Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Bandgeek!: Punknecks, Millionaires and Circle Takes the Square

4-25-14Everything is happening this weekend. While that might overwhelm some, the rest of us know it’s pretty par for the course, especially when it comes to the myriad live music options happening each week. We list them all right here in your weekly update BANDGEEEEEK!


Read more

Bandgeek!: Pato, Squarecrow and Enjambre

3-21-14All of your friends may be sitting in front of a TV somewhere vegging out on March Madness coverage. Not you. You’re looking at the plethora of live music happenings this week and thinking, “bring it on.” Here is our weekly music roundup in an all-new BANDGEEK!:


Read more

Concert news: Kip Moore added as Tim McGraw’s special guest

kipmooreWe already told you about the Fresno date for Tim McGraw’s “Sundown Heaven” tour. It stops at the Save Mart Center May 8. Now comes news that Kip Moore will join the show as McGraw’s special guest, along with the already announced Cassadee Pope.

Moore is an up-and-comer who helped usher in the next generation of truck-loving country artists (his single “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” was No. 1 on the Billboard country chart). His debut album, “Up All Night,” was and was the best-selling debut by a male country artist in 2012 and 2013.

Check out the video for “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” on the jump.

Read more

Call for entries: Swede Fest 13

Swede-02-01Swede Fest, the low- or no-budget parody film festival, has announced a call for submissions for Swede Fest 13, May 17 at the Tower Theatre.

You have right around two months to put an entry together before the deadline, 11:59 p.m. May 12, but the first 20 entries get screened, so there’s benefit in getting yours in early. Films must be under 4 minutes suitable for all ages. Submission is free and open to the public (film makers of all ages are encouraged).

To get a sense for the festival, here are some previous submissions.

On a side note: This year, the Swede Fest coincides with Kingsburg’s annual Swedish Festival.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

If you’re not out looking for a missing airliner

5thing-3-14-1`41.) “Veronica Mars
This is being dual released in theaters and on video on demand. It’s not opening in Fresno, but you can get it on all of your digital devices. For those into marathon watching TV, you could watch the complete series AND the film and never have to leave your couch.

2.) Tool
Rumor is, the band will play just seven songs. BUT, it’s Tool, so that could be more than an hour of music.

3.) Visalia Irish Fest
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early. And with good beer.
4.) Absurd Masterworks
I’m not extremely well versed in absurdist theater. I did read Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinocéros” during my college days (in its original French). I also have a translated copy, because it’s good stuff. Here, Fresno state presents short works from Ionesco and Samuel Beckett.

5.) Cloudship
Cloudship is Brandon Freeman (Local Honey, Luchador) + Jonathan Napole (Gods and Kings, Before Perils).

Bandgeek!: Salamanders, Le Wolves and Cattle Decapitation

3-7-14Rogue Festival is in its final week and there are still LOTS of shows you have not seen. Some of them are good, even. If that’s not your thing, it’s cool. There are LOTS of musical happenings this week, too. Here they are in a nice, linear format we call BANDGEEEEEK!


Read more

Fulton Focus: Mall’s fate could soon be shown

fulton mallBoth sides of the Fulton Mall debate have kicked into full battle mode in advance of the city council’s vote Thursday night. The save-the-mall crowd hosted a rally/party Saturday in the mall’s free speech area.

Those who support opening the mall to traffic have gone on a social media blitz.

The debate revolves around whether the council should accept the city’s proposal to use a $16 million federal grant (and other matching funds) to reopen the main stretch of Fulton street to traffic (while updating the area’s worn infrastructure). Many (including Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin) believe that an open street would fundamentally change the economics of downtown by creating more marketable commercial spaces. Others believe the mall is a precious piece of historic architecture (and art and design) and should be preserved as such (with much needed upgrades in infrastructure). Still others, council member Sal Quintero for example, question the cost of opening the full six blocks to traffic and wonder if a compromise could be made. Quintero says he will put forth his own alternative at Thursday council meeting; It would open to traffic just the north and south sections of the mall and leave the center to serve as a town square of sort.

Read more

Concert announcement: Blake Shelton at the Save Mart Center Sept. 11

sheltonCountry superstar and TV singing-competition coach Blake Shelton announced round two of his “Ten Times Crazier” tour, which includes a Sept. 11 date at the Save Mart Center.

Shelton, who’s been CMA’s best male vocalist for four consecutive years, is touring in support of the platinum-selling “Based on a Truth Story…,” which was released last March. The Band Perry, Neal McCoy, and Dan + Shay will join Shelton for the 20-plus dates, which includes shows at Madison Square Garden, Wrigley Field and the Hollywood Bowl.

