Tucked into the beautiful historic gold rush town of Grass Valley, The Center for the Arts is a haven for world famous musicians of all kinds. Big names and emerging artists alike love to make the Center a stop on their tours since it’s often on their way from one big city gig in the Bay Area or Sacramento to another, and they love the warm, welcoming atmosphere they find here. There are some wonderful acts coming up that you won’t want to miss:
Sam Bush Band
Saturday, November 4, 8:00 p.m.
The Father of Newgrass and King of Telluride, Sam Bush, brings his band to Grass Valley for a concert at The Center for the Arts on Saturday, November 4.
Bush has established himself as roots royalty, revered for both his solo and sideman work, which includes time with Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and Béla Fleck. Instead of kicking back and soaking up honors such as an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award and suite of Grammys and International Bluegrass Music Association trophies, Bush still strives relentlessly to create something new.
Raised on a farm just outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Bush grew up plowing tobacco fields in the Southern summer heat alongside his family. He started playing mandolin when he was 11 years old. “I believe growing up on a farm probably helped me channel my energy into learning music and being so interested in it,” Bush says. “Me and my sisters, we all loved it. I’ve often wondered if that’s because growing up on a farm, you couldn’t go ride your bike all over town and horse around like the other kids.”
For Bush, a lifetime of channeling his energy has led to stylistic innovations that have changed the course of bluegrass and roots music alike.
Bush took about four years to record the latest installment in that legacy. “It’s still important to me that all of the songs fit together on an album,” he says. “I’m well aware that people buy individual tracks digitally, and that’s good. But I still think of it as an album – a body of work. And I’m really satisfied with these songs. It’s taken a while, but I sure am happy with them.”
Bush’s new album Storyman is a freewheeling collection that gleefully picks and chooses from jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country swing, and bluegrass to create a jubilant noise only classifiable as the Sam Bush sound. Many of the songs are stories- several of them true- and the legendary mandolin player co-wrote every one of them with friends including Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall Stewart, Jeff Black, and others. “I’m hoping it just kind of flows for people and makes them go, ‘Hey! It’s a Sam record. It sounds like Sam and the band,’” Bush says. “But for the first time ever, I also find myself thinking, ‘I hope you enjoy the stories.’ It’s my singer-songwriter record.”
Storyman sounds like the best of friends swapping tales and jamming for the sake of jamming because that’s exactly what it is. Bush’s voice, which sounds strong and familiar throughout is often overlooked because of the sheer ferocity of his playing – an omission that actually points to the brilliant suppleness, ease, and warmth of his vocals, which instead of drawing attention to themselves are always fully in service of the song.
Learn more about Sam Bush Band HERE
Sunday, November 5, 8:00 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Auditorium
Motown legends, The Temptations, bring their catalog of soul hits to Grass Valley on Sunday, November 5 at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
The history of The Temptations is the history of contemporary American pop. An essential component of the original Motown machine, that amazing engine invented by Berry Gordy, The Temps began their musical life in Detroit in the early sixties. It wasn’t until 1964 however, that the Smokey Robinson written-and-produced “The Way You Do the things You Do” turned the guys into stars.
An avalanche of hits followed, many of which attained immortality. “My Girl,” “It’s Growing,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is only Skin Deep,” “I Wish It Would Rain” are among the list of hits that kept coming.
Beyond the fabulous singing, The Temptations are known for smooth stepping and flawless presentations. The Temptations Walk became a staple of American style.
When the sixties and seventies turned political their music burned with intensity. “Runaway Child” “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, and “Psychedelic Shack” still smolder.
In the eighties, The Temptations prevailed with smashes like the Otis Williams’ penned “Treat Her Like A Lady.”
In the nineties came another Temptation explosion starting with their appearance on Motown 25 in 1983. It continued with the NBC mini-series that chronicled the group’s history, a ratings triumph over two nights in prime time. An Emmy Award followed.
The current lineup consists of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Larry Braggs and Willie Greene Jr.
“The more we change,” says veteran Ron Tyson, “the more we stay true to ourselves. We’re about singing straight-up soul. It’s a style that will live on forever.”
“When I tell people we are God’s group,” says Otis, a remarkable modest man, “I don’t mean it arrogantly. It’s just that we have been tested time and again and keep coming back. We have suffered the death of so many legendary singers – Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin. Other’s like Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson and Theo Peoples have left, and yet our unity is tighter, our sound brighter and our popularity greater. Someone has watched over this group. Someone has protected our integrity. Someone has said just go on singing and it’ll get better.”
Learn more about The Temptations HERE
Wednesday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.
From Kiev, Ukraine, “ethnic chaos” band and California WorldFest favorites, DakhaBrakha, bring their unexpected world music to The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley on Wednesday, November 8.
The name DakhaBrakha is original and authentic at the same time. It means “give/take” in the old Ukrainian language.
