXS.

July 13, 2006
Jett's set

In case you forgot (and what with this heat, we don't blame you), the Warped Tour hit town (OK, technically Marysville) today. And that means it's time to get some Joan Jett, who, incidentally, is on stage in a couple of hours.

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During an interview with The Bee (listen to the podcast), Jett shares why it took her so long (more than 10 years, to be exact) to release a new studio album, "Sinner."

"We were on Warner Bros., they had an administration change and continued (having changes) for the next three years," Jett says. "We had a lot of trouble getting our record finished, so we decided to part ways - it was very friendly."

In the interim, Jett did put out a Japan-only release called "Fetish," and the title track from that record ended up on "Sinner." In fact, Jett says, many of "Sinner's" tunes are old-ish ones.

"We'd recorded upwards of 30 to 40 songs (for Warner Bros.) and then I went out on the road for a couple of years," she says. "About five years ago, I started taking out those old tapes and listened to what still felt valid to me - there were about seven songs that still sounded great and that became the core of 'Sinner.'"

What with the surefire inclusion of older songs such as "I Love Rock'n'Roll" and "Bad Reputation," sounds like this Warped outing is a total Greatest Hits tour...works for me.

July 12, 2006
Get on the mike

All you word-slingers, take note: There's a new open mike in town - Mics and Moods, a brand-spankin' event featuring poetry.

Hosted by Khiry Malik - who previously had presided over similar events at Sweet Fingers and the Jamaica House - Mics and Moods takes place every Wednesday night (like, um, tonight) from 9 p.m. - 2 a.m. at the Capitol Garage (1500 K St.). Cost is $5.

Also featured: Spinnings via DJ Rock Bottom.

Only drawback? It's 21-and-over only. Then again, thinking back on some of the overwrought stuff I wrote back before I became of legal drinking age - well, maybe the age limit is a good thing.

Mics and Moods is co-presented by the folks at Malikspeaks Entertainment and Twelves Wax Entertainment.

July 7, 2006
Gold digging

Nevada City's riches just got a little bit, well, richer.

Golden Shoulders' frontman Adam Kline is opening a record store, bringing the tiny town's total up to, uh, one. The shop will specialize in vinyl as well as tapes, CDs, DVDs and "socially concious and locally made clothing."

The appropriately named After the Goldrush Records (it occupies the space formerly held by Love Shack Records) makes its debut Saturday, with a grand opening ceremony from 3-9 p.m.

There'll be live music throughout the day from artists such as Ian Najara, Elena Powell, Ryan Donnelly and, duh, Golden Shoulders.

After the Goldrush is located at 232 Commercial St. in Nevada City. For more info, call (530) 265-3090.

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In March, West Sacramento Mayor Chris Cabaldon announced at his city's annual State of the City dinner that he is gay.

Now, Cabaldon, 40, is going national with the news. He appears on an episode of the Logo cable network's series, "Coming Out Stories." (Logo is available locally via Comcast and DirectTV.)

On the episode titled, appropriately enough, "The Mayor," Cabaldon discusses his decision to come out publicly and his desire to create "positive change in community attitudes."

The episode airs several times this weekend, including showings at 1 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Check the Logo site for a complete list of air times.

July 7, 2006
Hello again

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It's six degrees of Nicole Richie! First, her on-again, off-again boyfriend DJ AM was to visit The Park Ultra Lounge Thursday night. And now, her dad - a.k.a. Lionel Richie - is set to drop in on the folks at The Bomb (103.5 FM) next week.

Tune in Monday at 8:20 a.m. to hear the Grammy/Golden Globe/Oscar-winning artist do a live, in-studio interview on the "Davey D in the Morning" show. We hear that Richie also will be performing a live, mini-set; call in and request one of your faves - "Dancing on the Ceiling" maybe?

At this rate, Nicole oughta be arriving in Sac any day now....

July 6, 2006
Animal-friendly

If you don't already have plans for Second Saturday - or just want to add more to your itinerary - then here's a show you might want to consider: The folks over at Body Fitness gallery (the gym/art gallery at 920 21st St.) are hosting an exhibit called "Fauna: A Celebration of Animals in Art."

