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Wells Fargo Center Lobby to Get New Makeover

Posted by: on Jun 7, 2010 | Comments (0)

This Just In: The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians has donated $500,000 to the Wells Fargo Center in order to renovate and remodel the performing arts center’s lobby. No, this doesn’t mean they’re planning on building a casino on the site. It just means that the lobby will be named the Lytton Rancheria Grand Lobby, which for a half million seems like a bargain, don’t you think?

On to you, press release:

In addition to seismic upgrades, some highlights of the lobby project include dimmable architectural and theatrical lighting to replace the chandeliers, acoustic and visual improvements to the walls and ceilings, new floor treatments and carpeting, new stainless steel cable railings, first floor men’s restroom renovation with improved accessibility and ultra low flow fixtures, and 8 to 12 new plasma televisions to simulcast performances and events from the theater into the lobby and to be used for organizational messaging.

Organizational messaging! The new lobby—artist’s rendering above—should be completed by the end of the summer. None of the center’s planned shows or events will be disrupted. Work on the new space starts today with the removal of the lobby’s large, much-maligned chandeliers. And for that particular bit of sad news, I shed a tear.

Ode to the Chandeliers

Poor, poor chandeliers
I loved you so
Gigantic and wrought-iron
So useful

You oversaw church services
Proms
Funerals
Symphony crowds

You illuminated everything
Red wine in tiny cups
Synthetic fiber in grandpa’s toupee
The sea of black clothing when Morrissey played

They claim you are ugly
But you were there when I was 5
And you were there when I was 34
And today they tear you down and take you away

Don’t let the bastards win, chandeliers
Only I sense your true inner beauty
Come live at my house
You are as big as my house
But I know we can make it work, chandeliers

Live Review: KRS-One at the Last Day Saloon

Posted by: on May 23, 2010 | Comments (4)

I saw KRS-One on Friday night. He wasn’t really on his game for the first half of the set, and covered by saying that he was soundchecking. Soundchecking in most circles means you’re supposed to show up to the club at 5pm to check levels. (Soundchecking in hip-hop means you show up to the club 30 seconds before you hit the stage and then get on the mic to complain that the levels are all wrong.)

So KRS-One kept switching mics, but he also kept switching songs—drop the beat, verse and a chorus, cut to the next track. Skittish. “My Philosophy,” “Sound of Da Police,” “Criminal Minded” and more got lopped short while KRS ran the usual berating-the-crowd-for-not-knowing-the-classics. Sigh. He still couldn’t find a mic he liked, nor did he ever finish an entire song.

But the show went from averagely average to awesomely awesome in one quick moment. KRS found a mic he liked, cried, “oh, that’s the one!” and hopped off the stage into the crowd of people. I thought he might stay there for half a song or so, but instead he cleared a huge circle for various breakdancers and kept rapping. The song ended; he kept rapping. Another beat dropped; he kept rapping.

For a half hour out on the floor—much to the confusion of the club’s security team—KRS-One brought the place to life. What’s more, he brought the spirit of his Bronx upbringing, and thus the spirit of hip-hop’s upbringing, to a little club in Santa Rosa. He’s been on “tour” forever, but he calls it a mission, and left a few converts in his wake on Friday, for sure.

Out In The Street

Posted by: on May 11, 2010 | Comments (0)

A group of dudes play in the alley between Ting Hao and Russian River Brewing Co. today. While the Santa Rosa Street Performer Ordinance keeps progressing through committees with flying colors, some musicians just can’t wait for it to be made official.

Your Guide to Roseland's 2010 Cinco de Mayo Party Tonight

Posted by: on May 5, 2010 | Comments (2)

Anyone who’s anyone is gonna be in Roseland tonight for the excitement that’s the fifth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, and organizers have just announced the lineup. As in years past, there’s more traditional acts on the main stage, with a younger crowd expected around the small stage. Love is always in the air at Roseland’s big block party, and this year’s festival looks to continue the trend.

Here’s the lineup for the Main Stage. The 2010 La Reina is announced at 5:40, and note the two Duranguense bands. Synthesizers!

Here’s the lineup for the Second Stage. Mastah Mind and B-Smooth are followed by Nivel y Juanito, then DJ Rob Cervantes brings the heat.

