Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

TONIGHT: Fauxchella w/ Bear Hands

Note: It’s Fauxchella season, the time of year when the area gets flooded (relatively speaking) with Coachella Festival performers.

BearHandsBy the end of month, New York post-punk band Bear Hands will have played two of the nation’s best-known (and most hyped) music events — Austin, TX’ SXSW (which took place in March) and the sold-out Coachella Festival, which kicks off this weekend in Indio, Calif.

While the events may seem similar in scope (both are great primer for reading the pulse on the hippest new bands), its Coachella that will give the band members a chance to relax and be fans. “South by Southwest is a scramble. It’s a competition to get noticed. It’s messy and its hectic,” says Bear Hands’ guitarist Ted Feldman.

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Bandgeek!: Bear Hands, the Brother Weiss and a tribute to Johnny Cash

4-4-14While the majority of your friends are out watching “Wicked,” you’d rather be out at a bar somewhere, listening to some low-down dirty rock and roll. Or any of the dozen of other music options happening this weekend (and into next week). Here’s your music roundup known as BANDGEEEEEK!


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KFSR’s No Rules April Fools

KFSR-No-Rules-April-Fools-151x180April Fool’s is the one day in the year when you can get topsy turvy with the world and be OK (relatively speaking). KFSR, the radio station housed at Fresno State is using it as an excuse to upend its standard programming with something a bit off-the-wall (in a good way). The station has invited local media/politicians and celebrity types (myself included) to serve as fill-in DJs for day. They’ll choose the music and give commentary on the choices.

It should be an interesting day of programming and unlike anything you’ll hear on traditional radio for sure. As example, my playlist will include (hopefully all of these, but in no real order):

No Rules April Fool’s (as it’s been dubbed) kicked off at 9 a.m. and will continue until 10 p.m. tonight. You can read the full list of guest hosts and time slots on the jump.

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Jimmy Fallon hits another home run with Jon Hamm ‘Celebrity Photobomb’

I’ve watched Jimmy Fallon for years on “Late Night,” so I easily followed him in his move as the new host of “The Tonight Show.” I have to say, he’s just killing it in his first few weeks. So many laughs and good times.

First there was the Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing with Will Smith, then Brian Williams rapping “Rapper’s Delight“ and another installment of the History of Rap with Justin Timberlake. There’s also the lip-sync off with Paul Rudd and The Roots playing “Let it Go” with Idina Menzel using classroom instruments.

And now, this awesome “Celebrity Photobomb” skit  with Jon Hamm at the Top of The Rock in New York City:


Justin Bieber covers Ryan Beatty … again

Here’s a Justin Bieber post that doesn’t involve a mug shot or legal woes. It does involve Fresno’s own Ryan Beatty, who has long drawn comparisons to the Canadian pop star (though we think he’s outgrown such comparisons).

Bieber performed a cover of Beatty’s “Every Little Thing” this weekend during a surprise spot at SB Projects’ Sunday Funday event at SXSW. Tori Kelly joined in on guitar and Beatty-buddy Cody Simpson also joined Bieber on stage.

Song starts at the :26 mark. )

This is the second time Bieber has covered the song. He first posted a version of the song on Viddy in late 2012. Check out a quick video snippet on the jump.

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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!


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Win tickets to: Strange Vine + Soft White Sixties tonight @ Fulton 55

strangeStrange Vine has a habit of setting up awesome local shows. When they play, you know you’ll be getting your money’s worth. So tonight’s show at Fulton 55 with San Francisco’s Soft White Sixties (plus Light Thieves and Planet Live in Houses) could be the music pick of the weekend.

You just have to start your weekend on a Thursday, is all.

The band has hooked us up with a couple tickets to pass along y’all Beehivers. To enter to win, just leave a comment on the post. Tell us who is your favorite rock-n-roll duo. This is a super-last minute, super-quick one. Deadline for entry is 3 p.m., today. Winners will be chosen by random and notified via email within the hour. So, check your email if you entered.

Check out the full rules and an awesome video from Kevin Figueroa on the jump.

