Pat Clark: Go see hard-rock exhibit in Turlock before it’s gone

08/15/2014 11:58 AM

08/15/2014 4:48 PM

When a bunch of classic hard-rock stars are impressed with a collection, you know you’ve got something special.

Such is the case with the popular “Carnegie Rocks!” exhibit, which closes its nearly three-month run Sunday at the Carnegie Center for the Arts.

The impressive private collection of instruments, costumes, video clips and rock paraphernalia kicked off May 24 with appearances by rock stars including Ace Frehley, the original lead guitarist for Kiss; the band Night Ranger; and members of Cheap Trick and Dokken.

Rock stars have a certain mystique – “jaded” is one adjective that might come to mind – but, according to Carnegie Arts Center publicist Ali Cox, the rock veterans themselves that night “were in awe” of the industry items on display.

As was this classic rock fan, who finally made it to the arts center Wednesday and was blown away by the collection – and by the fact one person in Turlock not only owns this vast homage to rock ’n’ roll but was willing to let it out of his hands for the nonprofit arts center’s benefit.

If you’re a fan of classic rock, take an hour or two out of your weekend to see this exhibit before it’s gone.

The number of guitars alone is amazing. There are walls of guitars, as well as some set off in cases with some of the biggest names in rock attached.

Adding to some of the pieces on display is an interactive component: Flat-screen TVs set up with headphones allow people to not just view the items but to listen in as experts and band members discuss the instruments, the songs and more. The continuous loops also include videos and live concert footage that show the artists actually using the items you’re standing in front of in the collection.

I lingered longest at the Cheap Trick display, which features a drum kit used by Bun E. Carlos, along with other items that once belonged to and toured with the band. Footage from Cheap Trick’s 1978 concert at the Budokan arena in Tokyo plays next to the kit on the flat screen. Next to that, a copy of the seminal “Live at Budokan” album rotates on a pedestal.

The Cheap Trick video just happens to feature the band performing its hit “Surrender,” with the lyric “Rolling numbers, rock and rollin’, got my Kiss records out” – a perfect segue to two large collections to the left, featuring an array of classic Kiss items, from costumes to instruments.

Frehley was on hand personally in May when the exhibit opened, as were the members of Night Ranger; George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob; and Bun E. Carlos himself.

Cox said the rock artists who turned out for the opening reception were “psyched to meet each other,” in addition to being in awe of the collection.

Seriously, check it out while you still have the chance.

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