Left of the Dial

Posted on August 5, 2011 – 10:08 PM | by Admin
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By William Burg  Photos by Scott Duncan

On Saturday, August 13, Sacramento’s Rock and Radio Museum will celebrate its grand reopening at its new location, 907 20th Street, a space formerly occupied by 20th Street Gallery. Previously located in a smaller space next door at Nakamoto Productions, the museum closed in 2009 when Nakamoto moved out.  Now, Curator Dennis Newhall has turned the walls of Tucker Media Group’s new recording studio into an eclectic but unmatched gallery of Sacramento rock posters and memorabilia. Both spaces sit on hallowed rock & roll ground: the building was home to rock venue Crabshaw Corner in the early 1970s and was later reincarnated as the Oasis Ballroom which closed in 1986.

The museum began with Newhall’s personal collection, accumulated during his years as a DJ and music director at KZAP and other local radio stations. The scope of the collection runs from 1930s era KROY posters to 1950s rhythm & blues revues at the Memorial Auditorium to recently produced show posters by Giant Sumo and Paul Imagine. Newhall took advantage of the larger space to organize posters by theme, including one wall dedicated to local Bill Graham Productions shows, one to Davis shows (primarily at the UC Davis Coffeehouse,) and a radio wall dedicated to KZAP, KSFM, KXOA and KROY, and the work of graphic artist Roger Shepherd. Another wall features Tower Records’ art calendars. A back room focuses on 1960s era psychedelic posters by local artists like Shepherd, Jim Carrico, Jim Ford and Jack Ogden. The posters advertise lost venues like the Sound Factory, the Trip Room, Shire Road Pub, Governor’s Hall, Club Can’t Tell and Club Minimal, and still-standing Sacramento landmarks like the Guild, the Crest. The bands are a mixture of the best-known names in rock history, including James Brown, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd and Talking Heads, and local acts from Oxford Circle to Oleander, including contemporary local performers like Doom Bird and the Secretions.

Hundreds of posters are displayed on the walls, but they are just the tip of the museum’s iceberg. The in-house archive of radio station newsletters, playlists, photos, newspapers and magazines, ratings reports, and assorted rock ephemera, is organized in binders for research. Hundreds more posters that didn’t find room on the walls, or lacked enough artistic distinction to earn a space, also have a home in the archive. “We have posters from the 1980s, for bands like X and the Dead Kennedys, that are important documents, but that was after the heyday of rock poster art.”

Newhall hopes that his expansion will encourage others to add posters from more recent but now defunct venues like the Cattle Club to the collection. “I know there is more out there… that’s why I am constantly trying to let people know that you can donate it to us, you can loan it to us, or just let me look at it!” Newhall is currently reviewing a collection of photos of rock shows at the Alhambra Theatre, part of the ill-fated efforts to save the building. He is also interested in hearing from anyone who ever attended live shows at the Coconut Grove, on Franklin Boulevard above Caballo Blanco.

Currently the museum is only open to the public once per month, as part of Second Saturday. However, the space can be rented for private tours and small special events by appointment. The newly expanded Rock and Radio Museum should help turn up the volume on the little-studied subject of Sacramento rock history.        

907 20th Street, Grand Re-opening, Saturday, August 13


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