Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

KFSR hosts Fresno Grand Opry fundraiser


I almost let this one slip through the cracks:

KFSR presents another installment of the Fresno Grand Opry, its semi-regular fundraising-concert series that has local musicians and bands paying (and playing) musical tribute to traditional country music.

The show, which coincides with the end of the station’s fall pledge drive (they will still take your money), is 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fresno Scottish Rite Center and features Brad “The Dudeboy” Rogers, The Roger Perry Band and Mofo Party Band. Tickets are just $10, and are available at

So, slide on them boots, snap up that pearly buttoned shirt and go on, get to it.

Be warned: You’re not gonna hear Florida Georgia Line or Rascall Flatts (or Garth Brooks or Brooks & Dunn, for that matter). This is for fans of Waylon, Willie and the boys.

And likely George Jones, Hank Williams and Bob Wills, too.

Ska talk with Eric Dansby of King Sugar


On the spectrum of ska music, King Sugar sits somewhere in the middle, with ’80s 2-Tone bands (the Specials, Madness) on one side and ’90s third-wave (Skankin’ Pickle, Let’s Go Bowling) on the other.

“With a z-axis of soul/mod thrown in for good measure,” says Eric Dansby, who has played drums for the Fresno band for the last decade.

Kings Sugar plays the opening slot for Dave Wakeling’s English Beat 9 p.m. Saturday at Fulton 55.

Here, Bansby talks about the genesis of the band and the (possible) future of ska.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Aside from revisiting the Civil War

1. Zappcon
Geeks (and nerds) of the world united and take over.

2. Zumba Under the Stars
Everyone is getting fit without you.

3. Breakfast Ride to Kearney Park
Don’t worry, you’ll get to the park before the first Civil War shots are fired.

4. Lunafest
The documentary “Viva,” seems particularly interesting. It tells the story of 82-year-old punker Viva Hamnell.

5. Glorious Junk Days
One man’s trash and all that.

An added bonus for those seeking music-oriented events:

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QnA with Cristobal Carrillo, organizer of Orosi’s Spanspek Festival


The Spanspek Music and Arts Festival is a teach-by-doing kind of endeavor.

Founded in 2006, the annual event brings locally created visual and performing arts to the community of Cutler-Orosi with the hope that it will inspire the youth in the area on their own artistic paths.

Dozens of local visual and performing artist will put their work on display 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Orosi Memorial Hall. All festival proceeds go toward funding Orosi High School scholarships, commissioning new works from local artists and ensuring the continuation of the event in the future.

Over the years, organizers Cristobal Carrillo and Israel Flores have developed a knack for spotting new local talent — such as Visalia psyche blues band Slow Season and the Dinuba hip hop collective, Roach Collection. Both play this year, along with local heavy hitters Patrick Contreras and the rock duo Strange Vine.

I emailed with Carrillo to find out more about growing up as an artist in a small, rural town and why this year’s lineup of musicians seems so great.

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Bandgeek!: The Remones, Red Scare and the Tastmaker’s Festival


With Halloween one weekend away (technically it’s two weeks and a day, but whatever) you’ll probably spend the weekend working on your costume (I hear Ebola’s trending this year).

Be sure to take a break for a couple of hours and check out one of the live music performances happening through next week. It’s a long list, which I’ll leave here as your weekly BANDGEEK!


  • Fiji.
    W/Essel and ReLion. At Fulton 55. 9 p.m. $25-$35. (Flier link)

  • Roger Sellers.
    W/Tson. At Peeve’s Public House. 8 p.m. Free. All ages.

  • Curse.
    W/Midwest Moms and The Agonic Line. At C.A.F.E. Infoshop. 8 p.m. $5. All ages. (Flier link)

  • Ron Thompson and his Resistors.
    Central Valley’s Blues Society’s weekly dance party. At Pinot Wine Bar. 6 p.m. Free.

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    You review: Tony Bennett


    I’ve mentioned before how difficult an endeavor it is to book the two weeks of entertainment for the Big Fresno Fair.

    It should be applauded for the job. This year for instance, the fair managed a strong draw for its second weekend with KONGOS (by all accounts a young band making moves), REO Speedwagon (the definition of “classic” rock) and La Ley (arguable one of the tops in the rock en Espanol scene).

    It also scored a humdinger of a closing-night show with jazz crooner Tony Bennett.

