West Coast Tour Diary | Sacramento

When I was 18 years old, I got lost in Sacramento.  There were no smart phones to speak of, no google maps.  Just a tired old Rand-McNally roadmap from the 70's that I had "borrowed" from my parents mini van.  Turning the map over and over, I was now trying to figure out which way was up as I sat in the parking lot of an abandoned skate rink while my 1965 VW beetle idled in sputtering pops beneath me.  "Where the f*ck am I?", I said to myself.  

I was in Sacramento.

Image via Flickr : by twoGiraffe

(Image via Flickr : by twoGiraffe)

And it's not the last time I would express my "affection" for the winding roads, endless traffic, criss-crossed neighborhoods and one way streets that never seem to head in the direction you are going, or rather, that you need to go.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like Sacramento.  it's that I don't like driving in Sacramento. I'm sure that's what people from there say about San Francisco, maybe next time I will bring a local Tour Guide.

That said, Sacramento, like San Francisco, is an amalgamation of opposites.  New things are old, old things are new.  Reinvented and turned on end in ways that I never seem to understand. Which is exactly how I felt when I arrived at what appeared to be an hourly motel-cum-office building-cum-cafe-cum-music venue.  Loud art colliding with industrial furnishings and exposed brick in a neighborhood cafe.  Kind of reminded me of Bazaar Cafe back home, but a little more… bazaar.  However, they do have some of the nicest staff I've ever worked with at Naked Coffee, or rather "Naked Lounge" depending on what 20 feet you were standing in, so as you can imagine, a place with that much personality is really charming to me.  Now I've played Sacramento before.  Even tinier cafes, dive clubs and underground bars.  Music venues in Sacramento run the gamut from beer stained dives to happy hour hostels with everything in between.  Why should I be surprised that a music venue could be all these things and still get the music right.  And they do get the music right.


The opening acts for the evening were some of the nicest guys and the most talented gypsy jazz players I've heard in a long time.  They transported myself and the audience to New Orleans, the French Quarter and to the Parisian Left Bank.  It was so much fun to see their music set the mood of the room for the evening.  The crowd trickled in from far and near, reuniting me with old friends, (which seems to be this tour's theme) and connecting me with new friends alike.  Some had driven over an hour to the show and although I didn't go on until 10pm, (on a Wednesday mind you,) they stayed and listened, and laughed and cheered and even sang along well into the night.  I was having so much fun, I hardly realized how long I had been playing until I ran out of songs to play.  And as every good party must come to an end, I played my last song and stepped off the stage feeling content.


I started to pack my guitar and I couldn't help a sense of shock come over me as I heard them pour on the applause for an encore. The small, but mighty crowd in this city were showing me once again how lucky I am to be playing music for a living, for these fans, in this place... "An encore? On a Wednesday night?  Where am I?" I thought. I looked out to the smiling faces and it came to me, "I'm in Sacramento".  

  • Leave a comment: