When the owners of Crawdaddy's decided to put a little bit of New Orleans' distinctive flair right in the heart of Visalia, they knew it would take more than great cuisine. What makes New Orleans so unforgettable is that it caters to all the senses and makes the smallest outing a special event. To fill that tall order, they took residence in a spacious facility that could be an exciting venue for music, parties, libations, food, and sporting events, all in one electric, lively place.
The second-floor dining room welcomes guests with a menu of fresh seafood such as blackened catfish and bayou butter prawns. A fully stocked bar wets whistles, and balcony seating offers couples a romantic setting under the stars?all 50 of them. Meanwhile, more than a dozen flat-screen TVs light up the crowd in the first floor's sports bar, where a mixologist whips up creative cocktails and TVs whip up the big game. In the dining area of the first floor, Keith and the Crawdads treat diners to lively tunes during the evening, and on the second level the nightclub sends crowds into fits of dance spasms as late-night DJs spin everything from hip-hop to disco six days a week.
As the Advanced-A minor-league affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Visalia Rawhide caters to baseball buffs with professional bat-cracking action and advance screenings of future big-league stars. This year the team celebrates 65 years of play at the recently renovated Recreation Park, an intimate stadium of spherical slinging where fans sit so close to the field that they can call pitches and notice subtle interventions from celestial outfielders. When the players’ endless running, throwing, and sunflower noshing inspires spectators' stomachs to hunger, the park’s three concession stands offer satiation with a bevy of ballpark eats.
Johnny Cash, one of the world’s most beloved musical storytellers, gets a fitting salute in The Cash Tribute Show featuring James Garner, a heartfelt production that honors the life and the legend of the Man in Black. With a backup band that pegs the “boom-chicka-boom” sound of the Tennessee Three, lifelong Cash fanatic James Garner (not the guy from The Rockford Files) leads fans on a delightful travelogue through Johnny Cash’s travails. From Cash's youth as a scrappy foghorn to the day he found his melanoid wardrobe, The Cash Tribute Show intersperses anecdotes and personal accounts of Cash encounters between Garner's renditions of his hit songs. With lungs full of respect and big shoes to fill, Garner eschews the shtick of impersonation and the redolence of method actors by singing Cash’s classics with a true fan’s passion and reverence, making the hearts of the happy audience swell like a perfectly cooked Folsom Prison soufflé.
Crunching metal and the sweet smell of burning rubber prevail as the Monster X Tour invades the Ocean Center, thrilling all ages in an action-packed motorsports showcase. Bigfoot, the forefather of all station-wagon smashers, leads a fleet of competitive 10,000-pound monster trucks, including Bear Foot and Black Knight, through jaw-dropping races, wheelie contests, and freestyle car composting. Transaurus, a two-story transforming robot that never learned to love, buries his woes by chomping entire cars in his massive jaws while watching reruns of Felicity. Before the show, VIP tickets also grant access to the Pit Party, where fans can have autographs signed by the drivers. During intermission, fans get the opportunity to eschew sea level with a ride inside a monster truck or visit General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard and learn its true feelings about excessive hood sliding.
Judas Priest, the influential English rock band that helped define heavy-metal culture, crescendos a globetrotting career on its farewell Epitaph tour. After nearly four decades of shaking Hades's chandeliers with defibrillating beats, jackhammer guitars, and vocals that earn restraining orders from glass, the crew of Judas Priest is revving through one last career-encompassing victory lap, leaving no head unbanged before hanging up its chaps. Singer Rob Halford hits and holds nearly unattainable notes in anthems that may include "Breaking the Law," "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," or "Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Gracing the stage in the open air of the amphitheater, legendary ax-grinder Zakk Wylde leads Black Label Society through a parade of questionable lullabies, and the boisterous lads of Thin Lizzy pump out hits that encourage inter-office dating at classic-rock stations.
A local institution for more than 40 years, Bakersfield Music Theatre pulls in patrons with a schedule of major Broadway musicals and other songful spectacles. Stop by on October 8 for a one-night-only performance of Direct from Vegas: Frank Sinatra, featuring Gary Corsello crooning un-remixed versions of Sinatra classics such as “Luck Be a Lady” and “Come Fly With Me” to the orchestral accompaniment of five full-sized musicians. The hit musical Chicago (November 13, 14, and 20) follows the exploits of a pair of femme fatales driven to murder by the stiff breezes of the Windy City, while "This and That: A Night of Song and Dance" (February 26) combines the mouth-powered melodies of Bakersfield Music Theatre with the legendary leggery of the Civic Dance Center. Hairspray (April 30, May 1, and May 7) caps the season with the tuneful tale of a teenage dance queen whose fancy footwork and well-kempt coiffure help her to defeat her enemies, the Philadelphia Eagles.