The multi-artist show is a benefit for the Animal Protection Institute and will feature work from 20 local artists as well as a vegan food spread and live music from the Terrible Secret, Julie Meyers, Montana and Mister Vague. The free event runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

You know you love animals. Even you non-vegetarians can't resist a cute, big-eyed deer, cuddly kitten or lovable puppy, right? Right.

July 5, 2006
Kiss and tell

Sacto blogger Keith Lowell Jensen has added another URL to his Internet oeuvre. Much in the way that Jensen's All My Jobs blog details the comedian/writer/blogger's explorations into gainful employment, All My Kisses journeys into the realm of love and infatuation.

The entries - written in (mostly) work-safe prose - are funny, engaging and more than a little bittersweet. And, who knows, they may sound familiar.

"Look closely, you may be in one of the stories," Jensen wrote in a recent e-mail. "Remember that time you got drunk and kissed the coat-check boy? (I) worked as a coat-check boy!"

For the record, I never kissed a coat-check boy...or if I did, I wouldn't tell...Jensen, however, is thankfully not so discreet.

Just found out that the St. Louis pop band, the Hatch, is making not one but two stops in the area this week. Tonight they play the G Street pub (228 G St.) in Davis and, on Friday night, they'll high-tail it to the Roadhouse (1556 Bell Ave.) in Sacramento.

Both shows are 21-and-over only and start at 9 p.m. For more info on the band, visit its MySpace page.

Oh, and the sound? Think '70s-era piano pop - very Elton John or Joe Jackson - nice retro but not kitschy feel.

June 27, 2006
D-list laughs, postponed

Griffin_Kathy.jpg Just got word that the highly anticipated Kathy Griffin stand-up show at the Crest (1013 K St.) has been postponed. The show, originally slated for Sept. 15, has been moved into the future - way into the future: Friday, Dec. 1, to be exact.

The reason? A rather vague "scheduling conflict." Hmm. Wonder if Griffin's reality-TV stint in Bravo's "My Life on the D-List" is finally going to her head?

Whatever. Any tickets that you bought, for either the 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. shows, are still good. And you can still get seats (at $35 a pop in advance or $40 day of) via Tickets.com. Call (916) 44-CREST for more info.

If you can't make the December date, refunds are available at the point of purchase.

June 27, 2006
It's golden...

One of my favorite Nevada City bands, Golden Shoulders, has officially entered the, er, golden age of the Internet. The sweet-sounding pop band, fronted by Adam Kline, just released a few albums to iTunes. Now you can find 2004's "Friendship is Deep" and the ultra-rare 2005 EP "Seventeen Bees." The tunes are 99 cents each. Oh yeah, and you can also download their new album "Kin" as well. I'm opening up my wallet right now....

June 26, 2006
Sugar high

If there's one thing that this town lacks (and yes, I have a running list), it's cupcakes. Sure, you can buy dry, crumbly ones at the supermarket or those icky-sweet "vanilla sunshine" ones at Starbucks. But I want tiny, frosted cakes, worthy of the world-famous Magnolia Bakery (NYC) or the super-chic Citizen Cupcake (SF)...Well, imagine how thrilled I was to hear that Midtown may be getting its own cupcake bakery. I'm deliriously happy at the thought - and more than willing to go up a jean size to prove it...No firm details yet, but I'm hunting down the whens and wheres of it all....

June 26, 2006
Hot, hot, hot

FL PETS TEASE.jpg
OK, we get it - it's hot. And in the never-ending quest to find ways to make the heat more bearable, I joined Pets, the local noise pop duo, at the Pyramid Alehouse (1029 K St.) a few nights ago.

On the agenda: a chat about their new CD - and lots of beer. Only, the Pets - Allison Jones and Derek Fieth - were tragically shut out of their drink of choice, the pear cider.

"It's always this way," Jones said, with a good-natured sigh. "They're always out of what we like."