TIPS:

1. The car show starts at 4:30. If you show up late, you’ll miss some amazing-looking rides. Bring a camera.

2. The lines for pupusas are always the longest, but you can get them any day of the year at Pupusas Salvadoreñas across from the Fairgrounds. Skip out and go hunting for food at the many smaller, family-run booths.

3. Like last year, hip-hop acts go on early. Seeing local Latino rappers on their home turf in front of a huge crowd is an amazing feeling of triumph. (My feature on Santa Rosa’s Latino hip-hop scene is here.) Don’t be late!

4. Why drive? The Bike Coalition is providing free bike parking this year, and Rosie the Trolley is making pick-ups from the Post Office on Sebastopol Road across from Cook, and from the FoodMaxx shopping center at Stony Point.

5. The guy at the taco truck on West Ave. & Sebastopol Rd. sells a crazy selection of CDs for $10. Last time I was there, I bought Phat Jams Vol. 503. That is not a typo—there really were 502 volumes of Phat Jams before mine, filled with filthy club tracks. Might be good to stick with the classics, like “Cruisin’ Baby,”  for the kids.

If you don’t wanna be among the throngs of people (it’s shoulder-t0-shoulder) and want to try a great new Yucatecan place, try El Rinconado Yucateco, so says me in this week’s Bohemian. Get the $6.95 panuchos and be in heaven. Plus, they’ll hold your baby while you eat if they’re not too busy.

(Rinconado Yucateco is way down Sebastopol Road near Community Bikes, a wonderful used bike resource which is still going strong. Read about them here. Last year they had a few crazy psych-metal shows; pretty awesome. Also, my friend Jamie tells me the family market next door sells pupusas on Friday evenings and Friday evenings only, and that they’re great.)

If You Had Another Chance

Posted by: on May 2, 2010 | Comments (1)

One of the semi-miraculous happenings around the local scene in the last year has been the unlikely reunion of the Invalids. I’m not talking about the band’s well-received show at last year’s Nostalgia Fest, or even their no-holds-barred warm-up the night before at Spencer-King, celestial as it undoubtedly felt. No, what’s miraculous is the Invalids are actually writing new songs—and great new songs, at that.

Those who showed up on Tupper Street yesterday afternoon with hopes of reliving the magic of “Wouldn’t Care If I Died” or “Sunday Afternoon” would have been let down. The Invalids attract an old gang of somewhat gracefully aging fans, and naturally, the old gang usually wants to hear the classics. But as they played a set of all-new material at the word-of-mouth show—not even one old song—I think everyone, one by one, agreed that the older stuff would have paled in currency.

It got me thinking about the steam train of hype surrounding the Pixies reunion, which wheezed to a disappointing rehash of playing Doolittle in its entirety; or the upcoming Pavement reunion, which looks like a rote victory lap while vacuuming dollar bills showering from the receding hairlines of the world. Hey, I can dish it and take it—I bought tickets. But I don’t feel any less played.

It reminds me of Josh Doan, whose new band Sapphire also played a few songs in the backyard yesterday. I realized that Josh has been making music for 17 years and has never put out an official album. Milkfat, Truant, Bottle Rocket, Tommy Gun, Boxcar and Hate Nevada were all good bands, I thought. “What you’ve gotta do,” I suggested, “is make a ‘Josh Doan’s Greatest Hits’ wrap-up featuring every band.” He was nonplussed. “In case you haven’t noticed,” he said, kindly, “I believe in moving forward. Not looking back.”

The Invalids are recording a new record in June. It’ll be their first album in 15 years.

Live Review: StarSkate at Los Caballos

Posted by: on Feb 26, 2010 | Comments (1)

There are reasons we like finding new places to play in Sonoma County. The jolt of the unchartered, the claim of presence, the raising of the flag. I relish the potential for disaster as much as I hope for the best—either way, it’s exciting. Los Caballos is a Latin dance nightclub in the old Shakey’s Pizza building on Cleveland that usually hosts tejano and salsa bands and, in at least one case, Latin Hyper, a fresh reggaeton band from Santa Rosa. This video is my favorite example of a normal night at Los Caballos, starring Los Vaquetones del Hyphy, a band in matching blazers, potleaf shirts and gasmasks who toss out free T-Shirts and Tecate before busting into their set. (“These dudes are clowns,” translates the comment.)

