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Route for 700-mile 2015 Amgen Tour of California, including Sierra Foothills

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The tenth anniversary edition route is set for the 2015 Amgen Tour of California, America’s largest and most prestigious professional cycling race. The milestone course will feature several rider and fan-favorite locales from past races, as well as five stages that highlight different regions of California for the very first time.

An all-star field featuring 144 of the world’s most talented and decorated cyclists will come together in California May 10-17 to compete on the eight-day route covering 724.1 miles of the state’s most stunning and recognizable roadways, highways and coastline drives. Every year, the Amgen Tour of California serves as a testament to athletic greatness of the participants, captivating audiences with thrilling sprints, climbs and overall race strategy, and the tenth edition of the Amgen Tour of California will raise the bar to its highest level yet.

Starting in front of California’s iconic State Capitol building, the first two stages are the flattest and should make for exciting moments with some of the world’s best sprinters facing-off during the race’s first weekend giving fans a “first taste” of the anticipated bunch sprints to the finish expected in several stages. As for uphill challenges, riders will be tested by more than 43,000 feet of climbing throughout their eight days on the course including much anticipated encounters with Mount Hamilton and Mt. Baldy, which will serve up climbs as challenging as any in North America.

The final decisive days of the race will be highlighted by the Individual Time Trial set in beautiful, high-altitude Big Bear Lake and the Queen Stage finish at the top of Mt. Baldy with its 1,900-foot elevation gain in the final 4.3 miles, over eight percent average gradient. On the final race day which begins at L.A. LIVE, the overall title will be up for grabs until the finish line at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

“We’ve reached a milestone this year with the tenth edition of the race, and we want everything to reflect that cache, from the best lineup of teams we’ve ever had to an unbelievably beautiful and exciting route,” said Kristin Bachochin Klein, executive director of the Amgen Tour of California and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “All of the pieces of the race have come together to set the stage for something truly legendary and memorable. I think it’s going to be a year for the record books.”

The 2015 Amgen Tour of California will have something spectacular to see every day (route and start times are subject to change):

Stage 1, Presented by Visit California
Sunday, May 10 – Sacramento
Start/Finish Location: State Capitol Building, L Street & 11th Street
Start Time: 11:00 a.m.
Stage Length: 127 miles

Fast and flat, with water and bridges galore… Stage 1 is destined to be a sprinter’s delight. Each year, the Amgen Tour of California endeavors to highlight areas of the Golden State that it has never been to before, and the new Stage 1 course definitely accomplishes this.

After an initial crossing of the Sacramento River via the iconic Tower Bridge, the race will pass quickly through West Sacramento to River Road. From here, the race will follow the winding Sacramento River through the small towns of Clarksburg, Courtland and Walnut Grove. The stage’s fourth bridge crossing will take the race back over the river into Isleton. A few miles later, the route again crosses the river into Rio Vista and the heart of the California Delta region.

The riders will then head north through Solano County into one of the most popular alumni race cities, Davis. Continuing north through Woodland, the route turns east and heads back to West Sacramento, across Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River for the fourth and final time. Heading straight toward the State Capitol building, the riders will enter onto the same finishing circuits that have delivered huge crowds and have showcased some of the most exciting sprint finishes in the history of the Amgen Tour of California. In 2014, the sprint between legendary fast men Mark Cavendish and John Degenkolb resulted in the closest margin of victory in race history – a mere three millimeters!

Stage 2, Presented by Breakaway from Cancer
Monday, May 11 – Nevada City to Lodi
Start Location: Broad Street & Pine Street
Finish Location: Hutchins Street & Walnut Street
Start Time: 11:00 a.m.
Stage Length: 120 miles

With just one climb and elevations of 2,500 feet in Nevada City, which is hosting its third race start, and a more gentle climb of 55 feet in Lodi, this will likely be another sprinter-friendly stage. After a short circuit on the historic Nevada City Classic course, the riders will head into Grass Valley where another warm reception will await. From Grass Valley, the peloton will head due south on two race favorites: Rattlesnake Road and Dog Bar Road.

