Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Tonight: North Fresno ArtHop


Artist Richard Silva is a fixture on the downtown ArtHop scene, but tonight he ventures north. He’s the featured artist at the Vintage Market at 601, located at 601 W. Shaw Ave. The venue is one of a handful in the area, along with the Brush and Easel Gallery and Gallery II Pat Hunter Studio, trying to increase interest in North Fresno ArtHop happenings. From the Fresno Arts Council website:

Silva paints in an abstract expressionist style that has made him one of the most venerated Fresno artists. He was trained at the S.F. Art Institute in the 1960s, but states that the 1950s is the era that inspires him. He describes himself as essentially an action painter creating abstract expressionist images that stress spontaneity, gesture and movement. Silva will be showing a new collection of paintings and his unique wood sculptures that arouse one’s curiosity. Traditional bluegrass music will be performed by Jack Kinney and Eric Antrem.

Check out the ArtHop page on the arts council’s website for more North Fresno ArtHop happenings.

Seth Gabel bewitched by ‘Salem’

3-cotton-matherThe new WGN series, “Salem,” is set during the Salem Witch Trials. The series that launches April 20 is based in historical fact but the show takes some very magical liberties with the people, places and witchy things.

Seth Gabel, who plays Cotton Mather, who heads the witch hunt, sees the series as being more about mystery than history.

“This show is about perception and questioning the things that we accept as fact, and what is truth and how do we define truth and how do we know that the stories — because they are stories — that were told about history are, in fact, true,” Gabel says. “Are those facts actually relevant?

“What I love about this show is it questions those facts. It questions those perceptions, and at the same time, it kind of gives you an access for understanding the truth of the situation that, perhaps, may be metaphorical, and you can experience what it was like to be in Salem during that time and actually live there.”

He stresses the show should not be defined as just as a series about witches or about witchcraft or about the witch trials. What he sees as important and relevant is that the show addresses a lot of energies that exist within the human psyche that so often get repressed.

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BANDGEEK!: Nicki Bluhm, Labretta Suede and a country music fest

4-18-14-3It’s spring break and 420 weekend. Which means plenty of party fodder to go around. If you’re looking for live music, here it is, the most comprehensive list in town (I said it). Here’s your weekly BANDGEEK!!


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Fresno Urban Outfitters now a discount store

photo(70)The Urban Outfitters at Fashion Fair mall in Fresno is changing formats and is now an “Urban Outfitters Surplus.” That means the store is essentially one big sale all the time. Prices are much lower than they were before and racks of clothing range from “$4.99 and up” to “$29.99 and up” (and with a few exceptions most of the sweaters, dresses and tops are the initial price, no major bait and switch happening here). Both men’s and women’s sections have bins of $3 scarves.

Urban Outfitters made the switch about three weeks ago. It appears to be the third such Surplus store nationwide, with others in Sherman Oaks and Chicago. The clothes come from Bay Area Urban Outfitters stores.

The store also now has a couch, and a ping pong table and video games that customers are invited to play (Extreme Hunting, Final Fight and Lethal Enforcers, if you’re interested).

No official word yet on why the store made the change or if its prices on casual clothing were too out-of-reach for a Fresno market. Also no indication Urban Outfitters plans to do this at the other brands it owns, including Anthropologie.

D.I.Y.: Peep Bouquet


Photo: Eric Paul Zamora

Thought I was done torturing Peeps? Alas, the poor little confections have far too many uses to be used in only one Easter decor project.

I have another: the Peep Bouquet.

This bouquet centerpiece will add ample amounts of color and glamor to any table. Bonus: It’s very simple and involves no hot glue — which makes it the perfect kids-friendly craft.

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Evil characters rule on ‘The Following’

tf_36-james-publicity_0442.rcThere are two episodes left in the second season of the FOX series “The Following.”  Although the second season has wandered off the creepy path that was so perfect in the first year, the show continues to feature one of the most fascinating maniacs in TV history with James Purefoy’s Joe Carroll.

Although the series is about the efforts of a flawed FBL agent — played by Kevin Bacon — to track down the killer, Purefoy’s character has also been getting a lot of attention.

“I think people are really fascinated by psychopaths. Psychopaths are willing to step outside the normal bounds of human behavior, and I think people find that really interesting and people fantasize about that themselves,” Purefoy says. “Most people don’t carry it out, but they think, wow, that’s amazing that these people can live with no sense of empathy for somebody else or no sense of an idea of a consequence to any of their actions.

“And people find that a really fascinating thing, and I think they always have. I don’t think it has anything to do with ‘The Following.’ People find psychopaths fascinating in drama and have done for centuries. They’re dirty and what was that word? Skeevy?”

