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Sure, anyone can write a breakup song, but it takes years of struggles, highs and lows, and in some cases despair to produce the true emotion that 50 Watt Heavy brings to the table on their first full-length album, Better Days. Wiped away are the tacky relationship analogies, and in their place are songs written by grizzled veterans of the Sacramento music scene.

Joseph Kojima Gray, 50 Watt Heavy’s singer/guitarist, and drummer Brian Guido have been playing music together for a couple of decades, which has in turn naturally formed a brotherly bond.

“I’m originally from Upstate New York, and I’m a military brat, so I moved around a lot, and I’m an only child, so my friends are my family,” said Guido.

At the thought of starting a new band from scratch in 2010, Gray was contemplative, “When we first started this band, I was like, ‘Oh God! Am I really starting a rock band at 40?’ Then I was like, ‘Yes, I’m starting a rock band at 40, because what else am I going to do with my life?’”

After decades of playing in bands, Gray decided to step out of the shadows and into the role of bandleader.

“I tried to front a band a long time ago with a bunch of guys who I still love, but the dynamic was completely different,” said Gray. “This is the most meaningful band I’ve ever been in. I like to play the secondary role. I play in other bands that might have a leader and I like to be involved, but not be a part of the vision necessarily because it’s just not my thing, but this band gives me that [opportunity]. They inspire me to do it because I trust them so much, and they trust me so much to do what I do.”

Being in the position of writing and singing the majority of 50 Watt Heavy’s songs means Gray was able to open his songbook and share his personal experiences for all to hear on Better Days.

“It’s my divorce record for sure,” said Gray.

Guido also decided to change things up in 50 Watt Heavy. He took on the task of learning a new instrument after years of playing guitar, “I was kind of like, ‘Why don’t we form a band and I’ll play the drums!’”

Once positions were settled, they were tasked with deciding on a band name, which was inspired by Guido’s infamous guitar amp.
“I had this name [50 Watt Heavy],” Guido said while laughing. “I’m like, I thought we were going to be a heavier band!”

In the end the name stuck even though they didn’t end up with a sound to match.

“I kind of like the fact that we’re not a heavy band,” said Gray. “We’re influenced by heavy music, but I wouldn’t want to be a heavy band with the word heavy in the name. That would be just too on the nose.”

Fans of 50 Watt Heavy have been eagerly waiting for the release of Better Days, which was years in the making.

“We actually recorded this album in 2015,” said Gray. “The process didn’t take this long because we took our time in recording … We did this whole album in three different recording sessions. That’s not to say that we’re not meticulous. We’ve rehearsed and played these songs for a long time so we’re very comfortable with them.”

Reflecting on the differences in recording their first EP in 2013, Gray said, “The first one we independently recorded ourselves. That process took a long time because we were trying to piecemeal little three-hour, four-hour chunks of time to record at our rehearsal studio that we share with 12 other bands, so it wasn’t like we had a whole day to just concentrate on recording songs.”

Since 50 Watt Heavy is a working class, self-funded band, they wanted to release Better Days on their terms, and that meant saving money until they could release their album on vinyl, which cost quite a bit more to produce than CDs.

“We’ve never been in a band that has put out a vinyl record,” said Gray. “All of the bands that we’ve been in the last 20 to 30 years started off in the CD generation, so everything was on CD. It’s not like we’re trying to be exclusive or anything. We’re not trying to exclude anybody from enjoying it, but we feel like our personal preference is to have it on vinyl.”

Once the album was recorded, the band even focused their post-production with vinyl in mind.

“We had it mastered for vinyl,” said Guido. “There’s so much more range and frequencies on vinyl, so when we decided to do this we were like, ‘We’re going to put it out on vinyl only. We’re not going to make CDs.’

“What we did to kind of compromise was like we’re not going to make money on this, but we’re giving someone a quality vinyl for $10,” Guido went on to say. “And if they want to buy our digital download they can buy it from there.”