    At 88-years old, Bennett is still at the top of his game. Earlier this month he released a duets album with none other than Lady Gaga and earned the distinction (for the second time) of being the oldest performer to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard chart.

    Bennett played last night at the Paul Paul Theater and and was every bit the entertainer he was 20, heck even 40 years ago. At least according to our friend (and Fresno Film Commissioner) Ray Arthur, who sent along this review:

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    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominates Green Day, The Smiths and … N.W.A.?


    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced nominees for its 2015 class this week.

    Gut reaction? I am old.

    Is it possible, that Green Day, a band whom I loathed in high school (because I was too cool and they weren’t the Misfits or Minor Threat or even the Riverdales) is eligible for induction in the hall? In order to be get on the ballot their first single or album must have been released in 1989 or before.

    Looking at the rest of the field (which includes Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A., the Smiths, Lou Reed, Sting, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, Chic, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Marvelettes, the Spinners, Stevie Ray Vaughan, War and Bill Withers) one wonders what definition of “rock and roll” is being used here.

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    Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


    Fresno State football is in Vegas this weekend. Catch the rundown on Twitter while you’re doing any of these …

    1. The Big Fresno Fair
    It’s your last chance. Until next year.

    2. “The Judge”
    Robert Downey Jr. proves he can do more than the eccentric billionaire bit.

    3. Vintage pop-up shop
    And book swap. You know how I feel about books.

    4. Blimprov LIVE!
    Zen and the art of funny.

    5. “Avenue Q”
    Did someone say “puppet sex?”

    For a music specific list, check out this week’s BANDGEEK!

    You review: The Eagles


    It’s been close to a decade since the Eagles stopped through town. The band — whose greatest hits album is one of the 10 best-selling records of all time — played the Save Mart Center two years running in 2004 and 2005.

    Both times there were close to 10,000 in attendance.

    The band returned to the Save Mart Center last night as part of its “History of the Eagles” tour. We want to hear from those who were there.

    How was the crowd? Were locals fans as excited for the band as they were a decade ago? Given that this tour is supposed to span the band’s entire career (and promised some songs that have never been played lived before), what was the set-list like? Any unusual choice? Any of the hits get left out? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Then, click over to The Bee to see our photo gallery from last night’s show.

    Bandgeek!: The Eagles, The Experience and Tony Bennett

    While you are locked in your house worrying about whether it’s ebola or tuberculosis that will kill you first, the rest of us will be enjoying some live music. If you care to join, here is a list of happenings through next week. We call it BANDGEEEK!


  • The Eagles.
    At the Save Mart Center. 8 p.m. $49.50-$149.50.

  • Katchafire.
    W/White Glove Service and Jordan T. At Strummer’s. 7 p.m. $18. All ages. (Flier link)

  • Lisa’s Big Night Out.
    At the Patio Cafe. 6 p.m. Free.

  • The Body.
    W/Sandworm, Inside the Sun and Keeper. At Audie’s Olympic. 8:30 p.m. $8. (Flier link)

  • Justin Moore.
    At the Big Fresno Fair. $21-$26.

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    TONIGHT: Portland doom-bringers The Body


    It seems a bit odd, calling The Body’s upcoming release (out Oct. 21 on Thrill Jockey Records) a split LP.

    Yes, the Portland doom metal band shares the record with its comrades in noise Sandworm (a thrashish metal band from Providence, RI), and technically, each band does get the same amount of vinyl space.

    But Sandworm has 10 tracks on its side of the record. The Body has just one — a 16-minute blast of expansive darkness call “The Manic Fire.”

    This tells you most of what you need to know about The Body.

    Formed in 1999 by drummer Lee Buford and guitarist Chip King, The Body has forged its place as one of underground metal’s most brutal bands — incorporating avant-garde composition and elements of noise and experimental electronic music with doom and black-metal. Pitchfork describes King’s vocals as “the sound of exaggerated nightmares, his shrill scream so anxiety-inducing that it puts your animal brain on high alert for imminent danger…”

    It’s tough to give the band’s music a fitting description, says Buford, in town tonight for a show at Audie’s Olympic Tavern with Sandworm and locals Inside the Sun and Keeper.

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    Win tickets to: REO Speedwagon at the Big Fresno Fair


    Classic rock fans keep on loving REO Speedwagon.

