Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

OK, we know what you’ll be doing on Sunday. That leaves at least a day for …

1. Bizare Art Festival
A reminder that graffiti is art. Calwa Park has a quarter-mile legal graffiti wall. More than 65 artists will put it to good use.

2. Sun Maid Kennel Club Dog Show
If you’re interested in the intricacies of dog shows, or just want admire all the beautiful dogs.

3. Mad Caddies
The ska/punk/soul/dixieland/reggae rock band returns to Fresno with the Aggrolites and The Bunny Gang (w/Nathen Maxwell of Flogging Molly).

4. The Appletones
Ray Appleton’s rock band.

BassVentures: Ultimate GLOW Experience
I’m all about that bass.

BANDGEEK: Comrades, Mad Caddies and the Ultimate Glow Experience

Right about now you may be looking to lock yourself up in full quarantine. Brave it out and get to one of these awesome concerts happening through the week. They are once again collected here in out weekly BANDGEEEEEK! roundup.


  • The Long Black Veils.
    W/Lezayr. At Fulton 55. 9 p.m. $6-$8.

  • Ozmosis Happy Hour.
    W/Johnathan Sterling. At Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden. 6 p.m. Free. (Flier link)

  • Brother Love And The Breakups.
    At Full Circle Brewing Co. 8 p.m. $6.

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    Thomas Dekker goes for different look

    It’s one of those cases where a person looks familiar but out of context, it’s difficult to put a name with the face. It takes a few moments but it suddenly becomes clear the young man dressed in the perfectly tailored suit and hair gelled to the ceiling is Thomas Dekker.

    Fans of the short-lived “The Secret Circle” or the almost as short-lived “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” will recognize his name as starring in those shows. He was John Connor in the “Terminator” franchise that doesn’t seem to end.

    As different as he looks now, he goes through an even more elaborate transformation to pay Valentine, the roommate to Everett Backstrom (Rainn Wilson) on the new FOX quirky procedural, “Backstrom.”

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    Save Mart Center ranks among the world’s best. Again.

    It should come as no shock to hear that Fresno’s Save Mart Center was once again name among the top 100 arenas in the world.

    The 12,000-plus seat venue has been a fixture on the list since 2004 (its first full year in operation).

    The arena ended 2014 as the No. 2 collegiate venue, based on worldwide tickets sales, as reported by as reported by Pollstar magazine. It was No. 49 in the total U.S. rankings and No. 95 in the world.

    In December, it was also listed as a Top Stop by the publication Venues Today, which ranked SMC as the No. 1 collegiate venue (No. 4 in the U.S and No. 2 in the world) based on arenas of similar size.

    All this to say the Save Mart Center had a good year.

    As did fans.

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    TONIGHT: Ozmosis Happy Hour

    Tioga Sequoia’s Beer Garden is what I’ve wanted in downtown for years. It’s a low-key spot where you can hangout and sample really solid craft beer without being overly saturated with hipsterness.

    Also, its’ walking distance from where I live, which is a bonus and a half.

    It’s good to hear that Mike Oz‘ monthly Ozmosis Happy Hour, which he does in conjunction with his radio show on New Rock 104, is taking up residence in the garden this year.

    If you remember, the event had been jumping between different venues/bars around town. Having the Happy Hour at one spot gives it consistency, a struggle for lots of events around town. Each month will feature a rotating roster of live music, food trucks and other Fresno fare.

    For January, local singer/songwriter Johnathan Sterling will be providing the entertainment. La Elegante will serves up tacos (arguably some of the best in town) and local crafter Janice Keith of Nola Love will be selling work — like a handy dandy beer caddy. It’s made of wood.

    Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company will be pouring its new Belgian Quad Ale (which has me intrigued to no end). Also expect prizes and music from Mike Oz and the New Rock crew.

    The whole thing kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m.
    There’s no charge to get in.

    The next happy hour is set for Feb. 19.

