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Nibblers at the Crocker

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 Did you know that the Crocker Art Museum, as part of its recent 125,000-square-foot addition, added a 260-seat auditorium?

Not content with being the oldest (and arguably the awesomest) art museum west of the Mississippi, the Crocker is also now a pretty sweet little music venue to boot.

The museum is open every Thursday until 9 p.m. for its aptly named "Thursdays 'Til 9" program. The third Thursday of every month has been pegged "Playlist," a concert series that "highlights local, regional and national performers from musical genres as diverse as blues, reggae, indie, folk, country, bluegrass, rock, hip hop, world music and everything in between." (http://crockerartmuseum.org/learn-do/thursdays-til-9)

This week’s "Playlist" featured local funk/soul stalwarts The Nibblers.

The auditorium where they played is super-intimate, located off an alcove adjacent to the two-story atrium and Mulvaney-operated Crocker Cafe.

Many of the concertgoers had taken an early, farm-to-fork dinner in the lovely new space, enjoying a selection of wine, beer and even cocktails as they did so. Beverages are not allowed in the auditorium itself, but you could make out the music from the tables nearest the venue, if you were so inclined.

If you've never seen The Nibblers, you are missing out on something of a local treasure. In my nearly 11 months in town, I've caught them four times. The ubiquitous funk mavens played a great set at Cesar Chavez Friday Night Concerts in the Park, routinely tear it up on Second Saturday, more than held their own opening for Trombone Shorty at Harlow’s (no small feat), and I heard they played some mean guerrilla-style sets at High Sierra Music Fest.

They took the stage at 7:10 to raucous applause, which was soon followed by a sheer silence as the eight band members took their places on stage. For a moment, it took on the feel of a collegiate lecture hall or small symphonic performance. Lead singer Hans Eberbach broke up the the briefly awkward silence: "The chairs are bolted down, I checked, but that doesn't mean you can't get up and dance."

This was greeted with responding cheers, which carried right into the first song, "Love." Many fans danced in the aisles and the open walkways on either side of the plush red seats.

Several times during the set, the stage was rushed by precocious young fans.

Like, 3-year-olds.

The musicians embraced their young fans. "The Nibblers: good for kids, too," Eberbach joked.

It was a typically great Nibblers set – high-energy, straightforward New Orleans soul featuring some searing horn solos and funky beats.
They closed their first set with a rollicking "song about math," entitled "638." The song is actually about a racehorse, and the crowd pleaser invokes the fans to participate with a "Giddy up, giddy up now" call and response. Giddy up indeed.

At a bit after 8 p.m., they left the stage and implored the crowd to go check out some art during the intermission.

It is a museum, after all.

I, and many others in the crowd, adjourned upstairs to take in some culture with our, uh, culture.

After about 15 minutes, the museum speakers rang with the announcement that the band was about to return to the stage.

Unfortunately, I was not nearly ready to leave the gallery.

The third floor of the Crocker is up there with my very favorite spots in Sacramento. A quick list off the top of my head? The back patio at the Zebra, the right-field lawn at Raley Field, Harlow's, my bedroom and the third floor of the Crocker.

There's my Sacramento Mount Rushmore.

So I didn't return to the show, choosing instead to spend some more time with San Francisco's Norman Irving (I could spend an hour looking at his "My World and Yours . . . And the Gods Created the World in their own Image " by itself), Carmel's Clayton Pinkerton and my absolute favorite, San Francisco's (again!) Edwin Deakin, among others.

I doubt I was missed. They had to know they might lose a few of us when they sent us out there. . .

Upcoming “Thursday Til 9 “events can be found here

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