Found music, lost youth

A mighty polka sound emanated from the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op on the evening of Thursday, October 9. At a distance, it might have been a low-rider blaring Radio Romantica through the tinted windows of his Cadillac. However, closer inspection revealed Tuba Man Dan, seated on a low crate in front of the health-food superstore, was the source of the oom-pah-pah. Nearly hidden by a giant brass tuba, Dan bleated and bellowed with all the force of a (musically gifted) elephant seal. Two speakers provided orchestral accompaniment, creating a full-spectrum sound that begged passers-by to “Roll out the barrels!”

The unexpected glory of street tuba caused shoppers to loiter on the sidewalk, marveling. People filled Dan’s tip bowl with coins, dollars and a bottle of Negro Modelo. One gentleman immediately hired him to play for his co-workers the next day.

Like all great street musicians, Dan is subject to the call of the open road. He’ll be leaving Sacramento after October, but there’s still time to hire him for your Oktoberfest party or corporate team-building event. Tuba Man Dan can be reached at (916) 201-6674, at least for now.

There’s not much that can top spontaneous street tuba, but Arrogant English Bastard New Year certainly gave it a go. Tony Sheppard, vice president of the Sacramento Film Group and the aforementioned arrogant Englishman, celebrated his 40th birthday at the Crest Theatre on Sunday, October 12 with a couple hundred friends. “If 1 billion Chinese people can have their own new year,” Sheppard said of the event’s title, “there’s no reason I can’t.”

The main stage shook with an all-Crest band lineup (meaning every act had a Crest employee in it) including The Nightmares, Stupid Jerks, Riff Randals, Naked Nathan and Rock the Light. Nevada Backwards held down the musical entertainment in the lounge, where guests sipped wine and ate hors d’oeuvres served in gray plastic buckets.

When asked what the buckets were usually used for, Crest manager Sid Heberger replied, “Remember when we restored the Crest ceiling, and we had to haul around all that Simple Green?”

With the possible exception of Willie Busfield’s drum solo in the women’s bathroom (while neighboring stalls were still in use), Rock the Light’s performance was the highlight of the night. With members of the band employed by both the Tower Theatre and the Crest, concession-stand tension permeated the air.

“Tower Theatre, where you at?” singer Allen Maxwell yelled repeatedly.

“Hey, I told you my boss wasn’t going to go for that,” drummer (and Crest employee) Charles Albright kidded.

“Well, Casa de Los Babys is now seating,” Maxwell yelled in reply. “And we’re all out of film lover’s cards!”

It wasn’t street tuba, but in the words of the birthday boy, “There’s no question that, out of all the events here at the Crest tonight, this is the one.”