    THEATER REVIEW: ‘Crazy for You’

    “Crazy for You” revels in the silly, that’s for sure. With its madcap plot about a gaggle of showgirls from New York traipsing off to a Nevada ghost town so they can help “put on a show,” things turn goofy fast. Add a super-value-size meal’s worth of  mistaken-identity gags and you get a lot of slapstick for your buck.

    But just as the whole thing seems destined to be no more than an insubstantial giggle fest, one of the show’s classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin comes along to add some heft to the outing. When the sturdy and no-nonsense heroine, Polly (Emily Pessano), who seems like the last gal in the world to fall for a splashy theater type named Bobby Child (Greg Grannis), stops to sing a pensive ballad, it’s none other than the famed “Someone to Watch Over Me” by George and Ira Gershwin. With credentials like that, you’re starting on solid ground.

    And when the energetic cast in the new Good Company Players production at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater digs into the real meat of the show — the tap dancing — they do a sparkling job. The first-act finale, “I Got Rhythm,” choreographed by Kaye Migaki, is an explosion of sound, spectacle, flying feet and enough props to stock a Western supply store. Talk about a take-away tune for the audience to hum during intermission.

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    Let’s talk about sex

    The film based on one of the most talked about books of the past few years, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, will open Feb. 13, just in time for a Valentine’s Day date.

    Or is it the wrong film to go see on Valentine’s Day?

    The book has been described as mommy porn. Anything I write about the movie will come from a male point of view.

    This is where I could use your help.

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    New life for Coarsegold’s Broken Bit?

    If you’re like me, every time you drive to the mountains on Highway 41, you get intrigued by the run-down Broken Bit restaurant and bar in Coarsegold. Besides being an awesome name, it just looks like the type of place that was once a hopping hub of activity.

    It was. And it may be again.

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    Brad Paisley agrees to jam with ex-Fresno guitarist Blaze

    Earlier this month Las Vegas guitarist Blaze (some will remembered when he lived and gigged in town) posted this video up his Youtube page.

    It’s for a song titled “Brad Paisley,” a funny little rock-twinged country tune about a kid (Blaze, by all accounts) who grew up playing rock guitar and listening to bands like Kiss — Until he discovered country music, that is, and Paisley specifically.

    The song includes lines like “That cowboy’s been No. 1 on my iTunes play lately. All my headbanger friends think I’ve gone crazy. Because now I want to jam with Brad Paisley.”

    In a bit of wish fulfillment, it might happen.

    Last week Paisley wrote this Tweet, which included a link to the video.

    While I like this song (and the video) and think that calling out a known celebrity like this is ballsy (and kinda genius), I wonder: Is this a heartfelt ode to a musical hero? A brilliant piece of marketing? Just silly stupid fun? All of the above?

    Check out the video for yourself on the jump and let me know what you think while we just wait for the jam to happen.

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    CONCERT REVIEW: Fresno Philharmonic’s Latin dances

    The setting: A packed house in the Saroyan Theatre on Sunday afternoon for a big, robust Fresno Philharmonic concert focusing on dances of Spain and Latin America. Guest conductor Jose-Luis Novo picked four pieces — a difficult task, he told the audience, out of the hours of music that could have been played —  that offered a sweep of styles, tempos and moods.

    The best-known work: Ravel’s famous “Bolero,” which Novo guided with a driving, precise enthusiasm. Nice job. Alas, I am so bored of “Bolero.”

    Tango time: Piazzolla’s “Tangazo” remained at arm’s length for me in terms of passion, but I appreciated the dexterity of the orchestra.

    Far more pleasing: Guest soloist Charles Ramirez gave a stirring performance on guitar in Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez.” The second movement of this piece is well-known — you’ve heard versions in movie soundtracks and commercials — for a simple reason: The theme is lush, gorgeous and steeped in movement. It reminds me of clouds racing across a deep blue sky. Ramirez offered the requisite pyrotechnics on his guitar when called for, but it was his softer moments that really clung to me. Each carefully strummed note suggested a drop of dew welling up before finally releasing. The orchestra under Novo sounded nimble and inspired.