The band’s digital version of Better Days is currently available on Bandcamp with the option to purchase for $10. At first, 50 Watt Heavy was unsure about making the album available to stream, but they decided to make it accessible to those without a record player.

Both Guido and Gray stressed how special 50 Watt Heavy is to them, and how grateful they are that their fans and friends support what they do.

“We all work so well together and have such great chemistry because we all come from the same era, we all know what we’re getting out of it,” said Gray. “We’re just seasoned enough to know that we all do this for ourselves and if people appreciate it that’s great, but even if people didn’t appreciate it, we would still record records, we would still play shows and we have to do it because we have to stay alive.”

50 Watt Heavy will be celebrating their album release with back-to-back shows at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St., Sacramento) on Friday, May 18, and at The Shack (1501 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento) on Saturday, May 19. To check out Better Days beforehand, go to 50wattheavy.bandcamp.com.

**This piece first appeared in print on pages 22 – 23 of issue #265 (May 7 – 21, 2018)**

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The Burly Backyard BBQ is back for its third installment with a jam-packed day of all-ages fun. Do you like local music? Great, because the lineup for this event is stacked: Separate Spines, Epsilona, Pets, Blue Oaks and Sacto Storytellers will all perform, with DJ Eve kicking off the live music at 2 p.m. as well as spinning tunes in-between each act. Lisa Elias, Tate Peterson, Marie Nudi, Maddy Smith and Ramos Smith will also provide live and installation art pieces. Additionally, there will be arts and crafts, face painting and other activities for children, and cornhole, ladder golf and a photo booth for the young at heart. Hmm, and what else … Oh yeah! Great food and drinks! Sounds like a great way to spend a spring Saturday afternoon into early evening. The Burly Backyard BBQ will run from 2–8 p.m. and the admission is FREE (though food and drinks will be available for sale). Burly Beverages is located at 2014 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. You can learn more about the event at Facebook.com/burlybeverages. This event will also mark the anniversary of Burly Beverages’ Gift Shop and Tasting Room. Congrats, guys!

**This write-up first appeared in print on page 15 issue #265 (May 7 – 21, 2018)**

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Flat track motorcycle racing has deep roots in the City of Trees. The Sacramento Mile has been running at Cal Expo since the 1950s, and the list of riders who have won the legendary race is a who’s who of racing royalty, including many AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers.

In the last year, American Flat Track has seen an incredible surge in popularity, due in part to a significant TV broadcasting deal with NBC Sports and a re-envisioned, re-branded and re-focused AFT race series with updated classes and race formats, new manufacturers and new venues.

According to Americanflattrack.com, ticket sales doubled from 2016 to 2017, and nearly 2 million total viewers watched flat track races on NBCSN, a number that is likely to increase in 2018 with the TV broadcasts moving to weekends.

“And suddenly, America’s oldest and purest form of motorcycle sport was back on the radar, and making a thunderous noise,” AFT exclaims.

Far and away, the rider making the most noise in flat track is Jared Mees. The 32 year old is a multi Grand National Champion, was named the 2017 Cycle News Rider of the Year, has an X Games gold medal under his belt and is the face of the Indian Motorcycle Wrecking Crew, a trio of riders including Mees, Bryan Smith and Brad Baker, who finished first, second and third, respectively, in a dominating 2017 season sweep of the podium.

The 2018 season is off to another great start for Mees, who as of press time was atop the points leaderboard. Just days after we caught up with Mees for the following interview to chat with him about the Sacramento Mile (which is May 19), news broke that he had been penalized for using a chemically altered rear tire in a race in Atlanta earlier this year, but despite losing the points from that race as part of the penalty, Mees was still in the lead and is clearly the guy to beat this year.

What’s it like being on those bikes going over 140 mph? It looks intense!
It is, for sure. Every race track is a little bit different feeling and you have to approach it a little bit different. For the Sac Mile, for example, the groove gets to be very narrow so you kind of one-line through the corners and you try to do your strategy and stuff down the straightaways and look to draft. But, yeah, it’s definitely intense, that’s for sure.

