Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Concert promoter aims to turn Solano into musical county

(Originally published in the 5/3/16 edition)

   As there are no big arenas in Solano County, a lot of people take for granted how much great music comes to the area. A lot of it comes courtesy of one man: Jeff Trager.
   Trager is a Glen Cove resident with almost 50 years of working in the music industry. In that time as an event promoter and booking agent, he has gotten to work with some of the biggest artists of all time: The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, James Brown, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, The Bee Gees, Bon Jovi, Kiss, Tom Waits, the list goes on and on.
   Among other things, Trager is credited with kickstarting Tina Turner’s long and successful career by promoting her first hit with her then-husband Ike, a cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.”
  “Backstage at a concert with Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, she asked me to come backstage and she grabbed my hand and said ‘Thank you. Thank you for what you did,’” he said. “When I broke her first record, it changed her whole life. From that record she probably made about $100 million in her career. I got her the Rolling Stones tour because of it.”
   Trager’s resume does not stop there. He also promoted Vangelis’ theme to the movie “Chariots of Fire,” which was a No. 1 hit in 1982, and he worked with legendary Bay Area concert promoter Bill Graham on Day on the Green, a series of concerts held at the Oakland Coliseum from 1973 to 1991. A big theme throughout much of the concerts he has put on has been charity. In 1971, he put on his first fundraiser concert after one of his friends was jailed in Spain.
   “We drew 3,500 people on a Monday night, and that was pretty incredible,” he said.
   Since then, Trager has put on concerts such as the Fairfield breast cancer awareness concert PinkFest, the annual autism awareness concert Voices of Latin Rock at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco and concerts to help raise money for Crystal Middle School in Suisun City and its students whose instruments had been broken.
   “I think people should give back, especially if they have the opportunity,” he said. “To me, it feels good to be able to give back to people who may not have as much as others.”
   Lately, Trager and his company Jeff Trager Presents have been working to put on concerts in Fairfield, including weekly Saturday night shows at the Chinese restaurant Sticky Rice Bistro, Thursday shows at Mankas Steakhouse and several concerts at the various Suisun Valley wineries.
   Perhaps his biggest projects have been monthly shows at Fairfield’s Downtown Theatre, featuring either comedians or musicians. This Saturday’s show will be a tribute concert to the legendary country singer Patsy Cline. Joni Morris, who Trager has described as “the No. 1 Patsy Cline impersonator in the country,” and Lyndesy Elm, a Vacaville resident who was a contestant on the ninth season of NBC’s “The Voice,” will be performing some of Cline’s most popular songs, including “Walkin’ After Midnight,” Crazy,” “Back in Baby’s Arms” and “I Fall to Pieces.”
   “You’re gonna hear all the great songs of the true music icon,” Trager said. 
   Trager says his goal is to keep bringing quality music to Solano County.
   “I want to get people to understand that they can hear good music without having to drive to San Francisco or Oakland or even Napa,” he said. “You have quality music right here in your own backyard.”
   Moreover, Trager wants his concerts to cause people to leave with positive feelings.
   “I love bringing good, quality music to each and every venue that I book,” he said. “It’s all about having people tap their toes and smile and walk out and say ‘Man, that was a great show.’ That’s what Bill Graham was famous for. When you went to a Bill Graham show, you walked out satisfied that you got your money’s worth and that you saw a great show. That’s what I like doing.”
   “Tribute to Patsy Cline” will be held at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 7, at Downtown Theatre, located at 1035 Texas St. in Fairfield. Tickets can be purchased at siteline.vendini.com/site/downtowntheatre.com. For more information on this concert or any past or future Jeff Trager Presents concerts, visit JeffTragerPresents.com


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