    Pictured: Gabriela Lena Frank in a pre-concert talk with Benjamin Boone.

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    Fashawn watch 2015: “The Ecology” release and tour dates announced

    Here’s another update from Fresno’s favorite rap son, Fashwan.

    There’s finally a release date for “The Ecology,” the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2009′s “Boy Meets World,” and his debut on Mass Appeal Records. The album will be out Feb. 24. The second single from the ablum, “Guess Who’s Back” (prod. by Beewirks), is out now. You can stream in now, or listen on the jump.

    Fashawn will also head out on a month-long tour in support of the album. Sadly, there is no Fresno date (the closest he’ll come is Oakland), but no doubt he’ll be through by mid-year.

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    Even more new restaurants opening

    So I’m hoping you caught my Saturday story about all the new restaurants opening in Fresno — all 25 of them. The problem with doing stories like this is that there’s always someone you leave out or discover after publication. So, in addition to the new hofbrau, sushi and burger places in that story, here’s a few more that are coming.

    The people behind REV’S California Cuisine contacted me this week to say they’d be opening in April. The restaurant is under construction in a building on Clovis Avenue near Fifth Street. Check out the menu on its site — rib-eye burger ground in house with bacon, a 2-day brined chicken breast, escargot and lobster mac n cheese. I’ll keep you updated as more details come to light.

    The Painted Table is opening a restaurant — two, in fact. First, the catering company that operates out of the former Daily Planet space in Tower Theatre will open part of the dining room as a restaurant. It will serve the same “Fresno-centric” cuisine as the catering (which actually is a huge variety). Look for a March opening. (That picture is just a mock-up, by the way.)

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    A bustling time at Fresno Art Museum openings

    I dropped by the Fresno Art Museum late Friday afternoon to catch the opening of the new winter/spring exhibitions — and what a bustling scene it was. Many of the attendees were there for the museum’s big “1915-2015: Tradition, Legacy, Culture” exhibition, which in three galleries helps raise awareness of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. (There were also lots of enthusiastic folks to be found in photographer Matt Black’s gallery talk about his “From Clouds to Dust” exhibition.) One of the high points for me was getting to meet Beverly Hills art collector Joan Quinn, above right, who loaned to the Armenian show several pieces that she and her husband, Jack, own. At the same I met prominent Armenian artist Varujan Boghosian, above left, whose charming and evocative mixed-media pieces are one of the exhibition’s highlights. It turns out that Quinn — who collects more than just Armenian artists — had never met Boghosian before either, and the 88-year-old artist charmed us both with his gentle, scholarly wit and insights. My colleague Ron Orozco gave a great introduction to the Armenian show, including 10 things to do and see, in Friday’s 7 section. The shows run through April 26. Don’t miss them.  

    Visalia’s Sound N Vision lands shows with Toro y Moi, Built to Spill

    When Coachella announced its lineup earlier this month, I predicted at least a couple secondary acts would stop through the area on their way to or from the festival. Rightfully so, as it turns out.

    Visalia’s Sound N Vision Foundation announced a pair of Coachella artists will be playing the Cellar Door.

    The first is Toro y Moi, the musician/producer known for his role in the chillwave movement. He’ll play March 24 in a rare all ages show at the venue. The second is indie-rock godfathers Built to Spill, which just played Cellar Door in August. They will return to the venue April 10.

    This is a good start, no doubt. Even if neither of these band were on my wish list. Click the jump to check out Toro y Moi’s track “Say That.” It’s an electro-pop filled bit of dance fun.

