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I had the opportunity to meet with Troy Carlson, CEO of Stage Nine Entertainment Store and Exhibit Design, the creators of probably the most impressive exhibit at the California State Fair this year. “Rock U: The Institute of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” is located in building 5. This custom designed exhibit is an interactive adventure into one of America’s greatest institutions - Rock ‘n’ Roll. Admission is free with your entrance to the fair.
According to Carlson, “This really is a mix between a museum and an Exploratorium.”
The exhibit provides attendees museum style displays such as vintage posters and photos, while also providing plenty of hands-on exhibits.
(Image by: Randy Miramontez)
The exhibit features interactive stations covering the different origins of rock ‘n’ roll. Attendees are greeted by a “media tower” infused with memorabilia, rock instruments and gold records that tower over the exhibit. It’s quite a sight to see when first entering the exhibit.
The design focuses on three distinct ways that people have experienced Rock ’n’ Roll over the years. First up is the “The Studio Experience,” displaying highlights of the early days of the recording process. This area will feature costumed characters on the weekends.
Second is the “The Concert Experience,” an interactive multimedia display celebrating the live performance aspects of Rock ’n’ Roll, incorporating an extensive collection of rock posters, vintage wardrobes and listening stations that focus on live performances of the world’s favorite bands. I'm betting Tesla will be in there somewhere.
The third area, “The Playing Experience,” allows the audience to wander through and experience different interactive stations that allow them to play and explore the basic instruments in a rock band. The really nice part about the hands-on instrument section is the ability to play onstage or off with your own personal headphones, sparing other attendees from having to listen to the guitar- or drum- challenged.
Hands-on exhibits include:
Can you feel it?
You hear a musical instrument being played and must guess which instrument it is. You then stick your hand into a box and feel the instrument. You don’t get to see it, only feel it.
One hit wonders
A song is played and you must guess who the artist is. Trust me, when you hear the song, the name of the artist will be on the tip of your tongue, but you never quite get it.
(Image by: Randy Miramontez) Rainbow Records, one of the few remaining manufacturers of vinyl records, has a display of records in various stages of being manufactured. Go check out their site to see a video and learn about the record making process.
(Image by: Randy Miramontez) A display of all the different ways we have listened to music, including a Walkman and a working 8-track player. Carlson stated that they have a number of 8-track players as backup and they had already had to replace one. I just hope he has a two year supply!
(Image by: Randy Miramontez) Once you’ve completed the circuit, step into one of Sacramento’s most famous record stores, Dimple Records. Carlson said they wanted people to experience the totality of the music experience of Sacramento. To do that, he invited Dimple Records to set up a store within the exhibit. The store is complete with vinyl records and a wall filled with the history of rock ‘n’ roll.
Throughout the fair, the exhibit will feature Elvis, Buddy Holly and other impersonators. YouTube sensation Brodie Cumming is scheduled to appear July 15-17 & 29-31. Cumming will be playing the top 100 rock riffs in one take.
The California State Fair runs from July 14 through July 31.