Instead, we all settled for the no-frills Hefeweizen and, ultimately, it seemed like the perfect pick. Because what says "Sacramento in the summer" better than a refreshingly ice-cold wheat beer (with plenty of lemon) paired with good people-watching and the late-day sun?

And luckily, Pyramid had that beer, the patio had the people-watching, and Sac -as always - has the sun. Oh, and Pets has a CD-release party on July 14 at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St.) Look for a story in The Bee's Ticket section that same day. For more info before then, visit the Old Ironsides site.

June 23, 2006
Hometown boy

Been hearing that Fort Minor single "Where'd You Go" on the radio, but it wasn't until I caught the video on Fuse that I realized it was hometown boy Jonah Matranga singing back-ups (along with Holly Brook). Fort Minor is the new-ish project via Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda. And Matranga, of course, used to front Far and, in more recent years, has made a national name for himself with various solo projects. He doesn't live in Sac anymore, but visits often and it was definitely cool to catch him on TV.

June 22, 2006
La Raza, updated

An update on our Wednesday post about La Raza Galeria Posada.

We had told you that we'd heard it was set to shut its doors - and a call to the gallery's executive director didn't do much to set the record straight. Now, we've got a slightly more definitive answer: yes and no. It's like this: The Bee's art correspondent Victoria Dalkey talked to two of the board members. Are they in the process of reorganzing? Yes.

Looking for a new space? Yes.

Taking a short hiatus? Maybe.

Closing? Definitely not.

So, there you have it. It seems the gallery/cultural center might be looking to leave its current location on R Street, but not the Sacramento community. We'll continue to keep you, er, posted.

I've been so busy listening to the new Sonic Youth and Joan Jett CDs (prepping for some upcoming stories) that I almost (tragically) missed this disc that just landed on my desk: a brand-spanking new offering from the Loud Family and Anton Barbeau, "What If It Works?"

If you don't know, the Loud Family features Sacto expat Scott Miller, and Barbeau, of course, is a local legend in the making. The disc, on the 125 Records label, won't hit shelves until July 11 (there'll be a CD release party at the Fox & Goose on July 15), but you should put a note on your calendar now.
The record is a mixture of sweet pop and jangly rock - sorta like if the Beatles were covered by the Replacements. Good stuff.

June 22, 2006
Art, the here and now...

Free tonight? Check out the Crocker Contemporaries lecture with photographer Nigel Poor. The Bay Area photographer will discuss her take on the medium - and all the new ways it's being pushed. There's a pre-lecture reception at 6 p.m. and Poor speaks at 7. Cost is free for members of the Crocker Art Museum (at 216 O St.) and $10 for non-members. If you're really feeling thrifty, check out the museum's Web site to download a two-for-one coupon.

If you're not already familiar with it, Crocker Contemporaries is part of the museum and a part of its efforts to bring more young people to art. It's got people like Olivia Coelho (Olipom clothing store and the utlra-cool quarterly Sellout/Buyout) on its board of directors - definitely worth checking out.

Just in time for the first day of summer - first day of the 21Q blog! So much to do and for once it'll feel like there's plenty of time on the longest day of the year.

One suggestion for your day/night - and we think this one is very appropriate since Sacramento is hotter-than-you-know-what during the summer months. If you haven't yet, check out "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" documentary at the Crest (1013 K St.) This is a look at underground singer-songwriter Johnston, his amazing music and his lifelong battles with mental illness. And, in case you didn't already know this, Johnston was born in Sacramento (Jan. 22, 1961). Of course, he lives in Texas now - but once a Sactowner, always a Sactowner....

Word is the film is ending its stay at the Crest this week, so catch it while you can.

June 21, 2006
Gone?

Word is that La Raza Galeria Posada at 1421 R St. is closing. We called to get the scoop, but the only thing Executive Director Francisca Godinec would tell us is A) No comment, and B) Look for a press release in the next few days. It'd be a shame to see Sacramento lose this colorful gallery. We'll share more details as they emerge.

June 21, 2006
Roller skate jams

Fans of the Sacramento Roller Girls - the River City's very own all-girl roller derby league - won't want to miss them on TV tonight. Check 'em at 6:30 on Channel 3.



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