Arts & Entertainment

Writer’s picks

Beastly babies are free to create at ArtBeast Studio.

Beastly babies are free to create at ArtBeast Studio.

Photo By ken james

Best way to elevate bathroom grafitti

Bill Gainer’s poetry magnets
It’s not easy to pen quality verse in a public bathroom. Those who interrupt their eliminations to scribble on the walls usually leave clichéd couplets like, “Here I sit broken-hearted / tried to crap but only farted.” A literary town like Sacramento can do better than that! Bill Gainer’s poetry magnets make it possible. The Nevada City poet has created a series of short works by Northern California poets on colorful magnets perfect for adorning metal bathroom stalls. Sure, you could post them on your fridge, but they’ll get more exposure on the fender of your car or inside your local pub. Pick them up for free, and do your part to edify the masses.
Available at the Book Collector, 1008 24th Street; (916) 442-9295. B.C.

Best opportunity to spaz out

ArtBeast Studio
Some days it seems like kids have two modes: TV zombie and bouncing off the walls. Even the most well-meaning, creative and patient parents (whoever those people are) can find it exhausting to keep their wee beasties occupied. That’s where ArtBeast Studio comes in. Housed in a converted Midtown Victorian, ArtBeast is four floors and a backyard full of fun for children. Each room is packed with paints and art supplies, climbing structures, musical instruments, puppet-show theaters and other stuff kids love to bust out but you don’t necessarily want strewn all over the house. There’s even a dance studio with a stereo and smooth hardwood floors for spazzing out in socked feet. Drop-in admission is $8 a head, parents included. Family passes are a whopping $90 a month. What’s your sanity worth?
2226 K Street, (916) 441-1233, C.G.

Best place to be put on the spot

Acoustic Sanctuary
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be put on the spot by a man waving around wads of cash hollering, “Laddie, would you like some of me money?” But these things don’t happen, at least not in my life—and if they happen in yours, well, shove it. So I send you down J Street to the Acoustic Sanctuary, home of the One Man Band, Harrington King. King calls on his audience members for musical inspiration, and there are not many places where slight embarrassment yields such entertaining rewards. His crowded, flashy purple van is an enjoyable place to spend a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.
J and 22nd streets, (916) 454-9463, N.V.

Best cure for the summer musical blahs

Artistic Differences’ Summer of Rock
Music Circus is up and running, but what if you’d prefer more sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll than Altar Boyz can manage? What if you’re allergic to Cats? Artistic Differences, the edgy community theater troupe, had an answer: They took two of their previous hits (Hair and Bare, both rated “sublime” by SN&R), added the Who’s legendary rock opera Tommy and made a summer of concert musicals. While Tommy blew out all the stops at the Crest Theatre, Harlow’s was home for the other shows. What a hunk of rockin’ musical fun—and a great way to keep the troupe in the public eye. They even added a few guerrilla performances, including a singing, dancing promo right outside SN&R’s offices on a Second Saturday. Way to go, Artistic Differences. Bless your different little hearts.

Marilyn’s on K’s live-band karaoke is the best venue to debut your duets, be they Hall & Oates or Guns N’ Roses.

Photo By Ken James

Best way to feel like a rock star

Live-band karaoke
Singing solo in a bar full of drunken fools can be intimidating. Even if the karaoke host pretends to play an inflated guitar, no one’s really got the singer’s back if their voice cracks. Marilyn’s on K takes karaoke to another level, from American Idol cheesiness to Madison Square Garden concert awesomeness. It’s just an underground bar in Sacramento, but the backing of a full band and backup singers is enough to help anyone imagine bright lights and thousands of screaming fans. Live band karaoke happens on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. No cover!
Marilyn’s on K, 908 K Street; (916) 446-4361; J.K.

Best cabaret emcee who doesn’t look like Joel Grey

Graham Sobelman, host of Graham-a-rama
The best cabaret show in town is nestled into the tiny Geery Theater on L Street. Be sure to make reservations—it sells out. Every frakkin’ time. Even if they put folding chairs on the stage for the overflow, without a reservation, you’ll miss some of the best musical talent in the area. Graham Sobelman’s the brains behind this fantastic Sunday-night cabaret show, though we hear he has a day job. Check out the Graham-a-rama Cabaret channel on YouTube for a hint of what you’ve been missing: Jerry Lee’s rendition of “Popular” from Wicked, or the ungodly funny audition medley performed by Nancy Zoppi. If you want to see the unrestrained side of Sacramento’s musical-theater culture, this is a mandatory stop.
Geery Theater, 2130 L Street; (916) 798-6352; K.M.

Best online rap
The coolest thing that happened to me this month was discovering I could stream local Internet hip-hop radio station on iTunes. Why didn’t I find out about this before? Where else online can you hear a mix featuring, say, local rap like Chase Moore or Righteous Movement, plus heavy hitters like A Tribe Called Quest, and talk radio with artists Tofu de la Moore and Jae Synth rattling on about having to do stupid square-dancing routines in high-school P.E.? Exactly! You can’t hear this stuff anywhere else. Unless, of course, you taught ninth graders in 1987—and in that case, you probably don’t know how to use Windows Vista anyway. N.M.

