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CA State Fair delivers live music

Andy Santana Band at Blues & Brews Stage
Andy Santana Band at Blues & Brews Stage
Susan Raines

The 2014 California State Fair runs July 11 through 27 this year and it is a fair filled with rides, food, exhibits and a good heapin' of live music. Music lovers can tune into the nightly Toyota Concerts Series at 8:00 p.m. for no extra charge with fair admission. Reserved seating does cost extra but the venue holds 3,000. Many people lineup early to make sure they get a seat because the artists on the billing are rare to see "free" at any other venue.

Highway 4 at the CA State Fair
Susan Raines

John Kay and Steppenwolf appeared on Friday, July 11 and Macy Gray appeared on Saturday, July 12. What an incredible way to start off the Concert Series live music at the fair this year. Artists on the upcoming lineup include The Spinners, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, MercyMe, Trick Pony, The Whispers, Pat Benatar and Jana Kramer and more. The series offers a wide range of genres with big names that are sure to draw in the crowds. Reserved seating tickets run from $14 to $22 but the open seating is still quite a treat.

For those who like a more relaxed atmosphere or want to enjoy the live music earlier, there are a number of options available. Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers played on Fri. and Sat. and will return for the remaining Fridays and Saturdays until July 27. Mick and the Blues rockin' boys are a returning favorite that many fans anticipate enjoying at the fair annually at the Blues and Brews venue set up with tables, chairs and pub.

If you love the Blues and haven't ever heard Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers, it should be a number one item on your CA State Fair to-do list. This band has toured internationally, is based in Sacramento, and has been playing at the Sacramento Music Festival for multiple years, always drawing large crowds. At the fair they typically play three sets each evening at 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Terry Hanck often follows at the Blues and Brews stage at 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. The saxophonist is another returning favorite that is well known around Sacramento and throughout California for his sax playing and blues vocals. On Saturday, July 12 another Blues band not listed in the program was found playing at the Blues and Brews venue. The Andy Santana Band brought some live harmonica playing, bluesy vocals, strings and drums to the scene at 3:00 p.m. Since a complete Blues & Brews schedule appears to be missing from the program, it's unclear if they will return at later dates during the fair but they were clearly being well received.

Around the corner from the Blues and Brews is the Honky Tonk venue where country music is often featured. The area is shaded, has wooden tables and benches and another pub. On July 12 the venue listed Kickin Dust at 1:00, 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. but Highway 4 with Jimmy Ashley on guitar, Wade Olson on drums and Cris Snyder on bass was actually giving it a good kick for three fine sets of country based music. The trio from Northern CA also play classic and rock and clearly have a trio of good humor. They inserted comments about the incorrect fair signage as they sang and spoke of "photo op" time as a photographer snapped their pic.

There are other live music performances in other areas of the CA State Fair occurring daily. The Coca Cola Promenade and the PG&E Center Stage offer a variety of performances including music, dance, cultural shows and more.