It seems like American Flat Track racing is really having a moment and is getting a lot more attention. How does it feel to see the sport you love growing in popularity?
It’s doing very well. You know, with the American Flat Track, there’s a lot of heart there. Flat track is in a really good spot; it’s the best spot I’ve ever seen it. In my opinion, this is as good as flat track has ever been, so hopefully it just keeps climbing forward and getting that momentum.

I’ll admit that last year was my first time attending the Sacramento Mile, and I totally got “bit by the bug,” as they say. It was one of my favorite events I went to all year. Why do you think flat track racing is appealing to both newcomers and veterans alike?
Well, I mean, flat track is a lot different than motocross and supercross. I think everybody is well aware of what motocross and supercross are. I’m not saying people are burnt out on supercross or motocross, I just think that flat track is a whole different vibe and a whole different atmosphere. I think it’s just a change and something that people are liking. Flat track has come a long way, with the race tracks, their timing, we’ve got television now, so it’s in a spot right now that’s pretty cool. Most of your street bikes today that are sold, other than like the Harleys or the Indians, are mostly like scrambler and hyper-moto style.

I see a lot of people riding motorcycles around Sacramento that look like flat track-inspired bikes. Triumph Scramblers and whatnot.
Yeah, for sure, so I think that has a little bit to do with it. The “crotch rocket” market right now is kind of fading big.

You had an incredible championship year in 2017. How do you back that up this year? Are you feeling any pressure or nerves as this season really starts to kick into high gear?
No, not at all. That’s the funny thing is I’m not feeling any pressure. Obviously I feel like I’m the guy to beat. You know, last year was last year. The goal at the end of this year, and the goal at the end of last year, was to win the championship. This year is no different. I want to keep the number one plate. I know to win a championship, you can win it by one point. Fortunately last year we had a dominating season and we were able to win it by like 80-something. We just take one race at a time and try to get through that race the best we can and move on. I know in the back of my mind that I don’t have to win every race. I’m going to every race with the focus of winning it and to try to keep that momentum going.

How is it being a part of the Indian Motorcycles team? And how fun is it to have such a great rivalry with the Harley-Davidson team?
Yeah, unfortunately it hasn’t been much of a rivalry on their part, because they’ve been struggling. They have been a little bit behind the eight ball. They had a really good result in Atlanta in the last race, so I feel like they’re getting their bikes worked out and putting a lot of effort into it. So you know it’s only good for the sport itself if Indian and Harley can go head-to-head to win and be on the podium at the same time. Right now it’s kind of a rivalry between me and my Indian teammates.

I saw that it was announced that Red Bull KTM will be a part of the American Flat Track series next year in 2019. What are your thoughts on that? Good for the sport? Maybe it could breed some new rivalries?
Yeah, no doubt at all! I think they’re going to come in on the singles side of things in 2019, and probably come in with a twin in 2020, at least that’s kind of what I read in between the lines of the press release. It’s only good for the sport. KTM has come a long way. Obviously the last couple years they’ve been basically the bike to beat in supercross and motocross.

Any special Sacramento Mile memories? What makes that race so special to be a part of? There’s a lot of history at Cal Expo Raceway.
The Sacramento Mile, as long as I can remember it, has been pretty much consistently the same. You know, we get that black groove around the bottom of the track and it’s usually pretty smooth. I’ve always enjoyed going to the Sacramento Mile. I’ve always liked the atmosphere and like how legendary that race is. I always look forward to going to Sacramento; unfortunately, I’ve never won it. Bryan Smith’s been basically the guy to beat there; he’s won the thing like the last six or seven times, so hopefully this year it’s my turn.

For people who maybe have never been to a flat track motorcycle race, what would you say they can expect? How would you describe the atmosphere at these races?
You know, it’s pretty family oriented at a flat track race—pretty laid back. It gets very exciting once we get going. Our races are somewhat short, you know, and most of the time, especially the Sacramento Mile, it’s a nail-biter! You’re not gonna really know who the winner is until they cross the line. I don’t remember anybody ever getting away at the Sacramento Mile, like checking out, so it’s an exciting one.

