All That Jazz, and More

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-06-22

Rio American High School Graduate Duncan McElman, 18, has been selected to join the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, touring this summer across the nation and Canada before a final performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival in fall. -- Photo courtesy of Duncan McElman, by Tiffany Grebitus photography

Local Saxophonist Tapped for Monterey Jazz Festival Student Band

Baritone saxophonist and Carmichael resident, Duncan McElman, a recent graduate from Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, is heading in to his first summer on a very high note as one of 20 student musicians selected to join the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (NGJO).

As a member of the NGJO, McElman, 18, will join the band for a 10-day tour kicking off June 24 with a performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Rochester, New York, followed by dates at the Toronto and Montreal International Jazz Festivals, culminating with, oh, just a little gig playing alongside heavy hitters, such as John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Gerald Clayton at the 60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival September 17.

To say McElman is stoked would be an understatement. He spent hours practicing his audition pieces before submitting three recorded submissions to the NGJO selection board, aiming to realize a dream he’s had since first picking up the saxophone as a fifth-grader at Mission Avenue Elementary in Carmichael.

“Getting the word that I’d been selected to play in the NGJO was a real game-changer,” McElman says. “I didn’t think I was going to get in because there are so many other great student musicians out there. When I got the news, I said ‘OK, this really changes everything for the day.’ I immediately called my mom and told her the good news.”

Between February and March, McElman submitted recorded auditions of Charlie Parker’s “Blues For Alice,” and Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.” They were good performances, McElman recalls, but in attempting to tape the final audition piece, he realized he was running out of battery on his phone and up against the deadline for the final submission. Shortly afterward, while on tour with the Jazz Band of America in Indianapolis, he managed to pull a group of fellow players together to record his final audition piece: Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose,” meeting the deadline and, obviously the judges’ expectations.

“I felt like once I got that last piece submitted, everything was gonna be fine,” said McElman, who performed all three auditions on the same vintage Selmer Mark VI baritone sax. “I knew I’d given it my all and I could not have done better.”

High School Musicians from California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington were selected to join the 2017 NGJO. While this is McElman’s first selection to the band, he is certainly not Rio Americano’s first: The school has a 32-year history of placing student musicians in the band. Duncan is their 59th.

“Duncan comes equipped with a high degree of talent and already has learned and absorbed much of the jazz language in his work,” said Paul Contos, director of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Education Director for the Monterey Jazz Festival. “His playing on the baritone sax is exemplary and embodies the history of the instrument.”

As for Rio Americano, Contos said the school’s music program “has always been one of the superlative models in jazz education” locally and across the country

Josh Murray is Band Director at Rio Americano High. He says McElman simply has a rare talent for, not only the music, but the drive to do the work required for musical greatness.

“Duncan is a rare student,” Murray said. “He combines talent, hard work and passion in a way that few teenagers can manage. He is one of those musicians who can have an audience wrapped around his finger when he plays, and has a bright future ahead of him.”

As baritone chair in Rio’s top big band, McElman has secured soloist awards from the Santa Cruz, Folsom, Reno, Essentially Ellington, and Charles Mingus jazz festivals. In 2015, he was chosen as "best reed player" at the Traditional Jazz Youth Band Festival in Sacramento. Want more? In 2013 and 2014, McElman was selected to be a part of TNT: The New Traditionalists, identified as a “regional honor combo focused on traditional jazz.”

Earlier this year, McElman was selected by his peers as the school’s most valuable player, as well as its most valuable jazz and all-around musician.

He’s fresh out of high school, but already McElman has shared stages with jazz luminaries such as the Mingus Big Band, Wee Trio, Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O, Joshua Redman, Mary Stallings and Jeff Lederer.

Practicing nearly three hours daily for years while also keeping up grades didn’t get in the way of giving back. In addition to all those performances, tours and finishing up high school, McElman also managed to take time to teach music and direct jazz combos at Arden Middle School, where some of his students have gone on to win their divisions at the Traditional Jazz Youth Band Festival and receive high scores at the Folsom Jazz Festival.

The summer’s whirlwind tour and festival performances will bookend McElman’s next big adventure: He’s been accepted to attend the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami on a Presidential Scholarship in the fall, where he will major in Jazz and Studio Music.

