Sunday, April 19, 2015

Big names, big sounds grace fair stage

Headliners_Con Funk Shun 2014

Con Funk Shun

From page SCF4 | July 25, 2014 |

The Solano County Fair offers the best entertainment value of the summer with headline concerts included free with admission every day of the fair. In addition to all the fun and entertainment throughout the grounds all day long, each night the Concert Arena will feature big-name bands followed by a spectacular fireworks show over the fairgrounds sky.

Headline concerts included free with fair admission every day. Don’t miss this year’s great line-up.

Con Funk Shun

Wednesday, July 30 – 8 p.m.

Back by popular demand after their 2012 performance at the Solano County Fair, Con Funk Shun returns to their hometown of Vallejo, promising to deliver a superb, high-energy show with electrifying choreography, glistening six-part vocal harmonies, and a dash of humor.

They are, unquestionably, among the heroes of funk with romantic ballads and dance-party hits galore. They have charted four consecutive gold albums, one platinum album and 20 hit singles including eight top 10 R&B hits and one No. 1 R&B smash.

Their high-profile, commercial explosions culminated in Mercury/Polygram’s release of the “Best of Con Funk Shun” on their “Funk Essentials Series,” which was re-released several years later by Universal (which bought Polygram) on their “Millennium Collection.”

Recent appearances include Tokyo’s Cotton Club, Cache Creek Casino Resort, Harrah’s New Orleans, Rrazz Room San Francisco, The Master of Funk USA Tour and The Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise 2010. The band also remains active in the studio and plans to release a new CD sometime this year.

In their formative years, Con Funk Shun moved from Vallejo to Memphis where they landed a lucky gig backing the Soul Children, a red-hot Stax Records act. After the Soul Children back-up gig, the group adopted a new name inspired from a Nite-Liters song, “ConFunkShun.” After the newly re-named act attracted the attention of Mercury Records, they soon set funkateers around the world on fire with “Sho’ Feels Good To Me” from their debut album.

Their second LP, “Secrets,” exploded to gold status. The LP featured the No. 1 hit single “Ffun,” penned by the productive and prolific Michael Cooper on a tour-coach ride between concerts. “Marry Me Again,” also written by Cooper, became a new anthem wedding song as he woos his love partner with fervent sentiment and passion. “I Got a Love Jones” on the other hand, is a finger-snapping sing-a-long, while with the bass heavy “40 Days 40 Nights,” Cooper puts his mark down on an ex-flame before taking us back to the party with “Club Feenz.”

“Music is my mission,” Cooper says. “My sound has stayed essential because the guys and I still actively tour. My musical inspiration comes from my audience, my family and from life. My sound has fueled a generation and that same generation fuels my sound.

“Are we cool?” Cooper asks. With music like his, the answer is, “Yes, definitely so. We are cool with albums that couldn’t be any hotter!”

With chart-topping albums “Loveshine” and “Candy, Con Funk Shun,” which were solid-gold sellers, the band performed at sold-out venues like the prestigious Omni in Atlanta, after which they began self-producing with the “Touch” LP. Alongside blistering dance workouts like “Chase Me” and “Ms. Got-The-Body” were their timeless slow jams with pop flair, and classic favorites such as “Love’s Train,” “Straight From the Heart,”,”(Let Me Put) Love On Your Mind” and “All Up To You.”

Con Funk Shun has teamed with Kool & The Gang’s producer, Eumir Deodato, producing “Baby I’m Hooked (Right Into Your Love),” followed by “I’m Leaving Baby,” a collaboration with Maurice Starr, then-future svengali to New Kids On The Block. These hits and more remain on radio play lists today, year after year.

Little Anthony & The Imperials

Thursday, July 31 – 8 p.m.

Little Anthony & The Imperials got their start in Brooklyn, N.Y. after signing with End Records in early 1958.

Previously called The Chesters, End Records renamed the group The Imperials and set to work producing their first record. The A-side ballad, “Tears On My Pillow,” instantly launched their career into musical history. This would be their biggest career hit, selling more than 1 million copies, and was accompanied by another of their hits, “Two People in the World,” on the B-side.

Lead singer Anthony Gourdine was sitting on a Brooklyn park bench one evening listening to the radio when the DJ announced “. . . and here’s a new record that’s making a lot of noise . . . Little Anthony & The Imperials . . . singing ‘Tears On My Pillow’ . . .” The nickname stuck and the new group was officially on its way.

Several follow-up singles passed unnoticed until in late 1959 the group released the doo-wop novelty tune “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop,” which became their second hit, selling more than 1 million records. But yet again, follow-up single releases failed to make the charts and by the end of 1961 Gourdine was being pressured to go solo and left The Imperials. Failing to make any progress, the group reformed in 1963 with Gourdine and two other original members, Tracy Lord and Glouster Rogers, and adding newcomer, Sammy Strain.