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ROGUE REVIEW: Bootstrap Circus (Band)

Rogue Festival Poster 2014 by Tiffany Hurtado

If you’re in the mood for live music with a good groove, then check out Bootstrap Circus (Band) at Neighborhood Thrift.

This Mariposa, Calif., band has a distinct sound that draws from the influences of ska, rock, folk, gospel and what I would call surf-rock. The four-piece band — guitar, bass, drums and violin — is melodic, energetic and down-right fun. And the playful wit of frontman Adam Burns doesn’t hurt, either.

This band is polished and has a genuine rapport. They have wonderful stage presence born from their warm connection with each other that draws in the audience. The set includes catchy songs such as “Mad,” about the fear of being locked in mental hospital, “Sunsets and Shooting Stars,” about a robot falling in love with a girl, and “The Rescue,” an instrumental that is the soundtrack to a movie the singer made for his wife (watch below).  Between songs, there’s fun interplay between the band members and lots of stories about the music.

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Bandgeek!: Let’s Go Bowling, Mother Falcon and the Ataris

2-28-14Assuming you have any time available, what with the Rogue Festival happening, here’s our round up of this week’s musical entertainment. Enjoy your all-new BANDGEEK!


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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.

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Upload: Wallflower Artist You Should Know video

ICYMI, I put together a quick video of hardcore noise punk band Wallflower as part of The Bee’s Artist You Should Know series.

The female-fronted punk band is part of the Friendcore scene and plays the kind of noisey rock-and-roll that is right up my alley. Watch the video and if you like what you see/hear, check them out tonight at C.A.F.E. Infoshop.

Check out video of last week’s AYSK, Optimus Prime, on the jump.

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Bandgeek!: Strange Vine, New Politics and the Wailers

2-21-14You could spend the weekend at home listening to DEVO on the old record player. Or, you could catch some live music at one of the dozens of events happening this week. Check it out in an all-new installment of our weekly roundup BANDGEEEEK!


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Connecting kids with the Fresno Philharmonic

The Bee’s Eric Paul Zamora was on hand yesterday at the Saroyan Theatre for a fun (and very cute) outing: thousands of third and fourth graders from the Central and Fresno unified school districts playing recorders along with the Fresno Philharmonic.

More than 7,000 students participated Thursday and Friday in the two-day event, titled “Link Up: The Orchestra Sings.” The orchestra has long offered special performances for schoolchildren, but this was the first time students got to play with the Fresno Philharmonic rather than just listen.

The children prepared four songs, including Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony. The orchestra presented the program in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weil Music Institute.

What a great way to immerse students in music — and give them a musical debut they’ll never forget.

Check out the video above. And here’s a gallery of photos.

Bandgeek!: Ras Kass, The Roadshow and Jake Shimabukuro

2-14-14Put the Olympics on the DVR and go out and see some live music this week. There are choices like you wouldn’t believe. Or maybe you would, if you follow our weekly music roundup, which we present now. Here is your weekly BANDGEEEEK!!


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Method Man was drawn to comedy of ‘Chozen’

CHOZEN -- Pictured: Method Man. CR. Greg Endries/FX NetworkKrush Groove, a tour coming to the Save Mart Center in April that’s a celebration of old school Hip-Hop will feature an appearance by Redman & Method Man. If you want to hear a different side of Method Man before going to the show, he’s one of the voice talents on the new FX animated series “Chozen.”

The series looks at “Chozen,” a gay white rapper fresh out of prison. Chozen is on a quest for redemption and to claim the title of the world’s top rap artist.

Cliff “Method Man” Smith, who is the voice of Phantasm, knew when he signed on that the series would make fun of the Hip-Hop and Rap culture. That made him want to do the show even more.

“It’s making fun of hip hop. It’s making fun of gay people. It’s making fun of just the audacity of some of the artists that think they’re just above the law and above the world on these pedestals and nothing can touch them,” Method Man says. “Why not? You gotta knock people off their horse every now and then, you know?”