“It really has been an amazing year,” McElman said.

Summer Season Promises Music and Dance for Carmichael

Source: Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-06-22

Carmichael-based, the John Skinner Band will perform a variety concert on August 6. 
-- Photo courtesy Steve Harriman

Spread over June, July and August weekends, Carmichael Park’s 45th summer concert season will entertain the community with 16 free musical performances. Acts range from big band to latin, rock and fusion musicians.

Among the entertainment lineup, Carmichael-based John Skinner Band has played all 45 seasons. This veteran ensemble will offer classic rock and popular dance tunes on august 6. Picnickers are welcome at all events; designated areas will accommodate dogs.

Concerts are scheduled as follows:

Saturday, June 24: Jax Hammer band (rock and blues); 6:30 pm.

Sunday, June 25: SwingMasters (swing and ballroom); 5 pm.

Saturday, July 8: Dennis Johnson and the Mississippi Ramblers (rock); 6:30 pm.

Sunday, July 9: Carmichael Kiwanis Big Band (swing); 5 pm.

Saturday, July 15: Jackson Stone Band (Southern rock); 6:30 pm.

Saturday; July 22: Howell Devine (country blues); 6:30 pm.

Saturday July 29: The Golden Cadillacs (country rock); 6:30 pm.

Saturday, August 5: Dave Russell Band (Country favorites) 6:30 pm.

Sunday, August 6: John Skinner Band (variety dance); 5 pm.

Saturday, August 12: Latin Touch (Latin funk); 6:30 pm.

Saturday, August 19: Mumbo Gumbo (Americana); 6:30 pm.

Saturday August 26: On Air (classic rock); 6:30 pm.

Sunday, August 27: River City Concert Band (symphonic): 5 pm.

All performances are free. Picnickers are welcome. For information, visit or call (916) 485-5322. Sponsors include: Access Dental; Supervisor Susan Peters; SMUD; Emigh Hardware; Arthur Murray Dance Studio; California Family Fitness; Carmichael Creek Neighborhood Association; John and Susan Skinner; Kiwanis Club of Sacramento.

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Railroad Museum is Now a Smithsonian Affiliate

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-06-21

Union Pacific 4466 is an 0-6-0 type steam locomotive built in October 1920 for the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) to perform switching chores and transfer runs. The locomotive currently resides at the California Railroad Museum. 
-- Photo courtesy Neil916

California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation are proud to announce the California State Railroad Museum is now officially recognized as a Smithsonian Affiliate.

“We are delighted to officially begin our Affiliate partnership with the California State Railroad Museum, an organization which has previously worked alongside the Smithsonian in scholarship and historic preservation,” said Myriam Springuel, Interim Director, Smithsonian Affiliations. “The story of railroading is very much the story of building the foundation of the United States and we are proud to partner with this museum which tells this national story from its beginnings in California. The collections, scholarship and expertise of the Smithsonian will be well matched by those at the California State Railroad Museum; we expect both organizations to benefit a great deal from this collaborative relationship.”

Located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the Railroad Museum joins a network of 216 organizations throughout the nation that are committed to serving the public through educational outreach, artifact loans, traveling exhibitions and collaborative research with the Smithsonian. Smithsonian Affiliations help to build a bridge between the local experiences available in individual communities with the national heritage preserved and displayed at the Smithsonian.

“We are proud that the Railroad Museum is now an official Smithsonian Affiliate,” said Ty Smith, Museum Director for the California State Railroad Museum. “Aligning the Railroad Museum with the Smithsonian Institution will help us further our mission of connecting people to California's railroad heritage. This partnership is both intellectual and material and will advance our ability to create a world-class experience to each and every guest who visits the California State Railroad Museums and Old Sacramento State Historic Park.”

Widely recognized as North America’s most prestigious rail museum, the California State Railroad Museum showcases more than 150 years of railroad history in 225,000 square feet of space. Each year, approximately 600,000 guests from all over the world visit the Railroad Museum, to see and experience the immaculately restored full-scale locomotives and railroad cars, impressive toy train collection, interactive and ever-changing exhibits, and much more.