The route passes just east of Auburn this year over the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge, the tallest bridge in California. From here, the riders can look over their shoulders to the American River some 730 feet below and the start of the Highway 49 climb. Once they reach the King of the Mountain (KOM), it is a fast downhill route into Lodi. On the way, the stage will cross several railroad crossings and past several vineyards that have established Lodi as the “Zinfandel Capital of the World.” Expect a shootout between some of the top sprinters in the world as the peloton reaches the finishing circuits downtown.

Stage 3 Tuesday, May 12 – San Jose
Start Location: Berryessa Community Center
Finish Location: Motorcycle County Park
Start Time: 11:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 105 miles

This will be the race’s tenth consecutive year in San Jose, the only host city to earn that distinction. The start returns to the Berryessa Community Center from which riders will head toward Livermore on a familiar route via Calaveras Road. This is a very narrow and twisty road that makes it easy for a breakaway group to escape out of sight of the peloton. Once the race reaches Livermore, the route turns onto Mines Road. Not only is this another road with scores of opportunities for a break to get clear of the main field, it is also a harbinger of things to come: Mount Hamilton. Yes, the race will head up the “backside” of the 4,216-foot behemoth.

Reaching the KOM, the cyclists will face a very steep and technical descent of Mount Hamilton. At the bottom awaits the fifth and final KOM via Quimby Road will truly separate the climbers from the rest of the peloton. Descending back into San Jose, the route will use San Felipe Road to reach Metcalf Road. Many will recall Metcalf Road as part of the 2013 Individual Time Trial. For 2015, the race will come to the same finish at the Motorcycle County Park, but from the other direction. The four miles of Metcalf Road are highlighted by short rolling climbs with a final 0.25-mile climb to the finish featuring gradients over 10 percent.

Stage 4 Wednesday, May 13 – Pismo Beach to Avila Beach
Start Location: Pismo Beach Pier
Finish Location: Front Street & San Antonia
Street Start Time: 11:30 a.m.
Stage Length: 107 miles

This will be another day for the sprinters to rule. With less than eight miles separating these two alumni cities, some riders may be hoping for a very short race day. But, tack on another 100 miles, and throw in some hidden gems of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, and you have the makings of a route destined to become a fan favorite. Pismo Beach will host a reprise of the 2014 Stage 5 start on the pier. The route will then head south through the seaside town of Grover Beach and the rustic community of Guadeloupe. As the race continues down Highway 1 and through the town of Orcutt, many of the local cyclists will recognize roads that are used for races in the Santa Maria area. As the route turns onto idyllic Foxen Canyon Road, the peloton will be treated to lush vineyard and winery views. A left turn will put the race on Tepusquet Road, where many of the riders will see similarities to Morgan Territory Road used in 2013 near Livermore.

Along the 15 miles of Tepusquet, the riders will be treated to cool breezes, plenty of shade, tranquil farms and ranches. Perhaps it will take their minds off the long climb they are on. Reaching the descent of Tepusquet, the route turns left, and the racers will be able to smell the sea breeze all the way to the finish. A right turn onto Thompson Avenue, and many of the riders will realize they are on the same route into Avila Beach that they raced on in 2013. Arroyo Grande will again produce a great crowd at the final sprint of the day. Spectators will again line the narrow roads in Avila Beach awaiting another amazing finish. Will it be another solo rider like Jens Voigt, who rode clear to victory in 2013, or will they be treated to a field sprint?

Stage 5, Presented by Visit California
Thursday, May 14 – Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita
Start Location: Cabrillo Boulevard & Garden Street
Finish Location: Magic Mountain Parkway
Start Time: 11:45 a.m.
Stage Length: 98 miles

With warm breezes coming off the beach across from the start line, it will be just as difficult to leave Santa Barbara as it was in 2008 when the riders took the same route into Santa Clarita. Winding their way through picturesque Montecito and Carpinteria, the riders will be getting their legs ready for two short but steep KOMs as they approach Lake Casitas. A fast descent down Highway 150 will take them alongside the lake and into Ojai. Following another KOM up Dennison Grade, the race will return to the charming town of Santa Paula, the base of Balcom Canyon looms just a few miles away.

