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The Ultimate ABBA Tribute | Pablo Cruise still cruisin'


It’s never too early to start planning ahead when Abbacadabra comes to town because large crowds emerge and sell-out audiences have a way of occurring before you’ve even had a chance to say “Mamma Mia 2” is coming!

Mark your calendars! This first performance of this Abba tribute show extraordinaire in the East Bay is slated for Friday, Aug. 3 at Blackhawk Plaza’s Rockin’ the Plaza free summer concert series from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ( The VIP package has already sold out but concert-lovers can plan to arrive early at 3380 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, to sing along with all of their ABBA favorites.

The performance also marks the return of Richmond native Gary Raffanelli who has enjoyed quite a musical journey since his early years of performing at PTA meetings and local events with his older brother, Mike. As I noted in this space in 2014, he started his first band at age 12 and by age 14 he joined Mike’s band, The Vandells. The band became so popular that by the time he was a senior, they toured the Orient.

One month following graduation, Raffanelli landed a gig on the stages of Harrah’s Reno and Lake Tahoe, and the rest is history. In 1973 he teamed up with Sandy Selby and Gary and Sandy became one of Nevada’s most popular bands. Together their success took them from coast to coast throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Then in 1992, Gary’s entrepreneurial bug emerged and his Slam Grand Piano Company ( was born. The lightweight, easily movable piano shells have landed on the stages of such notables as Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, Madonna, Disneyworld, Counting Crows, Wayne Newton, and many more.

Collaborating with his partner Selby once again, he set out to recreate the ABBA sound and produced Abbacadabra – the ultimate ABBA tribute, complete with the group’s greatest hits and fashion flair. Currently, Abbacadabra is working on its new live CD, which was recorded at the legendary Whiskey A Go-Go on Sunset Strip in Hollywood and should be available for the August concerts (visit

Following the Blackhawk show, the band head’s to the Red Tie Arts’ Concert Series at Lucca Winery ( in Ripon on Aug. 4 and then the El Campanil Theatre ( in Antioch on Aug. 5 where only the Opera Level is still available. Wherever you end up, don’t forget those platform shoes and disco outfits!

Pablo Cruise

MORE MUSICAL NOTES: “Whatcha Gonna Do When She Says Goodbye?” You’re going to go see Pablo Cruise and take your soul to a happy energetic place. If you missed their recent performance at the San

Mateo County Fair last month, fear not as the band appears Friday, July 20 at the Campos Family Vineyard in Byron. Fans can expect more of the bands hits such as “Love Will Find A Way” and other top favorites they enjoyed from 1975 to 1985, and more. Following a 20 year hiatus, today, original members David Jenkins (guitar, vocals), Cory Lerios (keyboards, vocals), and Steve Price (drums, percussion) are joined by Larry Antonio (bass, vocals), and Robbie Wyckoff (vocals, percussion) and have released two live CD’s and a DVD. “One of the great things about playing shows after all of these years is that the core band, David, Steve and myself are still here and lovin’ it,” says Cory on “Going out and playing shows these days gives us the opportunity to not only pay tribute to our timeless repertoire, it gives us a chance to see old friends from back in the day as well as gaining a new audience!” Campos Family Vineyards is located at 3501 Byer Road in Byron. Gates open at 6 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. for VIP seating and wine club members. For tickets and info, call 925-308-7963 or visit Next month, you can catch Pablo Cruise at the Napa Valley Expo's Town & Country Fair on Saturday, August 11. Visit for more details.

WEEKEND SCENE: Greg Adams and East Bay Soul, Girl 6 – House Quake 2 (Prince Tribute) Friday, Aries Spears Saturday-Sunday at Yoshi’s Jack London Square Oakland, Mo’Nique Friday,


Saturday, Comedy Champs Sunday at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Pleasanton, Jazz on Sunday with Glen Pearson Sunday at the Golden Gate Library Oakland …Jim Cordiss, Friday, Saturday at Zio Fraedo’s Pleasant Hill, Julian Kucera Friday, Clay Xavier Saturday at California Jazz Conservatory Berkeley, cjc.eduKML Goes to the State Fair Friday, Bill Kirchen and the Hounds of Bakersfield Saturday, Tyminski Sunday at Freight & Salvage Berkeley, www.thefreight.orgThe Steve Freund Trio Friday, Eamonn Flynn Saturday, Derek Rolando and the Latin Pop Revue Sunday at Armando’s Martinez, armandosmartinez.comJohn Lloyd Young through Saturday at Feinstein’s at the Nikko San Francisco,

TAHOE SPOTLIGHT: The Ben Gleib Show with Justine Marino appear through Sunday followed by the Bob Zany Show with Dana Eagle July 25-29 at The Improv (, 1-855-234-7469) … Sold Gold continues nightly through September 3 in the South Shore Room at Harrah’s Tahoe

Keith Urban

(, 1-800-427-7247) … Across the street at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe the Summer Concert Series features Keith Urban Saturday and Sunday followed by Luke Bryan July 25 and Chris Stapleton July 26 (, 1-775-588-6611) …Melissa Etheridge Friday in the Montbleu Showroom and Country Night Gone Wild Saturday-Sunday in the Blu Nightclub at the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa (, 1-800-BE-LUCKY) … The Higgs Friday, Tainted Love, Miss Cooper, Derek Main Saturday at the Crystal Bay Club Casino (, 1-775-833-6333).

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