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.

Revivalists Greek Theatre, Berkeley September 13, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza The Revivalists have been on a tear over the last few years. After slugging it out on the Gulf Coast club circuit during the early part of this decade, they have steadily gained a rep as a must-see group with their fiery blend of rock and soul. They have proved that over and over again at festivals and clubs all over the nation and are now on their largest venue tour to date, which brought them to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley recently. Along with their relentless touring, another…

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311 and Dirty Heads Papa Murphy’s Park, Sacramento August 16, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza 311 and Dirty Heads, two of the nation’s most successful reggae rock acts, played in Sacramento recently at the end of an August week that saw the region’s hottest temperatures of the summer. The pairing, which celebrated 29 years of success for 311, was billed as a co-headliner with up and comers The Dirty Heads. The young Orange County band have seen much success in just a little over a decade together.  Fortunately for all of the overheated fans, the venues proximity to the American…

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Ziek McCarter is the lead vocalist for Con Brio. Since arriving in the Bay Area from Texas almost nine years ago, he has gained a reputation as a frontman who is a tremendous vocalist with incendiary dance moves and astonishing agility as he often defies gravity on the stage. In his time with the band, they have evolved from a club band, to a festival must-see, to an international touring act. That’s quite a climb. He has also worked on other impressive music projects including an incredible live tribute collaboration of Prince’s “Dirty Mind” album with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.…

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High Sierra Music Festival Quincy July 4 – 7, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza The 29th annual High Sierra Music Festival took place in Quincy recently and was a four-day musical extravaganza. The campout festival happens over the Fourth of July weekend and has become an annual tradition for many who flock to the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds. This year’s four headliners were Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Dispatch, Umphrey’s McGee and Greensky Bluegrass. All were stellar during their Grandstand stage performances. Arguably, the High Sierra Music Festival or HSMF as it’s known to regulars, is the best music festival in California,…

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Empire of the Sun Regency Ballroom June 24, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza Empire of the Sun recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of their album Walking on a Dream with a three-night residency at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. The Australian electronic music group, which is the love child of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, have been a huge act overseas for quite some time but broke through in the U.S. about four years ago. This happened after a couple of key events. First, both Lady Gaga (“Applause”) and Wiz Khalifa (“The thrill”) did remixes of their music. Then,…

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The Record Company Ace of Spades, Sacramento June 5, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza The Record Company recently steamrolled into Sacramento on a Wednesday night and put on a performance at the Ace of Spades that left little doubt they are one of the best up and coming heavy blues rock outfits out there. Even though it was a school night and the Warriors were playing against the Raptors in the championship on television, the club was close to full. And the Los Angeles-based band delivered with a solid set drawing mostly from their two well-received albums. The trio have…

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Rival Sons Ace of Spades, Sacramento May 6, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza Monday night is a tough night to get people to go out to a gig. But when Rival Sons recently played Sacramento’s Ace of Spades at the beginning of the week, they sold-out the place. It wasn’t a big surprise because the Long Beach band have grown in stature with both fans and fellow musicians since their inception in 2009. Rival Sons have been getting serious notice as openers on big tours for a while and that reputation continued to grow when they had an impressive showing…

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Chicano Batman Mystic Theater, Petaluma April 26, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza It was a Friday night to remember at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma when Chicano Batman came into the sleepy Peninsula town on the eve of one of the biggest local traditions of the year – the annual Butter and Egg Festival. The Los Angeles based-band had sold out the show over a week in advance and everyone in the house was prepared to be immersed in the band’s contagious psychedelic soul and fiery rock-out energy. But nobody expected the epic show that the band brought to us…

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Aterciopelados and Los Amigos Invisibles UC Theatre, Berkeley April 27, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza On a recent spring Saturday night, a pair of legendary Latin music groups appeared at the UC Theatre in Berkeley. Aterciopelados of Columbia and Los Amigos Invisibles of Venezuela shared a double-bill that drew a packed house of adoring Latin music fans to the beautiful room on University Ave. Aterciopelados were one of the first bands from Columbia to gain international notice and are considered pioneers in the development of Latin alternative music. They fuse rock with a variety of Columbian and Latin American sounds…

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Winter Wondergrass Festival Squaw Valley March 29 – 31, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza. The weather was mild for the 5th Annual Winter Wondergrass Festival which took place recently at Squaw Valley. Unlike the previous year, where rain and light snow fell steadily throughout the three-day festival, the skies were crystal clear and the weather was pleasantly sunny. This resulted in more than a few fans showing up dressed lightly, many in t-shirts. Naturally, since this was the Sierras, it was wise to pack a jacket and other warm gear, because once the sun went down and the evening headliners…