For many local riders, Balcom Canyon is just too steep and imposing a climb to even attempt. Walking up the top section is the only option for many. This is a unique climb where the riders can easily see the KOM from the start of the climb. Crowd estimates have been as high as 5,000 fans. Definitely a great place to watch the race come by… slowly.

Following a “white-knuckle” descent of Grimes Canyon, the route heads through the orange groves near the small town of Piru, and the race starts its 13-mile eastward push on Highway 126 toward Santa Clarita. A prevailing tailwind should help keep the race together and treat the crowd in Santa Clarita to another massive field sprint on perfect wide roads.

Stage 6, Presented by Lexus
Friday, May 15 – Big Bear Lake Individual Time Trial
Start Location: Village Drive & Bartlett Road
Finish Location: Pine Knot Marina
Start Time: 1:00 p.m.
Stage Length: 15 miles

At 6,752 feet and featuring one of the most beautiful lakes in all of California, the City of Big Bear Lake will host of the Individual Time Trial. The course begins in the heart of the Village in Big Bear Lake. The first three miles of the route wind through a residential area along the south shore of the lake. Taking the Stanfield Cutoff across the lake, the course turns left and continues on Highway 38 to the town of Fawnskin. As the route turns back to the City of Big Bear Lake, expect large crowds in Fawnskin to cheer the riders coming and going. The return back into Big Bear Lake will essentially follow the same route.

As the route makes a right onto Big Bear Blvd., with just 0.6 miles left, the riders will make a right onto Pine Knot Avenue for the final sprint to the finish line and onto a 1,000-foot jetty greeted by thousands of cheering fans. Cyclist are presented to a one-of-a-kind waterfront finish with spectacular panoramic views of Big Bear Lake. This is very flat and fast course that will favor time trial specialists. Don’t expect riders to score huge time gaps over their rivals to take a big lead going into Stage 7.

Stage 7, Presented by Lexus
Saturday, May 16 – Ontario to Mt. Baldy (Queen Stage)
Start/Finish Location: Mt. Baldy Ski Area
Start Time: 11:35 a.m.
Stage Length: 80 miles

It’s been called the “Queen Stage” and compared to the epic stages of the European Grand Tours – a return to the mountaintop finish that thrilled so many fans in 2011 and 2012. This is the training ground for many of the local riders in Southern California. Only handfuls have done the entire route, but after the 2012 stage, this is now one of hottest Strava segments in the U.S. It is very possible that the winner of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will be decided on the final 15 switchbacks to the finish on Mt. Baldy.
The race will begin at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, the largest indoor arena in California’s Inland Empire and home to several professional sports teams.

The route heads north to Rancho Cucamonga and then west to Upland. Just six miles from the start, the route rejoins the 2011/2012 routes. From here, the riders will start an 11-mile climb to the Village of Mt. Baldy. After an acute left, the racers will face another mile of climbing up Glendora Ridge Road to their first of three monster KOMs. From there, they will navigate 12 miles of narrow and twisting roads that gradually descend to a fast and technical descent down the backside of Glendora Mountain Road. Riders and fans alike can expect spectacular vistas throughout the Angeles National Forest. Another descent down East Fork will take the riders to Highway 39 and the town of Azusa. Heading east, they’ll race through the outskirts of Glendora.

The locals know it as “GMR,” and GMR takes no prisoners. A left turn onto Glendora Mountain Road will lead the peloton to a grueling nine-mile climb to the second KOM of the day followed by 12 miles of a slight climb back to Baldy Village. A left turn back onto Baldy Road will see the race gain 1,000 feet in just three miles… and the real climbing will not have even begun! At Ice House Canyon, the route makes a hard left turn where the sign to the ski area points toward the sky. Over the next 2.5 miles, the riders will face 10 switchbacks on a road so steep that many of the race vehicles cannot make it to the top. With 1.2 miles to go, the road will straighten and the finish will be in view. At 0.25 miles to go, the route makes a hard left, and the racers will face the final five switchbacks to the finish line. This will be the stage where legends are made and winners are decided.

