Author: Paul Piazza

Paul Piazza is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Sacramento and often finds excuses to go play disc golf. He covers all genres of music but loves old-school trash metal, Stax-era soul, freestyle hip-hop and the sounds of NOLA. However, the latest album he bought was Cambodian pop. Good music is good music.

Durand Jones and the Indications Ace of Spades, Sacramento August 19, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza. Durand Jones and the Indications recently sold-out two shows at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades.  The retro soul band began ten years ago when Jones and bandmates  Aaron Frazier and Blake Rhein met as music students at the University of Indiana. The trio connected while in the university’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music. They were all playing in the department’s Soul Revue project. The Jacobs School of Music boasts Booker T. Jones (Booker T. and the MGs), bassist Larry Ridley (Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Horace Silver),…

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Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza Mammoth Lake August 4-7, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza. The Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza celebrated it’s 26th year of existence with a joyous weekend of excellent blues and soul music, great food, happy people, and of course, some tasty craft beers. This festival started a little over 26 years ago in Mammoth Lakes in the parking lot of the former Whiskey Creek Restaurant with just ten breweries and a handful of beer lovers. Someone made ribs on the grill and a local garage band played from the roof of the restaurant. From…

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Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma August 2, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz recently played a show at Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma. In addition to the madman genius bassist/vocalist, the all-star jam/jazz outfit is made up of musical luminaries including standard setting  Stanton Moore of Galactic on drums, the immensely quirky and versatile saxophonist Skerik, and master percussionist and vibraphonist Mike Dillon. If you are familiar with any of these four, you’ll know they have individually participated in some of the greatest live musical moments of the last two or three decades. Occasionally, they…

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Blue Note Jazz Festival Charles Krug Winery, St. Helena July 29-31, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza The first-ever Blue Note Jazz Festival was a music lovers dream. Held at the Charles Krug Winery in Saint Helena, this event drew artists and fans from all over the country for a weekend of top tier sounds from the worlds of jazz, hiphop, and r&b. With all of that appeal,  plus the world famous Napa Valley ambience, the festival menu was set for a very tasty weekend. The event was co-hosted by comedian Dave Chapelle and jazz pianist Robert Glasper and the pair…

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Bay Strike Back w/Testament, Death Angel, and Exodus Ace of Spades, Sacramento May 26, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza Memorial Day weekend got off to a raging midweek start in Sacramento with a blistering thrash show by three of the all-time greatest Bay Area legends. It was the final date on the recent leg of the Bay Strikes Back Tour featuring Testament, Exodus and Death Angel. The bands had recently completed a triple-headed trek across the U.S. and this was the final show before a short break. Next, all three of them are heading off to Europe for a summer…

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Jerry Cantrell Ace of Spades, Sacramento May 4, 2022 All photos by Paul Piazza. Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell recently played Ace of Spades to a packed house on a Wednesday night. It was a tour stop near the conclusion of his very well-received cross country tour in support of the solo album Brighten. Brighten is Cantrell’s third solo album, but it had been 19 years since his last one, Degradation Trip.  In fact, Cantrell had not toured as a solo artist for 15 years prior to 2019. On this tour, he had along a stellar band which included…

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Yola Ace of Spades, Sacramento April 15, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza Yola recently headlined Sacramento’s Ace of Spades in support of her excellent 2021 album Stand for Myself. The soulful and rocking British singer/songwriter has thrice won the UK Artist of the year at the UK Americana Awards and has been nominated for a Grammy at both the 2020 and 2022 Grammy Awards in both the categories of Americana and American Roots Performance and Song. Yola also appeared as a vocalist with Massive Attack. The song that was nominated for a Grammy in ’22, “Diamond Studded Shoes,” is on…

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Orville Peck Ace of Spades, Sacramento April 14, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza A sold-out crowd greeted Orville Peck and his band recently at Ace of Spades on the first show of their U.S. tour. The rapidly rising, masked cowboy crooner is hitting the road in support of his sensational new record Bronco, which was released only a week before the show. Peck told the crowd that this was the first time the band had played the Bronco songs live and it was evident the crowd had been listening to this great record since its recent release, because they sang…

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Winter Wondergrass PalisadesTahoe April 1 – 3, 2022 Photos by Paul Piazza The weather was picture perfect for the 6th annual WinterWonderGrass Tahoe which is held at Palisades (formerly Squaw Valley) in Lake Tahoe. The impressive mountain surroundings, splendid bluegrass picking, and a wide selection of craft brew tastings sealed the deal to make this year a perfect one for the return of this excellent event. Like many annual events throughout the land,  WinterWonderGrass Tahoe was all set to kickoff in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit, so it took three years to get a proper restart due…

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Foo Fighters Golden 1 Center, Sacramento December 2, 2021 All photos by Paul Piazza. The Foo Fighters recently rocked the hell out of Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center on a Tuesday night. It was their second to last show of 2021 in what turned out to be a surprisingly robust second-half of the touring year for the band as they played festivals and arenas from about mid-year onward. Of course, this year’s road path was nothing compared to the ambitious sojourn they had originally planned for their 25th anniversary. But those plans, like the plans of so many others were derailed…