“We look forward to networking and working collaboratively with other Smithsonian Affiliates to further our collective goals to educate, interpret and engage the public with the unique and memorable experiences we have to offer,” said Cheryl Marcell, President & CEO of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation.”

For more information about the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation, please call 916-323-9280 or visit

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The Center for Jobs and the Economy recently released its full analysis of the May employment data.

In the State Employment Growth Rankings, California dropped to 3rd place behind Florida and Texas Between May 2016 and May 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows the total number of employed in California increased by 250,000 (seasonally adjusted), or 13.4% of the total net employment gains in this period for the United States. California dropped to 3rd place behind Florida (which has a civilian working age population only 55% as large as California’s) at 409,600 and Texas (68% as large) at 254,800.

Measured by percentage change in employment over the year, California dropped to 33rd highest. Adjusted for population, California dropped to 35th.

The report shows California’s Labor Force Participation Rate at its lowest level since 1976. California’s participation rate (seasonally adjusted) in May declined to 62.0%, while the US rate dropped only 0.2 point to 62.7%. Improvement in the unemployment rate at both the California and national levels came from these contractions in the labor force numbers.

The seasonally adjusted California participation rate in May was at its lowest level since 1976. The unadjusted rate was at its second lowest level since 1976. In the recent May Budget Revision, the Governor again pointed to the increasing share of lower wage jobs as one of the prime causes of slowing state revenues growth.

“The level of wages has been revised downward, and cash receipts have been significantly below forecast.” - Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown continues to not take responsibility for the many lost high paying jobs leaving California for better business climates in other states. California ranks last in the United States for being pro-business. Over one-third of jobs growth over the past 12 months has been in the low wage industries.

For additional information and data about the California economy visit


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Capitol Pops Patriotic Concert July 2nd

Story and Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-06-21

Kurt Pearsall will lead the Capitol Pops Concert Band at Fair Oaks Village Park, July 2.

A free July 2 (Sunday) concert at Fair Oaks Village Park will set a patriotic mood for the nation’s birthday. Lead by maestro Kurt Pearsall, the Capitol Pops Concert Band’s volunteer members will offer an all-American program that will include marches, anthems and swing tunes.

Susan Skinner is featured vocalist. A God Bless America finale will include the audience in a sing-along with the 60-piece ensemble. Children are welcome. The park is located at 4238 Main Street in Fair Oaks. Downbeat is 6:30 pm.

Sheltons Unlimited Mechanical Services of North Highlands is concert sponsor. Learn about the Capitol Pops Concert Band at

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Marconi Dental Clinic Relocates to Carmichael

Source: Marconi Dental Group  |  2017-06-21

Marconi Dental Group, a full-service dental clinic, began treating patients at their new state-of-the-art facility in Carmichael last month. 
-- Photo courtesy Marconi Dental Group

Grand Opening Party Scheduled for June 23rd

The Marconi Dental Group has a new home in Carmichael, and they are inviting the community to celebrate the move at a Grand Opening Party at the new location!

Bring the whole family to celebrate! The party will take place at the state-of-the-art new office located at 6440 Fair Oaks Blvd in Carmichael, on June 23rd from 5:00 to 7:30 PM. A Ribbon Cutting ceremony with the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce will happen at 6 PM .

Enjoy FREE food and drink, live music, and the chance to WIN prizes and giveaways, there will even be a bounce house for the kids!

Giving back to the community has always been something Marconi Dental Group prides itself on, so inviting all of Carmichael to come celebrate the opening was a no-brainer. “We will continue to give back by doing our Christmas Toy Drive with the Mustard Seed program, our Peanut Butter and Jelly drive with Loaves and Fishes and treat more children in need to dental work through the Smiles for Kids program” said Dr. Ashkan Alizadeh, who took ownership of the practice in 2012.

The full-service dental clinic began treating patients at their new state-of-the-art facility in Carmichael last month. The 12,000 sq. ft. space that last housed the Ambience restaurant has been transformed into a modern, one-stop dental shop.

“In the old office, space and treatment room was tight and parking was minimal,” said Dr. Alizadeh. “At our new location in Carmichael, we have more space to comfortably treat patients and plenty of parking to make it convenient. We’re able to do almost everything in-house, which adds a level of comfort and trust for our patients.”