“I cannot wait to get back out on the road,” says Shelton, who has been a judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” since its inception and has produced three of the show’s five winners. “I had so much fun playing songs from ‘Based On A True Story…’ and getting to see the crowd’s reaction to those songs was unforgettable. It is one of the most validating things for an artist like me, to have people sing along to your songs. It means what I’m doing is right and no matter what I’m doing, whether it is ‘The Voice’ or a TV special, absolutely nothing compares to playing live for me,” he says.

Read more

Win tickets to Dis/Orient/Ed Comedy

1296323Dis/Orient/Ed Comedy is the first-ever (mostly) all-female, all Asian-American comedy tour. The brainchild of Los Angeles comics Jenny Yang and Atsuko Okatsuka, the tour has played to sell-out crowds up and down the West Coast. It comes to Fresno, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tower Theatre. Featured comics include Yang, Okatsuka and Helen Hong.

Tickets for the show are available at the Tower Theatre box office or online at ($5 off if you use the coupon code “fresnobee”).

Of course, we have a pair of tickets for one lucky Beehiver. To enter to win, leave a comment on this post. Tell us who is your favorite comedienne. This is a quick one: Deadline is 5 p.m. tonight. Winners will be informed by email and will need to come down to The Bee’s front counter by 5 p.m. Friday to claim the tickets. Full rules plus videos of Yang and Hong on the jump.

Read more

The fallout from the BRT vote yet to be seen

While we have yet to see the full fallout from last week’s 4-3 council vote, it looks like Bus Rapid Transit isn’t gone for good. Which makes last Thursday’s fiasco (if you doubt my wording, read the live tweets) seem that much more of a waste.

The silver lining here is what The Bee predicted in one of two editorials it ran prior to the vote: The council (or at least four of its members) have proven their intentions disingenuous and that their motives can’t be trusted.

Even those opposed to BRT shouldn’t see the vote as a victory. Because BRT was never the issue. Neither was the appropriation of tax-payer money. No, this was about something else. Council member Lee Brand said as much in this quote from Friday’s story in The Bee: “BRT wasn’t the issue,” Council Member Lee Brand said. “The issue was the general plan.”

As reminder, this is the general plan that the council approved in 2012. It’s the general plan that focuses on infill development and curbing sprawl and one which certain council members (and developers) now want to see changed (at a estimated cost of $2 million or more. As reminder, that will also be taxpayer dollars spent).

So, that is the kind of politics the city is dealing with. Here’s hoping it will be remembered by voters come June.

BANDGEEK!: Mofo, Michael Schenker and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real

1-31-14Most everyone is going to be busy with football this weekend. Or, American football at the least. For those still wanting a live music fix, there’s plenty of choice. Here’s another installment of our weekly music round-up BANDGEEEEEK!!



Read more

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

If you’re going to brave the bad air

EnglishBeat_credit_Bryan_Kremkau (1)1. The English Beat
Two-tone ska legends + plus Fresno ska legends.

2. Tower Beer Run
This is not a real race, although some with attack it as such no doubt. Get a $1 race bib and partake in $1 beer samples from two dozen Tower District establishments.
3. Sarah Chang
The Fresno Philharmonic turns 60. Violinist Sarah Chang help celebrate with a show that includes the Bruch Violin Concerto, which she first performed at her audition for the Juilliard School. She was five.

4. Catch up on Oscar nominees
With the Academy Awards around the corner, the local movie houses are full of Oscar-nominated films including “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” Bet you didn’t see that coming.

5. Fresno Partnership City Council Candidate Forum
Before you roll you eyes and say “boooooring,” keep in mind that life isn’t all fun and games. This is specifically for candidates in districts 1 and 7, but it’ll be good primer for anyone interested in local politics

As a sixth (and the event I will for sure be at) there is this.

A QnA with Planets Live in Houses

unnamed (4)NOTE: This is the full-interview with Fresno band Planets Live in Houses.

It’s hard to distinguish Planets Live in Houses from the songs on the band’s debut E.P.

“I moved to Santa Cruz for school and I didn’t have any friends, so I locked myself in my room and started writing songs with the intention of starting a solo project. I would use my looper pedal and write both guitars and bass parts,” says the group’s guitarist Mike Gibson.

Those songs became the impetus for a creative collaboration with several local musicians including electronic producer/singer Sahab. That collaboration in turn, spawned the band. And that band turned those songs into an album, which gets its official release 8 p.m. Saturday, with a performance at the Love the Captive Loft, 1830 Van Ness Ave.

I caught up with the group to find out more.

Let’s start with the basics. Who does what in the band?

Mike: Brian Bakalian plays drums. Bobby Griffiths plays bass. John Tucker plays guitar and I play guitar as well. We don’t really have a rhythm or lead distinction between guitars, we have more of a ‘whatever part you wrote is the part you play kinda thing.’

