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Year in Review

Dec 05, 2017 02:34PM ● By Paul Cotruvo

Wrapping up Another Year of Outstanding Live Music

We have finally reached the end of another amazing year of music here in Contra Costa County. There was no shortage of incredible shows. As I look back, I am reminded of how lucky we all are to have such amazing talent and events right here in our backyard. And how lucky we all are to be able to escape our hectic lives, if only for a few hours, and enjoy many local artists without traveling to the big city and paying the big bucks! There are so many venues that have music in some shape or fashion, probably too many to mention, but I’d like to give a shout out to a few that have really made this year special: WiseGirl, Armando’s, Roxx on Main, Rocco’s, Back 40, Dan’s Bar, Clayton Club, Vinnie’s, and The Impulse Room. I know I have missed some others, but these businesses have taken a chance and provided quality music, and they deserve your support. Needless to say, music is alive and well here in our little slice of heaven.

Some highlights this year were the great performances of Carlos Reyes at Come Together 7 in Pleasant Hill; The Sunday Paper’s residency at Armando’s in Martinez at the end of every month, Lafayette’s Summer of Love series in June, and Cheap Trick at the Lesher Theatre in Walnut Creek.

I also have noticed that just about every city and area has some kind of festival or event that highlights music, whether it is the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival; Pleasant Hill Art, Wine and Music Festival; or Blues and Brew in Pleasant Hill. And who knew that Thursday would become the new Friday? Concord, Martinez, Moraga, and Pleasant Hill all now have events that always feature great bands. And all are free!

It was also a year we lost some memorable musicians: Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, Gregg Allman, Fats Domino, Walter Becker and the rock and roll pioneer, Chuck Berry. Locally, we lost the amazing Steve Sage, who has had a hand in just about everyone’s musical career here in Contra Costa, and the wonderful Michael Redmond O’Connell, also known as the Martinez Town Cryer. Huge losses, but their memories and music live on forever. And the year is not over quite yet. There are a couple of events I highly recommend, along with charities to support.

Pleasant Hill Rec and Park District presented A Celebration of Tom Petty’s Musical Legacy on December 1. The event featured the local Tom Petty tribute band, The Big Jangle. There were some special guests, including Garageland Rodeo, Dave Martin (The Buzztones and David Martin’s Houseparty), and Kevin Suto (The Bell Brothers and The VonTrapps). There were some surprise guests as well. A portion of the proceeds went to to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund.

The ninth annual Martinez Music Mafia Holiday Pageant and Toy Drive was held on December 3 at Armando’s in Martinez -- a great event that not only featured some of the best musicians in the area but also benefited many local charities. Among the bands this year were The Big J, Garageland Rodeo, Killbillies, The Martini Lounge, Midnight Flyer, and The New Frantics, with many other surprises. Admission is $10 and a new, unwrapped toy. This sells out quickly, so come early and stay late!

Happy Holidays, and I hope to see everyone out there in 2018 supporting local venues and bands.

Quote of the Month: Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things ~~ Tom Petty

Paul’s Picks for December

December 15: The Big Jangle, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm

December 23: Sunday Paper Christmas Show, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm

December 28: Sin Silver, Rocco’s, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, 8pm

December 30: Tender Mercies, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm

December 30: The Buzztones, Rocco’s, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, 8pm

December 30: Fast Times, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm

December 31: Cover2Cover, Wise Girl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 7pm

Pictured is The Big Jangle (L to R): John Gajan - Bass/Vocals; Kevin Scott Kroner (Benmont Jangle) - Keys/Guitar/Vocals/Harp; Paul Cotruvo (Beau Jangle) - Guitar/Lead Vocals​; Dan Hertlein (Stan Jangle) - Drums/Vocals;  Kiki Stack (Bangle Jangle) - Vocals; and Bruce Brophy (Djangle Reinhardt) - Guitar. Photo by Susan Wood Photography