When live attractions are scarce in casino showrooms in the week after the first of the year, maybe it’s time to take in a movie.
A “dirtbag” climber is one who challenges otherwise-considered impossible feats while foregoing the usual norms, along with any comforts. The pursuit itself becomes a virtual lifestyle. Nobody has personified this as extensively or as successfully as Fred Beckey, a man who has gained a large following of both admirers and detractors.
“Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” is the new documentary screening in the main showroom of the MontBleu Saturday night. It documents a life full of not only challenging climbs but also of partners he scorned and lovers he left behind.
Beckey, now 94, began his odyssey in the Cascades in the 1930s and in 1942 achieved the top of Mount Waddington which was considered the most difficult ascent in North America at the time. Over the next three decades he continued to achieve a long list of firsts, all the while tossing aside any politics of the sport and usually-coveted sponsorships. He was so controversial a figure he was not allowed to join the first American team to take on Mount Everest in 1963.
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Beckey’s health inevitably waned but he has continued planning routes for younger climbers. The director of this film, David O’Leske, spent a decade documenting Beckey’s life and putting it on screen with animations of his journals, guidebooks, and photographs, combined with more than 30 interviews with other great climbers like Yvon Chouinard, Layton Kor, and Royal Robbins. Quite evidently not the easiest man to know, or even to like, Beckey is definitely one of the biggest figures in the alpine world. (7:30 p.m.; $15 general admission; Ticketmaster)
There is one live entertainer of special note on the boards this weekend. That would be David Pomeranz who brings his “Got to Believe in Magic 35th Anniversary Tour” to Cache Creek Saturday. It’s been quite a journey for the singer who signed for his first two albums, “New Blues” and “Time to Fly,” when he was 19 and proceeded to learn his stage craft while opening for the likes of Three Dog Night, Billy Joel, and even the Doors.
Fans of classic television series will recognize Pomeranz from his singing of “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now,” the theme song for “Perfect Strangers.” His songwriting has yielded 22 platinum and 18 gold albums, and he’s composed musicals of diverse subjects, like Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” and “Saving Aimee,” that being evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. (8 p.m.; $39-$65; cachecreek.com)
On Sunday, Cache Creek begins a four-week run of Sunday matinees of “I Am King: The Michael Jackson Experience.” (4 p.m.; Free or $20 with club card)
Every January David John and the Comstock Cowboys come down from Virginia City for two big concerts at the Nugget in Sparks. This is Western music without many touches of modern influences; think sagebrush, horses, and, of course, cowboys. They have a big following and even a fan club. (Tonight and Saturday; 8 p.m.; $17; nuggetcasinoresort.com)