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New Tower District restaurant/bar

photo(69)Do you remember Cafe Rousseau in the Tower District that closed? It became the short-lived Bistro 566. Now it’s something new, this time with the family behind several DiCicco’s restaurants running the show. Frankie’s 568 opened quietly last Saturday. The Italian restaurant is a way of honoring Frank Vitucci — the father to Joanna Vitucci Lopez who runs three DiCicco’s restaurants and husband to Linda. Frank died in 2012. You can read more about him and the restaurant’s back story here.

Frankie’s 568′s menu is different than DiCicco’s, and includes pasta, steak, chicken Parmigiana and a few pizzas. There’s a “Frankie’s Special” on the menu: A petite filet Mignon, tender lamb ribs and an Italian sausage link. There’s also an appetizer dish Frank loved: Fresh ricotta served on toasted bread. Also, Rousseau’s wallpaper has come down and a mural of a scene in Italy went up.

The attached bar is now a separate business. Owner Pete Mejia ran both restaurant and bar under Bistro 566 and will continue to run the bar, which is now Bourbon & Taps. He also owns Tower Sports Club. The business will soon offer 40 bourbons — everything from Maker’s Mark to small-batch bourbons. By next week the place will have 19 craft beers on tap, including six or seven Tioga-Sequoia beers.

Where to eat out on Easter Sunday

Food Deadline Maple HamEaster is Sunday and if you just said “eek!” I’m here to help. Several restaurants are open serving special meals on Easter and others are selling take-home meals. Here’s what you need to know.

The Elbow Room is doing an Easter brunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. I’m told Chef Roy Harland has “gone all out” and is serving a huge buffet, including eggs, biscuits and gravy, omelets, prime rib, ham, oysters on the half shell, salmon, turkey pot pies, salads and pastries. Adults cost $25.99. Kids 10 and under cost $14.99.

The regular dinner menu is offered from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations aren’t required for either, but are a good idea. Call (559) 227-1234.

Campagnia is having its jazz buffet brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Reservations required. Call (559) 433-3300. For $23.99 adults get brunch and a glass of Champagne (bottomless mimosas are available for an extra fee). Kids 12 and under cost $12.99 and 4 and under are free. The menu includes all kinds of brunch goodness: ham, bacon, poached salmon, crab salad, pasta, French toast, pastries, garlic mashed potatoes and lots of dessert.

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Win tickets to Fresno Grizzlies

grizzThe Fresno Grizzlies kicked off the season with a home opener last weekend that included fireworks, a culinary creation called Grizzly Eggs and a win over Las Vegas. The team is back home Saturday for a four-day stint against Reno.

We’ve got ticket vouchers we’ll hand off to a lucky Beehiver. The vouchers can be redeemed at the box office for actual tickets (based on availability). Of course, you don’t have to use them this weekend. The tickets are good for any home game, excluding July 4. We’ll have more to give out as the season progresses.

To enter to win, leave a message in the comments section. Tell us what is your favorite part about going to the Chuck to watch the Grizzlies. The deadline for entry is noon Thursday. The winner will be chosen at random Thursday night and notified via email (so check your if you enter). These are physical vouchers, so the winner will need to come to The Fresno Bee office to claim them.

Full contest rules on the jump.

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D.I.Y.: Peep Wreath

Photo: Eric Paul Zamora

Photo: Eric Paul Zamora

We are well in the midst of Peep season. The brightly colored chick-or-bunny shaped, sugar-covered marshmallow confections have arrived en masse at virtually any store that has a sign. Which means that a Peep appearance in just about every Easter basket is assured.

As common as the Easter treat is, common also is the knowledge that one is either a Peep lover, or Peep hater — and never the twain shall meet.

Peep lovers have it easy; they can simply gobble up the iridescent marshmallows and be done with it. But those who dislike Peeps? Those who find them, perhaps, grainy and cloying, what is a non-Peep eater to do with the things?

To Peep haters I say: Consider your decor. A quick Pinterest search reveals that there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of Easter D.I.Y.’s involving Peeps. Here is one such simple craft to spring-ify your humble abode.

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Valley view of the lunar eclipse

Anyone else tired from staying up late to see the “blood moon” last night? I may be a bit light on sleep today, but I’m glad I stayed up to see the lunar eclipse. As an amateur photographer, I had fun trying to capture the stunning view. Here’s my favorite shot, taken just after midnight with my Cannon T3i.



