Arts & Entertainment
Best string of raving Willies
Raving Willie: That’s what we call our “sublime” guy, the one that gets tacked onto a five-star review. We understand that some in the theater community have more salacious names for him, but we like raving Willie. And of all the shows in town reviewed in the past year, Capital Stage has earned a raving Willie for every damn one. That’s right: Their whole season was a five-star show. When you factor in that those shows were reviewed by different SN&R critics (and we can only agree on free lunches, let me tell you), that makes it quite an accomplishment. Now, we don’t generally designate something as the best of the best of Sacramento, but there’s got to be a first time for everything. Capital Stage has an unbroken history of picking great plays for great directors, casting them well and letting the show go on from there. As the troupe prepares to move into a new Midtown location, we can only say, “Best wishes to the best!”
1000 K Street, aboard the Delta King; (916) 995-5464; www.capstage.org.
Best back-issue geekout
The four-color eye candy inside Sacramento’s expansive A-1 Comics hits you like a gamma bomb. There’s T-shirts, action figures, posters and—of course—comics. Thousands upon thousands of comics. The shop’s voluminous back-issue inventory is enough to make one hulk out with green envy. As we waded through neatly organized aisles of boxed comics wrapped in protective plastic, ’80s nostalgia drew our female companion to a column of Thundercats comics. We painstakingly admired the pop-art covers of Neal Adams’ Green Lantern, Bill Sienkiewicz’s New Mutants and Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury; rediscovered David Lapham’s DIY indie anthology, Stray Bullets; and happened upon silver-age oddities like Metamorpho, a leotard-wearing shapeshifter with a wan complexion. The patient cashier, a John Byrne-illustrated X-Men shirt covering his teddy-bear frame, rang up our purchases a few minutes past closing and escorted us outside this hall of wonders.
5361 Auburn Boulevard, (916) 331-9203, www.a-1comics.com.
Local Indie Music Photos
At first I was just impressed: A young woman in Midtown with an ear for good bands and an eye for rock ’n’ roll mavericks and their sweet rock-god moves started posting photos from local indie-rock gigs on her Tumblr blog. And so—full disclosure—I reached out to her, and she became a photo contributor to SN&R’s weekly Sound Advice column. Yet that wasn’t enough: Photographer Amy Scott took it to the next level, going out to more shows, almost daily, and taking more pictures of Sacto bands than probably anyone in the region—even those professional shutterbugs hunkered down in stageside bunkers at venues such as Arco Arena. Want proof? Check out her Flickr page. Can’t find it? Well, dang, Scott has a new, very pro, real-deal home page. Give it a look:
Best adult playcation
Dave & Buster’s
Forget the restaurant at Dave & Buster’s and head directly for the Million Dollar Midway. It’s a wicked combination of old-school arcade and the games teenagers don’t want to see adults play, like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero. I’ve heard locals complain that, at 17,000 square feet, this Dave & Buster’s is small. I say, think of it as your own personal playcation space, and don’t go home until you’ve had too much fun.
1174 Roseville Parkway in Roseville, (916) 772-3400, www.daveandbusters.com.
Best classic country blast from the past
The Jimmy Cole Show
Deejay Jimmy Cole’s been playing classic country since before it was classic—he’s been on the air in one form or another since 1959. These days, Cole is based in Wilton near Elk Grove, where he hosts an online radio show playing country music, new and old. There’s plenty of the new, poppier “hot country,” but Cole also digs into vaults from the 1940s through the 1980s for gems.
Best Underground art
Why is it that most “counterculture artists” roll their eyes at the term “counterculture artist”? Maybe they’re worried that the magnetic and growing popularity of Juxtapoz-magazine-inspired, youth-culture art will reveal their favorite websites and galleries, such as Fecal Face and White Walls in San Francisco, to mainstream eyes? So I guess it doesn’t help to acknowledge Midtown retail spot and gallery Upper Playground with an SN&R Best of—but I tend to think the underground-art cat has already long fled the janky bag. Because U.P. consistently puts on great exhibits, whether it’s Amanda Lopez’s breathtaking collection of harrowing photo portraits, or Christopher Jerome Baxter’s wickedly visceral political art. Plus, there’s something to be said for a Sacramento gallery located in the heart of the city that takes a risk and focuses on urban and outsider art. We need more of this, because it inspires young artists to do new, great things. 2524 J Street, (916) 444-8148, www.upperplayground.com.
Best place to fight injustice, dig art and head-nod to killer bands
When the first incarnation of nonprofit gallery and education, cultural and music center Sol Collective on Del Paso Boulevard burnt down a few years back, it was a tragedy, especially for young kids. Thankfully, their new digs on 21st Street just south of Broadway in Curtis Park makes up for the loss—and more. I personally interact with Sol as a place to see great, one-of-a-kind live music, such as indie darling Wavves on the band’s recent 916 stop, or electronic indie duo and Warp Records’ Nice Nice. Others, though, frequent Sol for other reasons, such as Sol Youth, a mentoring program that matches kids with local artists, teachers and college students. Plus, they put on events such as Challenging Wall Streets Control of Politics—something kids ain’t gonna learn about on Facebook.
2574 21st Street, (916) 476-3628, www.solcollective.org.