Stage 8, Presented by Amgen
Sunday, May 17 – L.A. LIVE (Los Angeles) to the Rose Bowl (Pasadena)
Start Location: L.A. LIVE (Chick Hearn Court)
Finish Location: Pasadena Rose Bowl
Start Time: 9:15 a.m.
Stage Length: 60 miles

What better way to celebrate the uniqueness of Los Angeles than a Stage 8 route that highlights countless iconic images in downtown L.A. and a tour through the heart of several well-known neighborhoods? The day will begin in the heart of L.A.’s famous sports and entertainment district. The start line will span Chick Hearn Court and connect STAPLES Center (home of the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers) and L.A. LIVE (home of the annual GRAMMY, Emmy and Espy Awards as well as race presenter AEG’s worldwide headquarters).

The early morning start will begin with a five-mile circuit that incorporates a portion of the 2010 Time Trial route. The circuit will highlight the Biltmore Hotel, Pershing Square, City Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Los Angeles Music Center, STAPLES Center, and L.A. LIVE. Upon completing five laps and an hour of racing in downtown L.A., the race will head north to its ultimate conclusion in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. The neighborhoods of Downtown L.A., Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park, Mount Washington, Montecito Heights, Highland Park and Eagle Rock will all get a chance to watch the peloton race over their streets.

Entering Pasadena on Colorado Blvd., the Colorado Street Bridge will reprise its 2014 role as a backdrop to the beautiful Arroyo Seco. As the peloton drops into Arroyo Seco Park and the familiar environs of the Rose Bowl, the riders will do nearly one complete 3.1-mile circuit of the Rose Bowl before reaching the finish line on West Drive. The lap counter will read seven laps to go, after which the winner of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will take his place on the podium.

For further information about the Amgen Tour of California and to experience the race like never before with VIP Access, please visit

About the Amgen Tour of California

The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created and presented by AEG that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring. The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions. Amgen Tour of California is listed on the international professional cycling calendar (2 HC, meaning “beyond category”), awarding important, world-ranking points to the top finishers. More information is available at

This year, the men’s course will traverse more than 700 miles and wind through 13 host cities, including Sacramento, Nevada City, Lodi, San Jose, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Big Bear Lake, Ontario, Mt. Baldy, L.A. LIVE (Downtown Los Angeles) and Pasadena. The women’s three-day stage race will travel more than 150 miles through South Lake Tahoe and Sacramento, followed by a 15-mile Invitational Time Trial in Big Bear Lake.

(Source: Amgen Tour of California)

Music in the Mountains unveils exciting, eclectic 2015 SummerFest program

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” “One festival, a world of music” is the theme for this year’s SummerFest at Music in the Mountains, and we would agree after hearing the program introduced at a launch party on Thursday night.

“Stretching from June 16-July 5, MIM’s SummerFest features classical music, dance — often underemphasized in professional concerts locally — cabaret-style singing, the magic of cirque, and Boston Pops-style performances. It features veteran talent, as well as up-and-coming talent.

“The performer lineup includes pianist Conrad Yiwen Tao, the only classical artist named by Forbes magazine in 2011 as one of the “30 Under 30″ in the music industry; singer-songwriter Storm Large, a rock artist who has toured with the band Pink Martini and also branched out into theater and cabaret; and Maia Wilkins and Michael Levine, former principal dancers of the Joffrey Ballet. (Levine is the son of Howard and Peggy Levine of Grass Valley, who are active arts’ patrons. Michael and Maia are married and live in Sacramento).

“In addition, SummerFest features guest conductor Daniel Stewart, the conductor of the Santa Cruz Symphony as well as the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program; and Constatine Kitsopoulos, who has conducted at Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall and leads orchestras on Broadway. MIM resident Ryan Murray also is conducting a classical music program. SummerFest also features the talented Festival Orchestra.

“The popular “Cirque de la Symphony” is returning as well. An arts festival also will be held, in conjunction with Nevada County Arts.

“All told, it is an inspiring and exciting lineup, ranging from “dazzling and grand to intimate,” as Artistic Advisor Pete Nowlen summed up.

“Executive Director Cristine Kelly showed her enthusiasm for the program in an informative audiovisual presentation at the Foothills Event Center in Grass Valley.