Catch Jared Mees and dozens of the best flat track motorcycle racers in the world at the legendary Sacramento Mile on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at Cal Expo (1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento). Gates will open at 2 p.m. with racing action going down all day and into the night. Tickets start at just $25 and are available through SDI-Racing.com.

**This piece first appeared in print on pages 24 – 25 of issue #265 (May 7 – 21, 2018)**

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Some months ago, longtime Sacramento artist Gale Hart reached out to friends to see if anyone knew where she could find some good pieces of wood. A few suggestions later led her to the Twin Rivers Housing Project (historically known as the Dos Rios Homes Housing Project) near Richards Boulevard, where redevelopers had hacked down antique trees in order to make way for the construction of new units. While some of the trees were donated to the Sacramento Tree Foundation, others, to Hart’s luck, remained at the site of their dismemberment.

Armed with a chainsaw, Hart pulled up to the site in her trusty van. It was one of the first times Hart had even ever used a chainsaw, but like with many power tools she uses, operating it almost seemed natural. She hacked up a bunch of the leftover wood, loaded it into her ride and returned to her V Street studio.

“It was unreal how beautiful all of the old trees were in that spot,” she said. “I wondered why the developers couldn’t work around all of those massive, old, beautiful trees. I guess the tragedy in it all became an inspiration for me.”

This wood would later become the central focus of Hart’s new show at The Urban Hive art gallery titled: Splintered.

Splintered is a collection of wood sculptures and paintings, with many of the sculptures paying homage to the imperfections of the wood and its associations with the physical and social world. The exhibit is intended to be thought-provoking, expressive and at times fun. The show is inclusive of a little bit of everything that Hart has worked on in her career. There is a little about guns, a little about animal rights, a lot of mixed materials and diverse forms of craftsmanship. The artist will present never-before-seen paintings in addition to her sculptures.

Hart said that she tried so hard to not make her work political for this show, but she quickly realized that her work was less a recognition of political figures, rather than the actual barriers of unity. “The fact that we are divided has influenced much of my work,” she said. “I tried to keep the show non-political, I tried so hard. I found that that was impossible. It’s impossible for me as an artist not to say something about this. No, I have not been inspired by him, but I am more inspired by the divisiveness of the country. The work in the show has some comical angst components to it.”

For her smaller paintings in the show, Hart worked with some form of television playing loudly in the background. Usually, painting requires her to work in intimate silence with her canvas, but to garner influence from the noise of the world, she allowed the influence of the television to seep into her work. These will be displayed in her show.

This is the first gallery show Hart has done in Sacramento in six years. She has mostly been exhibiting her work out of state and focusing on local public art displays.

“Once I saw the space that The Urban Hive gallery had, I knew that I had to show there. This is the first time I’ve had a showing in Sacramento in years, and who knows when I will do one ever again. I forgot how crazy it all gets,” Hart said through nervous laughs.

At the time of this interview, Hart was still working hard on pieces for Splintered, running on nights of no more than three hours of sleep. Like much of the country, she admits that she had been distracted by the capture of the East Area Rapist. She had been following all of the coverage and thinking back on her own upbringing in Sacramento during those messed up times.

“It has been nuts, and you can’t help but relive those times in your mind,” Hart said. She was a teenager in Sacramento at that time of the East Area Rapist’s crime spree.

Hart has seen the area go through so many transitions in the many years she has lived and created here.

“Sacramento used to be so janky and amazing because no one was here,” she fondly remembered, “but it has changed so much. I don’t like it and I don’t dislike it. It’s just progress. What are you gonna do?”

She went on to say that she hopes artists will continue to have a place in the new central Sacramento landscape because, “They’ve worked on this area for years and years, and they are the reason why downtown and Midtown are so desirable and cool.”