Marconi Dental Group has offered affordable in-house dental coverage in Sacramento since the mid-1990’s. The team of caring, experienced dental professionals is led by Drs. Alizadeh and Saleh. As a husband and wife team with three children of their own, they understand that patients of all ages want to feel comfortable and respected. Marconi Dental Group offers family-friendly dental procedures including implants, dentures, cosmetic dentistry, sleep sedation dentistry, periodontics, Invisalign and more. They accept all insurances, and offer affordable plans for uninsured patients and their families.

To learn more about Marconi Dental Group’s local dental services, call (916) 589-6462 or visit (Paid Advertorial)

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Divine Love: the Answer to Universal Health

Submitted by Christopher Cheney  |  2017-06-21

José de Dios Mata, is originally from Spain, but has been living in the United States for a number of years.

International Speaker to Address Effective Health Care Through Prayer

Jose de Dios Mata, of Elsa Illinois, will give a free lecture to the public in Carmichael on Thursday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. The talk is titled “Divine Love: The Answer to Universal Health” and is sponsored by First Church of Christ, Scientist, Carmichael, as a gift to the community and will be given in the church edifice at 4949 Kenneth Ave., Carmichael, During the talk free parking and child care are included.

This lecture is about the power of God as divine Love and the direct influence for good it can have on lives individually and collectively when spiritually understood. It explores the Biblical basis of God as divine Love whose law Christ Jesus taught and practiced in his healing and teaching ministry. It brings out the relevance of his command “to love your neighbor as yourself” and the worldwide healing impact this can have.

The ideas in this lecture make clear the importance of loving from the standpoint of God, Love, as our source and each of us as God’s tenderly cared for children. Praying from this standpoint heals disease, saves us from wrong thinking and acting, and awakens us to the reality that our lives are safe in the law of Love. How powerful divine Love is to answer every problem we might be facing. This lecture includes experiences of healing that resulted from prayer and a deeper understanding of God as divine Love based on the teachings of Christian Science.

The speaker, José de Dios Mata, is originally from Spain, but has been living in the United States for a number of years. As a teenager, he felt a special interest in music and decided to study guitar, with an emphasis on flamenco. This led him to form his own group and perform in various venues.

Later, he worked for the government for a decade, the last five years of which were spent as a special agent in the Intelligence Services. In his personal life, he faced an enormous challenge in early 1979. A relative’s sudden illness, for which the doctors could find no cure, as well as his own almost complete loss of hearing due to a congenital lesion, which he was told would require immediate surgery or result in total deafness - and he could not continue in his position at work until he had surgery - forced him to seek a solution to these difficulties. He chose not to have surgery. After trying a series of different alternatives, in December of that year José de Dios was introduced to Christian Science by a doctor, his guitar student, who knew of his reluctance towards conventional medicine and encouraged him to explore this system of spiritual healing. Both situations were quickly and completely healed solely through reading the textbook of this religion, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

He soon realized that the spiritual understanding he had just achieved enabled him to heal others. After several years of proving the practical effect of these teachings in the healing of illness and other inharmonious situations of day-to-day life, he gave up his career in 1986 and decided to move to the United States to enter the public practice of Christian Science as his only profession. His desire to teach others how to practice spiritual healing led him to take Christian Science Normal Class in 2009,in Boston, in order to become an authorized Christian Science teacher in Spain.

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Feral Cats Project Seeks Volunteers and Community Support to Curb the Feral Cat Population

By Linda Morgan, Director Sacramento Feral Resources  |  2017-06-21

Spaying/Neutering of stray, feral, and abandoned cats will prevent hundreds of litters of kittens, literally thousands of cats yearly.

Unwanted feral/stray cats are everywhere and the proverbial “kitten-season” is in full-swing. In an effort to help these newborn kittens, people often put them in a box and rush them to the local shelter. Too often the outcome for these kittens isn’t what the well-intentioned person expected. So how can you change this outcome? Spay/Neuter of stray, feral, and abandoned cats will prevent hundreds of litters of kittens, literally thousands of cats yearly, from being born in areas where they are not wanted and struggle to survive on their own.

Sacramento Feral Resources (SacFerals) recently introduced the Feral Cats Project.

