REVIEW: “Other Desert Cities” strikes a nerve

Elaine Fournier, who directed the Park Ballroom performance, quoted the words of playwright Lin-Manual Miranda in the playbill, “who lives, who dies, who tells your story” to describe the heart of the play, exploring the question of truth in the unearthing of one’s memories.

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ZZ Top, George Thorogood to perform at Mid-State Fair

PASO ROBLES — The California Mid-State Fair is pleased to announce that rock legends ZZ Top has been confirmed to perform in concert on Wednesday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. Special Guest will be George Thorogood, who will open the show. ZZ TOP’s concert is part of the annual Bud Light Concert Series and will take place in the Chumash Grandstand Arena at the Paso Robles Event Center. Ticket prices for the show are $31, $41, $61 and $81 and will go on sale Friday. Tickets will be available starting at 10 a.m. online at or by calling 1-800-909-FAIR (3247), and at 1 p.m. at the California Mid-State Fair box office located at 2198 Riverside Avenue in Paso Robles.

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Atascadero native makes surf doc with heart

“This is a story of four souls whose past will not define who they will become...”

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‘My Fair Lady’ coming to TPAC

Templeton High School Drama will present Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” at the Templeton Performing Arts Center for eight showings this month. Show times will be March 15 -17, 22-24 at 7 p.m. with Saturday matinees March 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. This production will be directed by award-winning Catherine Kingsbury, manager of Templeton Performing Arts Center, and assistant director and vocal coach Lauren Josephs. The show will also feature a live orchestra (including 15 Templeton High School students) conducted by David Landers, with choreography by Suzy Miller. In all, 50 students will help bring the production to life. Kingsbury said it is very exciting to have a live orchestra, something that only happens every few years due to the difficulty in working around the schedules of all those involved.

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MOVIE REVIEW: 'Early Man' falls a little flat

I had every intention of writing a nice, positive review about a movie I was 99.9 percent sure I was going to love. “Early Man,” produced by Aardman Animation and the British Film Institute, is a claymation movie about a caveman named Dug, his sidekick Hognob (a wild boar), who tries to keep a bad guy named Lord Nooth from taking his primordial land and turning it into a giant mine. Dug and his buddies had ancient relatives who were futball (soccer) players according to some cave paintings. One oddball thing leads to another and pretty soon Lord Nooth and his professional futballers are battling Dug’s caveman tribe in a match to save their little patch of land. If they lose the cavemen have to become miners.

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Face-to-face: ‘Portal’ brings live global interactions to Cuesta College

The latest exhibit at the Cuesta College Harold J. Miossi Gallery will connect participants to individuals around the world in real-time. The global public art initiative “Portals: Connecting the World: A Social Practice Exhibition” is coming to Cuesta College Feb. 22 – March 29. During that time, an inflatable portal, equipped with immersive audio-visual technology, will be located in the gallery, providing face-to-face, live, full-body interactions with individuals in identical portals all over the world. The Cuesta Portal will connect to the countries of Afghanistan, Australia, Germany, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Palestine, Panama, Rwanda, and more.

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Tim McGraw and Faith Hill to perform at California Mid-State Fair

PASO ROBLES — The California Mid-State Fair announced Friday that country music superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will be performing at the Chumash Grandstand Arena Tuesday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m. The concert is part of the annual Bud Light Concert Series. Ticket prices for the show range from $51 to $156 and will go on sale Friday, Feb. 16. Tickets will be available starting at 10 a.m. online at or by calling 1-800-909-FAIR (3247), and at 1 p.m. at the California Mid-State Fair box office, located at 2198 Riverside Ave. in Paso Robles.

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Prestigious dancer visits Paso's Class Act

"My line that I always say is: ‘You will have butterflies, but you just learn to get your butterflies in formation.’” –New York City Ballet Master James Sutton

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Ortega’s hosts grand opening

Locals know David and Ana Elias from their wildly popular former restaurant, Margaritas. The parents of four have been owning and operating restaurants in Atascadero for 20 years. David Elias is a Greyhound — he attended Atascadero High School back in the 90s — and Ana Elias grew up in San Luis Obispo. David Elias took a small hiatus from the restaurant business to spend more time with his family, but he couldn’t turn down the tempting location of the former Ocean Harvest spot. For the grand opening of Ortega’s Mexican Cuisine, the Elias’ are offering $1.99 tacos and $1.99 domestic beer all day on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The public is invited to join them for some complimentary nachos and taquito platters during a ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

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Paso native animates Pixar blockbusters

When Mike Venturini attended Paso Robles High School back in the early 90s, he was considered the “art kid” and was asked to paint the Bearcats logo on the gym floor. Now he’s heading hundreds of animators at one of the most prestigious animation studios in the world.