The Bee is collecting photos from readers. Share them at the addresses below, or send them my way and I’ll pass them along:

• Tweet to @FresnoBee

• email attachments to

Tweet of the day: A waste of beer

I’m sure I’m not the only who snickered this morning upon seeing the picture accompanying the overturned beer truck on Highway 41. Thankfully, no one was injured.

Our former colleague Mike Oz and Zara Arboleda of CBS 47 had this entertaining tweet:

Audra update: Stellar reviews for ‘Lady Day’


Another Audra McDonald opening on Broadway, another round of stellar reviews. McDonald’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” opened Sunday at the Circle in the Square theater for a limited run, and critics showered Fresno’s favorite Broadway star with raves. I liked this one from the Los Angeles Times:

When one recalls Holiday’s sublimely ruined sound at the end of her career, the period in which Lanie Robertson’s concert drama is set, one doesn’t think of McDonald’s soaring, Juilliard-burnished soprano, a gold medal voice still in its athletic prime.

But from the moment McDonald takes the microphone, a metamorphosis more striking than any in Ovid occurs. Gone is the shimmering operatic prowess that powered through “Summertime” in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” the last of McDonald’s Tony-winning performances. In its place are Holiday’s distinctive jazz timing and idiosyncratic phrasing, qualities as singular as fingerprints.

I’ve always thought that McDonald had such a distinctive voice that I could recognize her signature style in a nano-second, but, once again, she rises to the occasion.

Here’s what the New York Times has to say. has a roundup of major reviews. And has a great photo gallery from opening night, including McDonald accepting flowers, above.

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” plays through June 1, so plan those New York trips soon.

A successful Mini Maker Faire

I enjoyed Fresno’s second Mini Maker Faire on Saturday at the Fresno Art Museum: great weather, interesting people, good entertainment, thoughtful exhibits. One nice thing about the event is that unlike most festivals, this one had more to it than just food booths and crafts booths. You could actually learn something. I made sure to engage with some of the Makers — who represent “innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft” — and chatted with them about their work.

Highlights for me:

  • First time I got to see a 3-D printer in person and actually watch it print.
  • Meeting Kiel Schmidt’s baby goat, Abacus, and seeing the fresh produce grown at Tower Urban Family Farm.
  • Learning about FresnYoga, invented by Teresa Flores and Rebecca Plevin, and watching a group of yoga enthusiasts do their “High Speed Rail” pose. (Which kept getting delayed.)
  • Listening to Fresno’s poet laureate, James Tyner, recite his beautiful poem “Going North to Down.”
  • Checking out the bees on display thanks to the Busy Bee Honey Farm. (I’m always a bee fan. Obviously.)

Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss put together a nifty video, above, about the event, along with a photo gallery. I took a few photos on my own, too, which I’ve included after the jump.

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Win tickets to Krush Groove

krushgrooveThe Krush Groove hi-hip showcase rolls into town Friday. The fifth annual event, started by Los Angeles radio station 93.5 KDAY, is heaven for fans of the old-school, with some of heaviest hitters of the ’90s, including Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Redman AND Method Man, DJ Quik and Too $hort, plus Daz and WC, Tha Eastsidaz, Jayo Felony and 2 II None.

Bone Thugs in particular, are no strangers to Fresno. The group was part of the similarly themed West Coast Fest last summer and lobbied to have that tour kick-off in Fresno. So, fans should be out in force.

We have tickets for a lucky Beehiver.
Enter to win by leaving a comment on this post. Tell us which Krush Groove artist ranks best, or tell us who should have been on the bill. Deadline to enter is 8 p.m. Thursday. Please enter only once. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email (so check yours Friday morning if you entered).

Full contest rules on the jump.

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New restaurant coming to North India space

image(1)After closing last summer, the former North India Bar & Grill building will soon be home to a new restaurant. A chef and restauranteur from the Bay Area bought the building and will open the Elephant Lounge in the space, likely in early June.

Ranjit Dosanjh says he knows the previous owner of the restaurant was a Bay Area restauranteur who couldn’t make a restaurant work there, but says his will be a different concept. Elephant Lounge will serve modern, Indian fusion food with French and Thai influences — but also American and Italian food. They’ll be meat and vegetable dishes with a basil cream sauce, for example, but also steak and pasta. He says he often hears of families where the wife loves Indian food, but the husband and the kids not so much, so he wanted a menu that would appeal to the entire family.

“There are very faithful fans of North India and I can promise them that they’ll be pleased with my food,” he says.

Tired of running four businesses in the East Bay (restaurants Xenia Bistro, India 4 U, Rising Loafer and Spice Global Catering) he is moving to Fresno, where his daughter attends Fresno State. (He’ll still own the other restaurants, but someone else is taking over the day-to-day management.)