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Thundercat Ace of Spades, Sacramento November 29, 2021 Photos by Paul Piazza. Thundercat (aka Stephen Lee Bruner) headlined two consecutive nights of sold-out shows at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades recently. The Los Angeles-based bassist has had an amazing musical run over the last 10+ years. He has released four solo records and 2020’s It Is What It Is won him a Grammy for Best Progressive R&B album. The idiosyncratic musical wizard has been hailed by many as one of the great bass players of this generation. He is widely known as a collaborator with such amazing artists as Kamasi Washington,…

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The Gold Souls  Downtown Sounds Downtown Sound, the 2nd full-length release by The Gold Souls is an excellent follow-up to the band’s first release, Good to Feel. The stylistic Sacramento blues, funk and soul group demonstrate impressive growth in a dramatic range of areas on this new one-particularly in the aspects of songwriting, lyrics and recording. At its core, the group features the trio of founding members vocalist Juniper Waller , drummer Billy D. Thompson and keyboardist Alex Severson who were joined by guitarist Darius Upshaw in 2019 and most recently by bassist Avery Jeffry, who replaced departing founding member Jace…

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My Morning Jacket Greek Theatre, Berkeley September 25, 2021 Photos by Paul Piazza. Recently, My Morning Jacket returned as a headliner to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley for the first time since 2012. The results were astounding as they played a absolutely powerhouse 20 song-set of new songs and favorites that clocked in at almost two and a half hours on a night in which one could feel the barely contained, and very palpable joy in the air at the return of kick ass live music to the Greek. The band were touring on their self-titled 2021 record, their first…

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Dinner Party Frost Amphitheater, Palo Alto July 15, 2021 Photos by Paul Piazza. Last week, music lovers at the Frost Amphitheater in Palo Alto were treated to the live debut of Dinner Party, a remarkable 2020 r&b, jazz and hip-hop collaboration between Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, and 9th Wonder. On this night, Glasper and Martin ushered this music into the live realm along with a stellar cast including the remarkable trumpet player Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, bassist/vocalist Phenix, drummer Justin Tyson, and DJ Jahi Sundance. This was the second live show at the Stanford University venue that was…

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Fantastic Negrito Frost Amphiteater, Palo Alto July 8, 2021 Photos by Paul Piazza. Live music roared back to life at the Frost Amphitheater on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto last week with an electrifying performance by Fantastic Negrito. The three-time Grammy winner from Oakland, along with a five member band, delivered a scintillating performance that never let up in engagement, intensity and incredible sounds. Fantastic Negrito is somewhat of an uncategorizable artist who seamlessly blends funk, soul, blues, rock, afropunk and folk into a savory stew of sounds that has caught fire worldwide. Restricted from touring like…

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This week, we continue examining the different ways in which musicians are using video streams and other means to stay connected to fans while they attempt to earn a living during the pandemic, which has severely damaged the live music economy. There have been a few evolutions since we last checked in.  Innovations Livestreams options expand: Livestream pay to enter subscription series featuring full band and a variety of guests.  Artist: Marcus King Location: Sound stage in Nashville Venue: marcuskingband.com When: Monday premiere and rewatchable with 4-show subscription-Fee $30 for four shows or $10 each-proceeds go to MusicCares. If you…

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During the pandemic, musicians and others in the music industry have been one of the most financially impacted groups. With large gatherings remaining out of the question and venues struggling to stay open, this has been a difficult time for economic survival from all angles in the music industry.  So how have musicians managed to remain afloat during these times? Heading into the spring of 2020, many bands and musicians had ambitious tours  booked, new music recorded, records were pressed and merchandise created. A large contingent of artists across the nation and world were fully set-up to have a fantastic…

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The Wood Brothers Fox Theater, Oakland March 7, 2020 Photos by Paul Piazza It was most certainly a night to celebrate when The Wood Brothers rolled into Oakland and played their first-ever headlining show at the legendary Fox Theatre near the beginning of March. The sensational trio, comprised of brothers Chris and Oliver Wood and percussionist extraordinaire Jano Rix, had recently launched a tour promoting their excellent new record Kingdom in My Mind. Oakland was one of the early stops on the tour and many were looking forward to a night of their soulful folk and quirky charm. It also…

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Marcus King Band Ace of Spades, Sacramento February 6, 2020 Photos by Paul Piazza  Marcus King has established himself as a musical force early in his life. The 23-year-old guitarist, who headlined at Ace of Spades in Sacramento with his band in early February, first picked up a guitar when he was eight and has been playing professionally since he was eleven. Since then, he has steadily gained a reputation as a staggeringly talented guitarist who pours a sophisticated, southern tinged essence into both the Gibson ES and Fender Telecaster that he favors as well as a soulful vocalist who…

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Fortunate Youth Ace of Spades, Sacramento November 22, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza Fortunate Youth recently played a show at Ace of Spades in Sacramento with fellow rising reggae star Mike Love. The band are currently touring behind their trio of Sugershack Sessions recordings and their latest single “Young and Innocent,” a collaboration with Jamaican dancehall legend Half Pint. Fortunate Youth formed in 2009 in Hermosa Beach. They have made big inroads on the California reggae scene over the span of the last decade. The band have released five albums and have toured relentlessly. They’ve gradually ascended the ladder of…

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