How long have you been playing together and how did the band get started?

Mike: We have had this lineup for a little less than a year, but me and Brian have been playing together since last November, I think. I can’t play drums for the life of me so I always knew I would need to enlist a drummer at some point.

Sahab is my best friend and one of the most talented producers in California, so I always planned on just going into the studio and recording all of the parts and having a studio drummer fill in the rhythm section. When it came time to record, I chose Brian because we had been playing as Sahab’s backup band for a while and I really liked his style. We only played together maybe three or four times before we recorded, and a lot of the drums on the album were kinda figured out on the spot. That’s Brian. He is really in his element playing on the fly. Once I realized I had a drummer that was exceeding my expectations for the project, I made the decision to put together a full band so that this stuff could be played live.

I had originally expected to just record an album because I thought the songs deserved to be recorded. I had no idea I was going to become so attached to this project. When searching for a bassist and second guitarist it was a pretty obvious choice since John plays in another band with Brian called Blind Bison, and he can play the parts that I wrote better than I can (not to mention the other parts he eventually recorded on the album, which I could never hope to play). Bobby has long been my ‘go-to’ as a second guitarist. We have played in bands and written together for years. Since I already had second guitar filled, he ended up on bass.

While the album was almost finished by the time I presented it to them, both Bobby and John ended up adding to several songs once we had become an official band.
The song ‘Wolf Computer’ is the exception. That song was written by all of us and recorded by all of us, it was kind of a tack-on at the last minute.

Read more

Bandgeek!: City Mouse, English Beat and Planets Live in Houses

1-24-14Once you get your fill of Justin Bieber gossip, you’ll need to see some good local music to make you feel clean again. Lucky for you the next seven days are packed with great shows, which we’ve compiled nicely for you in a format we call BANDGEEEK!


Read more

BANDGEEK!: Night Riots, Wild Ones and Cherry Bluestorms

11-10-14While you’re tempted to quarantine yourself until this whole flu thing blows over, don’t. Get out and enjoy some of this weekend’s musical offerings. Just bring hand sanitizer. You choices are presented here in another installment of our weekly music roundup … BANDGEEK!



Read more

Concert announcement: Bruno Mars’ ‘Moonshine Jungle Tour’ at the Save Mart Center

Music-Songs of the SummerIt’s shaping up to be a good year for fans of pop music down at the Save Mart Center. Pink’s “Truth About Love” tour is already on the book for later this month.

And just today pop-singer Bruno Mars announced dates for the North American leg of his “Moonshine Jungle tour.” It kicks off May 27 in Fresno.

Mars is a star on the rise. He was named Billboard magazine’s “2013 Artist of the Year,” and was among the top nominees for the upcoming Grammy Awards, with nods for both record and song of the year. He will also be headlining this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

Ticket prices for the Fresno show have not been released, but tickets for all announced shows go on sale Feb. 3, to follow up on his half-time performance. You can find more info on his website.

Watch the official video for “When I was Your Man,” on the jump.

Read more

7 picks for 7 days: Jan. 10-16

I’m getting back on track with the 7 picks for 7 days feature, a list of fun things to do over the next week. This week’s version — picks for today through next Thursday — offer a variety of entertainment, from acclaimed movies to new TV shows, theater and music.

BANDGEEK!: Javon Davis, 3 Doors Down and Audiepalooza

1-10-14While you’re drooling over this year’s Coachella lineup (MOTORHEAD! TOY DOLLS!), there’s plenty of music happening at the bars, clubs and theaters in the area.

You already know that though, because you follow our weekly music roundup known as BANDGEEEEK!


Read more

Fresno ranks “highly livable” for young people


Photo: Craig Kohlruss, The Fresno Bee.

We’ve all heard about Fresno ranking as the drunkest and almost dumbest city, but here’s one ranking on the positive side: “Fresno rated highly livable for young people.” That’s the Al Jazeera America headline circulating around the interwebs this morning. It references a ranking done by a site called (who?) that puts Fresno one notch below New York City for livability for young people. Fresno ranked #24 out of 35.

The ranking is based on factors such as median age, unemployment rates, cost for a two-bedroom apartment, the cost of a pint of Guinness (we ranked in the top five on that one), the cost of an ounce of marijuana, the cost of manicures and pedicures, and the number of coffee shops and music venues.

From the Al Jazeera story:

Yes, these are all things that matter to younger people — especially in rough times.

The economic downturn that has yet to fully loosen its grip on the nation has added sheen to less glamorous cities and places often derided by their critics as cow towns or, in the case of Fresno, the armpit of the state.

