BY MATT MUNOZ, Bakotopia.com editor firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your plans this New Year's Eve? Depending on what you have in mind, there won't be a shortage of options in Bakersfield. From big-ticket extravaganzas to scaled-down affairs, many local restaurants, nightclubs and bars, will be vying for your dinner reservation or spot on the dance floor. Despite the less-than-festive economy, local venues have taken some creative steps to assure you won't have a reason to stay home this year.
To help get you in the mood, we've compiled a list of Bakersfield's best bets to get your New Year's Eve groove on. Put together your favorite party duds and plan accordingly. As always, make sure you have a designated driver and party responsibly.
Bellvedere Cocktail Lounge: two parties: 10 a.m., food, party favors, champagne, early bird countdown at noon; music by Catch 22, party favors, free champagne toast at midnight, begins at 9 p.m., 3090 Brundage Lane. 325-2139.
Buck Owens' Crystal Palace: with Duck Soup, 7 p.m., 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. Dinner tickets $85 to $100; show-only $45 to $55. vallitix.com or 322-5200.
Sandrini's: New Wave New Year's Party, music by Members Only, 8 p.m., 1918 Eye St. $5 with '80s costume; $10. 322-8900.
DoubleTree Hotel: with Darren Gholston, 10 p.m., 3100 Camino Del Rio Court. $30 to $35. vallitix.com or 322-5200.
Fishlips Bar & Grill: Bakotopia & Fishlips New Year's Eve Pachanga!, with Mento Buru, Velorio, DJ Mikey, party favors, champagne toast, midnight buffet, 8 p.m., 1517 18th St. $15. 324-2557.
Cafe Med: two dinner (full buffet) seatings to choose from: (meal only) 4 to 8 p.m., $39.95 for adults, $15.95 for kids 12 and under; 8 p.m. $49.95, includes champagne toast at midnight, dancing, music by John Ranger and the Cougar Town Band, 4809 Stockdale Highway. 834-4433.
The Prime Cut: music by Foster & Friends, dancing, dinner, drinks, doors open at 7 p.m., 9500 Brimhall Road. $100 or $180 per couple. 831-1413.
Nile Theater: party favors, champagne toast at midnight, music by DJ Reflex, 8 p.m., 1721 19th St. $15. 805-252-0479.
Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar: with two seatings: four-course menu at 5:45 p.m. and a full seven course at 7:45 p.m. based on the Titanic's fabled first-class passenger menu, which includes champagne, oysters, live music, party favors, dessert bar and dancing, 1310 Truxtun Ave., Suite 160. $45, four course; $110, seven course. 864-0397.
Eagles Hall: dinner, party favors, the Feliz Band, mariachi group, DJ Joe Sanchez, 8 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday, 1718 17th St. $30 and invited guest. 747-1628.
Kern River Brewing Company, music by Slideways, Out of the Blue, champagne toast, 7 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday, 13415 Sierra Highway, Kernville. 760-376-2337.
Salon Juarez: Party by Sociedad Juarez, bring favorite drinks/appetizers, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., 815 E. 18th St. $15 or $25 per couple. 832-2613 or 638-0444.
Elevation Lounge: with Elevation 406, party favors, champagne toast, choose either New York steak or chicken dinner with all the fixins, 7 p.m., 818 Real Road. $20 or $35 per couple. Special room rates available at Days Inn. 325-6864.
Rollerama West: New Year's Eve Skate Party, 7:30 p.m. Friday to 12:30 a.m. Saturday, 7850 Brimhall Road. $10; $3 skate rental. 589-7555.
Ethel's Old Corral Cafe: with Blonde Faith, 8 p.m., 4310 Alfred Harrell Highway. Free. RV space available for overnight parking. 873-7613.
T-Bones Steakhouse: with The Beagles, party favors, champagne toast at midnight, dinner and drink specials, 8 p.m., 8020 District Blvd. $10. 398-1300.
The Dome: with Orquesta Son Kache, DJs Michael Anthony, Mark Anthony, Art Hollywood and Juan R. Gonzalez, 7 p.m., 2201 V St. $10; $15 after 8 p.m. 327-0190.
The Padre Hotel: choose from four themed venues, champagne toast at midnight, 8 p.m., 1702 18th St. $25 advance; $35 at the door. Dinner/dancing package in the Belvedere Room from 4 to 8 p.m. $75 to $100. Special room rates available. 427-4900.
Stars Theatre: with Bakersfield Jazz Workshop Orchestra, appetizer, dinner, dancing, champagne toast at midnight, 7 p.m., 1931 Chester Ave. $80 for table of 8; VIP: $325 for table of four. 301-4583 or 444-0853.
NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATIONS
The Bellvedere's Double Header
One local bar making party time accessible is the Bellvedere. Offering not one but two chances to celebrate, early birds can start at 10 a.m. with a potluck lunch. Once the clock strikes noon, attendees can shout "Happy New Year," with everyone in attendance.
Bellvedere bartender Sissy Garrett, who's celebrated her share of parties mixing up festive libations, decided to bring back the daytime event this year after getting requests.
"It's been about four years since we've held it last," she said. We have a lot of regulars that don't go out at nighttime, so we celebrate the whole day. Everyone brings a little something to eat. There's no dress code, so we get a wide variety of people. Who doesn't want to start partying at 10 a.m. on New Year's Eve?" The nighttime soiree starts with live music, but no potluck. Garrett advises guests to plan their own meal unless they like salted peanuts for dinner.
Duck Soup at The Crystal Palace
Buck Owens' Crystal Palace is changing its tune this year. Known for throwing some of the city's bigger New Year's shows starring Hollywood actors like Vince Vaughn and Gary Sinise, this year they've decided to go golfing, so to speak.
"We're the unofficial band of the PGA Tour," said Sam Irwin, lead vocalist of Austin-based band Duck Soup, of his group's claim to cover fame. "We do everything you can imagine: The Beatles; Rolling Stones; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Who; Alabama; lots of Motown."
Discovered by PGA organizers 18 years ago during a show in Austin, Irwin and crew have become a regular fixture at tournament parties from Phoenix to New Orleans. Traveling to Bakersfield for the first time, Irwin said he's been bragging to friends since getting booked for New Year's Eve.
"We did a big charity show at a golf course backing up different singers. When I made the big announcement that Buck was about to come onstage, the crowd just rushed the stage. He was definitely the star of the evening. I had to sing backup, and got to see the magic that the guy created."
Darren Gholston at DoubleTree
Saxophonist Darren Gholston is reviving his annual New Year's concert party at the DoubleTree next Friday to offer Bakersfield another great party alternative.
"I stopped doing my New Year's show in 2005 because I wanted to bring my family, and I know there are others who'd like to do the same with theirs."
Known for his soulful live shows, Gholston has been a popular draw around Bakersfield for years as a featured performer at the Cal State Jazz Festival. He's also thrown regular concerts around town with some big-name guests, including actor/musician Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
"I'll doing my jazz show, but I'm also incorporating a lot of old school for dancing. I call it contemporary jazz with some soul," he said. "This is for the grown folks."
Joining Gholston onstage will be: Robin Bramlett, bass; Kevin Teasley, keyboards; drummer Lamont Sydnor; bass; and Jorge Evans, guitar.
"I'm happy that so many quality things are going on. "You can't say that there aren't things to do in Bakersfield," he said.
Gholston's New Year's Eve concert will be begin at 8 p.m. with DJ music until 10 p.m., followed by the Gholston and band from 10 to midnight. After the concert, DJ music will return until 1:30 a.m.