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Nickfest 2014 announces full lineup, adds Owen, Tera Melos

nickfestLast week, we announced the date for Nickfest 2014, the annual Tower District concert held in memory of local music enthusiast Nick Henebury. Now we have confirmation of the full line-up, which includes Owen (the solo-project from Chicago indie-rocker Mike Kinsella) and the pedal-core band Tera Melos.

Pedal-core is the term I coined for specifically for the band, which incorporates “experimental rock, ambient electronics and unconventional song structure” to create music that is “characterized by their quickly alternating time signatures, start-stop dynamics, two-handed tapping, extended open-ended bridges and the use of effect pedals and samplers.”

Lots of pedals and samplers.

Check out the festival’s full lineup, plus a video from Tera Melos, on the jump.

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Slow down for art


Some people race through museums so quickly there should be posted speed limits. Which is fine if that’s the way they want to do it. Experiencing art should be a matter of personal preference. But there’s also something to be said for slowing down and really lingering with a piece. For those who want that encouragement, the Slow Art Day movement was born.

Arte Americas and the Fresno Art Museum are participating Saturday in the national volunteer event, which this year includes more than 220 participating institutions. Organizers explain:

People all over the world visit local museums and galleries to look at art slowly. Participants look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and then meet together over lunch to talk about their experience. That’s it. Simple by design, the goal is to focus on the art and the art of seeing.

At Arte Americas, participants will examine five works by San Francisco artist Viviana Paredes selected by Arte Américas Director Frank Delgado. The installation pieces are part of the exhibition “Navigating The Sacred.” Viewing will be 11 a.m.-noon. An optional lunch discussion is 12:15-1:15 p.m. and will take place in the shade of the outdoor plaza.

Admission to Arte Américas is free, and participants can either bring their own lunch, or order Mexican take-out from a nearby restaurant.  “We’ll even put people’s sack lunches in the fridge during the event,” Delgado says.

At the Fresno Art Museum, a ticket is required to the all-day Mini Maker Faire to participate in Slow Art Day. The art viewing is 11 a.m.-noon, and lunch discussion (lots of Mini Maker options) hosted by the museum’s Christina Rea will be noon-12:30 p.m.

Fresno’s Mini Maker Faire


I got the chance this week to learn more about the phenomenon of Maker Faires, which have become popular since the first one popped up in the Bay Area in 2006.

Fresno’s second Mini Maker Faire is 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at a new venue, the Fresno Art Museum, and it sounds fascinating. More than 100 “Makers” will be on hand. Organizers describe the original Maker concept as featuring “innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance and craft.” In my roundup for Friday’s 7 section I preview the event and offer entertainment highlights. Here’s the full entertainment lineup for the event’s three stages:


Here’s your chance to flee from Godzilla


Come on, admit it. You have always had, tucked deep down in that place we keep our most primal movie desires, the wish to be in a crowd scene screaming your head off as you run away from Godzilla.

You’ll get that chance Sunday on the Fulton Mall. Roque Rodriguez of Fresno’s famed Dumb Drum writes:

We were contacted by Legendary Pictures (the studio behind the new “Godzilla” film opening in May) to help create a promotional video for an upcoming fan contest. We need as many people as we can get to pretend like they’re running from Godzilla on the Fulton Mall outside the Pacific Southwest Building this Sunday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. There’s no pay, but this is chance to be in a fun video that will be promoted online by Legendary Pictures.  Come prepared to run!

I wonder how Godzilla feels about opening the mall to traffic? Perhaps that’s his acting motivation for a rampage.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

5things4-12-14For those not at Coachella

1. Grizzlies home opener
For the Grizzly Eggs alone.

2. FresYes Fest
Tioga Sequoia’s annual bash. Five special releases, plus live music from Strange Vine. Also: It’s free.

3. House of Pendragon grand opening
Another craft-brew celebration. This one is across town. No word on whether there will be a shuttle running between the two. NOTE: That would be awesome.

5things-4-12-144. Philm
Slayer drummers Dave Lombardo in an alt-rock power trio with the bass player from War.

5. Mini Maker Faire
It’s maker’s month, people So, get to it.

Fresno State theater announces 2014-15 season


A rousing new season for Fresno State theater:

By David Mamet
Directed by Thomas-Whit Ellis
October 3-11, 2014

By Jean Genet
Directed by Ruth Griffin
October 31, November 1-8, 2014

Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on the play by John Van Druten and
Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Directed by J. Daniel Herring
December 5-13, 2014

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