OK, so...having tried online at getting a pass into the SacLights.com launch party at Empire online Saturday evening, I decided to just show up, and getting in was easy. Like, walking-in easy. Like, lots of room to move easy, and they were happy to have as many people in there as they could. There wasn't even anyone minding the door! It was about a half house, I figure.
I talked with a few people there, watched Jackpot play, and ate some sushi. The sushi was good, and Jackpot's sound was the best I've ever heard in the venue (and no one was minding the board - that should tell us something). Conversation was a bit tougher, as we were competing with two MCs with mics who wander the audience shouting hip hop-style about what a fantastic time everyone was having, and what prizes we could win. I got a book of SacLights.com matches, but passed on the Jack Daniels key chain.
I'm told that the two large cages at the front were for the scantily-clad women who danced earlier, and I didn't stick around for the King's Dancers. But I was, like most of the people I talked to, underwhelmed. It was a promo-party for a new corporate venture, and it felt like it. There were a number of familiar faces from The Bee's advertising department, but only one - one - person from the newsroom, and no one from the paper's nightlife/entertainment/restaurant sections. (Yes, the crowd was small enough to see everyone.) Perhaps they made early appearances and early departures. But I think they just weren't there.
At a time when The Bee is struggling, particularly with its online identity, you'd think there would be a move to pull everyone together and get something going with what would seem to be a crucial new link: SacLights. But SacLights isn't really a part of the Bee's news department. Still, I was curious enough to check it out - why wasn't the newsroom? (There wasn't anything in the paper today. Or on sacbee.com. Or for that matter, on SacLights.com! Perhaps tomorrow? Site honcho Sean McMahon and his crew certainly earned a late Sunday morning, though he did respond - at 7:24 a.m. - to my query on SacLights by saying that the guest list had "closed" at 3 p.m. Good thing the doors hadn't! I brought six people!)
McMahon has clearly done a lot of work on SacLights, and the party last night was pretty well put together, if a bit cheesy at points, and roundly ignored by most of Sacramento - but you could say that about this blog, too! The question is, how much support is McMahon and SacLights going to get from The Bee proper, and how much will it simply have to catch up with, and duke it out with, NapkinNights.com and yelp.com?
And what, above all, will that get The Bee? Or, for that matter, what does it get Sacramento?
We'll just have to wait and see on that one.
We ended the night at Marilyn's for the Kate Gaffney Band with Ross Hammond, Tom Monson and Mike Kelly. Guitarist Hammond shredded and comped and chimed and, as he put it afterwards, got some practice at playing "inside." As a jazz player, he's generally an "outside" guy, which is why his inside moves are so interesting. He's got a lot to pull from. Monson was the strongest I've heard him, really driving on the few songs that weren't ballady or downtempo. And Kelly plays with tremendous authority born of decades of experience, and reminded me a bit of the late, great Erik Kleven. Kate was her usual low-key self, with some very good songs and a top-notch band.