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.

Chance The Rapper Golden 1 Center, Sacramento April 27, 2017 Photos by Paul Piazza. Chance the Rapper has quickly risen to be regarded as one of the top artists in hip-hop. In a relatively brief period, the 24 year-old performer has ascended towards the throne with his quirky, catchy intelligent style of soulful rap. He solidified this reputation with a stellar headlining performance at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento recently. The rapper was on the third night of his Be Encouraged Tour and the feeling of uplifting positivity was palpable in the air during a stellar set where he knocked…

Read More

WinterWondergrass Tahoe Squaw Valley March 31 – April 2, 2017 In a season of heavy snowfall in the Sierras, WinterWonderGrass Tahoe enjoyed its third year in Squaw Valley with some perfectly timed sunny weather that paired well with the tasty bluegrass tunes and celebratory beer tasting. The festival, which originated in Colorado, was a sold-out, massive success. Liz Beebe and Z. Lupetin WinterWonderGrass Tahoe takes place in a fenced-off section adjacent to the massive Squaw Resort parking lot. This event draws fans of what many call “jamgrass,” a style of bluegrass with exceptional instrumentation that gets its fire from extended…

Read More

Lettuce Fox Theater, Oakland March 17, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. If anyone was wondering how fired up Lettuce were for their headlining show at Oakland’s Fox Theatre, they got their answer about five seconds after the band hit the stage. Nigel Hall Keyboardist Nigel Hall came bouncing out onto the edge of the stage in an Oakland t-shirt as the band hustled to their instruments behind him. He immediately began exhorting the crowd  by throwing up his arms and shouting, “What’s up Oakland? …..What’s UPPP Oaklaaaaannddd!??!!??” The Dude was fired up. Eric Bloom and Ryan Zoidis After getting…

Read More

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue Montbleu Resort, Tahoe March 11, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. Early during his band’s set at Montbleu Resort and Casino in South Lake Tahoe, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews introduced the song “On Your Way Down” by explaining to the audience that it was penned by the late New Orleans musician and songwriting titan Allen Toussaint. Andrews, who turned 31 this year, recorded the song with the legendary Toussaint when he was only in his early 20s. By that time the young native of the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans had already been gigging with some…

Read More

Jon Bon Jovi Golden 1 Center, Sacramento February 28, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. Deep into his recent show at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Jon Bon Jovi paused and looked at the audience. “Some of you have been with us since 1984,” said the singer, referring to the band’s Cal Expo debut opening for the Scorpions way back when. He continued. “And some of you weren’t even born yet.” This was received well by the packed house, many of whom actually would have been old enough to have been at that long ago show. This night featured a…

Read More

The Revivalists The Fillmore February 10, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza Leading up to their sold-out headlining gig at the Fillmore last week, everything was lining up pretty damn well for The Revivalists. The hard working New Orleans band, who have earned their rep by playing every show as if it were their last, are on quite a roll these days. Last fall, their song “Wish I Knew You,” from their excellent 2015 album Men against Mountains, had topped the Adult Alternative Songs chart. Suddenly the venues they played were getting bigger, their fanbase was swelling to new levels…

Read More

The Motet The Fillmore Auditorium February 4, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. The Motet have grown into one of the best live funk experiences in the land. On a recent weekend, the illustrious Colorado septet headlined San Francisco’s Fillmore and turned the legendary room into a nonstop, grooving dance party from show’s start to finish. The group’s origins date back to 1998, when drummer Dave Watts, started a weekly jam collective. After a couple of years, and many personnel configurations that ended in -tet (think quartet, quintet, etc.), Watts decided to dub the group-The Motet. They’ve since established themselves…

Read More

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Golden 1 Center, Sacramento December 28, 2016 All photographs by Paul Piazza. The Tran-Siberian Orchestra transformed Sacramento’s new Golden 1 Center into a magical world of laser lights, fire and symphonic metal sound when they played two sold-out shows in the impressive new arena over the Christmas break. Trans-Siberian Orchestra The group, known simply as TSO to their fans, has been touring for 20 years now. To celebrate this milestone, they reprised last year’s hugely successful “Ghost of Christmas Eve” show with a few added new twists. Jane Mangini The story of this rock opera, which is told…

Read More

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe The Fillmore December 27, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. After working up a sweat on the Fillmore stage during the ferocious opening number “New Ammo,” Karl Denson paused to take it all in. The amazing saxophonist/flutist was celebrating his 60th birthday on this night with his band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTU). But also onboard this evening were a cavalcade of special musical guests from around the country. This show was appropriately billed “Karl Denson’s 60th birthday bash.” Karl Denson Taking in all of the love from the packed house, Denson stated, “I’m still…

Read More

Dirty Heads Ace of Spades, Sacramento November 12, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. The Dirty Heads have been playing sunny, hip-hop flavored, West Coast reggae-style jams for nearly two decades. Vocalist Jared Watson and guitarist/vocalist Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell started out as a pair of friends who wrote whacked-out, stream of consciousness, hip-hop influenced stoner beach music. Over time, they have branched out to become a solid five piece touring machine who write excellent melodies with a catchy chorus. They popularity has grown to the point that they’ve become a top-tier headliner on the reggae festival circuit. They recently…

Read More

Con Brio UC Theatre October 14, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. Con Brio played their biggest local headlining show to date when they got their name plastered on the big marquee at the U.C. Theatre in Berkeley recently. Prior to the gig, the San Francisco band had opened at the Fillmore and headlined many smaller Bay Area venues, but this one was a big step towards larger things. Benjamin Andrews Of course, this all makes perfect sense since the band has been logging some serious travel miles to some pretty extraordinary gigs lately. This past summer they played Bonnaroo,…

Read More

Dry Diggings Festival El Dorado County Fairgrounds September 2-3, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. The only thing better than the temperatures at the 2nd Annual Dry Diggings Festival were the omnipresent good vibes shared between festivalgoers and the musicians. The event, held at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville, drew a large, peaceful contingent of roots-reggae lovers who were treated to absolutely gorgeous California weather and a stellar lineup of top bands from the fast-growing genre. Erich Rachmany and Marley Williams of Rebelution By the time Saturday night’s headliner, Rebelution, hit the stage, those in attendance had enjoyed…

Read More

Grace Potter Crystal Bay Ballroom, North Lake Tahoe August 12, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. Grace Potter hit the stage at North Lake Tahoe’s Crystal Bay Ballroom with a dizzying display of energy last weekend. The singer, who hadn’t played the club since June of 2013, let it all hang out on the stage during a steamy two hour-plus set for a sold-out Friday night crowd at the club. Grace Potter Located in the Crystal Bay Casino, which is just across the state border, Crystal Bay’s Crown Room is an intimate setting (800 capacity) with great acoustics that hosts…

Read More

Bluesapalooza Mammoth Lakes August 4 – 7, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza  Sharon Jones is not afraid to share the fact that she is fighting cancer. In fact, she’d rather her fans not only knew but join in the fight with her. The great soul singer has been battling pancreatic cancer since being diagnosed in 2013. It’s come and gone and now it’s come back again. But despite a situation that would cause most to want to stay as comfortable as possible as they went through treatment, the five foot one powerhouse continues to hit the road and make…

Read More

Widespread Panic Harvey’s Outdoor Arena, Tahoe July 6, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. Widespread Panic are a jam juggernaut. The band, who came together in Athens, Georgia 30 years ago, played Harvey’s Outdoor Amphitheater in South Lake Tahoe recently. This tour date was a sweet deal for their devoted fans, who appreciated the fact that they had the option to stay at the casino’s hotel, which was a two minute walk to the venue on this cool summer night. Dave Schools The band, also known as WSP to their fans, is known for never playing the same setl ist…

Read More

Lyrics Born The Independent June 11, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. Last weekend, Lyrics Born celebrated over 20 years in the music game with a big Saturday night show at the Independent in San Francisco. Long known as one of the Bay Area’s most exceptional underground hip-hop artists, Lyrics Born (aka Tsutoma “Tom” Shimura) recently released an excellent retrospective of his career called “Now Look What You’ve Done Lyrics Born! Greatest Hits!” Lyrics Born with Uriah Duffy The prolific composer, producer, and performer had just returned from a show in Las Vegas and was primed to play the homecoming…

Read More

Cory Henry SFJAZZ Center June 12, 2016 All photos by Paul Piazza. The San Francisco Jazz Center is a beautiful structure in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. It opened three years ago and has housed some of the most incredible talent in the jazz world. This year it will house 34th San Francisco Jazz Festival. Stepping into this stunning edifice on a Sunday night, on this second weekend of the festival, one could take a turn to the left and go in to the spacious Miner Auditorium to see Ravi Coltrane, the son of the jazz titan John Coltrane and his…

Read More