DakhaBrakha was created in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art by the avant-garde theatre director — Vladyslav Troitskyi. Theatre work has left its mark on the band performances — their shows have never been staged without the scenic effects.
Having experimented with Ukrainian folk music, the band has added rhythms of the surrounding world into their music, thus creating bright, unique and unforgettable image of DakhaBrakha. It will help to open up the potential of Ukrainian melodies and to bring it to the hearts and consciousness of the younger generation in Ukraine and the rest of the world as well.
Accompanied by Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian traditional instrumentation, the quartet’s astonishingly powerful and uncompromising vocal range creates a trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture.
At the crossroads of Ukrainian folklore and theatre their musical spectrum is intimate then riotous, plumbing the depths of contemporary roots and rhythms, inspiring cultural and artistic liberation.
DakhaBrakha has played concerts and performances and has taken part in numerous international festivals in Ukraine, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Slovenia, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Rumunia, Italy, Spaine, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norvegia, Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Poland, Chine, Australia, USA, Canada, Columbia, New Zealand, Brazil.
In March 2010 DakhaBrakha won one of the prestigious Grand Prix prize named after S.Kuriokhin in the sphere of contemporary art.
Marko Halanevych – vocals, darbuka, tabla, accordion, trombone
Iryna Kovalenko – vocals, djembe, bass drums, accordion, percussion, bugay, zgaleyka, piano
Olena Tsibulska – vocals, bass drums, percussion, garmoshka
Nina Garenetska – vocals, cello, bass drum
Learn more about DakhaBrakha HERE
Festival of South African dance featuring Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies
Thursday, November 9, 7:30 p.m.
Two dance companies – Gumboots and Real Actions Pantsula – featuring more than 20 dancers and musicians, and two visions of South Africa, share one stage at The Center for the Arts on Thursday, November 9. The groups offer a fascinating glimpse into life under apartheid.
At times joyous, at times reflective, the Gumboots Dance Company presents Stimela — The Musical, a unique tale of rural Africans who come by train in search of work in Johannesburg, where working the mines means better wages at the cost of a life away from family. Created by Thapelo Gordon Motloung, whose Spirit and Bones was described as a “masterpiece” and an “energetic, thought-provoking and amusing musical tale” (Sowetan Live). The other half of the program features the Pantsula Dance Company, celebrating a uniquely South African style of dance that grew up on the streets under the apartheid regime. There, young men practiced for hours a day and developed a vision of a better life through dance.
Real Actions Pantsula was established in 1992 by Sello Reuben Modiga. Modiga established the group after realizing the talent of young dancers in Orange Farm, a small town in South African outside of Johannesburg. The group consists of 30 young, talented teenagers around the community. One of Modiga’s missions, as director and choreographer of the group, is to take South Africa’s youth off the street in an effort to give them a life free from the harmful influence of their community through the power of dance.
Stimela “The Gumboot Musical” is written and directed by critically acclaimed, South African playwright Thapelo Gordon Motluong. It is a vibrant musical piece told through narration, music and Gumboot dance. It tells a tale of rural African men who come by train from all walks of life in search of greener pastures in the City of Gold, Johannesburg. As time passes, life proves to be more challenging than they expected. They endure difficult working conditions in the gold mines simply to make ends meet so they can send money back home. The journey unfolds through a series of flashbacks as we learn about each man’s story from the eyes of Zakhele Ndlovu, a young Zulu man who leaves behind his mother and the love of his life, Buhle Zwane.
Learn more about The Festival of South African Dance HERE
Tuesday, November 14, 8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles acoustic rock trio Magic Giant return to Grass Valley for a concert at The Center for the Arts on Tuesday, November 14. The band were main stage headliners at the 2017 California WorldFest.
Magic Giant represents the union of three distinct, dynamic, and diverse artistic voices. Since his childhood in Washington, D.C., Austin Bisnow obsessively pursued his love of songwriting. He studied classical composition and then went on to write songs with artists ranging from John Legend to David Guetta.
New Jersey native Zambricki Li got hit by a car in junior high, fell into a coma, and once he woke, miraculously learned violin in 4 days through a rare brain trauma reorganization now known as Acquired Savant Syndrome: “If I could go back, I’d throw myself in front of the car,” Zambricki chuckles. Later on he began writing and one of his first songs was featured in the Sundance-awarded film Paper Heart.
Born and raised in Los Angeles to Persian immigrants, Zang learned upright bass in grade school before picking up guitar and studying dance. He caught the attention of Austin and Zambricki when they came across online videos of him salsa dancing and were instantly hooked.
Inside a Redwood tree off the coast of California; within a tunnel by Snoqualmie Pass; on an airstrip in Marble, Colorado; in a wild daisy field near Crested Butte — these are just a few of the places Los Angeles trio, Magic Giant, recorded its debut album, aptly titled, In the Wind. Magic Giant welcomed nature into the fold as their unofficial fourth member.
