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.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Golden 1 Center December 1, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) put on a sensational pair of shows at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento recently. The group, which celebrated it’s 21st year, gave the audience a show full of lasers, lights, pyro, and all the majesty that has been come to be expected during their twenty one years as a band. The show was an encore of their wildly popular Ghosts of Christmas Eve performance for the first half, and then continued with a second set that featured many of the group’s greatest hits.…

Read More

Joe Tomino is the phenomenal drummer for the Dub Trio and for Matisyahu. He has also played or recorded with many other bands including GriZ, Peeping Tom, The Fugees, Lady Gaga, Wyclef Jean, Leela James, and the Ying Yang Twins. Recently, during a stop in Sacramento with Matisyahu, he spoke to SF Sonic about a variety of things including music, yoga, eating vegan on the road and his first visit to a mosh pit. SF Sonic: Let’s start with music influences. One of the things I noticed at the Dry Diggings Festival in Placerville was that you were wearing a…

Read More

Hangtown Music Festival El Dorado County Fairgrounds October 26 – 29, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza.  The Seventh Annual Hangtown Music Festival was held in Placerville at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds recently and this year’s affair may have been the best one yet. The lineup was solid, the weather in the foothills was close to perfect, and the clever costumes and a carefree spirit were in effect throughout the fairgrounds. After the event, festival organizers proclaimed this year’s crowd at the four-day festival to be the largest to date in its seven year history. Part of the reason…

Read More

Recently, SF SF Sonic had the opportunity to speak with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. He’s been performing since he was a teen and is known for many songs that are part of the reggae lexicon as well as for the landmark 1972 Jamaican badass crime film The Harder They Come.  That movie’s soundtrack is said to have “brought reggae to the world.” These days, Cliff splits his time between living in Jamaica and Florida. Cliff turns 70 next year and plans to release a new album and hopefully tour as well. Recently, he released the single “Life,” which will be…

Read More

Stu Brooks is the bassist and musical director for Matisyahu. Far before joining Matisyahu, he established himself as a member of The Dub Trio. He has been playing with drummer Joe Tomino and guitarist DP Holmes in the legendary Trio since it’s inception in 2000. He has also worked as a producer, performer, and musical director for many other artists. The list of artists he has worked with is quite long and includes Dr. John, Meshell Ndegeocello, 50 Cent, Pretty Lights, and GRiZ. Recently, SF Sonic was able to sit down with Brooks prior to a Matisyahu performance at the…

Read More

Dry Diggings Festival Placerville September 2-3, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. The third annual Dry Diggings Festival took place over Labor Day weekend at the El Dorado Country Fairgrounds in Placerville. The event featured headliners Matisyahu on Saturday night and Nahko and Medicine for the People on Sunday night. Despite the hot temperatures throughout the region, Dry Diggings had a nice turnout and kept up it’s reputation as a small festival with a great vibe, kind heart and excellent beer choices from Livermore’s Altamont Beer Works. The festival’s tag line stated “Beer, Camping, Music” and although there were many…

Read More

Hall and Oates Golden 1 Center, Sacramento July 23, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. It felt like it could have been 1982 when Hall and Oates hit the stage at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center recently. The new arena was sold out and people were eager to hear, dance, and sing along to all of the band’s big hits, much as it may have been during the tour for their biggest selling album 1982’s H20.. Naturally, the hair and fashions were different, but people were ready to party with the Philadelphia duo and their band on this 2017 night. Of…

Read More

As Michael Franti prepares to headline California WorldFest in Grass Valley this weekend, it is important to note that in over thirty years of making music, the singer/rapper/poet/songwriter/activist has been an ever-evolving artist. From his early days with the Beatnigs to his long-standing tenure as the frontman in Michael Franti and Spearhead, the Northern California native has covered a lot of musical ground as well as a wide swath of intellectual, political, and social justice territory. There are wide-ranging opinions about which musical era is his best, and regardless of which era you prefer, it’s been an interesting ride watching…

Read More

Maxwell Golden 1 Center, Sacramento June 22, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. Neo soul legend Maxwell recently headlined at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. He was touring in support of 2016’s blackSUMMERS’night. On this warm summer’s evening (the temperature was 108 degrees), the singer brought along two hot supporting acts-rapper/actor Common and fellow neo soul artist Ledisi. Maxwell, who won a Grammy earlier this year for best R&B song with “Lake By the Ocean,” played songs from the recent album as well as a vast selection of hits from throughout his career. He began the show by descending slowly…

Read More

Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias Golden 1 Center, Sacramento June 8, 2017 All photos by Paul Piazza. Two of the Kings of Latin pop, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, recently co-headlined a show at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The results were a packed house, nonstop dancing and a satisfying night of hits from these pop giants.  Both entertainers are huge in the Latin music world and have fared better than most in the US – not just with music, but in TV and film as well. So, when they decided to team up on the “Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull Tour!” (exclamation point intended!),…

Read More

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