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Five things you should do this weekend

5-2-7-14-3Put the Olympics on DVR …

1. Dis/Orient/Ed
An all-women all-Asian American comedy tour with heavy hitters like New York’s Helen Hong. Several of the featured comics will stay over for a storytelling workshop 11 a.m. Sunday at Fresno State.

2. WWE
I will be forever grateful for this because it gave me the opportunity to talk to The Miz. In all seriousness. This guy broke reality-TV wide open.
3. Wordfest
I’m sold on name alone.

4. Death Angel
Though you’ll struggle to find it anywhere near mainstream rock radio, metal isn’t dead. Death Angel is continual proof.

5. Music for Hope
A nine-hour live-music marathon featuring more than 20 local bands and musicians. Fundraiser to get donated instruments in the hands of school kids.

Bandgeek!: Black Uhuru, Death Angel and Thompson Square

2-7-14So, now that you finally have a way to get from place to place without worrying about locking up your bicycle and/or getting a DUI, you’ll be free to hit up multiple live shows in the next week. All of which we post for just such an occasion. Check out another installment of the weekly music-roundup we call BANDGEEEEEK!


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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!!



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Concert announcement: Tim McGraw’s “Sundown Heaven Town” tour heads to Save Mart Center

Country to CountryAs could be predicted, the Save Mart Center has lined-up another big-name country act for spring.

This time it’s Tim McGraw, who brings his “Sundown Heaven Town” tour to Fresno, May 8 at the Save Mart Center. Singer/songwriter Cassadee Pope will open.

Tickets for the show go on sale Feb. 7 and will range from $39.50-$72.50 and available through ticketmaster at select Save Mart Supermarket or the Save Mart Center box office. 

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You review: P!NK


A huge crowd turned out for last night’s P!NK show at the Save Mart Center. It was a fun, energetic and creative show. One part concert, one part performance art and one part Broadway production, the show took fans on a journey through the many aspects of love. I really loved it. P!NK sounded great and looked amazing. She is fierce, sassy and strong. I’d see her again in heartbeat.

I’d love to hear from others at the show. Share your reviews in the comments.

I’ve included a few photos I shot on my phone (not the greatest, I admit, but the best I can do since we weren’t able to get permission to have a professional photographer at the show.)

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Saying farewell to Pete Seeger


Lots of folks saying goodbye to Pete Seeger on the Web today. I love this recent interview with Seeger, written last year, by my friend Amy Biancolli, who writes for the Albany Times-Union. He even sang for her over the phone:

The American folk legend hasn’t much of a voice any longer — it’s a quavering wisp of what it was — and he doesn’t remember nearly as many lyrics to nearly as many songs as he used to. But he can’t tell a story without singing, just as he can’t sing without telling a story. Even over the phone, with a reporter he’s never met, he breaks into song lightly and often, as though he’s done it a million times. Because he has.

Here’s the AP obit. How will you remember Pete Seeger? I like this comment from a Fresnan on Facebook:

I remember the times I saw him and playing his music for the children in the park when I was in high school. We will miss his clear, strong voice and his commitment to peace and justice. He was a wonderful man and we were so fortunate to share this lovely planet with him for a while. May his music and passion live on is us and be handed down to the children and their children always.

If you’d like, share memories and thoughts.

San Antonio concertmaster has Fresno roots


At the tender age of 22, Eric Gratz — an illustrious alum of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno — was last week named the new permanent concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony. From the San Antonio Express-News:

Conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing welcomed a new concertmaster, the first in nearly seven years with the permanent title for an orchestra with a history of concertmasters who have distinguished themselves in the classical music world.

A moment later, the slender, 6-foot-2 first-chair violinist named Eric Thomas Gratz strode onto the Majestic Theatre stage to accept applause as the new representative of the 72 orchestra musicians. Gratz is 22.

No one from Fresno should be surprised at Gratz’s youthful success.

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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.

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!


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7 picks for 7 days

Here’s this week’s 7 picks for 7 days, a list of things to do Today (Jan. 17) through Thursday (Jan. 23). This week’s choices includes celebrated musical theater, high-flying actions sports, beer tasting and live music.