I know some of you don’t take these rankings very seriously. And some of you will sing this information from the closest mountaintop (while pointing out that mountaintop is in one of three national parks in the region). Anyway, what do you think? Is it true?

Top 10 bands/concerts of 2013

It’s coming in right under the wire but here is my list of the top 10 bands (with comments) and concerts of 2013 (in no particular order). Keep in mind these choices are based mostly on my taste. Feel free to debate it all in the comments section. That’s what it’s there for.

1.) American Sharks
Technically, I discovered this Austin band in 2012, but I started following them in 2013 and their album wasn’t released until September, so I’m counting it. Takes the doom of stoner-rock and add a in some punk-rock punch.

2.) Deafheaven
Most recent discovery and I am late to jump on the bandwagon, but whatever. I should hate this band, what with the screeching black metal vocals, but I don’t. I don’t hate them at all.

3.) Broncho
Another band I “technically” discovered in 2012. But it was late 2012 and it was 2013 by the time I was listening to the album (on repeat).

4.) Werebear
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen/heard a local band that made me jealous. The moment I heard “Night of the Werebear,” I wished I’d written it.

5.) Dope Body
The AV club‘s LOUD feature was good for finding new bands. Sadly, they had the final installment in April. But not before I found Baltimore band Dope Body, which is what Henry Rollins would song like if he did noisy math-rock.

Read more

NYE overload! Concerts, parties, gatherings and more

NYEDon’t get caught by the “whatcha doing on New Year’s?” question. There is an overload of events planned (big and small, formal and casual, chill and raging). Here’s an extensive (though no doubt incomplete) list.

For a more detailed look at some best bets (as chosen by the Beehive staff) head over to The Fresno Bee.


Read more

It’s a Kerchow Christmas! 2013!

a2979701540_2While we’re talking Christmas music, I would be remiss to not mention Kerchow Records just-released holiday compilation “It’s a Kerchow Christmas! 2013!.”

This is of local interest because Kerchow also released the Friendcore Compilation tape in August, and the album features songs from several Friendcore bands (Fatty Cakes, Sci-F-Caper, The P.I.T.S., Restaurnaut). Murder Park’s “Dead Babies” is particularly great, though I wasn’t able to catch the Christmas connection (and I thought it was going to be an Alice Cooper cover).

The 30-track album (yes that is a lot of songs) is pretty punk, but which I mean low-fi and totally D.I.Y. It is available for download or on limited edition cassette (green or red, with silver or gold labels).

QnA with Devoya Mayo of the Fresno Handmade Holiday Bazaar

tumblr_mwr9lvovj31qehjf6o1_1280The Fresno Handmade Holiday Bazaar happens 11 a.m. Saturday at Fulton 55.

The annual event — put together by the Soulflower Group– is a spot check of the Fresno craft- and hand-made scene, with 28 crafters and artist selling everything from steampunk jewelry to handmade candles and designer nail polish. So, it’s the perfect spot to pick up some last-minute gifts.

I emailed Ms. Soulflower herself, Devoya Mayo, to find out more.

Explain the event in three lines or less.

The Soulflower Group curates a D.I.Y extravaganza by hosting 28 local crafty folks at Fulton 55 for an afternoon of crafts, music, food, prizes and cocktails.

Read more

An intro to podcasts, with Downtown’s Mike Seay

During my early days on the job, I did a trend story on blogs. This was back in the early 2000s, when you still had to explain such things (blog = web-log). Shortly thereafter podcasts came along and really blew people’s minds. It was sort of like radio, but you could put the shows in your iPod and listen to at your convenience. Finally, there was no excuse for not knowing about “This American Life.” Fast forward to 2013, and podcasting in not just a thing (with millions of listeners), it’s a career field. At least for guys like Chris Hardwick, Marc Maron and Adam Carolla, who is live taping an episode his his podcast Sunday night at the Tower Theatre.

I busted my butt trying to work an interview with Carolla in advance of the show. Sadly, we couldn’t get our schedules synced, so, I threw some questions out to my buddy (and local podcast guru) Mike Seay. Disclosure: Seay is my co-host on Flowing with Famous.

How have podcasts changed since 2004 or whenever people started paying attention to such things?

It’s become much more niche. In the beginning there was a lot of regular people doing their version of a radio morning show. Not many celebrities, mostly average people that would never try getting a job in radio but still thought they could do that brand of entertaining.

Read more

Bandgeek: Big Sandy, Brother Luke and an 806 Invasion


The latest in the Hunger Games saga opens tonight. At midnight or something. There are people who are excited. Others will be more taken by one of the bands playing through next weekend. For those I present another installment of the weekly (in this case it spans closer to two weeks) music roundup known as BANDEGEEEEK!!


Read more