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Cypress Hill Ace of Spades, Sacramento March 22, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza  At the recent sold-out Cypress Hill/Hollywood Undead show at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, there was a bit of a surprise before the final headliner came out. After engaging sets by Xzibit and Hollywood Undead, Cypress Hill’s DJ Lord came out and did a short warm-up set. But at the interval where the rest of the group were expected to come out onstage, comedian George Lopez made an unannounced entrance and gave a raucous introduction for the legendary stoner rap band. Naturally, it was one high point in…

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McDowell Mountain Music Festival Phoenix, Arizona March 6 – March 8, 2019 Photos by Paul Piazza Early March was a great time to flee rainy Northern California and head for Arizona. After two straight weeks of continuous soggy storms in Sacramento, it felt good to land somewhere arid, warm, and a sunny 75 degrees. Spring training baseball games were in full swing and fans from all over the nation had flown out to escape their own regional weather woes and catch a game or three. This spring also marked the 15th year of the McDowell Mountain Music (M3F) Festival, which…

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Emerald Cup Sonoma County Fairgrounds December 15-16, 2018 Photos by Paul Piazza. Photo of Willie Nelson by Pollen Heath. The 15th annual Emerald Cup took place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds recently. The event, which has been growing annually since it began in 2003, hosted perhaps its biggest and best music lineup as it celebrated the success of and innovations by cultivators and businesses in North America’s fastest growing legal industry. Naturally, there were all manner of cannabis products available at the event, many of them engineered with the highest standards for outdoor growing, harvesting, and personal use. And of…

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Hangtown Music Festival El Dorado County Fairgrounds, Placerville October 25 – 28, 2018 Photos by Paul Piazza.  The Annual Hangtown Music Festival is one of the final large outdoor music events before most things musical go indoors and hibernate for the late fall and winter. This year’s event, the eighth since its inception, continued the wonderful tradition of camping, camaraderie, and incredibly fun celebrations of music, renewals of friendships, and common love for exceptional live music. But amidst all the revel, there was an undercurrent of loss felt for Andy Goessling, the incredible multi-instrumentalist of Railroad Earth, who had passed…

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Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Regency Ballroom October 6, 2018 Photos by Paul Piazza. On the weekend of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco, when so many great bands had made beautiful sounds in nearby Golden Gate Park, a funny thing happened at the Regency Ballroom on Van Ness. Many of the same people who had traipsed the dusty trails from stage to stage in the park earlier in the day, were now standing in a lengthy queue that went around the block and down an alley. It was the longest line many of us had ever seen to get into…

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Photos by Paul Piazza. Last year, The Jesus Lizard toured together for the first time in 8 years. The six-show run brought the noise rock legends to a sold-out show at the Independent in San Francisco, which was considered by many to be one of the best rock shows in the City By the Bay in 2017. Things must have gone so well that the legendary band decided to go out for another short run of eight shows recently that concluded in Seattle and Portland. SF Sonic was there to cover both of those shows. The legendary band, who are…

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Beats Antique Ace of Spades, Sacramento August 23, 2018 Photos by Paul Piazza. Beats Antique recently played at the Ace of Spades in Sacramento. Their performance was during the week before the annual regional exodus to Burning Man and the show was full of burners who were using this night as a launching pad before heading out into the high desert. The Oakland band were in good form, but were without their drummer Sidecar Tommy Cappel, who had a medical emergency prior to the show. The band let everyone know he would be alright but he wouldn’t be performing on…

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High Sierra Music Festival Plumas County Fairgrounds, Quincy July 5-8, 2018 Photos by Paul Piazza. The 28th annual High Sierra Music Festival was one of the best ever. Of course, that’s a bold statement coming from someone who has just returned from attending only his fourth one. Each and every one of those first three were fantastic. But after comparing notes with the experts, it was a sentiment shared by many as they were slowly packing up and heading out of Quincy on Monday morning after the phenomenal four-day event. The consensus was that his year’s version was un-freaking-believably fantastic!!…

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The Revivalists The Outdoor Plaza at Harrah’s, Reno May 25, 2018 Photos by Paul Piazza. As I was driving into a mountain storm on the ride up from Sacramento to Reno to catch The Revivalists at the start of their recent three-day Memorial Day weekend run on the West Coast, I had sudden a sense of deja-vu. A couple of years earlier, I had driven out to Santa Cruz during a storm to catch the fantastic New Orleans band at the Catalyst Club. That trip ended up being a memorable white-knuckle ride on the way there, with me and my…

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Winter Wondergrass Squaw Valley April 6-8, 2018 All photos by Paul Piazza. The 4th Annual Winter Wondergrass Festival Tahoe came to Squaw Valley recently. So did the weather. It was quite stormy during the first two out of the three days of the busy festival. Snow, sleet and rain took their turns in the mountain region before things finished up sunny on the third day. A big storm came in on Friday and rain started early in the day with fans watching tentatively as the skies opened up on the outdoor event. This was followed by sleet and snow for…

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