“It was fate,” recalls Zambricki. “We were scheduled to play all these festivals—Electric Forest, Wanderlust, Lightning in a Bottle—that just so happened to be in really beautiful parts of the country.” During Spring 2016, the boys bought a shuttle bus, converted it into a solar-powered mobile recording studio, added a California King on hydraulics, and fondly named her Queen Elizabeth. “There were spaces of time between shows where we could get creative,” explains Zang. “Using the bus to power microphones, we recorded outside—literally In The Wind—across North America.”
“Living in the city, it’s easy to forget how enchanting the road can be,” Zang adds. “We recorded anywhere and everywhere. There were no ceilings or limits to what we could capture.”
Just before Magic Giant hit the road, their single “Set on Fire” began heating up. Independently released, it went from their studio to #4 on Spotify’s US Viral 50, eventually amassing nearly 4 million streams in less than a year. It became a favorite on Los Angeles radio, hitting #1 on KROQ’s Locals Only. It was after this success that the three-piece landed a deal with Washington Square. Billboard claimed, “With a joyful live show the band is inspiring mass dance-alongs,” while NPR wrote, “Magic Giant captures the energy and spirit of the past few waves of upbeat, passionate indie-folk.”
Learn more about Magic Giant HERE
The Best of the San Francisco Comedy Competition
Starring 2017 SF Comedy Champion Ellis Rodriguez
With Krista Fatka & Chad Opitz
And special guest host Sammy Obeid
Saturday, November 25, 8:00 p.m.
On Saturday, November 25 The Center for the Arts presents a handpicked selection of the best Bay Area comedy talent who excelled in the San Francisco Comedy Competition. Over thirty comedians, out of hundreds who apply, perform in shows held in comedy clubs, bars, restaurants, casinos and theaters in San Francisco and around the Bay Area. These comedians are a result of this years competition.
Featured at The Center will be this year’s winner, Ellis Rodriguez along with Krista Fatka, Chad Opitz and master of ceremonies, comedian Sammy Obeid.
Born in Boston, Ellis Rodriguez is by far the funniest of nine children raised by loving immigrant parents from Panama. Living in a multi-racial, uni-cultural family gave him a unique perspective on life. He grew up speaking Spanish at home, English at church, and Ebonics in school.
Ellis Rodriguez’s passion for standup comedy is evident whenever he performs, he is a favorite at comedy clubs across the West Coast including the Improv, Laugh’s Unlimited, Tommy T’s, PepperBelly’s, and the Laugh Factory. He has also performed in filmed showcases including Shaq’s All Star Jam, Laugh’s On FOX, and Comedy Central & Kevin Hart’s Hart of the City. He even gives his time to support the military with his national show Semper Funny, in addition to supporting cancer treatment, the homeless, and the arts. Ellis Rodriguez is also a charismatic actor and stellar writer. He has been the lead in commercials and the film Shrinkage.
Krista Fatka is an Oakland-based comic and writer. With over a decade of performance experience in circus and theater, she’s as comfortable on stage as she is in a room full of clowns. She produces a regular show at The San Francisco Punch Line called The Charm Offensive. She has performed at festivals in the Bay Area like SF Sketchfest, Outside Lands, and is a semi-finalist in the 2017 San Francisco International Comedy Competition. She won first place in The Sacramento Comedy Competition 2017.
Chad Opitz is a comic whose unique takes on odd subjects are making him an oft booked staple at Bay Area clubs and showcases. Chad was the winner of Bay Area legend Jimmy Gunn’s “Best Newcomer” award, 2nd place finalist at the 2016 Sacramento Comedy and 1st place winner of the Walk the Plank comedy competition. Veering between one-liners, short story jokes and sometimes even song, Opitz’ writing is as well-regarded as his character and performance work. He’s opened for Neil Hamburger, Gad Elmaleh, Scott Thompson and Michelle Wolf.
Sammy Obeid graduated UC Berkeley with a degree in Applied Mathematics, then turned down a job at Google to be a full time comedian. He’s best known for setting a world record for performing stand up comedy 1,001 consecutive nights, and was featured in The New York Times and Time Magazine. In the last few years, Sammy has performed at over 200 colleges across the US, and was voted Fastest Rising Star by Campus Magazine. He also tours internationally, including trips to the UAE, QATAR, and Russia. In 2016, Sammy was invited to headline Moscow’s first ever comedy festival, making him the first American comedian to ever headline a show in Russia. He’s also made TV appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, America’s Got Talent, TBS’s Conan, and was the first comedian to ever tell jokes on the Food Network.
Learn more about The San Francisco Comedy Competition HERE
For more information about these shows and more, or to purchase tickets, visit www.thecenterforthearts.org.
Content and photos provided by Peter Wilson