The turnout tonight at Los Caballos for StarSkate’s CD/cassette release show was encouragingly good. Hopefully the owners are down to have more indie shows, scratching their heads though they may be at the style of music foreign to their stage. Especially thrilling is that, like the North Bay Film and Art Collective, they’ve worked out an all-ages situation where those over 21 can still drink. It’s what I saw once at the Green Room in Tempe, Ariz.; a barricade running down the middle of the room, which isn’t nearly as awkward as it sounds.

Before StarSkate played, A Pack of Wolves turned in a great set on the nice, short triangular stage, flanked by a ‘Viva Mexico’ drum kit and pictures of Che Guevara on the wall. Is it just me or have A Pack of Wolves gotten extremely good in the last year or two? When they first started playing shows, I couldn’t shake a feeling that they were trying a little too hard to glom onto the dance-punk trend of the day, but seriously, they’ve really grown into their own. Cesco ended the set by announcing, “Thank you for watching us suck!” and then, off-mic, “That was our worst fucking show.” The tantrum was unwarranted; they played in this zone of professionalism made awesome by good new songs.

I last saw StarSkate at a house party on New Year’s Eve so crammed that their shadows on the ceiling were more visible than the band itself. To see them beneath nightclub cage lighting makes a big difference. They ruled. Similar to the compact sets pioneered by Universal Order of Armageddon, they play one uninterrupted 15- or 20-minute song, even when they need to change bass cables. There’s an unpredictability in StarSkate’s music, residing somewhere between planned and improvised, lit by a torch being passed from jazz to hardcore and back again. Their own description reads like the liner notes to a Strata-East album: “The band is currently studying the sacred science of sypathetic vibration theory,” it reads, “and experimenting with bending universal wave patterns to determine the qualitative form of mind and matter.” The Los Caballos crowd—including a couple old hippies, one burly bro with his thumb bandaged up, and some amused-looking staffers—were into it.

Also, here’s to the continued lifeboat for cassette tapes! I was at a Gilman show in January and I swear, four of the five bands that played were selling tapes. A friend of mine recently called it “the hipster calling card,” and yeah, it’s a trend. It’s one I can fully back. I’ve chronicled my love for tapes here and written about the thrust to make tapes in the 21st Century here, and I still get stoked when I can buy a new cassette. Five bucks for the StarSkate/BvP split, quick and easy, and how ’bout that artwork?

Los Caballos isn’t the only unusual place StarSkate is playing. Next weekend, they play this all-day thing with a zillion bands—another DJ N Front of a Coffee Shop JamSessions show—inside the Hall of Flowers at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds! No joke. If there was, oh, any information about it at all online, I’d link to it, but as it is you’ll just have to somehow osmose the details from the universe, man. (Update: here’s a flyer, with no date. It’s Saturday, March 6th.)

John Prine to play the Wells Fargo Center on April 11

Posted by: on Jan 25, 2010 | Comments (0)

John Prine, the lovable songwriter who deserves every laurel thrown at his feet, is coming back to Santa Rosa to play the Wells Fargo Center on April 11, 2010.

Presale tickets are available now by clicking here, although take note of the strange rules if you pursue this option: “Seats will be assigned at random on the day of the show, and the location of your seats will not be known until tickets are picked up at will call.”

For those who want the peace of mind of knowing where they’re sitting, tickets to the general public go on sale this Friday, Jan. 29, at noon.

The last time John Prine played in Santa Rosa, it was September 8, 2001. The twin towers still stood, as did the feeling of optimism and confidence in the economy. The venue was still called the Luther Burbank Center. We had the luxury of being able to laugh at his songs then; something tells me those same songs might cause a tinge of sadness now. He played for over two hours that night, just song after brilliant song, ending with an encore of “Paradise” joined onstage by Todd Snider. “Lake Marie” brought the house down, and he made beautiful chestnuts like “Souvenirs,” “Sam Stone” and “You Got Gold” sound shiny and new after all these years. I talked to him afterwards; he was all rosy cheeks, in a great mood, and told me the crowd was as great and responsive as any he’d played for. It was a hell of a show.