“Highlights of SummerFest, from our iPad note taking, include:

“June 16-20: Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
Young composers concerts, Wet Ink featuring new music

“June 24: The Glory of Russian Ballet
Daniel Stewart, Conductor
Featuring Maia Wikins and Michael Levine
Tchaikovsky: Selections from Swan Lake
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite
Prokofiev: Selections from Romeo and Juliet

“June 28: The Mozart Requiem
Ryan Murray, MIM Resident Conductor
Featuring the MIM Chorus and outstanding soloists
Mozart’s final masterpiece, paired with the symphony Haydn wanted to be played at his own funeral.
Haydn: Symphony No. 44
Mozart: Requiem

“July 1: Beethoven’s “Emperior” concerto
Constatine Kitsopoulos, Conductor
Beethoven’s epic last piano concerto, featuring Conrad Tao, pianist, and the monumental Sibelius Symphony No. 2
Verdi: Nabucco Overture
Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 6
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

“July 2: Pianist Conrad Tao in a solo performance.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reviewer said of Tau: “If NASA had a tenth of his talent, they’d be farming strawberries on Titan by now.” Tao also is an Avery Fisher Career Grant Recipient.

“July 3: “Happy Birthday USA,” featuring patriotic music and music from Hollywood and Broadway.

“July 5: Singer Storm Large in a benefit event. (We were pleased to see the program extended beyond the Fourth of July).

“Another headliner will be announced in a few weeks, Cristine Kelly told the group.

“This year’s SummerFest will be dedicated to Paul Perry, the co-founder of MIM, who died last week, board President Terry Brown said. Perry would have been particularly interested in the Haydn concert, one of his favorite composers, Cristine said. A party honoring Perry will be held close to SummerFest, Terry said.

“For more information about MIM and SummerFest visit”

To read the article, click here.

(Source: Sierra FoodWineArt; Photo: Vanessa Briceno)

InConcert Sierra hosts celebrated violinist Joshua Bell on October 18, 2015

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Celebrated violinist Joshua Bell will perform in Grass Valley on October 18, kicking off InConcert Sierra’s 2015-16 classical music season.

In addition, world-famous Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky is returning to perform in Grass Valley on March 13, 2016, thanks to InConcert Sierra, our magazine has learned. More details here.

An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs since his first LP recording at age 18 on the Decca Label. In October, 2014 HBO will air the documentary special “Joshua Bell: A YoungArts MasterClass” to coincide with the eagerly anticipated release of his Bach album recorded with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Bell has been embraced by a wide television audience with appearances ranging from The Tonight Show, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, and CBS Sunday Morning to Sesame Street.

In 2007, Bell performed incognito in a Washington, DC subway station for a Washington Post story by Gene Weingarten examining art and context. The story earned Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize and sparked an international firestorm of discussion. The conversation continues to this day, thanks in part to the September, 2013 publication of the illustrated children’s book, “The Man With the Violin” by Kathy Stinson illustrated by Dušan Petričić from Annick Press.

To read the full article, click here.

(Source: Sierra FoodWineArt; Photo: Phil Knott)

InConcert Sierra brings renowned pianist Lugansky back to Grass Valley in spring 2016

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World-famous Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky is returning to perform in Grass Valley on March 13, 2016, thanks to InConcert Sierra.

It is part of a big upcoming season that also includes celebrated violinist Joshua Bell, as previously reported.

“Lugansky enjoyed himself so much while he was here last time,” said InConcert Sierra Executive Director Julie Hardin. “He and Ken played around — sight-reading, four-hands piano literature one day — while Lugansky was practicing on the Grotrian piano at the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

“Nobody was there, and I sure wish I had been. Ken said Lugansky was nearly impossible to keep up with, and Ken had played the four-hands literature before with (Music in the Mountains’ co-founder) Paul Perry numerous times so he knew it pretty well. Lugansky was sight-reading it for the first time.”

Four-hands piano literature refers to music for four hands at one piano. Lugansky last played in Grass Valley in March 2011.

According to his biography, concerto highlights in Lugansky’s forthcoming seasons include the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Philharmonia orchestras (both with Yuri Temirkanov); London Philharmonic Orchestra (with both Vladimir Jurowski and Osmo Vänskä); Philharmoniker Hamburg and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (both with Kent Nagano); San Francisco Symphony, and a tour of the United States with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (both with Charles Dutoit).

