Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Delta, the tunnels, and river rorschach


ALISON TOON: Sacramento Delta region &emdash; SacDelta29Oct2013-5326

Yesterday, my daughter Jade and I went for a drive around the Sacramento delta region. Visited hideaway towns and villages, saw the calm rivers and canals, gazed at vineyards turning autumnal-orange-and-gold, ate brunch in a yummy breakfast-and-lunch Isleton diner; wandered up-and-down the Chinese heritage street of Locke and wondered at the leaning buildings. Enjoyed the bird-singing restful quiet of a day outside of suburbia.

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But everywhere we went, we saw posters. Stop the Tunnels!


ALISON TOON: Sacramento Delta region &emdash; SacDelta29Oct2013-5342

It seems that our Governor/state government is determined to go ahead with diverting river-water upstream, before it arrives in the beautiful, natural delta, and tunnelling it away south to Los Angeles and southern California's farms.

ALISON TOON: Sacramento Delta region &emdash; SacDelta29Oct2013-5358
The Levee Cafe in Isleton
But what of the delta, the fish and the farms and the holidaymakers and the people who live there now???

The tunnels will make a physical mess, an ecological nightmare, and no sense whatsoever.

ALISON TOON: Sacramento Delta region &emdash; SacDelta29Oct2013-5384

If you want to find out more about the Tunnel project, go here to the Friends of the River website, or see news articles from local agencies, including this recent one from the Sacramento Bee.  There is a lot of controversy about the plan--worth doing some research and reading.

You might want to visit the delta soon. See more photos from our day out at http://alisontoon.com/delta, or by clicking on any of the photos above.

Opening night! Kings season begins. Purple, anyone?

Scored tickets to the Kings' opening night at Sleep Train Arena. Look out section 224, it's going to be noisy...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

GWAR, creating havoc at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento, 19th October 2013


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The pictures look surreal... because the show was just that. Surreal.

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It was also bloody, irreverent, brash, nightmare-ish, scary, amazing, hilarious, loud, gross, heavy, trashy, totally-and-utterly bizarre... and whole buckets-of-blood lot of fun!

The audience was covered with blood and gore and various other bodily fluids and they loved it. That's a GWAR show for you. You bring some (or a lot) of it back home with you. (It does wash off!)



The costumes are incredible. I just wonder how the heck they wear them and don't sweat to death and still manage to play and make a more-than-decent sound. Great job guys!


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GWAR are on tour: see all the upcoming dates. And their new album, Battle Maximus, was released on September 17th.

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Oh! And here's an idea: why not have GWAR perform the half-time show at the 2015 Superbowl? You like that idea? Click here to sign the petition!

To see all the photos from the show at the Ace of Spades, click on any of the images above, or go straight to the gallery.

Friday, October 18, 2013

SacWorldFest 2013: music and dancing on the streets of Old Sacramento

Two weekends ago, on the 5th and 6th of October, the streets of Old Sacramento came to life with music and dance from many countries, in a celebration of the diverse cultural background of Sacramento's people. SacWorldFest 2013 had arrived!

Saturday evening saw a focus on Native America, with powwow dances, songs, and the most fascinating hoop dance ever. "You'll either be trying to work out how it's done, or you'll just say, 'Wow!' ", said Edward Madril.  My brain tried to do both, and take photos at the same time. This was one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

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I also loved the dances by Bolivia Corazon de Americas:

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and the music of Grammy-nominated Youssoupha Sidibe:

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ALISON TOON: SacWorldFest 2013 &emdash; SacWorldFest2013-1337

Many more photos in the full gallery:  http://alisontoon.com/sacworldfest2013. Take a look, you might spot yourself in the crowd!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Josh Groban: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, October 6th 2013. What a voice, what a show!

