Since opening the Sofia B Street Theatre and SBL Entertainment have brought a diverse collective of musical acts to the stage. After twenty nights of awesome music, the staff at the B Street Theatre shared some of their favorite moments and the reasons why music at the Sofia is so fantastic.
Jerry Montoya, Executive Producer
The first SBL concert featured the blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis. We hadn’t had the opportunity to have a dry tech in the space yet, and so, while we were rehearsing, preparing the technical necessities for the concert, someone unplugged the wrong cord and the sound system completely shut down. Not a good thing before a concert. So I began sniffing around and I found a breaker that hadn’t been flipped yet. I thought to myself, “this is obviously the problem.” So I flipped it over, and suddenly the roof hatch above us opened up. So now we’re looking at the sky above us, and we still have no power to the sound system, all the while trying to get ready for the first live concert here at the Sofia. Everyone got to work quickly. One of our contractors came down from Yuba City to help out, and we were able to fix all of the problems in time. The concert itself… was awesome. Tinsley Ellis is such a pro. And he showed us how amazing the Sutter Theatre can sound. Afterwards, he came up to me and said, “You have to record live concerts here. The sound is so pure.” It was definitely uplifting. We’re still finding ways to improve the experience, but these live concerts really are a gift to the B Street Theatre. It’s something we’ve never done before, and to see it all work out so well… we’re excited for the future.
Lyndsay Burch, Artistic Producer
The coolest thing about the concerts to me is the diversity of the performers. I saw Tinsley Ellis with my family–they’re from North Carolina and they absolutely loved it. And then I saw the spiritual speaker Rob Bell. I’m not a spiritual person, but he was absolutely amazing. That was our first sold out ‘concert’ in the Sutter Theatre and the lobby of the Sofia was packed. So many people had come out to see him. The line to the Box Office went all the way to the bathrooms. And no one was angry or befuddled. They were all just so excited to see this man in person. I’m hoping one day we’ll be able to bring in Alicia Keys or Lindsey Buckingham. But the acts we’re bringing in right now have such big followings. We’ve had such a diverse group of people come to the Sofia. Some don’t even know it’s a theatre, and when they arrive, they suddenly realize, “Oh man! I gotta see one of the plays here too.” It’s been fun to watch this space grow so quickly.
Valerie Marston, Family Series Administrator
My husband and I have seen three concerts at the Sofia and we love it. We saw Tinsley Ellis, Oleta Adams, and Chris Webber and Nina Gerber, who opened for Karla Bonoff. Oleta Adams was amazing. She had a hit in the 90’s, I remember because I was in a Top 40 band at the time, and she sounded just as good as she did back then. And the space itself is awesome. It isn’t a tiny venue at all, but it feels so intimate. My husband and I like to sit in the back so we can absorb the entire experience. We both come from the world of music, and these nights are so much fun for us. We can grab a glass of wine, bring it into the theatre with us, listen to some great music, and get home at a decent hour. (She laughs) It’s the perfect date night.
Liz Liles-Brown, Marketing Director
As a musician who’s toured across the country, and the former owner of a music venue, I have a lot of experience in how venues ought to be run. B Street is now a full performance venue. There have been one or two hiccups along the way, however, customer service is always our number one priority, whether two people are in the lobby or 700. I have never experienced the amount of care and friendly interaction in a venue like the type B Street provides. Instead of treating people like a ticket stub, we value each person walking through the doors of the Sofia. We feel that one night at this space can convince people to come back for Family Series, Upstairs @ the B, and Mainstage productions. There have been a lot of people who’ve come here for a concert not realizing we do so much more. And once they realize, it’s so much fun to see them figure out when to come back. One of the opening acts even bought tickets for his family to come see The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe. The coolest thing about it all: patrons are walking into a music venue that has 30 year’s experience as a theatre company. This is rare because you will have a one-in-a-million experience when you come see a show in Sacramento’s new jewel of a theatre.
Sean Patrick Nill, Artistic Associate
My first time house managing a concert at the Sofia was the night we hosted the Masters of Hawaiian Music. People had come from all over to see these guys play: from Sacramento, from the Bay Area, from Los Angeles, some even from Hawaii. The night was going smoothly, and, after a quick stop at the restroom, I returned to find the headliner of the concert, George Kahumoku Jr, hanging out in the lobby before his set, snacking on three different cans of Blue Diamond Almonds. We started talking about music, theatre, and the amazing quality of sound in the Sutter Theatre. But once he learned I worked at the B Street Theatre, he held out a can of Sriracha flavored almonds to me and said, “C’mon man, have some almonds. You guys have earned good almonds.” The amount of appreciation these musicians have shown is reward enough. We’re new at this, and we’re learning as we go along, but each night–whether it is a gospel singer, or a bluegrass band, or a violinist–it’s fun to watch these talented musicians convey such excitement over this new venue. I can’t wait to meet them all, and to listen to the amazing music they bring to the Sofia.
The Sofia will be hosting six concerts and special events before the month of April is over, including Cubanismo this Friday, guitarist Eleftheria Kotzia (presented by the Sacramento Guitar Society) this Saturday, and the popular podcast, Welcome to Night Vale this upcoming Monday. Got to bstreettheatre.org to book your tickets now.