Pops Tops

Music series safe for now, but future uncertain

By Jeff Harris
June 2024

The budget proposed by City Manager Howard Chan reflects drastic steps required to close a $66 million deficit.
Chan wants to cover $36 million of the gap with one-time funds—money that’s not part of the city’s predictable cash flow of sales and property taxes and fees. That means without cuts or new income next year, budget problems will continue.

I’m encouraged to see citizens get involved and tell City Council where public priorities lie. Speaking to your representative is essential.

One strategy for fiscal year 2024-25 calls for increasing income by raising fees for park programs and special events.

As Pops in the Park enters its 32nd year, the series is impacted by these developments. Park permit fees and labor costs have ballooned. It’s getting difficult to continue the Pops concert series. But I set money aside during my years on City Council specifically for Pops.

I hope Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office can make a contribution as it did last year. Along with substantial fundraising, I’m pleased to say the show will go on this June.

Of all the free community events sponsored by the city, Pops is the most beloved and best attended. What’s not to like about free concerts in a park on a summer evening, enjoying family, friends and community?

Pops is Sacramento at its best, a great opportunity to dance the night away. As always, we’ve organized beer and wine gardens with food for sale.

This year’s lineup features three bands new to Pops and one favorite for 30 years.

A newcomer with exceptional vocals and horn section opens the program June 1 at East Portal Park. Clean Slate plays soul, funk and R&B, and should kick off the month in grand style.

Next up is Apple Z on June 8 at Bertha Henschel Park. This popular band has played around town for years.

The following weekend, June 15 at McKinley Park, I wanted to do something special. People have asked for more female artists. Working toward that goal, I got a call from San Diego singer Cassie B. She heard about Pops and wondered if she could perform.

After I heard Cassie and her band, the answer was obvious. Playing originals and covers in a unique style, Cassie B will have a Sacramento fan club by the end of her show.

Having lived in River Park for 34 years, I’m partial to shows performed in my neighborhood. An old favorite, Mumbo Gumbo, returns June 22.

It’s been about five years since Mumbo Gumbo played Pops. These are some of the best musicians in town. Some of the nicest people, too. I’m proud to have them for the season finale.

What’s next for Pops? Since I’m no longer on City Council and lack a city budget to support the program, I can’t say. This season depletes the money I set aside for the series.

I hope newly elected Councilmember Phil Pluckebaum finds funds to move Pops forward. You can be sure I’ll discuss it with him.

Jeff Harris represented District 3 on City Council from 2014 to 2022. He can be reached at cadence@mycci.net. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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