Josh Groban live In the Round, Sacramento 2013

Yesterday I had the guilty pleasure of hearing Josh Groban, live, in person, and "in the round". (His tour is called "In The Round": round stage, center of the audience; like theatre in the round, nothing is hidden, there is no curtain, no backdrop, nowhere to escape. There were screens high above the stage, so that everyone could see the action, even when Josh was facing the audience on the other side. And all the musicians made use of the walkway around the stage; performing directly to different sections of the audience. )

Josh Groban live In the Round, Sacramento 2013

Why guilty pleasure?'Cos my kids rib me about listening to him, no end. Same way as they do with Celine Dion. Especially Dylan, who worked at Borders until it closed, shut down, and had to listen to Josh Christmas music over and over and over again for the four months or so prior to December 25th for several years.

But... he has one of the purest voices I have ever heard.

He opened the show last night with Brave, first song on his latest album, All That Echoes. The rest of the show was a mix of others from the new album and songs from earlier in his career, saving You Raise Me up and then a reak classic, Charlie Chaplin's Smile, for the encores.

Josh Groban live In the Round, Sacramento 2013

Standing ovation. Much deserved.

Judith Hill joined Josh on stage for two duets: Remember When it Rained, and then later in the evening, The Prayer. (Note about Celine Dion above: she and Josh partnered on this song a while back.) And yes, both were wonderful.

Josh Groban live In the Round, Sacramento 2013


I learned a few things last night; Groban's first public appearance as a singer was at Sacramento's Arco Arena (now Sleep Train Arena... where we were last night). He was on Ally McBeal (how did I not notice?), was supposed to play the wedding singer but then Robert Downey Junior lost his get-out-of-jail-free card, and we know what happened there...

As well as singing (and oh, that voice!), Josh has a confident and cheeky manner on stage. He jokes. Lead in to She Walks Through The Fair: "If I ever get married, I will sing this song to my wife... when I get married to one of you!" Pointing around the audience. He cracks up. Morphs into a Justin Beiber parody. Another: reads questions from members of the audience, plays games with their names. Makes fun of himself, the cameras all around, front and back. Promises "no twerking". I should hope not.

Vincent. When I Fall In Love. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Josh Groban live In the Round, Sacramento 2013

Oh, that voice!

He's not perfection. Like a beautiful Persian rug, you have to look (listen) for the imperfection. Deliberate, maybe, because only God, Allah, The Creator, whatever your faith, can be perfect. “A Persian rug is perfectly imperfect, and precisely imprecise.” I heard a couple of bum notes. I think... maybe. Slightly imperfect notes. Out of a whole evening.

I was lucky. I grew up in a time, and place, where Arts education was just part of public education. We had theatre classes, music classes, orchestra, choir, drama classes and lessons and clubs, all part of regular curriculum. Instruments provided by the school. All of it provided by the school, all of it part of everyday life from five years old until eighteen. It became a natural, ingrained part of my existance--and for many, if not most of my school friends. It's not that long ago, but a lot has changed. Today, the arts are often considered superfluous, unnecessary, an option. To me, they are as mandatory as mathematics. So I was very happy to hear about the Find Your Light foundation (previously known as the Josh Groban Foundation). Read the information, and you'll know why.

Josh Groban tours with a bunch of highly-talented musicians: Christian Hebel on violin,  Dan Rosenblum  on trumpet, Andre Manga on wonderful bass (loved that solo, Andre!), Dave Dicenso   on drums, Tariqh Akoni, musical director and guitar, Ruslan Sirota on keys... who did I miss?

Josh Groban live In the Round, Sacramento 2013

And now, I'm going to listen to All That Echoes. Again. Sorry, kids.

For more pictures from the show, and of the rest of the band, go to the full gallery: http://alisontoon.com/joshgroban. Or click on any of the pictures above.

Judith Hill ... shining bright at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena, In The Round

Judith Hill opened "In The Round" last night at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena, as support for Josh Groban.

ALISON TOON: Judith Hill &emdash; JudithHill-Sac6Oct2013-1425

You may have heard of Judith from her participation in fourth season of "The Voice" talent show. You may have known that she was one of Michael Jackson's backup singers at the end of his life, and is credited on "This Is IT", and sang at his memorial service. You may have known that she was one of the singers, "Twenty Feet from Stardom", in the recent movie about backup singers and session musicians.


