If ever there were an excuse to marathon eat your weight in tacos (not possible, but fun to try), Taco Truck Throwdown is it.
The annual event, presented by the Fresno Grizzlies, brings together dozens of the central San Joaquin Valley’s best taco trucks in a taste-test competition and celebration of the Valley’s taco culture.
Such a thing exists and the team has tapped it big time, with special taco-themed team merchandise (this year’s shirts and hats were revealed last month) and a Fresno Tacos mascot. The payoff has come in media hype and massive crowds. The event set an attendance record for the team last season: Just under 17,000 fans came through Chukchansi Park.
They ate 38,000 tacos – or slightly more than two tacos a person, which means some people were there actually to watch baseball.
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For its sixth year, which happens Thursday, Aug. 18, the Throwdown will make space for the expected crowd (and 30 taco trucks) by taking over H Street just outside the ballpark. Admission to H Street activities still requires a game ticket.
There is no sleeping on this one. The event is expected to sell out.
The Weird Al of medicine
The event: Parody musician and internet celebrity doctor ZDoggMD performs at a Fresno Madera Medical Society Scholarship Foundation fundraiser.
The draw: Forbes Magazine just this week profiled ZDoggMD (real name Zubin Damania), calling the Fresno native (he graduated from Clovis West High School and trained in internal medicine at UCSF) the Weird Al of medicine.
Indeed, Damania has made a secondary career (he still works as a physician in Las Vegas) writing and recording health-care theme parody songs. The songs, shared on social media and through Damania’s YouTube page and sometimes performed live, tackle a range of health care issues, from end-of-life care to hospital’s re-admission rates. In them, Damania parodies everyone from Eminem and Jay Z to R. Kelly and Michael Jackson.
It’s hard to write a hit song, says Damania, who minored in ethnic musicology while in pre-med at UC Berkeley. It’s especially hard to write one that has any kind of long-term connection to people. By creatively tweaking a song people already know (turning Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” into a song about testicular self-exams, for example) he can convey a meaningful message in a way that really sticks.
“It’s very hard for people to forget that,” he says.
Damania is the keynote speaker for the event. He will perform a few songs.
Your new country favorites
The draw: This is your chance to get acquainted with your next new favorite country act.
Or that is the hope, says Eden, on the phone from her home in Nashville. The singer has spent the summer playing fairs, festivals and radio-sponsored shows like this.
“It’s such a cool thing what country radio does for its new artists,” she says.
Of course, Eden may be on the verge of becoming a breakthrough artist. Country Music Television named her to its “Next Women of Country” list; Vogue included her on its list of “10 Country ‘It’ Girls;” and People ranked her as one of “Seven New Country Acts You Should Check Out.” Following her Fresno performance, Eden plays the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival in New York. She is the only country artist on the bill.
If the singer is new to fans, she is not new to country music. Eden’s father was a carpenter by trade, but played drums in a country band in his off time. She started singing with the band at age 5. Her music is a mix of country, rock, pop and soul – in no particular order, she says – but country music is in her heart.
And her voice, apparently. She once auditioned to sing with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They loved her voice, but wanted to get the twang out of it.
Eden decided to stick it out on her own.
“There’s something about country music that always felt like home,” she says.
Details: 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, at Rotary Amphitheater at Woodward Park. $5. www.ksks.com