“Big Block Party” with Morris Day & The Time (The Original 7ven), Sheila E., Guy, and Doug E. Fresh at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 9/13/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Sacramento… you may notice a bit of moisture forming on my forehead… falling down my face…  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, ‘Morris has lost it.’  You may even be thinking, ‘Morris is not cool anymore.’  But let me fix that shit for you, Sacramento.  Just like you take a cool bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator, and you set it on the counter… what does it begin to do?  See, it sounds like you all don’t know.  See, it begins to condensate, Sacramento.  Because that’s what you do when you’re cool from the inside out…   So please understand, Morris is not sweatin’.  I’m condensatin’.   And, hell yes, Morris Day is still cool!”  Words from the legendary Morris Day from Morris Day & The Time (now The Original 7ven), headlining the Big Block Party by WorldOne Presents at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Saturday night.  Having come on stage after the sun dropped out of view, which hit a high of 100 degrees, it left me wondering if the sweat rolling off everyone in the sold out concert venue was from the heat of the day, or the heat coming off the stage from the outrageous funk band, who followed the incredible line-up of Sheila E., Guy, and Doug E. Fresh.

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80s Rewind Music Fest 2014 / Retro Futura Tour (Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, Howard Jones, The English Beat, Katrina) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 8/31/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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The show at Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Outdoor Amphitheater Sunday night was continuing on in WorldOne Presents’ tradition of their annual “80s Rewind Festival Music Fest”, and arrived in Lincoln, California with it’s own unique line-up and variation on the newly christened Retro Futura Tour 2014 (formerly Regeneration Tour).  With this event, the same co-headliners – Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and Howard Jones – shared the bill, as did Katrina Leskanich (formerly of Katrina and The Waves.  But in place of Midge Ure and China Crisis was the incredible English Beat featuring Dave Wakeling.  As usual, the show took on a character all it’s own, playing out to a large and enthusiastic crowd.  I think the Katrina/English Beat/Howard Jones/Tom Bailey line-up featured artists that all have one thing in common: authentic optimism driving their music.  Of course, the modern day ’10s are not the classic ’80s, and though the music played came from the past, it could also serve as a beacon of hope for the future.  And, as with the show at Mountain Winery the night before, there seemed to be quite a reception for Tom Bailey, who stopped touring and performing live as Thompson Twins way back in 1987.  It was another exceptional performance by all of the artists, and both shows are certainly on the short list for top concerts of the year for me personally.

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Replay America (The Go-Go’s, Patty Smyth from Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, and Pete Byrne from Naked Eyes) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 7/19/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Are we not in the desert?  Where are we?” A  bit of comic relief part way through The Go-Go’s set by Gina Schock, who as per tradition emerges from her drum kit at some point in the show to give us a bit of fun.  And that is kind of at the heart of The Go-Go’s punky/poppy/surfy/beachy New Wave music, so what better a group to headline 2014’s newest 80s-centric tour, Replay America.  Also on the bill is Patty Smyth from Scandal, Martha Davis from The Motels, and Pete Byrne from Naked Eyes.  A real assortment of 80s hitmakers each took to the stage at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday night to take the crowd back about three decades to a real innovative time in music.  Though there was a lot of music to be heard, things proceeded along quite quickly with the first three artists sharing a band (with some changes set to set), and a quick changeover for the aforementioned Go-Go’s, who closed out the night with a string of classic songs.  Definitely a unique opportunity to catch many favorites in one sitting, and I know I thoroughly enjoyed each artist, only half of whom I’d seen live before (though I was already a fan of all four).  Awesome show.

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Jewel Releases New Song “Sing On” For #LUNGFORCE; Plays Set of Special California Concerts This Month

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Country, folk, and pop singer-songwriter Jewel is playing a handful of shows up and down California this month.  The signer, guitarist, producer, poet, and actress will start playing shows beginning next week at The Center for The Arts in Grass Valley, followed by Mountain Winery in Saratoga, and then two Southern California shows.  Jewel released a new song last month, “Sing On” for the American Lung Association’s LUNGFORCE initiative to help fight lung cancer. When you download “Sing On” on iTunes, all proceeds will go directly to #LUNGFORCE. [Read more...]

V101′s Summer Jam Concert with Keith Sweat, Tony! Toni! Toné! and Salt-n-Pepa at Thunder Valley | Lincoln, California | 6/14/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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“Somebody’s gonna get pregnant tonight!”  Headlining this year’s Summer Jam for WorldOne Presents and V101, R&B icon Keith Sweat made it clear that much of his music is meant to accompany more… romantic activities.  It was fitting that by the time he took the stage at Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater Saturday night, the sun was long gone and there was a bright moon serving as backdrop to the evening.  The other artists brought more of a high energy show to the stage, with Salt-n-Pepa performing not only their own music but samples from all manner of genre of music, courtesy the founding DJ, Spinderella, while D’wayne and Amar of Tony! Toni! Toné! raced back and forth across the vast stage getting the audience going at the start of the show.  The sold out crowd of 4,000 fans in Lincoln, California appeared to be thrilled by the performances of all three artists, with DJ Gino bridging each act with his ongoing DJ set.

