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Hundreds pack Vernon Street to see Sammy Hagar

Music icon says Roseville’s old town is becoming special again
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, The Press Tribune
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Roseville’s redder than ever.

That was the message from the famed “Red Rocker,” Sammy Hagar, who christened his new bar and grill Saturday to deafening applause from a mob of fans that filled a city block. Before Hagar was done talking to the crowd, he would stress his admiration for the unique entertainment vibe in the oldest quarter of the city.

Fans began showing up around 4 p.m. for the exclusive VIP kick-off of Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar & Grill, an event which sectioned-off all of Vernon Street from the Washington Boulevard underpass to Lincoln Street. By 4:45 the street was taking on a hot, bustling fair-like atmosphere, with residents along the street enjoying beer, wine and food from nonprofit vending booths. Event-goers who wandered inside of the island bar & grill got a full taste of its décor, including the bright, tropical tones on modern designs and the array of guitars and surfboards pointing from the bar to the impressive stage.

After a performance by regional rock band The Pinder Brothers, a huge crowd flocked to the outdoor stage in anticipation of getting close to Hagar. One person who was waiting in baited suspense was Brad White of Placerville. Clad in a flamed-patterned shirt that read, “Hagar Rules,” White was clutching a framed photograph of himself standing with Hagar and Van Halen in 1993. White was determined to get the photo signed by the former boxer turned platinum-selling music artist. For White, Hagar’s new venue in Roseville may bring a welcomed dose of energy to the city.

“When I first heard he was coming here, I was trippin’” White said. “I didn’t know why he would do it in Roseville. But then I understand there’s a need for rock 'n' roll in this town, and who better to step up and bring it than Hagar.”

White later managed to get his photo signed.

Hagar was introduced to the crowd by Kat Maudru, a DJ for 96.9 The Eagle. “How does it feel to be part of history?” Maudru asked the cheering crowd.

Hagar took the stage and was presented a key to the city by Roseville Mayor Pauline Roccucci.

“It’s great to be given a key to the city, but I’m not going to use it,” Hagar joked. “Maybe I’ll save it as a get-out-of-jail free card the next time I’m here and get into trouble.”

Hagar commended Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar & Grill developer Steve Pease, who managed to use proceeds from the opening ceremony to channel $40,000 to local charities. In the weeks leading up to the event, Pease had told the Press Tribune that he and The Roseville Community Development Corporation were hoping Hagar’s new live music destination would be a major spark plug for Vernon Street, adding to its one-of-a-kind character. Hagar echoed that sentiment during his stage appearance Saturday.

“This is really a good place,” he said. “This is the old part of the city. It’s got history. It’s got soul.”

Before heading into Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar and Grill to play with his band, the Wabos, Hagar made a reference to his nickname, The Red Rocker, and the imagery connected to Roseville.

“When you think of Roseville, you think of a rose,” he said. “And what color is a rose? We’re going to turn this whole city into red heads!”

Shortly after uttering these words, Hagar was presented with a rose-shaped guitar made by students of the Woodshop Rocks program at Buljan Jr. High School. Hagar and the Wabos then headed into the packed bar. Special ticket-holders watched him strap his guitar on from inside the new venue while the rest of the crowd gathered around a large digital outdoor screening of the show. Hagar opened his high-octane performance with his mega-hit, “I Can’t Drive 55.”