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    Feel the Latin beat with the Fresno Philharmonic

    Spanish-American conductor Jose-Luis Novo guest conducts the Fresno Philharmonic on Sunday in a program that will have your feet tapping — if not actually dancing in the aisles. The program, featuring four pieces based on dances from Spain and Latin America, includes Ravel’s well-known “Bolero.” It also features a piece by a living composer: Gabriela Lena Frank, whose “Three Latin American Dances” was commissioned in 2004 for the Utah Symphony. From my story in today’s 7 section:

    Listen for the special effects that Frank achieves using instruments in different ways. At times the string sections strum their strings as if they’re Peruvian instruments. At other times they sound like guitars. “She uses the symphonic instruments in conventional ways, but sometimes she requires them to do things they don’t usually do, which brings a new color to the orchestration that is very interesting,” Novo says.

    The concert is 3 p.m. Sunday at the Saroyan Theatre.

    Was Eric Church’s “The Outsiders” tour a little too outside?

    Eric Church may be the future of country music (and pop music in general, perhaps). He’s an artist unbound by genre, who sets his own rules and is unashamed to wear his influences on his sleeves, even if it’s Black Sabbath. His music is country-rock, with an emphasis on the rock, though there are hints of roots and soul music, too. And some twang for good measure.

    “The Outsiders” tour, which stopped at the Save Mart Center last night, is a reflection of Church himself. The two opening acts (Halestorm and Dwight Yoakam) showcase the disparate worlds of rock and country, with headliner Church standing as the bridge between.

    But does it work as a show? From the reviews I’ve heard, the crowd didn’t really start filling in until after Halestorm’s set (as if they knew?) and at least a few of those who did see the band were less than enthused by their rock pedigree.

    There’s no doubt the walls we’ve set up around specific genres are beginning to brake down and I think we will soon begin to see more of these kinds of concerts. That said, was “The Outsiders” tour a little too outside from mainstream country music fans?

    QnA with promoter Pete Salazar of Diehardz Music

    Pete Salazar doesn’t label himself as a “promoter,” even though his company, Diehardz Music, has been booking and promoting live music in Fresno for more than a half decade.

    “We are fans of pop-culture, music, movie, sports and selling collectibles,” Salazar says.

    Along with concerts, his team helps with band merchandising and printing and created the biannual Rock N Shop indoor mall show.

    Diehardz celebrates its seventh anniversary on Saturday with Stellar, a tribute to Incubus, plus locals Amorata, Days Under Authority and Rise the Ruler. We emailed with Salazar, just to get nostalgic.

    Tell us about the first show you booked?

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    Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

    You probably shouldn’t see “The Boy Next Door.” So …

    1. Elvis tributes
    Elvis has been dead for close to four decades and still gets a pair of kick-ass birthday parties. You have to respect that.

    2. Fulton 55 four year anniversary weekend
    Four years? Seems like the downtown club has been around longer than that.

    3. Urban Hop
    Come get schooled on downtown Fresno. Seriously, there is free stuff and you’ll be in a big group.

    4. Roy Orbison
    Because it’s suddenly on my mind: Have you heard Celine Dion’s version of “I Drove All Night?”

    5.1915-2015: Tradition, Legacy, Culture
    The first of many events planned to help raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. One-point-five million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turkish government.

    BANDGEEK!: Prince, Presley and Roy Orbison

    While I am trying figure out whether to care about this whole deflate-gate thing (I also heard it referred to as the much funnier ball-gate), you’ll all be checking out one of the awesome concerts happening in town this week. Right? We’ve collated them again in out weekly BANDGEEEEEEK! roundup.


  • Fulton 55 4th Anniv. Party.
    W/The Purple Ones. At Fulton 55. 8:30 p.m. $13-$16. (Flier link)

  • Agent Orange.
    W/The Infirmities and Plot. At Strummer’s. 8 p.m. $10-$12. All ages. (Flier link)

  • Jordon Page.
    At Peeve’s. 8 p.m. Free. All ages.

  • Tumbao.
    W/Menneo, Erika Nicole and Torres Castro. At Cellar Door Visalia. 9 p.m. $10. (Flier link)

  • Gristle.
    W/Wally Don’t Bite, Descend Factor and The Tripatronix. At Audie’s Olympic. 9 p.m. $6.

