You need a long view of the Sacramento rock scene to realize that it has really never been the musical backwater that many would claim. Sure, we’ve missed the tour itineraries of acts major, middle and minor; there are so many cities bigger than Sacramento to visit. And, our fans are willing to drive to the Bay Area for both the very big and very obscure shows. But if you take the high -profile shows we have gotten over the years, add the many talented acts that have played here before they were big, and factor in the generally good quality of the local players throughout the years... it makes for some pretty credible rock and roll history.

An opportunity arose recently to illustrate this history. When Nakamoto Productions moved it’s commercial audio studios into the same building that once housed Crabshaw Corner and The Oasis Ballroom, it seemed like the perfect place to pay homage to not only the club that left its ghost behind, but to the entire 40 year history of rock music, rock radio, and rock art in the Capital. As such, The Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum has come into existence.

What started as interesting decor has become the beginning of an inevitably large and impressive collection of concert posters and handbills, photos, 45’s and LP’s, radio “hits” surveys, promotional jackets and T-shirts, and even a montage of ticket stubs from 30 years of rock shows. Given enough time, energy, money, space and assistance, this will become quite an exhibit.

The Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum has rare and colorful posters from the golden age of rock art when promoters paid to commission original graphics to advertise a one-night stand. These hand-rendered, period pieces hang next to contemporary posters from last year (or even last week) that, while interesting, betray their electronic origin. Much of the artwork can hold its own against the internationally famous output of the San Francisco poster artists. However, there’s no Kelly/Mouse, or Rick Griffin here. Instead, Sacramento sports its own homegrown crop of musically inspired commercial artists. You see names like Roger Shepherd, Jim Carrico, Jim Ford, Jack Ogden, and J.L. Pennington attached to some very striking visuals. See it all together for the first time and it looks like some lost, hidden corridor at the Haight-Ashbury Summer of Love Gallery.

The road between The City and L.A. was pretty rutted when Sacramento’s legendary Sound Factory was struggling through a few seasons of all-ages hippie concerts. That first summer - Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish, H.P. Lovecraft, The Chambers Brothers, and even Pink Floyd played in a room the size of the Oasis Ballroom -if you had three dollars, you were in. The posters that recall those shows are just short of breathtaking. In the second year of concerts, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Muddy Waters, Canned Heat and many more played. Alas, the emphasis on creative, exotic advertising had already begun to fade. When venues are struggling, they do not need pretty art - just ticket sales.

Through the Early 70’s, clubs like the Shire Road Pub, Red Ice Mining Company, and of course, Crabshaw Corner, continued to put out handbills and the occasional poster. Many of the concert promoters hired Roger Shepherd and others for large size work. Some of the art was gorgeous but only made it to newspaper ads…

There were exceptions, like the memorable late ‘70’s series at the UCD Coffee House when The Police, Dire Straits, Joe Jackson, Talking Heads, and Elvis Costello played. The shows sold out, but the UCD budget included poster art anyway. The Sacramento Rock and Radio History Museum has a set to recall those amazing shows.

Dozens more venues are represented at the museum - from Arco Arena and the venerable Memorable Auditorium, to fleeting stages such as the Orangevale Grange Hall and the Trip Room. Recently, places like Old Ironsides seem to be making an effort to advertise with more heart, and more art.

In the “Radio” section of the museum, we have a poster advertising KROY in 1936, the year DJ legend Johnny Hyde was born. We have “hits” surveys with photos of jocks who spent time in Sacramento for part of their career. Included are pictures of Robert W. Morgan, Tony Bigg (aka Tony Pigg), Don Imus and others. This memorabilia represents the debut of rock in Sacramento media on the AM stations KROY and KXOA. Then there is the birth of FM “freeform” rock at KZAP and KSFM Earthradio. We display the “KZAP Astrological Calendar” and a KZAP 10th anniversary staff jacket we even have the little Formica sign that hung over the door at KSFM’s crummy Woodland studios. And, hidden away is a collection of photos from various radio promotions.

In the Museum’s “Music Room,” Sacramento bands that have made it big have their 45’s, LP’s, CD’s, and DVD’s displayed: Tesla, Oleander, Redwing, the New Breed and Tim Schmidt, Night Ranger, Roger Voudoris, Steelwind and Craig Chaquico, Steelbreeze, Jackie Greene and others. We also have mementos from local bands that didn’t make it big in a national sense, but were big with those of us who saw them play.

The Museum is interested in any items that might fit in to the Sacramento Rock and Radio timeline - we are trying to paint as complete of a picture as space and budget allow. Posters, handbills, photos, t-shirts are all welcome - tattered or pristine.

I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to share this estimable gathering of artifacts with anyone who wants to see it. The popular “Second Saturday Art Walk” is an excellent opportunity to view the collection and witness what a player our town is in the Rock scene. The Museum is growing a little every day, with over 2500 items currently on display… Got anything stashed in your attic?

--Dennis Newhall, 2006



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