Media Life: Newcastle night spot on track for rebirth
Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at (530) 852-0232 or
Mike Antuzzi can reel off the various incarnations of a cavernous, near-empty brick building that is now filled from weathered floorboards to pressed-tin ceiling with his dreams.
Antuzzi wants to resurrect the downtown Newcastle address as a restaurant and entertainment venue. He’s bringing the interior up to code and targeting the opening of Antuzzi’s Newcastle Inn two months from now.
The 515 Main St. structure was built around 1900 and its story has been seeping into the legend and lore of Newcastle ever since.
As best as Antuzzi and anyone he’s talked to can surmise, the building started out as a livery or hardware store and things didn’t stay staid for long. Its next role was as a bordello. Then it was a speakeasy as Prohibition rolled into the foothills.
Antuzzi admits things get a little sketchy on the history at that point. At one point, it was Pokey’s, named after a sheriff’s deputy – but no longer a speakeasy. Then it became Skeltons. By the time it was called Dick and Eileen’s, it was an eatery. And Antuzzi, who moved to Placer County in 1986 and lives in Newcastle, can remember in the 1980s and 1990s the days when Gus Sorocco’s Newcastle Inn offered a place to eat and a spot for bands like the Flames and the Torpedoes to shake it up.
Constable Jack’s legacy
Perhaps the longest shadow cast in the building is from its most recent occupant – Constable Jack’s. The nightspot was a musical paradise for many, with owners Tim and Jacquie Looper offering a parade of well-known musical acts. The roster included names like Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Yardbirds, blues giant Elvin Bishop, local guitar legend Frank Hannon of Tesla, Jessie Colin Young and Commander Cody.
The Loopers kept the establishment humming from the mid-1990s through July 2011, until a combination of bad economic times and the crunch of regulatory burdens forced them to shut the doors.
Antuzzi’s attempts to resurrect the building, the business and the sizzle are well underway. He’s had members of Cold Blood and Tower of Power stop by to ask about the progress of what could again be an important space for musicians to again entertain in.
As a preview of things to come, the soon-to-open Antuzzi’s Newcastle Inn will be filling Newcastle Town Square with blues music on April 28. The Rhythm & Blues Faire will play host to San Francisco’s Leah Tysse, Pinkie Rideau & Blind Resistance from Nevada City and Sacramento’s Val Starr & The Blues Rocket. Call (530) 305-4877 for ticket information.
Antuzzi, whose own musical talents are on the accordion and piano, said he’s excited about orchestrating a comeback that will include a family atmosphere, a sense of history and a sense of place.
Thunder Valley has Heart, Bad Company
The hitmakers just keep on coming for The Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s summer concert series. Newly added to a growing list of big-name acts are Latin star Larry Hernandez (July 20), Gladys Knight and The O’Jays on what is being billed as The Family Reunion Tour (Aug. 9), Chris Isaak (Aug. 16), newly named Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees Heart (Sept. 21), and 1970s rockers Bad Company (Sept. 27). From the look of the Bad Company website, tickets should go particularly fast for the Sept. 27 appearance, which will bring together original members Paul Rodgers on bluesy lead vocals and lead guitar player Mick Ralphs. The band is marking its 40th anniversary.
Tickets for the new round of announced shows start Saturday and can be purchased online at thundervalleyresort.com/entertainment or at the Thunder Valley ticket sales office between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The roster of already announced acts includes Doobie Brothers (June 14), Chicago (Aug. 3), Frampton’s Guitar Circus, including B.B. King (Aug. 30) and Lynyrd Skynyrd (June 22).
Casino owners the United Auburn Indian Community continue to up the celebrity ante for Placer County.
Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at (530) 852-0232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.