    The band — which plays 7 p.m. Saturday at the Big Fresno Fair — is one of the most successful to come out of the ’70s arena rock scene and continues to be a staple on classic rock radio (and at karaoke joints, no doubt).

    We have tickets to Saturday’s show we’ll be giving to away to a Beehive reader. To enter to win, leave a comment in this post. What is your favorite radio rock hit (the songs you sing along to every time it comes on)? This contest is another quick one. You have until noon tomorrow. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and must be able to pick up tickets at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours.

    Check out a video from REO Speedwagon (and complete contest rules) on the jump.

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    Win tickets to: R5 at the Big Fresno Fair


    When the Lynch siblings — Rydel, Riker, Ross and Rocky — moved to Los Angeles seven years ago, they were looking to start their careers as actors and dancers. Maybe they would sing some, maybe land in a commercial or two.

    Instead, the group — with the help of family friend Ellington Lee Ratliff — started its own pop-rock band, R5 (though Riker landed a spot on “Glee” and Ross has his own series on the Disney Channel).

    The band — which plays 1 p.m. Saturday at the Big Fresno Fair — released its Hollywood Records debut last year.

    We have tickets to Saturday’s show we’ll give to away to a Beehive reader. To enter to win, leave a comment in this post. Would you ever play music with your siblings? Why or why not? This contest is another quick one. You have until 5 p.m. tonight. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and must be able to pick up tickets at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours.

    Check out a video from R5 (and complete contest rules) on the jump.

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    Win ticket to: Justin Moore


    Justin Moore’s life is a country song. The 30-year-old country star singer grew up in (and moved back to) Poyen, Ark., a town of 300 people. He dreamed of playing baseball or basketball until he realized he was 5-feet-6 and 140 pounds. He went to college for all of three weeks before he finally moved to Nashville to try his hand at music.

    It proved to a good move. Moore was named New Artist of the Year at the American County Music Awards in April. That’s a year after the release of “Off the Beaten Path, ” and five years after his self-titled debut hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Country charts. The singer headlined Visalia’s JugFest 2014 in May and plays 7 p.m. Thursday as part of the Big Fresno Fair’s concert series.

    We have tickets to give away to a Beehive reader. To enter to win, leave a comment in this post. Tell us why you love country music (doesn’t need to be specific to Moore). The contest is a quick one. You have until 5 p.m. tonight. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and must be able to pick up tickets at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours.

    Check out a video from Moore (and complete contest rules) on the jump.

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    Raider’s leader Paul Revere dies at 76


    In the midst of the ’60s British invasion, Paul Revere became an American rock and roll icon.

    With his band, the Raiders, the organist had a string of hit singles including “Louie Louie” (it was a bigger hit for the Kingsmen) and “Kicks” (they also recorded a version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” which later became a hit for the Monkees). The band is best known for the 1971 hit “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian).”

    Revere died Saturday at the age of 76.

    During his heyday, Revere was known as “the madman of rock and roll,” which probably had to do with his on-stage antics, including dressing up in 18th century military uniforms, complete with the tricorner hats.

    Offstage, the man could be all business.

    “He played rock and roll, but he was a businessman,” says Bill Burns, who started the local band Papa Clutch & the Shfiters in 1978.

    Burns met Revere several times over the years, and in the late ’80s his group (known as the Shifters at the time) was the surf-rock house band at Kicks in Reno. The club was owned by Revere, who had hired the band for the gig. “He was one of the good guys in rock and roll,” Burns says.

    Burns also got the opportunity to share the stage with Revere’s band — in one instance Papa Clutch and the Shifters actually played headline to the Raiders at Safari Night show at Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo.

    “Because of sound check problems, they played first and we followed them, asking the audience to give our ‘opening act’ a big hand. Paul was sitting in the audience and laughed harder than most,” Burns says.

    “Great guy who was always on the rock ‘n roll make!”

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    BANDGEEK!: Guttermouth, Growlers and Let’s Go Bowling


    No doubt you’ll spend at least part of the weekend wondering how the heck it can be close to 100 degrees in October.

    There will still be plenty of time to catch one of the many live music performances happening through next week. We have once again listed them here in our weekly BANDGEEEK! roundup.