Best thing yet to come
Crocker Art Museum grand opening
If the media sounds like a broken record about this one, it’s only because it’s the coolest thing to happen to Sacramento since—I don’t even know when. As a former (and possibly future) docent at the Crocker Art Museum, I’m even more excited to see this project finally come to fruition. The redesign will quadruple the amount of temporary exhibition space and triple the size of the museum as a whole. It’ll have better, safer storage facilities for its huge master drawings collection; a cafe; an auditorium; a 7,000-square-foot courtyard (I don’t even wanna get married and I’m ready to make a reservation); an educational center; and art-student studio spaces. Not to mention, it looks just stunning. How’s that for world class, K.J.? Grand opening is Sunday, October 10, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Visit www.newcrocker.org for more information.
Best place to get crafty
UC Davis Craft Center
Looking for a way to blow off steam that doesn’t involve waking up with a head-splitting hangover or a mysteriously acquired concussion? Learn a new skill at the UC Davis Craft Center. With more than 100 classes to choose from—including painting, screen printing, flame working and ceramics—it’s hard to beat the variety of the Craft Center. If you’ve already got your methods down, they offer independent crafters studio-access passes to fully equipped studios. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a student to get involved, and all skill levels are welcome. So go on, give your liver a break and get crafty.
Best fresh idea for classical art
Sacramento Ballet’s Capital Choreography Competition
As if surviving a near-catastrophic economic downturn with grace (and audience-building performances at Second Saturday) weren’t enough, the Sacramento Ballet pulled another rabbit out of the hat this year with the Capital Choreography Competition. With prize money for the participants and an opportunity for local ballet aficionados to see new works written specifically for the Sacramento Ballet, it’s a big step up. This year’s competing choreographers will be Yannis Adoniou (artistic director, KUNST-STOFF Contemporary Dance Company), Melissa Barak (a leading dancer with the Los Angeles Ballet) and Darrell Grand Moultrie (a graduate of Julliard, he’s currently on Broadway in Billy Elliott). There’s nothing stuffy here—Sacramento Ballet opens the windows and gives local dance a breath of fresh air.
1631 K Street, (916) 552-5800, www.sacballet.org.
Best place to see a gay movie
Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
OK, so gay characters are now common in mainstream movies. But if you’re tired of watching yet another gay best friend make the wisecracks while Jennifer Anniston/Drew Barrymore/Julia Roberts has all the fun, SIGLFF is definitely the place to see a gay movie. That’s because the movies are really gay; they’re not straight movies with a gay person in them. And they’ll include documentaries, foreign films, animation and short subjects, as well as features from all over the world. Hey, variety is the spice of … spice! It’s timed for early October, to coincide with National Coming Out Day.
October 7-9, at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street; www.siglff.org.
Best reason to catch a comedy at B Street Theatre
Timing is everything in comedy and in life, and Greg Alexander has mastered the art. Alexander is one of those rare local actors who can launch audiences into the kind of laughter that hurts so good. “His versatility, his precision is laserlike. In a straight role, he is wonderful. If the role is slightly off-kilter, he’s brilliant,” said B Street chief Buck Busfield. As Jimmer in Escanaba in Da Moonlight, or when he played every role in I Am My Own Wife, the chameleonlike Alexander, who also is a playwright and director, makes any theater ticket worth the price.
B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300; www.bstreettheatre.org.
Best Roseville sushi-cum-dance spot
The night it opened, a leathery man in a pimp’s hat and full-length leopard-print fur coat made like he was having a lengthy epileptic fit on the sleek, atmospheric dance floor. Sake House—a business venture from Sactown nightclub maven Bob Simpson and restaurateur Randy Paragary—can’t always boast that level of caricature inside The Fountains at Roseville, but is the place where you will reliably find the toned, buxom housewives of Placer County kicking off their Manolo heels and swiveling in a tribal circle of ya-ya sisterhood. The restaurant-nightclub hybrid represents a unique pairing of East and West, offering Japanese cuisine by day, and frenetic club beats once the clock strikes 10 Wednesdays through Saturdays. With the exception of arcade dance games, it’s also the only opportunity to get down this far into the Galleria.
1017 Galleria Boulevard, Suite 160 in Roseville; (916) 782-5040; www.sakehouseroseville.com.
Best reason to stay up Sundays
Nighttime jam sessions at Powerhouse Pub in Folsom
Most Sunday evenings, after the cougars, wildcats and other libidinous prowlers have drifted back into workweek hibernation, a ragtag band of journeymen musicians congregate onstage inside the cavernous PowerHouse Pub in historic Folsom to jam. There’ s no cover charge, no hierarchy and no crowds. Musicians of varying ages and backgrounds bring their own instruments and add their names to the list, then wait their turns to rock. The song selections are mostly roots and blues standards, but not the kind of insincere soul-patch crap personified by the fictional band Blues Hammer in the sardonic 2001 film Ghost World. Instead, you can see a heavyset community-college instructor peeling beer labels until there’s an opening behind the drum kit; a lanky, stringy-haired teen strumming alongside older peers; and a woman in a breezy dress enjoying an otherwise empty dance floor like a hippie ballerina.
614 Sutter Street in Folsom, (916) 355-8586, www.powerhousepub.com.
Describe your Ferris Bueller’s Day Off day?
SN&R’s Facebook friends respond:
“Any and all of the following: base jump from the Darth Vader building, film a short horror movie in the underground Sacramento ruins, make a flash parade of art cars and bikes that stops traffic around the Capitol, have an impromptu dance party complete with lights and turntables on one car of the light rail, hold a mass skinny dip on the American River.” —Laurelin Gilmore
“Test-drive some luxury cars, head downtown into one of our tallest buildings, Crocker Art Museum, maybe spend some time on the river, Rivercats game.” —Lindsey Silva
“Visit the Crocker; crash the Sutter Club; try to meet [Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger]; swan-dive from the Tower Bridge.” —Steve Lyle