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Rock & Roll Tour and Pub Crawl

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Rock and Roll Tour and Pub Crawl

The Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP) conducts several walking Tours in the downtown area. The walking tours introduce visitors to people, places and events that have created California history. DSP’s mission is to establish downtown Sacramento as a vibrant business, cultural and entertainment destination in Sacramento via private and public partnerships consisting of residents, visitors and investors. This Friday they conducted a Rock & Roll History Tour and Pub Crawl.

The tour began at the corner of 9th and J Streets at one of the entrances to the Concerts in the Park held at Cesar Chavez Plaza. The walk began at 6 in the evening. By this time, Wahnder Lust had begun their set at the first Concerts in the Park event. This year marks the 20th year anniversity of Concerts in the Park and Jerry Perry has been promoting the event for the past 15 years.

Wahnder Lust performing at Concerts in the Park

The series of walks around downtown Sacramento being offered includes one especially for kids, a Speakeasy tour, a Sacramento architecture and art tour as well as the Rock & Roll History Tour and Pub Crawl. It’s a walk that explores the history of Sacramento’s music scene. This tour is still being developed but it will run every Friday until the end of May. The day of the tour may or may not change after that depending on how it develops.

The tour guide for the walk is Shawn Peter who’s been with DSP since 2000. John, who also works for DSP, was on hand for the tour as well. Shawn has been part of the Downtown Walking Tour Program since its inception. Besides his vast knowledge of Sacramento’s Gold Rush-era and historical architecture styles, Shawn is well versed in music and is a member of a band named Single Second. His music knowledge of Sacramento and bands who have played here allow him to discuss many genres and time periods of music. During the tour, performers such as Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tesla,  and many others are discussed and how they fit in the Sacramento music scene.

As we started the walking tour Shawn began by saying, “A lot of people seem to think Sacramento is a really boring town where nothing really happens. You know what? It’s quite the opposite really.” Shawn’s personal knowledge of the Sacramento music scene is immense and through the walk it was apparent that this would be an educational and fun walk as we departed from the corner of 9th and J streets.

Shawn talked about the two radio stations that started the music scene in Sacramento. One of the stations was KBFK who Shawn said had a house band that ended up playing for many of the touring acts that came through town including Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny and others. Shawn was very enthusiastic while relating this and other stories.

As we walked down J Street away from 9th we could still hear Wahnder Lust as they continued their set. Shawn related that the other local station that helped the Sacramento music scene was KROY. KFBK and KROY were basically the only two stations, both AM stations, that played popular music. Shaw continued and passed on information spanning the 1920’s to the 50’s and the places where the bands played.

The tour becomes alive with Shawn’s storytelling as he relates stories that helped create the history of rock music in Sacramento and everywhere else. His stories were so intriguing that I feel like I should relay them to the reader in this article but the best part of the tour is the exchange of questions and stories. You kind of have to experience the tour yourself to get the most from it.

As Shawn talked about rock artists we were able to exchange stories about the artists who came from Sacramento as well as those who visited our town. These exchanges during the walk become meaningful as everyone was able to relate to the subject. We talked about the bands that visited Sacramento and the bands that could attribute their success to Sacramento. 

The Memorial Auditorium has been one of the primary venues for bands coming through town and if you have a friend that loves music you’ve probably heard of a story about a band that played at the Memorial. How about you, do you have a memory of attending a musical event at the Memorial that left a lasting impression? One of my first recollections of the Memorial was taking a couple of my kids to go see Offspring and Cypress Hill at a show and seeing Scott Pollard while he was the Sacramento Kings at the concert. I’m sure many readers have a memory of their first concert in Sacramento or one that’s memorable.

Sacramento Memorial Auditorium

KZAP, as Shawn tells it, was one of the first Sacramento FM stations and their original station was located within the Elks Tower on 11th and J. At the time KZAP had a free form format where they played everything from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa.

As the walk continued on J Street we turned left on 15th. The Memorial Auditorium was on one side of the street and since this is called a Rock and Roll Tour and Pub Crawl, Shawn talked a little about the Torch Club as we entered the first pub of the evening to enjoy a drink.

Torch Club, first pub stop during the Rock and Roll Tour and Pub Crawl

Shawn talked about Tesla, the Deftones, Cake and other Sacramento area bands. After the Torch Club,  we passed by other venues that have moved to their current site from another part of town. Some of these clubs were the Capitol Garage, the Torch Club and others,

Other venues that have hosted music events were the Cattle Club, Lush, Cal Expo, ARCO, the Convention Center, Tower Records, the Crest Theatre and St. Paul’s Church among others. Many of the clubs have a rich music venue history that continues to this day. We also discussed the new clubs that have recently opened and host music venues.

A couple of more pubs were visited and many other rock and roll stories were told. As we winded down the tour we talked about how the walk could be improved as well as what can be left out of the tour. The music scene from the 20’s to present came to light as we talked about Sacramento and music during the tour.

It turns out that there’s a lot of history in the few blocks that we walked. Shawn Peter was a great guide and is very knowledgeable about the local music scene. He has over 25 years playing music and says that he does about 100 shows a year with his band.

As we came back to Cesar Chavez Park it was apparent how much fun these type of tour/walks can be. It’s also a great way of meeting people and getting to know the downtown area as well as some of its pubs.

This tour takes place each Friday evening during the Friday Night Concerts in the Park season and it’s scheduled to run from May 6 thru August 12, 2011. Guests must pre-purchase tickets via Event Brite to secure their place in the tour. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours and participants must be 21 years of age or older. Ticket prices does not include the cost of drinks.

Once back at Concerts in the Park there was still time to enjoy more live music. The tour was scheduled to end in time for the headline act and that was the case. Aaron King & The Imperials had already performed and a young lady by the name of Gabriela was playing when we returned to Cesar Chavez Plaza. Gabriela wasn’t on the schedule and after she finished her set the Tattoo Love Dogs came on stage to end the first day of Concerts in the Park for 2011.

Gabriela at Concerts in the Park.

The Tattooed Love Dogs at concerts in the Park

Log on to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership website to view other tours and walks being offered as well as to purchase tickets for the Rock and Roll History Tour and Pub Crawl.

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