  • J Dubb.
    W/Tone + 1AD7. Remedy, Arcane 9, Chuck Sin, Urbane and J:Pre$ko. At Strummer’s. 7:30 p.m. $10-$12. (Flier link)

  • Waterbox Inc.
    W/Philophobia. At Peeve’s Public House. 8 p.m. Free. All ages.

  • Bryan Vickers Band.
    At ApCal. 7 p.m. Free.

  • Dierks Bentley.
    At the Big Fresno Fair. 7 p.m. $43-$48.

  • Style Like Revelators.
    W/Banshee Bones and Beastmaker. At Audie’s Olympic. 9 p.m. $5. (Flier link)

  • Days Under Authority.
    Saving Temperance, Rise the Ruler and Tomi Jean. At Kuppajoe. 7:30 p.m. $6-$8. All ages. (Flier link)

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    Tonight: Poppy, punk rock with Flashlights


    Melissa Hopkins lets me in on the truth about touring with her band the Flashlights: Eventually, the tour ends and the four members of the Florida indie-punk band have to go back home.

    “We kind of put our lives on hold for this,” says Hopkins, who plays drums for the band, which is currently in the middle of a two-month cross country tour playing the opening slot for Paws and Total Slacker. The tour stops tonight at Strummer’s.

    The days leading up to the tour were spent either practicing, or working to save up money so they could keep their apartments. The rent still needs to get paid. Hopkins has an employer that understands and appreciates her dedication to the band, though every time she goes out on the road she’s ready to put in her two-weeks notice.

    “We’re pretty lucky,” she says.

    Flashlights began in 2007 as the solo project of its leader Terry Caudill, who pulled in members of from the Brevard County punk scene. They have release two full-length albums, including its latest “Bummer Summer, out now on Hard Rock Records.

    The album is full of bright, peppy (and poppy) rock songs.

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    BANDGEEK: Sea Knight, Sleepover Disaster and A Day to Remember

    Resist the urge to rewatch “Braveheart.” Instead, check out one of the dozens of live music performances happening over the next week. We’ve collected them for you in this weeks’ BANDGEEEEK!


  • Incoming Rush.
    W/Outside the Wire. At Fulton 55. 8 p.m. $6-$8.

  • The Real McKenzies.
    W/A. Tom Collins. At Strummer’s. 8 p.m. $12-$13. (Flier link)

  • Saint Motel.
    W/The River Wilde. At Peeve’s Public House. 8 p.m. Free. All ages.

  • Los Hooligans.
    At ApCal. 7 p.m. Free.

  • Endings.
    W/Blackwell, Messenger of the Covenant, Know Your Enemy and Once Emperor. At CYC. 6:30 p.m. $5 donation. All ages. (Flier link)

  • Mercy Fist.
    W/Valkyrie Missile, Clockwork Hero and Light of Mine. At Kuppajoe. 7:30 p.m. $6-$8. All ages. (Flier link)

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    Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


    Now that we have all that MLB drama behind us, we can go out and enjoy the weekend, right?

    1. Love a Local
    Peeve’s Public House celebrates its first year in business. So should you.

    2. ClovisFest
    Get up extra early to see the hot air balloons inflate and take off from the Rodeo Grounds.

    3. Highland Gathering and Games
    “I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518, in the village of Glen Finnen on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal.”

    4. Reel Pride
    For those who think that Fresno is a backwards town that won’t ever be truly progressive, Reel Pride celebrates 25 years and is the sixth oldest gay and lesbian film festival in the US.

    5. Hanford Blues and Roots Festival
    A bay Area blues revue + the CVBS Allstars.

    For music specific ideas, check out BANDGEEK!

    Concert announcement: Celtic Woman 10th Anniversary


    Celtic Woman — the international vocal sensation and PBS standout — celebrates its 10th anniversary with an 80-city tour that includes a May 22 date at Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre.

    The group last played in Fresno (at the same venue) in 2009 on it “Isle of Hope” tour. This time around, the women (who make up Celtic Woman) will be joined by a 15 member ensemble includes a full band, bagpipers, Irish dancers and the Aontas Choir. The show is directed by music producer David Downes.

    Tickets for the tour are $42, $62 and $102 and on sale now via Ticketmaster and the Fresno Convention Center Box Office.

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    Warnors Theatre Complex gets new management


    The Warnors Center for the Performing Arts — which includes the historic Warnors Theatre and the accompanying venues and commercial spaces on Fulton street — is a beacon for a revitalized Cultural Arts District in downtown.