  • Slow Season.
    W/Bitter Buffalo and Werebear. At Kelly’s Beach, Reedley. 9 p.m. Free. (Flier link)

  • Smoked Fish.
    Music at Gazebo Garden. 6 p.m. Free. All ages.

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    Free and cheap food on National Pie Day

    It’s Friday and it’s much more fun to talk about food than actually get work done, am I right? (Excuse me while I wipe the donut crumbs off my shirt.) So, I bring you three free and cheap food options available today.

    First, the newly opened Dutch Bros. at Blackstone and McKinley avenues is having its grand opening today. You can read all about the new location (and how it’s pronounced “bros”) here. It’s selling $1 16-ounce drinks all day today. All the money you do spend goes to Valley Children’s Hospital.

    Did you know today is National Pie Day? Yes, it’s a thing. There’s no free pie, unfortunately, but there is cheap pie. Marie Callender’s $7.99 whole pie sale is today.

    Also, Chipotle has a not really free food deal that starts Monday. First, you have to pay for a dish with its organic tofu Sofritas on Monday, Jan. 26. Bring the receipt back between Jan. 27 and Feb. 28 and you get a free burrito, bowl, salad or taco — made with Sofritas or any kind of meat you want. Details here.

    Timothy Omundson now has music in his life

    Even diehard fans of “Psych” might have had some problems spotting Timothy Omundson on the short-run ABC series “Galavant.” When he was playing Carlton Lassiter on the cable show, Omundson sported short hair and a clean shaven face.

    He has long hair and a “Duck Dynasty” length beard as King Richard in the musical comedy. The other big difference is that while there was plenty of humor in “Psyche,” “Galavant” is a full-blown comedy romp through the Middle Ages.

    Doing the series has given Omundson a new love for musical theater. There was a musical episode of “Psych” but it did not challenge him the way the series has.

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    Silver Dollar Hofbrau is closed. What’s your memory?

    The news of the Silver Dollar Hofbrau closing has hit Fresno hard. In case you missed it, the restaurant and bar on Shaw Avenue closed its doors for the last time Tuesday after more than 35 years in business. The building is being sold to a new owner. You can read the full story here.

    Ever since the news came out, people have been sharing all kinds of stories and memories about the place. So far, I’ve heard about swing dancing, bad dates, 21st birthday parties, former Fresno Bee newsroom employees who would head over for a drink after their shift and one story about a pimp in a fur coat nearly causing a fight.

    So, what’s your story of the Silver Dollar Hofbrau? What memories do you have to share?

    Lorenzo Lamas meets his match with Trump

    For five years, Lorenzo Lamas played tough guy Reno Raines on the syndicated series, “Renegade.” He faced a wide assortment of bag guys during the 110 episode run of the show.

    Nothing  compared to the defeat he was handed at the hands of Donald Trump on Monday night’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Lamas and Shawn Johnson got the boot leaving nine players to vie over the next three weeks to be named the top “Celebrity Apprentice.”

    Lamas says he probably wouldn’t have done the show 20 years ago. He’s found a new comfort zone with age.

    “I think at 56 years of age, I am a little more comfortable in my own skin,” Lama tells me during an interview at the TV critics meetings in Pasadena. The interview takes place before the episode aired where he was fired.

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    NBC looking at full year when judging success

    NBC’s lack of successful new shows coupled with the impending end of “Parenthood” and “Parks and Recreation” had network boss Robert Greenblatt pushing for a more expanded look at the TV year. He suggests that the entire 52 weeks should be considered when talking about the network.

    That’s because NBC has upcoming programming such as “Heroes: Reborn” and the short-run series, “The Slap.” It’s a TV production but “The Slap” boasts the kind of cast you only expect in a major feature film: Thandie Newton, Peter Sarsgaard and Uma Thurman to name a few.
    Here’s a sample of some of Greenblatt’s other comments to critics:
    QUESTION: “Peter Pan” got panned. Will you do another musical?

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