You may not have known that she is a star. In her own right.


ALISON TOON: Judith Hill &emdash; JudithHill-Sac6Oct2013-1504


I heard and saw this, last night. Judith Hill is a star. Right here, right now.

From the first two songs: Judith playing piano and singing, to the songs with a full band, Judith kept the audience entranced.

For an example, see Desperation, Judith's song from 20 Feet From Stardom.


ALISON TOON: Judith Hill &emdash; JudithHill-Sac6Oct2013-1462


The set seemed short... could have gone a couple of songs longer, I was thinking, no problem. But we were in for a treat: later in the evening, Judith Hill returned to the stage for two separate duets with Josh Groban: Remember When It Rained, and Prayer.

ALISON TOON: Judith Hill &emdash; JudithHill-Sac6Oct2013-1480

At one point, on the opposite side of the stage to Josh Groban, Judith was silhouetted in smoke and a spotlight beam. I thought she looked like Queen Nefertiti, Lady of Grace.

Expect to hear more from her.

 
 
For more photos from the show, go to the gallery: http://www.alisontoon.com/judithhill 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Aftershock review: Korn

I'm really happy with some of the Korn pictures. Take a look at the full gallery: these are just a few.

Korn, Aftershock 2013
Korn headlined the first day of the Aftershock festival, the weekend of 14th and 15th September. I hadn't seen them live before. Well worth waiting for.

One of the aspects of the Aftershock festival I really enjoyed was seeing the other creative side of the bands: the artwork, the stage props, the backdrops, the makeup, the production. Some bands, like Korn, stood out. .

Korn, Aftershock 2013

Take a look at Jonathan Davis' mic stand, for an example.

And Ray Luzier's drums.
Korn, Aftershock 2013






From Bakersfield, not too far from Sacramento, Korn's new album, Paradigm Shift, is due in stores on October 8th. Available for pre-order





Jonathan Davis, vocals, Korn, Aftershock 2013


Three editions: standard, deluxe (bonus tracks, t-shirt, and documentary DVD), and a two-disk vinyl set.





To see all the photos from Korn's show at Aftershock, click on any of these images, or go directly to the Korn gallery.

Korn, Aftershock 2013


Korn, Aftershock 2013



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Aftershock review: Testament

After catching up on Sons of Anarchy, I realised I hadn't posted the Testament pics from Aftershock yet. It's the Oakland rocker on Chuck Billy's cut that reminded me.Or vice-versa.

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ALISON TOON: Testament &emdash; Testament-Aftershock2013-424

Testament: thrash metal from the Bay Area. Very metal, very heavy, and still going very strong.

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Their new album, "Dark Roots of Earth", is on sale now.  And they are on tour through the USA until the end of November.


ALISON TOON: Testament &emdash; Testament-Aftershock2013-461
Nice artwork on the website, CD packaging, and T-shirts.












To see all the photos from Testament's show at the Aftershock festival, click on one of the photos above, or go to the Testament gallery.






Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Aftershock review: Buckcherry

One of the bands that I enjoyed very much at Aftershock was Buckcherry.

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ALISON TOON: Buckcherry &emdash; Buckcherry-Aftershock2013-520
Rock. Just rock.

No hardcore-rap-screaming. Just good, solid rock. Enjoyable.

I liked that.

Buckcherry's latest album, Confessions, is available now.


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They are on tour: going to Brazil, then off to Europe and all around the UK (if I still lived near Leicester, I could have nipped off to both the Coventry and the Nottingham shows. We appreciate good music, over there across the pond. We have national health care there too. Did I really say that out loud? I guess so... well it's been one of those days. If you're reading this sometime in the future, today is the day the US government shut down because of political posturing and squabbling over the provision of health services to all citizens, and the way it's planned to be funded.).

Anyone noticed yet how all the big rock bands play the UK all the time? It's because we Brits appreciate good music. Oh and wait... didn't we start it all in the first place?


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And then Buckcherry are off to Australia, too. World tour it is!


To see more photos, click on any image above, or go directly to the Buckcherry gallery.