Lugansky is Artistic Director of the Tambov Rachmaninov Festival and is also a supporter of, and regular performer at, the Rachmaninov Estate and Museum of Ivanovka. He performed the composer’s Piano Concerto No.3 at the closing concert of the inaugural Ivanovka Rachmaninov Festival in June 2014 with the Russian National Orchestra and Mikhail Pletnev.

To read the full article, click here.

(Source: Sierra FoodWineArt; Photo: Nanette Melville)

Jefferson Starship to perform in Grass Valley on February 27, 2015

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Celebrating four decades, Jefferson Starship, with founders from Jefferson Airplane – one of the biggest American rock groups of the 1960s – will perform in Grass Valley during a performance presented by The Center for the Arts on Friday, February 27.

Paul Kantner founded Jefferson Airplane in 1965, the first San Francisco band to sign a major record deal. The record deal paved the way for other legends like Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. Jefferson Airplane headlined the original Woodstock Festival in 1969. Like The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane lasted a mere 7 years, though their influence and impact on rock music continues well into the 21st century.

In 1974, Mr. Kantner created Jefferson Starship and again enjoyed chart-topping success. Kantner and Jefferson Airplane were inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, the same year as Pink Floyd.

Kantner created Jefferson Starship in 1971, with his solo debut, “Blows Against The Empire” recording. That recording was the first and only to ever be nominated for literary science fiction’s Hugo Award. The band has endured for 40 years.

Co-founder David Freiberg also started the legendary Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Fillmore-era San Francisco band that often shared the same bill with Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. A world-renowned singer, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Freiberg was a member of Jefferson Airplane and co-wrote one of Jefferson Starship’s biggest hits, “Jane.”

Donny Baldwin became part of the San Francisco music scene in the early 1970s. From 1973 to 1978, Baldwin played with the “Elvin Bishop” Band. During this time he toured and recorded six albums, which included the #1 hit single, “Fooled Around and Fell In Love.” From 1981 to 1989, Baldwin was a member of Jefferson Starship. In January 1994, he joined the Jerry Garcia Band. He has toured, recorded and played with artists such as: Kenny Logins, Pablo Cruise, Chuck Berry, Van Morrison, Ronnie Montrose, Greg Allman, Heat, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, 38 Special and Eddie Money.

Chris Smith joined Jefferson Starship in 1998 as keyboardist. He has toured with The Supremes and Lou Bega. Smith’s music has appeared in film and television including the series, “CSI.” In 2000, Smith began playing piano and (synth) bass simultaneously … a feat only duplicated by the legendary Ray Manzarek of the Doors.

Cathy Richardson joined Jefferson Starship in 2008, and anchors the historic role made famous by Grace Slick. Slick was one of the first female rock stars, alongside her close contemporary Janis Joplin. Her distinctive vocal style and striking stage presence exerted influence on other female performers like Stevie Nicks and Patti Smith. Richardson was nominated for a Grammy Award for Art Direction of her band’s 2003 release, “The Road to Bliss.” She portrayed Janis Joplin in the original Off Broadway cast of the hit show, “Love, Janis” that appeared in Chicago, Sag Harbor, New York, San Francisco, Phoenix and Tucson.

Lead guitarist Jude Gold joined in 2012 for a 10 country, three-month international tour, replacing Slick Aguilar. He is an instructor at the acclaimed Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles.

Watch a recent performance, here:


2015 Mardi Gras Parade & Faire

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2015 Mardi Gras Parade & Faire
Historic Downtown Nevada City
Sunday, February 15, 2015

The 2015 Mardi Gras Street Faire will be held on North Pine Street, in Historic Downtown Nevada City, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be food, drink, crafts, and clothing.

The Mardi Gras Parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday and moves down Broad Street through the center of town. Merry spectators of all ages line the parade route while gaily masked societies parade through the historic district handing out beads, toys, trinkets, bangles and more. Everyone is encouraged to attend in festive Mardi Gras attire.