Under the tutelage of producer/composer Teddy Randazzo, the hits soon followed, including “I’m on the Outside Looking In,” “Goin’ Out of My Mind,” “Hurt So Bad” and “Take Me Back.” Despite their success, the group broke up again in 1975 with Little Anthony officially and amicably separating from The Imperials.

The band members spent several years in their individual musical pursuits before reuniting once again in 1992 and deciding to bring the captivating sounds of Little Anthony & The Imperials back to live audiences. They now plan to stay together until the end of their careers, thrilling fans across the United States with their amazing style, choreography, music and showmanship.

Los Lobos

Friday, Aug. 1 – 8 p.m.

If Los Lobos has learned one thing in four decades together, it’s that playing by the rules is not for them. The success of the 20th anniversary re-release of their landmark album, “Kiko,” in 2012 served as a potent reminder of why going rogue was the best thing they ever did. But getting there wasn’t always easy.

By early 1992, prior to making “Kiko,” things were going really well for Los Lobos band members David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, Louie Perez and Steve Berlin. The band was wrapping up their second decade together, coming off of a five-year period of newfound massive commercial success but lost creativity.

Their 1987 remake of Richie Valens’ classic “La Bamba” for the soundtrack of the same name earned the band a No. 1 smash on the Billboard charts, and the next year’s “La Pistola y El Corazon,” which found the band revisiting its Mexican folk roots, was also highly regarded.

Then things went south.

“To a certain extent I guess we didn’t really trust ourselves,” Berlin says. “. . . (I)t was all great but there was a lot of expectation surrounding the next record.”

That next record turned out to be “The Neighborhood.” The band didn’t have much fun recording it, though, compromising in the studio and embarking on a grueling large-scale tour that lost money and left Los Lobos without a clue as to what to do next.

Reconvening for their next record, busted but not broken, the band decided to ignore everyone else’s advice and try a new way of recording: their way. Feeling they had nothing to lose, they forged ahead into new territory. Prior to this time the band had been segregating their influences – a rockabilly tune here, a Tex-Mex there, some folk, a bit of country, an R&B tune, and plenty of classic rock. This time they decided to take all of those myriad influences out of their separate boxes, toss them into the air and let them fall where they might.

“We didn’t filter ourselves to do anything other than play,” Berlin says. “We knew it was a departure from what we’d done before, but we weren’t sure if it was commercially viable.”

There was only one way to find out: Los Lobos met with Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, the top executives at Warner Bros. Records. To the band’s relief, the record men loved what they heard and told them to continue, suggesting only that the band bring in super-producer Mitchell Froom and engineer Tchad Blake to help them mold their vision. The collaboration produced brilliant classic Los Lobos tunes including “That Train Don’t Stop Here,” “Angels With Dirty Faces,” “Whiskey Trail” and “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” from which the album drew its title. When “Kiko” was released in the late spring of 1992, it was embraced by fans and hailed by critics as Los Lobos’ defining moment.

The album put the band back on the innovation track, a place where they remain to this day.

A rare example of longevity in a volatile music world that stresses style over substance, Los Lobos’ lineup has remained uninterrupted since 1984 when Berlin joined original members Perez, Hidalgo, Rosas and Lozano, each of whom had been there since the beginning in 1973. Los Lobos continually reboots itself and expands its scope with each passing year while never losing sight of where they came from. Through sheer camaraderie and respect for one another’s musicality, they’ve continued to explore who Los Lobos is and what they have to offer without succumbing to the burnout that plagues so many other bands that stick it out for any considerable length of time.

Their influence is vast, yet they remain humble, centered and dedicated to their craft. Each new recording they make moves the band into another new dimension while simultaneously sounding like no one else in the world but Los Lobos.

The Guess Who

Saturday, Aug. 2 – 8 p.m.

The Guess Who, the band that became Canada’s first international rock music superstars, began in 1962 in Winnipeg as Chad Allen & The Reflections. By 1965, the band had changed their name to Chad Allen & The Expressions and included members Randy Bachman (guitar), Jim Kale (bass) and Garry Peterson (drums), along with newest member, Burton Cummings, who replaced the keyboard player and shared lead vocals.

The band’s name changed forever when Quality Records released the group’s first single and album, “Shakin’ All Over,” in a plain white record jacket with only the question “Guess Who?” written on it. The marketing ploy was meant to capitalize on curiosity and the promise of another British invasion band – and it worked. After selling 2 million copies of the album, the band had its trademark name: The Guess Who.