If you’ve never seen John Prine, you’re missing out on a genuine national treasure. The standing-room deal is $19.50, with tickets going up to $39.50 and $49.50 for seats. It’ll sell out easily. For more info., call 707.546.3600 or visit the Wells Fargo Center site.

The New Year

Posted by: on Jan 1, 2010 | Comments (0)

The party was packed from the driveway to the stairs, where the clarion sign hung with more promise than the prospect of a New Year: “Beer.” Where were you ten years ago, arose the question, when the world was worried about Y2K?

At home, watching TV.

Smashing Neil Diamond records against the wall and lighting off illegal fireworks inside.

I was in middle school ten years ago.

Running around a campsite naked.

The last day of the decade and I went to the dump, digging through the detritus of the aughts. Cashed in a gift card at the stupidest restaurant in Petaluma. Picked up and began acclimating to my first-ever pair of eyeglasses. Hung out with Matthew & Kerri and their new baby boy, Cassius.

And then the party—StarSkate in a ridiculously small living room where the ghosts of Lindauer and Courage sleep. Shadows jumping around the ceiling in rhythm. Oneness. Outside, Nick with scarf, Dean with owl, Susie with Maryland, Celeste with the story of Rod, the tree-feller. Flasks, cups, hearts. A night to love Santa Rosa.

Back by midnight to kiss my girl. Rihanna looking ridiculous on TV. Dick Clark aging out, a sad tinge. Up until 3:30 reading about 1989. Twenty years ago burned into my consciousness. The golden years? I slept like a log.

First record of 2010: The Fastbacks, Very, Very Powerful Motor. Off to loan an amp to Guy and see what the new year brings. Glasses are weird. I’m still not used to them.

Dickie Peterson, R.I.P.

Posted by: on Oct 12, 2009 | Comments (0)

Dickie Peterson, the bassist and singer of Blue Cheer who spent a lifetime oversaturating amplifiers in underrated glory, has died at age 61. There is no way to go back in time and listen to Blue Cheer devoid of their subsequent context—Black Sabbath, prominently; Sleep, the Melvins and Sunn 0))), less prominently—but it doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that Peterson and his trio were on some heavy shit way before the world was on some heavy shit.

Of course, Blue Cheer played extensively in the Bay Area, including the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in the 1960s right after Vincebus Eruptum came out, but had even more recent ties to this area. I met Peterson a few years ago when he was living in West Sonoma County, of all places, and playing the occasional blues show at the Forestville Club. He looked exactly like an unsung pioneer of heavy metal, with long hair, a denim jacket and imposing heft. I guess he didn’t stay here long—he died this morning in Germany, presumably of cancer. May he be remembered.

Heavy Mental Music

Posted by: on Sep 30, 2009 | Comments (4)

This week’s Bohemian feature is on Heavy Mental Music, a very amazing, strange record made in 1981 by David Petri and the developmentally disabled clients of the Manual Skills Training Center in Santa Rosa. Pictured above is the “deluxe edition,” with a T-shirt, two posters, three stickers, a photocopied booklet, a notepad and two copies of the record, all housed in a hand-designed box. According to Petri, only 50 of these “kits” were made (most copies of the record were sold alone, or given out to strangers on the bus), and at one point, what you see above actually sat on the desk in the Oval Office.

What strikes me most about this record is that it’s completely ahead of its time, both in concept and presentation. Colored-vinyl 7″s, stenciled T-shirts, photocopied lyric booklets and paper Kinko’s stickers didn’t start showing up en masse until around 1991, and the acceptance of incorporating the developmentally disabled into pop culture—the Kids of Widney High, or How’s Your News?—was years away.

The heartbreaking part of the story, for me, is Petri being accused of using the mentally retarded clients of the Manual Skills Training Center to advance his own agenda. In the time I spent with Petri, he seemed like a sincere, caring person who patiently taught the clients how to play drums and keyboards and who happened to be attracted to the aesthetic of artists like Todd Rundgren and Salvador Dalí. Shades of that aesthetic color Heavy Mental Music, and something tells me that if Petri had recorded campfire folk songs like “This Land is Your Land” instead, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s “Heavy Mental Music,” written by Jim Weber and performed by the developmentally disabled clients of the Manual Skills Training Center on Lomitas Ave. in Santa Rosa in 1981:

Click the second file above to hear the obscure but no less compelling B-side,”Tour.”



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