And join us for a festive after-the-parade Carnevale for the whole family at the Miners Foundry from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.! Enjoy New Orleans style food, hot dogs, ice cream & desserts, soft drinks & specialty coffees. Also featuring a full bar for the adults serving Hurricanes, plus a special Bloody Mary bar. Delight in Cajun music, drummers, belly dancers, a bounce house, and more! Tickets at the door only $5 for adults – Kids are FREE!

Two men attempt first-ever winter crossing of the Pacific Crest Trail

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Two men are attempting to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail in the winter which would be a first for the 2,650 mile trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through part of Nevada County in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.

According to their hiking itinerary, this week they would be traversing the stretch between Bridgeport and Mammoth. Below is an excerpt of their journey courtesy of Jack “Found” Haskel with the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

“Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter are walking the PCT this winter. As you read this they are nearing Lake Tahoe, making their way towards Mexico. They’ve walked so far that the metal on their snowshoes is wearing thin. Soon, they’ll switch to skis.

“I visited with them at an all-you-can eat buffet recently. From frostbite and drenching rain to friendships and stunning and quiet landscapes, their journey is remarkable. And surely, only something that can be reasonably attempted by people as skilled, knowledgeable and experienced as these two. Follow along on their websites and

Here is some of the interview:

As far as you know, has someone done a winter PCT thru-hike before? Do you know about any other long winter trips on the PCT?

Justin: As far as I know nobody has done a winter PCT thru-hike before. Barney Mann mentioned one previous attempt in the ’80s that didn’t turn out well.

Shawn: Short sections of the PCT are hike-able year-round along the PCT. To my knowledge there have been only a few larger sections of the PCT attempted in the winter, namely along the John Muir Trail corridor in the High Sierra and other shorter ski tours through the Cascades. I know of only one other thru-attempt that took place in the 80’s by a husband and wife. My understanding is their attempting ended tragically around the Wrightwood area on their northbound attempt. I think this highlights the seriousness of what we are attempting and the skill that is required in order to even consider an attempt. The margin of error is incredibly small in winter conditions above and beyond the effort is takes to successfully complete a summertime hike of the PCT.

What’s been the biggest surprise?

Justin: I think the biggest surprise has been the weather. I expected a few more sunny days in between storms but they have been pretty much stacked up back to back the entire trip. Another surprise that has been terrific has been the outpouring, support and help from the trail community.

Shawn: Honestly the fact that we are still on trail is a bit of a surprise! I jokingly gave ourselves a 17% chance of success at the beginning of the trip. Without resources to pull from the experiences of others, we have been heading chiefly into the unknown, despite months of planning and years of prior experience. The reality of attempting something for the first time necessitates a lot of flexibility, creative problem-solving along with a bit of determination and stubbornness.

“All joking aside, the thing I am most impressed and surprised by with the trip thus far is the support and encouragement from the trail community. Hands down it has been a highlight. Likely being the only ones on trail this time of year, a lot of focus and attention has been drawn to the trip and so many hikers along the corridor of the trail have come out of the wood work to help in anyway they can. Even just getting an encouraging email has been a game changer given the fact that we have seen literally no one else on the trail. It makes me proud to be a part of the trail community as a whole and you can really feel come interconnected and dedicated we all are over the experience of wilderness.

“The other surprise that comes to mind is how frequent and varied our foot issues have been throughout the entire trip. There have been very few miles without pain or ailment ranging from blisters, trench foot, athlete’s foot and even frostbite. The constant cold and wet had pushed our previous experience in similar conditions to new limits. Once we transition to skiing, I fear a whole new set of foot pains will surely develop.”

Watch a video interview of Shawn Forry and Justin Licther, here:

See all 19 photos and read the entire entry at

(Source: Jack “Found” Haskel, Pacific Crest Trail Association; Photos: Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter)

Nevada County Fairgrounds fourth annual Cioppino Feed on March 7, 2015

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Join the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation at its fourth annual All-You-Can-Eat Cioppino Feed on Saturday, March 7 at Ponderosa Hall at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Doors open at 5 p.m., and dinner service begins at 6 p.m.