As a young artist, Hart split her time between skateboarding down the streets of Midtown to cruising across the country in her van, partying in the parking lots of Grateful Dead concerts and selling trippy skull drawings to Dead Heads.

While she maintains her roots as a true Sacramento artist, Hart also has a part in the area’s biggest redevelopment project: the Golden 1 Center. Ever wonder who the eff placed that massive, random dart haphazardly in the middle of the sidewalk on 5th and L? Wonder no more, because it was Gale Hart herself.

The bronze, cupped hand that is central to the L Street entrance of the arena, as well as the curiously scattered darts are all Hart’s doing. She was given the project and asked to “activate L Street” with her art by project planners. Assuming her true role as both artist and critic, Hart embraced her assignment with the perfect mixture of both. The seemingly random placement of each dart is intentional; they are supposed to be aiming at a target that may not even really exist. She said that when thinking about the arena and all of the controversy surrounding it, she couldn’t help but wonder if Sacramento was missing the mark with its new entertainment complex or if anyone really knew what that mark truly was. It seemed like everyone had a different opinion of the Golden 1 Center and its purpose.

She used darts because she thought that darts were representative of a relatively pure leisurely sport that wasn’t completely changed by money and corporate sponsorship. Her public art display that graces the grounds of the Downtown Commons is both supportive and critical of the change and progress brought on by the arena. What’s most interesting about the piece is that it is still unfinished. Hart awaits the installation of a few more darts, whose placement she is keeping under wraps.

Hart is also known lovingly as the Godmother of Contemporary Art in Sacramento, a name that she wishes would go away, unless, she said, “It means godmother as in godfather. Because that would be something more fitting for me. I do get that it is supposed to be telling of my nurturing nature though.”

She loves to support other local artists, so this time around, artsy goddess Franceska Gamez will be collaborating with her on a few pieces and showing some stuff of her own as well as part of Splintered.

“I wanted to do a generational thing and give a nod to someone who was up-and-coming and who I see as only getting better,” Hart said of Gamez.

Splintered runs May 18–June 30, 2018 at The Urban Hive (1601 Alhambra Blvd., Ste. 100). An opening reception will be held on May 18 from 6–9 p.m. For more info, go to Theurbanhive.com, or to check out more of Gale Hart’s work, check out her website, Galehart.com.

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On May 19, Pan United Youth Movement and TunesWork will be presenting a concert to benefit Hiram Johnson High School Youth Empowerment Steel Orchestra. The Y.E.S. Orchestra is Sacramento’s first steel pan orchestra, and the benefit concert will be their first public appearance. All proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations will go to maintaining the orchestras instruments, as well as obtaining additional steel pan instruments so that the orchestra can continue to grow. Orchestra director Shawn Thwaites will be leading the high school students in many future performances including local street fairs, cultural festivals and high school events. The Y.E.S. Orchestra also hopes to play at Disneyland one day. The benefit concert will be headlined by The Shawn Thwaites Rebel Quartet (STRQ), a steel-drum based project that fuses Caribbean, African, American and European styles of music together with elements of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Afrobeat, calypso and more. They will be playing songs from their album New Life. The Royal Tribe Dance Crew from Hiram Johnson High School will also be a part of the show, and they will start off the evening with an opening performance. This event starts at 7 p.m., and takes place at the Guild Theater (2828 35th St.). All ages are invited to attend. Tickets are $15 online, and $20 at the door, and are available by visiting Panunited.org.

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At the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg (35265 Willow Ave.), the Clarksburg Wine Company offers wine from 15 different California wineries in one location. The large, historic building is located just 15 minutes out of Sacramento and contains multiple tasting rooms and a variety of unique event spaces. One public event that has been a cause for excitement in the past has been the annual Crawfish Boil, and this year, Chef Austin Kirzner will be returning for the third year in a row to serve up classic Southern-style shrimp. The seafood will be accompanied by produce from local farms and will feature classic Southern side dishes such as potatoes, corn, garlic and sausage. The event will include authentically cooked crawfish and seafood, live music by The City of Trees Brass Band and cooking demonstrations, where you will learn how to select and prepare seafood, create your own New Orleans magic spices and more. The event starts at 10 a.m., and all ages are welcome to attend. Tickets are available online and at the door, but seating is limited, so make sure to get yours soon! Pre-sale tickets are available for $19.99 until May 14, and regular price tickets are $25. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Oldsugarmill.com.