Best original play

Variations on Betrayal: An Allegory for Five Colorful Clowns
This was a tough one, even after the entrants were trimmed to works written and produced in Sacramento. The award goes to Variations on Betrayal: An Allegory for Five Colorful Clowns, which was produced by Beyond the Proscenium Productions from an original script by director P. Joshua Laskey. To say that Variations is “about” Benedict Arnold is sort of like saying that the book of Genesis is “about” a garden; it’s true only in the loosest sense. Laskey’s play uses the biography of America’s most famous traitor to examine the nature and cost of loyalty. It’s a very, very big idea, and BPP’s production—though it might have benefited from a bit of trimming—did justice to the magnitude of the concept. It was also durned funny. This award is also on the bittersweet side. The bad news is that Beyond the Proscenium is suspending productions; the good news is that Laskey, along with several other BPP stalwarts, is forming a new company. K.M.

New Helvetia Theatre artistic director Connor Mickiewicz rehearses for <i>Tick, Tick … Boom</i>, an explosive new production opening October 21.

Photo By Ken James

Best new professional theater company

New Helvetia Theatre
It might seem like the worst time in the world to start a new professional theater company. In fact, it is the worst time in the world to start a new professional theater company. In the past year, the venerable Foothills Theatre Company closed its doors and the Sacramento Theatre Company did some emergency fundraising, while B Street Theatre and Capital Stage made cutbacks to deal with the reality of the economy. In the midst of all that, artistic director Connor Mickiewicz guided the birth of New Helvetia Theatre. The debut, a short run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, was an auspicious, five-star beginning. With a commitment to overlooked and underappreciated musicals, New Helvetia should fill a very necessary niche in a musical-theater town. K.M.

Best intern turned producer turned deejay

Noodles from 1140 AM’s The Carmichael Dave Show
It’s hard out there for an intern. You work for almost no pay and do all the things your superiors don’t want to do, while being the butt of their jokes. Most weeknights on KHTK 1140 AM’s The Carmichael Dave Show, intern Noodles took a ribbing not only in front of his co-workers, but also for the show’s large audience. With frequent on-air comments from Dave like, “He has bigger boobs than most women,” it wouldn’t be surprising to find out he decided to take his talent and moobs elsewhere. However, Noodles took the situation in stride. Not only is he now the show’s producer, he is a part-time deejay on 100.5 FM The Zone, with the on-air name Trailer Roskey. Be careful what you say Dave, revenge is sha-weet. K.Mc.

Best local graphic novel

Strangeways: Murder Moon
We’ve got some serious local talent when it comes to comics and graphic novels (including artist Sam Kieth, who lives up in the foothills), so it’s no surprise that every so often a graphic novel crosses the transom that looks pretty damn good. Strangeways: Murder Moon, the first in a series written by El Dorado Hills resident Matt Maxwell, is a genre bender that adds to werewolf mythology and transforms the traditional Western. The slightly retro black-and-white drawings are stark but detailed. It’s extremely unnerving and just right for this horror-slash-oater story of a Confederate veteran out to stop a family curse. Maxwell’s going places—and not just to Rocklin, either.
Highway 62 Press, K.M.

Best dinner and a movie

Sacramento 6 Drive-In
There’s a constant flutter of gossip about Sacramento 6 Drive-In. One week, locals mourn its alleged closing and the next, they’re throwing their kiddies in the back of a truck and heading to Rancho Cordova. For the record, the drive-in is open—and still cheap. It’s a magical place where patrons get a double-feature and no hassle from employees. The aroma of barbecued ribs, homemade popcorn and the crinkling of fast-food wrappers are not grounds for banishment: They’re encouraged. After bellies are stuffed, people get comfy in truck beds filled with pillows or in cozy camping chairs under a blanket of stars. Admission is $4.75 to $6.75 for adults, $1 for children ages 5 to 11 and free for 4 and younger.
9616 Oates Drive, Rancho Cordova; (916) 363-6572. J.K.

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Best champion of the common folk

Michael Leahy
As the host of the long-running Cool as Folk radio show on KDVS 90.3 FM, founder of Crossbill Records, and booker of shows in Davis and Sacramento venues, Michael Leahy has been a tremendous resource for folk and Americana music in this region and beyond since 2003. Presenting hundreds of local and touring artists for live and in-studio performances, Leahy has pulled the folk-music community closer while helping it grow larger., S.S.

Best place to reminisce about KWOD 106.5

Powerhouse Pub
Perhaps the biggest downer about the disappearance of KWOD 106.5 FM is that the station was a strong supporter of local music. Now all of that on-air promotion is gone. However, erstwhile KWOD deejay Andy Hawk still puts on weekly Wednesday-night free shows at the Powerhouse Pub in Folsom, so former KWOD listeners have the perfect place to watch local bands like Automatic Static and Bright Light Fever. Plus, no cover equals more money for beer
. 614 Sutter Street, Folsom; (916) 355-8586; K.Mc.