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Low cost-dance classes begin with free East Coast Swing session

“The first dance of the year is always free, to have people come and by and check it out,” said Wayne Lyons, President of the Atascadero Agricultural Hall. His entertainment committee sponsors the dances for the communities. The dances take place at the more than 100-year-old Atascadero Grange Hall, one of the original “Colony” homes of the city, which used to serve at a USO dance hall for Camp Roberts during WWII.

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Season’s ‘Nutcracker’ delights

The sets were beautifully painted and classic. The costumes were brilliant and the cast was delightful: young ballerinas smiling and nailing their parts and lead dancers putting on a first-class performance, fit for any big-city stage.

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T’was time for the Nutcracker

“It’s always been my dream to be Clara,” said Emaly Bousman, 13, of Trinity Lutheran School, who sees her dream come true as she stars as Clara in this year’s performance.

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Kate Steinway’s EP debuts

Our Tent City girl has released her latest album.

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Taco Day arrives on Traffic Way

“It’s fun. I love what I do, man,” Steven Rodriguez Sullivan said. “We’re going to officially roll out one of our new menu items, called ‘Ques-acos.’ I wanted a Quesadilla and a taco at the same time, you know. And that’s how Ques-acos was born.”

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Chef Antonio Varia talks porcini, Piemonte and coming to America

“He come by with a big chef hat, ‘You call that Minestrone?’” Varia growled, mimicking his father, “‘Throw it away! Do it again!’ — crazy.” So Varia said he learned to cut with precision. “I throw them away. Next time we make it better. I learn how to do it with love.” – Chef Antonio Varia

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Fifth-graders listen to Winds

"Music never lets you down.” – Atascadero resident and SLO Winds Conductor, Jennifer Martin

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Harvest Wine Weekend: Vino crew hits the road in search of crush festivities

“Well, that’s that,” I said to myself just as my husband’s voice broke through my apparent mild case of catatonia saying, “Stomp on them! You’ll never make any juice just standing there, the whole point is to squish them.” – Madeline Vail

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Glorious Volumes

“Well, I’ve been a drawer and a painter all my life,” said Asdel, “but this poetry thing is new. Well, 12 years. Is that new?” he laughs. “It’s new for me!”

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Pure Silver

“I was just checking the place out because I was so enthralled. He had all these old tools, and he goes, ‘Hey – you wanna try that?’ and I had already picked up some metal in our class before and tried it earlier, and so I had some idea what to do, so he got excited and hired me… I just fell into something that most people wouldn’t have the chance to fall into.” – Randy Stromsoe

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Love’s longevity performed

Jenny Shaheen said the first time she read Sharr White’s script she was blown away. “He just has the ability to write from a very real and honest place,” she said.

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Earth Wind & Fire: Funk legends bring message of peace and love to Vina Robles

Earth, Wind & Fire played at Vina Robles on the Tuesday, on the nineteenth of September. It was surreal, to me, since arguably their most popular song is titled “September” and begins with the lyrics “Do you remember, the 21st night of September?” They may have missed the marquee night by two, but it was still incredible that they chose the small city of Paso Robles to play so close to the famous night, even if it is 46 years after the debut of the hit song.