The focus of the Project is to recruit volunteers and involve residents county-wide to help humanely curb the feral cat population in Sacramento County through a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. We are looking for the best ways to reach residents in communities throughout the County.

Feral cats are a neighborhood issue that can have good resolution when working together to TNR. In fact, Sacramento County supports TNR - not euthanasia, starvation, or relocation (which is illegal) of feral cats. The good news is that there are low-cost and free spay/neuter clinics available.

Residents who want to help improve the feral cat situation can learn more about the Project, feral cats, TNR, feral colony assistance, and other volunteer opportunities at monthly Free Feral Cats Workshops. Workshops open to the general public. Meetings are held at 5605 Marconi Ave in Carmichael. The Workshop Schedule, class descriptions, and sign-up information is available online:

Why establish a Feral Cats Project? In 2013 SacFerals introduced a public website to offer resources and assistance to anyone with feral cat issues. Over time, traffic to the website as well as requests for help have substantially increased. During the past two years, SacFerals has received reports of more than 9,000 feral/stray cats. The need for assistance has out-paced the current volunteer staff.

With an estimated 98,000 – 220,000 feral cats in Sacramento County, as the saying goes, “It takes a village” to make a huge dent in reducing the number of litters born in the County every year and to ultimately control and reduce the community feral cat population in Sacramento County.

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Very Inspirational People

Source: San Juan Unified School District  |  2017-06-15

Celebrating on June 3 are left to right: Ray Willey, Special Softball Co-Director, and Honorees Donna and Frank Adams. 
-- Photo courtesy Ray Willey

SJUSD Gives Special Thanks to Donna and Frank Adams

More than one-hundred and fifty special softball athletes and their families, along with volunteer coaches cheered as Dr. Michael McKibbin, President of San Juan Unified School District’s Board of Directors, read the surprise resolution naming the fields at Orange Grove Adult Education School, The Donna and Frank Adams Special Softball Field. Other SJUSD representatives included Paula Villescaz, Board Member and David Burke, Director of Planning and Property Management.

The Special Softball Program was organized in 1968, and has grown into a successful and important community program sponsored by the County of Sacramento, Department of Regional Parks Recreation Therapeutic Recreational Services, for the benefit of adult athletes with special needs and their families. The event was held on June 3, the final game of the program’s Golden 50th Anniversary Season, as Donna and Frank Adams retired from directing Special Softball.

Donna and Frank Adam have led the Special Softball Program since 1980, and inspired hundreds of special athletes, their families, coaches and volunteers with their selfless leadership. Every year about 40 volunteer coaches assist four minor league and six major league teams every Saturday from March until early June at Orange Grove Adult School. The spirit behind the program is to recognize the contributions of all athletes, promote good sportsmanship and develop life-affirming athletic skills. Every person is a valued team-player.

Ray Willey, co-director of the Special Softball Program, said, “It’s been a privilege to work with Donna Adams for 22 years, and we’d like to thank SJUSD’s David Burke for his leadership role in making this happen for such a deserving couple, as well as Dr. McKibbin and Paula Villescaz.

Although retiring from Special Softball, Donna and Frank will continue directing the Very Inspirational People (VIP) Program they founded in 2002. VIP offers many recreational activities for special athletes, including: soccer, floor hockey, basketball, track & field, bocce ball and swimming. If you would like information about VIP or volunteer, call Donna Adams at 916-606-5844 or go to web site:

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Best of Carmichael Businesses Honored

Story and photo illustration by “Best Photographer” Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-06-14

A group of Carmichael business people and community administrators (left) posed with awards at the Best of Carmichael event.

Twenty-nine businesses were the toast of the town when the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce and Carmichael Times hosted the “Best of Carmichael” awards gala last week. Results were decided by public vote and presentations were made at the Patriot Event facility in Milagro Centre.

Winners received proclamations from Congressman Ami Bera, Senator Jim Nielson, Assemblyman Ken Cooley and Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters.

Twenty-seven contested categories included professional services, grocery stores, restaurants, senior facilities, Fitness centers, community facilities, non-profits - and many entities that make Carmichael a hub of business and recreation. The event is planned to be held annually. (Two categories had ties for the total votes.)

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