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Winter disappeared with haste. Awakening to the spring birds chirping, I gazed out my bedroom window on Saturday morning to see the blue sky sharing its space with only a few wispy white clouds. I pressed the back of my hand to the window as I do to check the outside temperature and it felt warm. Last week it hailed and looked like a Chicago Christmas in our backyard for three days, and now this? I had planned for cold weather activities such as cleaning the house, drinking hot chocolate and schnapps in my pajamas, and finishing my book curled up by the fire, but once I pressed my hand to the window, excitement rushed through me and it was time to strategize a new plan.

I find this happens to me often: waking up to a beautiful day only to feel like I am obliged to take advantage of it, as if I’ll ruin the day if I don’t do something active, something adventurous. There is a healthy medium to be found of taking the time to do nothing—to enjoy the warmth of the air, the sounds of the animals and the satisfaction of just sitting, but that healthy medium seems to be skewed in many of us, and most times I want to go “seize the day.” For these days in particular, I head to Auburn: a 35-minute drive from Sacramento with a variety of options for all sorts of escapades.

Hiking

Auburn is filled with hiking trails; it is also a great place for pups, but check the leash laws for the specific route before letting Fido off leash. It’s looked down upon (and against the law in some areas, understandably), and I have received many a comment for my free-range dog. Here a few of my favorites, in no specific order.

Hidden Falls Regional Park:
Almost everyone knows this one so crowds are a no-brainer, but it is good for various physical abilities.

Stevens Trail:
Technically Colfax, just around 17 miles northeast of Auburn, but it’s beautiful in the springtime. Watch out for flooding!

American River Confluence: This is where the two rivers meet and where the majority of the parking is. Here, you can pretty much pick any direction and choose your own adventure.

Bennett Dahl riding Culvert Trail

Mountain Biking

While being serenaded by the hubs on a downhill ride, I thank the Bike Gods for creating hydraulic brakes. I enjoy descending quickly, but the comfort of knowing my bicycle’s brakes work the same as my motorcycle’s brakes brings me ease. Two good options for a moderate ride are Clementine Trail and Culvert Trail, but Auburn offers many more trails for riding if you want something a bit more difficult or an easy jaunt along the river. If you decide to take the pup with you on these rides, be wary—check leash laws and opt for a solo ride or a hike if your dog does not do well off leash. Opting for a bike ride opens more doors for getting lost; many riders willingly give advice along the trail, but if worse comes to worse, get yourself to a main road and someone with a truck will put you, your bike and your pup in the back and take you to town (this has happened to me before. People are rad).

Cronan Ranch Trail

Trail Running

Treadmills and city runs on cemented streets can be beneficial, but anytime I can escape that torture, I will. My most recent investments due to an unplanned stop into REI were trail running shoes and a fanny pack that hugs in all the right places to carry some water and a phone. Any hiking trail can be used as a running trail, but to avoid crowds a few of my favorites include: Cronan Ranch (technically in Pilot Hill, California), Training Hill (the name says it all) and Salmon Falls (this one is also a great bike ride).