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TOPGUN instructor and Navy Pilot Hal “Bull” Schmitt

“Yes, it’s a business, but it should be fun,” he said. “I really believe more than anything that wine is made for drinking, and it should be a social experience. Yes, you can drink on your own, but it’s better when you have family and friends around. That’s how we approach everything.” –Hal Schmitt

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Whale Rock: Castoro's gift to local students

The California certified organic winery and music hub of the area, Castoro Cellars, is on it’s fifth year of bringing back an all ages soulful event, something reminiscent of the groovy 60s. Castoro’s Udsen family doesn’t make a penny on the Whale Rock Festival. All profits benefit Templeton school music education. The Whale Rock Music Festival will be Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16, beginning at noon each day. Tickets for the first day are almost sold out. The festival (formerly known as Beaverstock) will have it’s usual mostly Central Coastal lineup of country western, folk, eclectic, soul, global and funk banks at the same time as gatherings and meetups for yoga classes, as well as art, food, and wine to discover. Aside from the new name, a little marketplace with local vendors will debut, and a trippy ‘Silent Disco’ experience, where headphone gear accompanies a dance party under a tent of contrasting boogie moves.

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Max Randoph's classic trade in a magical art

Walking into Max Randolph’s Paso Robles hillside studio, one might see the fifth generation blacksmith turning and forming a massive steel pipe over his great, hand-refurbished forging oven, sparks flying, steel morphing from red to yellow, sweat dripping off his forehead onto his beard, and think, bewildered – what year is this? Where am I? The Industrial Revolution of America? The Art Nouveau movement in France? A sword and weaponry mercantile down thither the stone steps of Casterly Rock? “I really took to steel because I loved the permanence of it,” Randolph said, describing the entry into the blacksmith profession as coming “from a lifetime of being misunderstood to all of a sudden finding a means to express yourself.”

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A little piece of Broadway: Idina Menzel brings soulful singing, a personal touch to Vina Robles

On Sunday night at Vina Robles, Broadway star and vocal powerhouse Idina Menzel delighted the audience not only with her soulful singing, but also with intimate glimpses into her life. During the 90-minute concert she bared her soul on romantic relationships, motherhood, and life as a performer. Menzel’s new album, “Idina,” provided the foundation of the experience. Starting with the energetic “Queen of Swords,” Menzel set the vocal expectations high, both literally and figuratively. The song featured a strong African-inspired drumbeat and a pre-chorus that ascended into the vocal stratosphere, prompting delighted cheers from the audience.

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Punk rock revival: Rancid, Dropkick Murphys channel the angst and fervor of yesteryears

Not all of us sported razor sharp mohawks and tattooed forearms to bear our tortured souls. Some of us who listened to Dropkick Murphys and Rancid when we were ‘nobody gets me,’ rebellious teens, showed up last Friday at the Avila Beach Golf Resort concert too. The punkers of the late eighties and nineties are now in our forties and fifties, our years of teenage angst neatly worked out through counseling and (for some, judging by the smoke in that taunted the clean ocean-side air) cigarettes. I was stoked to see the Thrasher Magazine shirts and spiked dog collars in abundance, and even more delighted to see former punkers with their newly-anointed kids up on their shoulders, screaming like awesome maniacs — the future torch bearers of punk. How wonderful, I thought, that when they get to their inevitable first disappointments in life: when the first girlfriend dumps them for some jock, when their dad won’t quit drinking, and when they get busted for skateboarding over someone’s flower bed, they’ll have their headphones to turn to. Full blast. Because, isn’t that what punk is? A big, giant middle finger to everything that sucks? At least for me it is, because “God Save the Queen,” I’d never listen to Hell-heavy bass and angry thunder drums when I’m feeling chipper and content with all the great things happening in my life.

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Thomas Hill Organics

Where did Thomas Hill Organics’ new chef come from? Kurt Metzger, who now heads both the Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo restaurants, was asking himself the same question after his red Corvette was rear ended a few years ago and a severe brain injury from a bad concussion wiped his memory clean. He was on his way home to Mission Hills from his restaurant, the wildly popular Kitchen 4140 in San Diego. The 44-year-old culinary talent who owned and operated his own restaurant on Morena Boulevard and was married to an absolutely gorgeous woman named Syrisa, had his life taken from him in that moment. Everything and everyone he knew was gone in a puff of smoke. Amnesia had erased it all: Being top of the class at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, cheffing at Roxxi’s in San Francisco and Bistro 45 in Pasadena, running Concept Catering for 15 years, working with Flavors of San Diego and dominating the annual “I Love Poke San Diego” Festival competition. Gone was his childhood, growing up as a twin near Pasadena, as the son of a Sergeant Major Ranger and loving mother who encouraged his cooking. He lost his father four years before, and when he called his mom, whose voice he didn’t recognize, she had to break the news to him again. He couldn’t remember that he’d been a foodie since he was a child, and had loved to prepare food before he had even become a teen. Friends he had, contacts he made, were taken aback and sometimes insulted when Metzger didn’t recognize them, and the menus which he had perfected were as foreign as the tastes of the ingredients that made up every dish. He and his brother had to start a friendship all over again.

