Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend photos... Memorial Day Weekend

Tom Rigney and a Packard
Parade, Sacramento Music Festival, Old Sacramento
So far this weekend, I've been to both the Sacramento Music Festival, and the Sacramento County Fair.

The music festival is always fun, and I so love seeing our senior generations out there, enjoying the music, the music which for many, shaped their youth. Twin-sets and pearls... because that's what we all do. That's why there are so many 50+ audience members at rock shows. Music is life, and music is memories. So while I understand the financial drivers for the morphing of Sacramento's one-time all-jazz festival into what it is today, I do also wish that there was a pure jazz festival here, with big names. Having spent several years attending and covering jazz festivals in Grenoble, and Vienne, in France, seeing some of the huge names they were able to attract--from John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell and Wynton Marsalis to James Blood Ulmer and the late, great James Brown--the SacMusicFest lineup these days isn't at the same level. Fun? Yes. But does it make me want to explore music that I've never listened to before, shied away from? Not so much.

Stars and Stripes Bull Riding
Bull riding, Sacramento County Fair
The county fair, and last night was my first rodeo, or rather, bull-riding (there were no other rodeo events, just the bulls). While it was definitely photographically challenging, the whole event left me feeling rather sad. I'll leave it at that, for now, until I can shake off the feeling of gloom that I woke up with and write something more meaningful about exactly why it made me sad (it's more than just the involvement of the animals).

Click on the photos above to go to the galleries!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What will you do this Memorial Day weekend? Here are a few ideas!

Tradional fairground ride
Memorial Day Weekend... all the fun of the fair!
So it's here again, at last... a long weekend, Memorial Day Weekend in the USA. What will you do with this precious free time? Here are just  few ideas...

The Memorial Day service... that's what it's all about, after all, remembering those who have given so much to protect this country. It's worth taking the time to check out one or more of the events around the region, especially Mount Vernon in Citrus Heights, which always has a moving service, lots of people, and a lot of shiny Harleys ridden by military veterans. This year's event is the 50th annual Memorial Day Tribute at Mount Vernon, and will be held from 11 to 12 am.  Don't be late.

The Sacramento County Fair kicks off the weekend early, beginning on Thursday, 25th and running all weekend at Cal Expo on Exposition Boulevard. All the fun of the fair! And, of course, livestock, monster trucks, bull riding (Saturday night), Jaripeo, tractor pulls, and much more. Check the website for info: General admission is an inexpensive $6, parking is $10, children under 12 go free. For the special events including the monster trucks, there's an extra ticket that needs to be bought in advance--best prices are online or at your local Walgreens!

Queen Nation, State Fair, Sacramento 2013
Queen Nation who will be performing at the Sacramento Music Festival this year
Sacramento Music Festival is this weekend too, in Old Sacramento and several downtown venues. With artistes from all jazz genres through to some wonderful rock tribute bands (Queen Nation, Super Huey, Steelin' Dan and Caravanserai, for example)...  local favourites and musicians from around the USA, there is something for everyone's musical tastes: jazz, rockabilly, cajun, ragtime, bluegrass, rock... Go and discover something surprising! All the information is on the festival's website:

Tom Rigney and Flambeau, Sacramento, 2013
Tom Rigney and Flambeau will return to Sacramento Music Festival this weekend

Robin Trower, Sacramento, 2015
Robin Trower returns: at the Crest, Sacramento, on Sunday
Robin Trower is in Sacramento this Sunday, at the Crest Theater. Highly recommended! I saw him a couple of years ago in Folsom, and the show was entrancing. You can read the review here, and find info about the Crest show here. Don't miss this one -- he's one of the great, British, guitar players, who has influenced so many other musicians.

Highly Suspect
Highly Suspect, seen here at Aftershock, will perform at this weekend's Bottlerock
And of course, this weekend is Napa's annual Bottlerock festival. If you didn't already obtain tickets, I fear it's far too late... with a lineup that includes Foo Fighters, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Maroon 5, Band of Horses, the wonderful Fitz and the Tantrums, Live (all together again!), Catfish and the Bottlemen (yay!!!!) and you-must-not-miss Highly Suspect... I'd love to be there, but sadly it's not happening this year!

Confetti, Fitz & The Tantrums
Fitz and the Tantrums, in the lineup for Bottlerock this year!
Whatever you plan on doing this weekend, enjoy yourselves, keep safe, and spare a moment or two for those memories.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

All the European Marillion weekends: photogalleries! And next weekend--Chile!!!

All of the Marillion photogalleries are now published for the three European Marillion weekends of 2017. The remaining weekend of this year's series is in Santiago, Chile, this coming Friday to Sunday, and if you are very, very lucky, you might still be able to obtain a ticket. Click here to find out more!  (I wish I was there, but... mustn't be greedy, right?) The shows in Chile will be recorded for video by Toward Infinity... which will be no doubt a stunning memory for those who attend, and a consolation for those who can't be there this time.

Here are the Alison Toon Photographer Marillion photogalleries from Europe (just click on the links below or go to

Marillion plus In Priase of Folly string quartet, Leicester
Marillion, Leicester, 2017
- Leicester, UK, England: my hometown, Leicester, and the wonderful venue, Leicester's De Montfort Hall

Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion
Marillion, Lodz, 2017
- Lodz, Poland at the Wytw√≥rnia

Marillion, PZ 2017, Saturday
Marillion, Port Zelande, 2017
- Port Zelande, The Netherlands, at Center Parcs!

There are a few more photos to be edited--I have a "people of" collection for Poland still to come, plus support band photos--but all the Marillion pics are now edited and available. Put F.E.A.R. on the sound system and take a look...

For more info, see  And if you still haven't... check out the free sample music to find out why people flock from all around the world to see and hear this band.

New live video/DVD: Between The Buried And Me, Coma Ecliptic Live

Between The Buried And Me (BTBAM)
BTBAM, Ace of Spades, Oct 2016
Between The Buried And Me have announced a new tour with The Contortionist, Polyphia and Toothgrinder for later this year, following a date at Prog Power in Atlanta in September. For all the dates in the tour, see BTBAM's Facebook... no Sacramento date this time, but Santa Cruz is a yes!

In the meantime, check out their recently-released video of the full-length, live recording of Coma Ecliptic, filmed live on location at The Observatory, San Diego, October 4th 2016 (and appropriately title, Coma Ecliptic Live). To preview the video, and to purchase (physical, download or streaming are available), click here!

If you haven't yet heard BTBAM, check them out. Prog and metal fans... this is for you! You'll find videos on YouTube:

Between The Buried And Me
BTBAM, Ace of Spades, March 2016

Saturday, May 6, 2017

First Festival is this weekend!!! Riverwalk Park, West Sac!

I'm just back from almost two months in Europe, scrambling to catch up (both with sleep, and with what's going on here in Northern California)... and already Concerts in the Park have kicked off the outdoor music season, and today? It's the first day of First Fest!

This year, presented by 98 Rock, First Fest is happening in Riverwalk Park in West Sacramento. Get over there and support our wonderful local music scene!