If you’re injured, simply don’t feel like being active, or physically cannot be active, Auburn is home to many a brewery as well as some really good food. Check out:

Crooked Lane 536 Grass Valley Hwy., Auburn

Auburn Alehouse 289 Washington St., Auburn

Brookside Grill 111 Sacramento St. # R, Auburn

**This piece first appeared in print on page 13 of issue #264 (April 23 – May 7, 2018)**

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Bottom’s up! It’s that time again! Sacramento Beer Week runs from May 10 – 20, 2018, this year and boasts everything from tap takeovers, to special beer releases, concerts, food pairings, exciting collaborations and all sorts of other fun and creative beer-themed events. With more than 300 events spread throughout the entire region, navigating Sacramento Beer Week can be downright overwhelming, so that’s where we come in to try and help a little. We searched around for hours on both Sacbeerweek.com (a fantastic resource with tons of listings!) and a lot of our favorite local craft beer bar’s websites and came up with a list of 10 Beer Week events we think you should have on your radar. Remember folks, Sacramento Beer Week is all about celebrating and cultivating our region’s impressive and growing craft beer scene, not just getting fucked up. So let’s all have some fun while being safe and respectful, and remember to cheers those who are helping make the greater Sacramento-area a true craft beer destination.

Sac Mac + Brew Review at River Walk Park: Thursday, May 10, 6 p.m.

The official opening event of Sacramento Beer Week will see local chefs pairing their creative takes on mac-n-cheese dishes with beers from local breweries. Check out pairings from the likes of Claimstake Brewing and Capital Hop Shop, The Monk’s Cellar and Localis, Flatland Brewing Co. and Boulevard Bistro, plus many others. Tickets are $40 if you use the discount code “Submerge” and that includes all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink samples! Hit up Sacbeerweek.com/event/sac-mac-brew-review for more info and to purchase tickets. 651 Second St., West Sacramento.

Meet the Farmer at Kupros Craft House: Thursday, May 10, 6 p.m.

Learn all about growing hops with Cultivar Beer’s resident hop enthusiast, Mark Cabrera. Cabrera manages Cultivar’s five-acre hop farm on the Sacramento River where they grow six different types, or cultivars, of hops: Chinook, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Cluster and Willamette. Taste some of Cabrera’s beers and pick his brain about all things hops. Free event! 1217 21st St., Sacramento.

Second Annual Beer Week Rocks at Big Sexy Brewing Co.: Saturday, May 12, 2 p.m.

This free, kid-friendly event will feature live music from Simple Creation, ZuhG, Big Sticky Mess and Fonty, along with special beer releases and grub from New Bite Food Truck. 5861 88th St., Ste. 800, Sacramento.

Revision: Beer Week As F@ck! at Capitol Beer and Taproom: Saturday, May 12, All Day

Jeremy Warren is a bit of a rockstar in the brewing scene. He started Knee Deep in Auburn, then after helping grow it in both size and reputation, he left and started Revision Brewing Company in Sparks, Nevada. Revision is putting out some amazing beers and on May 12 you can sample more than 10 of them on the board at Cap Tap without having to drive all the way to Sparks. Win-win! 2222 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento.

Fifth Annual Beer & Cupcake Pairing Event at Final Gravity: Tuesday, May 15, 12 p.m.

One of FG’s most popular Beer Week events! For $20 you get four 5-ounce pours, expertly paired with four mini cupcakes from a local Roseville baker. Here’s a tease: A Sunset Crush Cream Ale by Pure Project brewed with strawberry and Madagascar vanilla will be paired with a strawberry cupcake topped with vanilla velvet whipped frosting. Oh my god, give me that now! This event is 21-and-over only, and supplies are limited as this is not a ticketed event. 9205 Sierra College Blvd., Ste. 100, Roseville.

Bring Your Dog Day Wet Noses Party at Der Biergarten: Tuesday, May 15, All Day

Dogs and craft beer: two of our favorite things! Hang out outside with a bunch of cute puppers and enjoy Midtown’s best outdoor beer garden while sipping on brews from Alaskan, Founders and others. 2332 K St., Sacramento.

Sour & Stout Soiree at Pangaea Bier Cafe: Wednesday, May 16, All Day

It’s all about sours and stouts on May 16 at Pangaea with beers from highly regarded and very-hard-to-find breweries like Perennial Artisan Ales, Cascade Brewing, Jackie O’s, Crooked Stave, OEC Brewing and others. 2743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento.