After the success of “Shakin’ All Over,” the band toured the United States as part of “Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars Road Revue” and in 1967 they landed a regular spot on the CBC-TV show, “Where It’s At.”

Experimenting with the creative influences of freedom, psychedelic sound and garage rock that were filtering across the border, The Guess Who traveled to Minneapolis where they did their first recordings at K-Bank Studios. Their song “His Girl” gave the band a top 20 hit in England, an offer to sign with London-based King Records and the opportunity to tour. They immediately left for the U.K. After just one album, though, the band quit King Records and returned to Canada where their contract was sold to Nimbus 9, owned by producer Jack Richardson.

Richardson believed so strongly in The Guess Who that he mortgaged his home to finance the recording of the album “Wheatfield Soul,” which was released in 1968. The first single, “These Eyes,” reached No. 1 in Canada and earned the band a U.S. contract with RCA Records. Heralded as the beginning of the Canadian invasion, “These Eyes” reached No. 3 in the U.S. in 1969 with total sales of more than 1 million copies.

Their second album for RCA, “Canned Wheat by The Guess Who,” also released in 1968, contained the top 10 hits “Laughing,” “No Time” and the top 40 hit “Undun” (the B-side of “Laughing”).

Ironically, it was “American Woman” in early 1970 which gave The Guess Who a No. 1 single in the U.S. and unseated The Beatles for three weeks straight on the music charts. The top 10 album, also titled “American Woman,” containing the hits “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” (the B-Side of “American Woman”, also went to No. 1 for three weeks). This new trend of having double-sided singles both going to No. 1 was a rare occurrence only achieved by Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival in addition to The Guess Who.

It was during this peak of The Guess Who’s success that Randy Bachman decided to leave the band (replaced by guitarists Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw), forming Bachman Turner Overdrive shortly thereafter. Burton Cummings left the band in 1975 to pursue a successful solo career, while Jim Kale continued the band with the addition of new members through the late 1970s.

The Guess Who returned in 1999 to their Winnipeg roots, responding to a personal request from the premier of Manitoba, to appear at the closing ceremonies of the Pan Am Games. The reunion was performed in driving rain before a combined live and television audience of nearly 1 million people. The excitement and personal enjoyment they found in performing together again as The Guess Who inspired them to consider touring across Canada. Months of reunion rumors were finally confirmed in March 2000 when the Running Back Thru Canada tour was announced with more than 24 performances in more than 22 cities across Canada.

Although membership in the group has changed through the years, they have remained musically consistent behind the strengths of original members Jim Kale (bass and vocals) and Garry Peterson (drums and vocals), and backed by Derek Sharp (vocals and guitars), Leonard Shaw (keyboards, flute, sax and vocals) and Will Evankovich (guitars and vocals). As they perform hit after hit in concert, it is easy to see and hear why The Guess Who remain one of today’s most sought after touring attractions.

Graciela Beltran with Banda La Movida

Sunday, Aug. 3 – 7 p.m.

Born in Mexico on the western part of Sinaloa, in a small town called Costa Rica, Graciela Beltran began her music career entertaining friends and neighbors when she was just a young girl.

Like many others, Beltran’s mother decided to migrate to Los Angeles in search of a better life for her children. Beltran was only 6 years old at the time, but was already performing in restaurants and at local fiestas. It was in Los Angeles where Beltran’s music career took off when she first stepped onto a professional stage.

Under the name Gracielita Beltran, she began recording albums of norteño, banda and mariachi music with local musicians. Four years later, Beltran was noticed by record executives at EMI, who offered to produce her next record. “Baraja de Oro” was one of the first singles and biggest hits from the six albums Beltran recorded with EMI.
Aside from many music awards, Beltran is also proud of the many professional collaborations she has participated in during her career. These include duets with Ednita Nazario, Emilio Navaira, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Chalino Sanchez, Banda Machos, Grupo Modelo, Conjunto Primavera and most recently with El Chapo de Sinaloa. Her compilation album with Selena titled “Las Reinas Del Pueblo” has sold 5 million copies worldwide. She has also worked with well-known and respected producers such as Juan Carlos Calderon, K.C. Porter, Bebu Silvetti and Joan Sebastian.

Beltran in 2006 was the special guest for the White House celebration of Cinco de Mayo where she shared her talent and music in front of President George W. Bush. She has appeared in five films and accumulated a discography that features 20 original recordings. Her career also includes appearances on “Sabado Gigante,” “Siempre en Domingo” and various other shows around the world.

Beltran will be joined by Banda La Movida, who will open the concert with their own set before Beltran joins them on stage.

Solano County Fair


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