    The nonprofit foundation that oversees the complex wants to keep it that way.

    “Improvements to, and restoration of, the venues are desperately needed to keep up with increased growth and development downtown,” says Sally Caglia, who sits on the board of directors for the nonprofit.

    Her family once owned the theater.

    “It is imperative the Warnors Board does its due diligence to make that happen, and for Warnors to remain an active historic centerpiece for downtown,” she says.

    Earlier this month, the board brought in a new manager for the complex to help create strategic, fiscal scrutiny of its operations, Caglia says.

    The casual observer probably hasn’t noticed. Any changes so far seem to be behind-the-scenes.

    “At the moment nothing has really changed, ” says Gene Day, who now serves as the Warnors Complex Manager. “We have all the same kinds of events that have been there for the last couple of years,” he says.

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    Noelle Bean is in Fresno on the High School nation tour


    Noelle Bean attended a private Christian High School. She was one of eight in her graduating class, and that was a jump from the typical four students in any of the other grades.

    It’s a contrast to the schools the Los Angeles pop singer will visit as part of the High School Nation tour, which is in Fresno today.

    For 10 years the tour has visited thousands of public high schools and middle schools, facilitating performing-, digital- and fine-arts opportunities for students and giving them free lunchtime concerts with some choice artists. Past performers have included Cody Simpson, Wale and Jason Castro.

    This year’s fall tour features Dakota Bradley, Drake Bell and … Bean, who’s debut EP “Rollercoaster” was released on STRZ The Label in June.

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    Spanspek Music and Arts Festival announces 2014 lineup


    Orosi’s Spanspek Music and Arts Festival is closing in on a decade of showcasing some of the hippest local bands and artists.

    It seems to be just hitting its stride.

    The lineup for this year’s festival (which was announced this morning) features eight local heavy hitters, including two of, arguably, the best known acts in town — the rock duo Strange Vine and violin master Patrick Contreras.

    But the don’t miss band on this year’s bill may be Visalia fuzz-rockers Slow Season. The group had serious buzz at last year’s festival and has put in big work on the road (and in the studio) this year.

    On the arts side of things, the festival will include more than a dozen artists/and/or art collectives, including Carlos Cisneros, the Orosi High School Art Department and Fresno Underground Art.

    The event happens 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Orosi Memorial Hall in Orosi (follow the 99 south, just past Kingsburg, then head East). If you haven’t been, it’s completely worth the drive (especially with this year’s lineup). A full list of bands and artists can be seen at the Spanspek website.

    On another festival note: Keep in mind Fresno’s own locals-only music fest, F.U.S.E. is happening Sept. 26-27.

    Win tickets to Heavy Weather at Arte Americas Nights in the Plaza

    nightsFresno’s summer days can be brutal. But our nights … our nights are so very lovely.

    Which is why Arte Americas hosts a series of Friday-night concerts in it outdoor pavilion each summer. The Nights in the Plaza series features local and regional bands playing Latin lazz and mariachi, Brazilian, Son Jarocho and rockabilly.

    We are giving away passes to this, the final week of the series’ run, which features the Central Valley Santana tribute Heavy Weather.

    To enter to win passes to see the band, leave a comment in this post. Tell us your favorite way to spend a warm summer’s night in the Valley. The contest runs through noon Thursday. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and be able to pick up the passes at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours. Passes are good for any concert night, but do not guarantee entry, so early arrival is suggested.

    We’ll have a new contest up every Monday so keep checking back. Complete performer schedule and contest rules on the jump.

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    Review: Blake Shelton at the Save Mart Center

    Blake SheltonI’m a rock girl, but I have to say there’s something about country music. Maybe it’s the story. Or the twang. Or even the good time sentiment found in many songs. In the case of Blake Shelton — arguably the hottest singer in country music right now with hit after hit (and a new album on the way) — it’s all three. And each was on full display Thursday night at the Save Mart Center where he headlined the Ten Times Crazier Tour.

    For one hour fifty minutes, Blake Shelton wove his way through his extensive song list that included new single “Neon Lights” and favorites like “Kiss My Country Ass,” “Honey Bee” and “Boys Round Here.” And the fans — who filled nearly every seat all the way to the last row on the upper level — toe-tapped and sang along until the very last note.

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