Blind Hazy IPA Battle: NorCal vs. SoCal at Grist Beer Hall: Friday, May 18, 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Which region makes the best New England Style (aka “hazy”) IPAs? Come find out! Blindly taste flights of four hazies from Southern California breweries and four from Northern California breweries, then pick your favorite flight. Barebottle out of San Francisco and Flatland out of Elk Grove will be two of the NorCal entries, while Novo Brazil out of Chula Vista and Pure Project out of San Diego will be two of the SoCal entries. Others announced soon. 310 Palladio Pkwy., Ste. 713, Folsom.

Sierra Nevada 30 Tap Attack at Capital Hop Shop: Saturday, May 19, All Day

Beer Week would not be complete without paying homage to one of the true OGs in the craft beer industry, Northern California’s own Sierra Nevada. Hop Shop will have 30 kegs from Sierra on tap on May 19, everything from the classics we know and love to the new and the rare stuff. 1431 I St., Sacramento.

Punk Rock Prom at New Glory Craft Brewery: Saturday, May 19, 5 – 10 p.m.

New Glory is taking it to the streets (parking lot actually) for their Beer Week closing party, a Punk Rock Prom! Expect punk playlists, food from Dos Tacos Y Mas, a photo booth and a full tap list with all of the beers New Glory made especially for Sacramento Beer Week. Tickets are $15, 21-plus, and designated drivers get in free. Visit Facebook.com/NewGloryBrewery to look for more info and a link to buy tix. 8251 Alpine Ave., Sacramento.

None of these events float your boat? That’s fine, just hit up Sacbeerweek.com/events and see if you can come up with an itinerary that better suits your tastes. There’s a little something for all beer lovers during this year’s Sacramento Beer Week!

**This piece first appeared in print on page 9 of issue #265 (May 7 – 21, 2018)**

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A lot of us may feel in our heart of hearts that we have the soul of a rock star. Unfortunately, only a select few have the vocal or guitar skills to reach these lofty aspirations. But you know, shredding isn’t the only way to melt face. B Street Theatre’s upcoming production, Airness, is a comedy about professional air guitar competitions, which trim away rock music’s tedious musicianship and lay bare what you really purchased your ticket for—glorious grandstanding and over-the-top posturing. Airness, written by Chelsea Marcantel, premiered at the 2017 Humana Festival for New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky. The play follows Nina (Stephanie Altholz), an actual guitarist who enters an air guitar competition thinking she should dominate but is quickly humbled. Airness will run Tuesdays through Sundays (with two shows on Saturdays) from May 8 until June 10, 2018. To purchase tickets, go to Bstreettheatre.org. B Street Theatre is located at 2700 Capitol Ave., Sacramento.

**This write-up first appeared in print on page 12 of issue #265 (May 7 – 21, 2018)**

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Organizers of the über-popular River City Marketplace events recently announced a new intimate, hands-on series, Soiree, a collection of workshops that will be hosted by local artists and makers. The first installment is set for Saturday, May 12, and features brands owned and operated by local mamas, making this the world’s most perfect thing to do on Mother’s Day weekend! Make mala bead bracelets with GypsyLamb, or artisan soaps with Sunshine Soap and Candle Company. Learn about watercolor basics with Tonja Wilcox Art and Design, and create soy wax candles with Peace, Love and Soy Wax. Tickets are $125 and include guaranteed participation in three of the aforementioned workshops of your choice, refreshments and adult beverages (you know, to help spur creativity). Soiree will take place at a cute-as-can-be work place called The Makers Place (2618 X St.) and will host two sessions, one from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and another from 2 – 5 p.m. Visit RiverCityMarketplace916.com/soiree for more and to buy tickets. The organizer’s other massive, free, open-to-everyone events (River City Marketplace) are also scheduled for Saturday, May 5 and Saturday, Oct. 20, both at Fremont Park (1515 Q St.) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those events will feature over 100 vendors, live music and local bites.

**This write-up first appeared in print on page 17 of issue #264 (April 23 – May 7, 2018)**

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