Buy a record, dammit
Russ Solomon retires:
Years ago, when the Sex Pistols were a new act, I got hired to work at Tower Records in Stockton. The manager who brought me on, Phil Minas, used to joke about the half-speed mustache jockeys with their acoustic guitars and droop-lidded paeans to green-budding love that some of the clerks at that Tower store liked to champion. “Retirement rock,” he’d snark.
And here it was, decades later on a too-warm Saturday afternoon, and there was Minas, tucked into the corner of the parking lot of Dimple Records at Broadway and 16th Street, playing gently vibrating iridescent cartoon-saguaro country rock in a band called Rodeo Planet, trading vocals with Ray “Catfish” Copeland, another ex-Tower manager, who’d run Tower’s Broadway location for a time, and Dusty Hamilton, the former proprietor of Sacramento’s defunct Café Montreal.
The occasion was a retirement party for Russ Solomon, whose Tower store occupied that former Glidden Paint location from the mid-’60s through the better part of the music business’ heyday, until the chain went belly up in 2006. The next year, Solomon launched R5 Records in the same building, but the timing for a new Tower-style store, with a moribund economy and perhaps a too-difficult environment for single-store operators, didn’t quite mesh. So Solomon shuttered R5 last month.
Then Dimple Records took over the location and did what appears to be a very smart thing: The local chain arranged to throw a party for Solomon, turning it into a passing-the-baton event that generated an enormous amount of goodwill for the new store, now painted sky blue instead of Solomon’s trademark yellow and red. Dimple kept R5’s wall murals, however, giving the location a measure of graphic continuity.
At precisely 2:29 p.m., for you mundane astrologers, Solomon, who will turn 85 in September, handed Dimple’s John Radakovitz—who co-owns the chain with wife Dilyn—a symbolic key to the store. A large framed photograph of Solomon under the Tower Theatre spire was unveiled by Dilyn. Minutes later, her husband John, whose mustache would do ’70s local waterbed king Tom LaBrie proud, ambled onstage with Rodeo Planet to perform a song he’d written in honor of Solomon, titled “I Sold Records.” Johnny Mercer it wasn’t, but it did have a certain Ron Schmeck-style charm, and the crowd adored it.
That crowd, which numbered a couple hundred, contained quite a few former Tower managers, executives and employees. It was a surprising reunion, really, with longtime Tower mainstays who’d disappeared suddenly showing up to pay respects to the self-effacing man who, for a few years, made Sacramento not only the capital of California, but a center of gravity for the music business. It might sound cheesy to say that there was a lot of love in the air that Saturday afternoon, but that’s the most accurate appraisal this writer can muster.
Soon, the mid-afternoon’s pounding heat became too much for people much younger than Solomon, and so everyone repaired inside, with Solomon and his wife Patti Drosins holding court at a table. (Jackson Griffith)
When asked to describe last Saturday night’s hip-hop show at Capitol Garage, legends Planet Asia called it “grassroots!”
Mahtie Bush’s birthday event kicked off with a few songs from Task 1ne, who was a perfect choice to host, with his high-energy and comedic self-aware style. By 11:30 p.m., the venue began to pack, and birthday boy Bush did not disappoint with his performance. Sac’s most controversial emcee was followed by one of the hardest-hitting and most commercially successful rappers in the Sac scene, Mean Doe Green, or Doey Rock, who always provides an electric stage show chock-full of grime and grit.
Doey was followed by Major League Spittaz, who put on a clinic of old-school hip-hop styles before Planet Asia took the stage. Asia rocked through a mix of tracks from his collaborative Gold Chain release, produced by Alchemist with Tri State, as well as his latest solo effort, Pain Language produced by Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs.
Before leaving, Asia explained that Sacramento was one of his favorite cities to come and play. “We look at y’all like New York looks at Philly,” the Bay Area rapper said. Sacramento may not be worldwide just yet, but it is not for lack of talented performers, and Saturday night at Cap Garage was undeniable proof of that. (Andrew Bell)