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MØ with Erik Hassle at Popscene at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, California | 6/3/2014 (Concert Review + Photos)

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The Popscene concert at Rickshaw Stop on Tuesday night was one of those rare shows that was very surprising (in a good way).  Danish singer-songwriter MØ (Karen Marie Ørsted) headlined the night that featured Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle supporting, and both put on stellar performances, with awesome bookend DJ sets by Aaron Axelsen.  Candidly, I was not familiar with either of these young artists until recently, and I would mark the night as one of the best concerts I’ve attended so far in 2014.  MØ and Erik Hassle should be on the pop culture watch list as ones to expect big things from in the future.

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Hotel/Resort Review: Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites – San Diego, California

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This is part of a continuing series of my impressions and experiences staying at various hotels and resorts while traveling to attend concerts worldwide. This stay was during my recent trip to San Diego in January 2014. This review is for Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites in San Diego, California. [Read more...]

The Invisible Lighthouse – A Film and Live Performance by Thomas Dolby at Crest Theatre | Sacramento, California | 11/23/2013 (Concert Review)

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It’s a happy and a sad occasion…”  Thomas Dolby talking about his last stop at Creat Theatre in Sacramento last night, in his preface to “performing” his very personal documentary film, The Invisible Lighthouse Tour.  Really a film unlike any I’ve ever experienced, it was just that – an experience.  Dolby has been a pioneer in pop culture from his very beginnings, well known for his 1982 New Wave hit, “She Blinded Me With Science” among a number of other accomplishments in and out of music.  Dolby’s partner on the stage, Blake Leyh, produced some amazing “analog”, impressionistic sound effects during the film, which Dolby scored and narrated, which made it clear that each performance of his film has been quite unique and different.  A real pioneer in the arts, Dolby certainly has consistently blazed his own path, and after hearing his candid thoughts throughout the event, it would seem that he operates in a bit of a pop culture bubble, and looks to technology to find new ways in which to create meaningful art and vehicles for expression, and currently he is inspired by the ability today to make powerful films, sans Hollywood budgets and crews.  The result is something that literally has to be experienced in a theater, and hopefully this event is truly not the last for The Invisible Lighthouse.

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Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Rob Base (V101’s Hip Hop Halloween House Party 2013) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 10/25/2013 (Concert Review)

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Last night was all about old school hip hop legends, with Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and Rob Base each taking the stage during V101’s Hip Hop Halloween House Party at Pano Hall inside Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln.  Pioneers in what has since become a wildly popular genre of music, it was a celebration of the artists who built the foundation of hip hop, with respect paid to many of their peers who were not part of the concert, by way of mention and covers.  It made for an interesting and unpredictable night of music, with legend Kurtis Blow doing his own music, like “The Breaks” (the first gold certified rap song back in 1980) as well as some unexpected works from others that followed many years later, like House of Pain’s “Jump Around”.  Hip Hop has obviously changed tremendously in the past three decades, but those in attendance last night, I think, appreciate that it was probably at its best in those early years, and it is gratifying to have seen these artists do their thing on stage last night in a relatively intimate atmosphere with a great crowd, some of whom also took to the stage throughout the show.

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V101’s Old School Funk Fest 2013 (The Brothers Johnson, Midnight Star, The Dazz Band, and Sinbad) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort | Lincoln, California | 9/7/2013 (Concert Review)

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“You can’t be what this is…”  Part of comedian Sinbad’s introduction of The Brothers Johnson, headliners of V101’s Old School Funk Fest 2013.  The legendary American Funk and R&B group took to the stage after Midnight Star and The Dazz Band through down the bass-driven hits for a few hours leading up to George “Lightnin’ Licks” Johnson and Louis E. “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson rocked Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater with classics like “Strawberry Letter 23″, “Stomp!”, and “I’ll Be Good To You”, to the thrill of the sold out crowd at the World One Presents production.  It was definitely an evening of sublime entertainment with groups that unfortunately don’t perform on stage much too often these days, though their old school sound definitely is a reminder of a lot of what is missing in music today in many respects.

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The Go-Go’s & The B-52s at Mountain Winery | Saratoga, California | 7/9/2013 (Concert Review)

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“Hey Gina, did you play your brother’s 78s?”  The Go-Go’s bass player Jane Wiedlin giving their drummer a hard time as Gina tried to give a preface to their stellar cover of the Rolling Stone’s hit “Paint it Black” by talking about how when you were a kid you would borrow your older brother or sister’s “records or CDs or whatever“.  Like co-headliner The B-52s, both bands brought a combination of rock and good fun on stage at Mountain Winery in Saratoga last night, and even shared the stage for one song, contributing to the intimate, party-like atmosphere.  I’ve seen both bands in the past 12 months, but it was something special to be treated to their respective New Wave sound on the same night.  It was also kind of neat to see members of each band watching each others’ sets from side stage (like Belinda Carlisle fully immersed in The B-52s show and Kate Pierson taking in The Go-Go’s performance).  Maybe the combination gave special energy all around, as each put on the best show I’ve seen from either band, so it was a pretty amazing night celebrating some of the best songs from my personal favorite era of music.

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The Go-Go’s and The B-52s To Bring 80s Vibe Alive On Stage for Special Summer Engagements

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The Go-Go’s and The B-52s started touring North America this month, and lucky fans in certain cities will be treated to co-headlining shows featuring both bands.  Each innovators in their own right, the groups each have innumerable hits from the past three decades.  While both have their own distinct sound of New Wave and pop rock, most of the songs are high energy and positive, and together I imagine create quite a party atmosphere. [Read more...]