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Punk rockers Rancid, Dropkick Murphys coming to Avila Beach

As part of the “From Boston to Berkeley tour,” punkers Rancid and Boston Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys will be co-headlining in Avila Beach Resort at Friday, Aug. 18th at 5 p.m. We caught up with Dropkick Murphys lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwrit

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Not a concert, a party

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood sold 30,000 tickets in a minute, and probably could have sold twice that many judging by the crowds at the Mid-State Fair on Thursday. In the press conference before the concerts, Garth and Trisha’s excitement for playing

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Mama Tumba to play Castoro July 16

Mama Tumba are bringing the groove to Castor Cellars Lazy Locals concert, sharing their Afro/Latin fusion at a free concert from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 16. The band will consist of regular members Tim Costa on percussion/vocals, Antiye Mensah

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"The Winemakers of Paso Robles"

In a region that has been photographed ad infinitum to capture its countless tasting rooms, seemingly endless acres of gently rolling vineyards and it’s good old fashioned “small town charm,” what could a professional travel photographer and an OC Registe

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Tent City Brewing Company turns 5

Atascadero natives and former roommates Kendall Bryson and Brian Vogel, will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of their collaborative business, Tent City Brewing Company, July 1. Just weeks before the momentous event, Bryson and Vogel were found remini

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Kitchenette: It's what's for breakfast (or lunch)

Word on the street is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. According to brothers Michael and Chris Kobayashi, co-owners and operators of Kitchenette, located at 105 South Main St. in Templeton, that rumor could not be more true. While

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The Hatch: Not your typical neighborhood bar (or then again, maybe it is)

PASO ROBLES — If the The Hatch could be summed up in a few words it would be creative cocktails and comfort food swathed in an amber glow of brick, wood and stainless steel. But there is so much more to it than that. Having opened only two years ago by lo

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Kid Rock to perform at the Mid-State Fair

The California Mid-State Fair has announced that Kid Rock will perform in concert on Sunday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. Kid Rock’s concert is part of the annual Bud Light Concert Series and will take place in the Grandstand Arena at the Paso Robles Event Cen

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Catch Seafood Bar & Grill

For a long time seafood was not my forte. I spent years perfecting how to ask waiters to substitute chicken or red meat for any fish and seafood dish and watched as jaws dropped at my requests. “But it tastes just like chicken” or “it’s an acquired tas

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Andrea's on Pine: Little Paso brunch spot offers big, bold flavors

Just between the Hotel Cheval and Powell’s Sweet Shoppe there lies a lovely little patio, dappled with sunlight, shaded with old oaks and connected to the tiniest kitchen on the park — Andrea’s on Pine. Tiny but mighty, the strength in its fresh ingred

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Kendra McKinley coming to Sculpterra May 14

Combine a healthy dose of 1960s chamber pop with the structure and intonation of bossa nova and you will have discovered singer/songwriter Kendra McKinley. McKinley will debut songs from her new album "Treat" at Sculpterra Winery at the Songwriters at Pla

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Cuban comfort food comes back home

Last weekend my eldest daughter came home for a visit from college and the only things she requested I cook for her were Cuban sandwiches and croquetas — the ultimate Cuban comfort foods. Being that I have never made either of these items myself, I realiz

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Bethel Rd. Live Sessions: Udsen brothers blend spirits and music for a unique cocktail

Bethel Rd. Distillery & Winery owners Luke and Max Udsen have come up with an innovative way to put their new distillery on the map before they even open to the public — through Bethel Rd. Live Sessions. BR Live Sessions are high-quality live video rec

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Additional Articles

  • Tacos and Trump: Trevor Noah comes to Paso

    The star of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah performed a stand up show on Saturday night from at Vina Robles Amphitheater. It was a perfect, Central Coast summer night. As Noah walked to center stage the last few minutes of daylight danced a

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