For the event, the chefs will create and serve Arnie Romanello’s special 100-year-old recipe for all to enjoy. Dinner includes antipasto, all-you-can-eat Cioppino, salad and garlic bread. This year, a pasta dish will be available to those who do not prefer Cioppino, but want to attend the event. A no-host bar will also be available, and there will be a silent dessert auction and a live auction.

Tickets are $40 per person. If you’d like to purchase a table for 8, it is $350 and includes two bottles of wine.

Tickets are available by visiting the Nevada County Fairgrounds, calling the Fair Office at (530) 273-6217, or downloading an order form here.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation and its mission of supporting and improving the community’s Fairgrounds.

For more information, visit

(Source: Nevada County Fairgrounds)

Sierra Stages opens its 7th Season with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

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Sierra Stages opens its 2015 season with the hilarious Broadway comedy VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, winner of the 2013 Tony Award® for Best Play. Written by Christopher Durang, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE plays at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City from March 5-28. The play is directed by Jeffrey Mason, with set design by Pamela Hodges, lighting design by Erin Beatie, and costume design by Jill Kelly. The cast includes local Nevada County actors Casey Burke, Susan Mason, Robert Rossman, Karen Leigh Sharp, Rachel Wellman, and Sharon Winegar.

Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia are living a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, while their sister Masha travels the world as a movie star. Just as their cleaning woman issues a warning about terrible events in their future, Masha returns for an unannounced visit with her 20-something boy toy Spike in tow – and so begins an unforgettable weekend building to a fever pitch of rivalry, regret and racket.

“We’re excited to open our 7th season with VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE,” says Sierra Stages Board Member Peter Mason. “When I first read the play, I knew immediately that it would be perfect for Sierra Stages and perfect for our audience — it is funny, accessible, and poignant, and moreover, I was certain that pretty much everyone in our audience would recognize their own family dynamics as the characters of Vanya, Sonia and Masha (all in their mid to late 50’s) are thrown together for a weekend reunion and forced to confront changes in their lives. In addition, it’s a wonderfully theatrical and smart play that can be enjoyed by all audiences. One does not need to be in the least bit familiar with the plays of Anton Chekhov (or even know who Chekhov was) to enjoy VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE.”

Since its debut, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE has been one of the most widely produced contemporary plays across the country, with 27 regional productions currently being performed. In addition to his Tony Award® for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, Christopher Durang has been recognized with multiple awards and prizes for his plays, which include Sister Mary Ignatius, Beyond Therapy, and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Characterized by a combination of absurdist humor and satire, his style has influenced an entire generation of playwrights. With VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, Durang has given us his most enjoyable comedy to date.

Performances of VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays (March 15 & 22) at 2 p.m., with a preview on Thursday March 5 at 7 p.m. General Admission tickets are $25 ($15 for the preview on March 5). Reserved Seating is available for $35 (in advance), and is a great way to provide additional financial support for Sierra Stages. For tickets and information, visit or call Sierra Stages at (530) 346-3210.

For the 7th consecutive year, Sierra Stages offers an affordable Season Pass. The Season Pass is priced at $60 and allows theatregoers to select any performance of each show in 2015: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, the Mel Brooks musical THE PRODUCERS (July 16- August 8 at the Nevada Theatre) and the William Finn and James Lapine musical FALSETTOS (November 6-22 at the Off Center Stage in Grass Valley). Sierra Stages invites everyone, including Season Pass holders, to become a Sierra Stages Member and support quality local theatre. Memberships begin at $25 per person and are tax deductible. Not only will Members have the satisfaction of helping support quality theatre, but with the purchase of a Season Pass, Members are able to reserve a specific seat location for all three productions. The Sierra Stages 2015 Season Pass (and Sierra Stages Memberships) may be purchased online at or by calling Sierra Stages at (530) 346-3210.

Volunteer at the new Donner Memorial State Park

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The Donner Memorial State Park is seeking volunteers for daily operations of the new Visitors Center set to open late spring. In January 2015, the park secured additional financing through the State Parks Fund to complete the new visitors center (read more here).

To visit the Donner Memorial State Park website, click here. To learn more about volunteering in the State Parks, click here. The application to volunteer is here.

(Source: California Department of Parks and Recreation)