What are your plans this New Year's Eve? Depending on what you have in mind, there won't be a shortage of options in Bakersfield. From big-ticket extravaganzas to scaled-down affairs, many local restaurants, nightclubs and bars, will be vying for your dinner reservation or spot on the dance floor. Despite the less-than-festive economy, local venues have taken some creative steps to assure you won't have a reason to stay home this year.
To help get you in the mood, we've compiled a list of Bakersfield's best bets to get your New Year's Eve groove on. Put together your favorite party duds and plan accordingly. As always, make sure you have a designated driver and party responsibly.
The Bellvedere's Double Header
One local bar making party time accessible is the Bellvedere. Offering not one but two chances to celebrate, early birds can start at 10 a.m. with a potluck lunch. Once the clock strikes noon, attendees can shout "Happy New Year," with everyone in attendance.
Bellvedere bartender Sissy Garrett, who's celebrated her share of parties mixing up festive libations, decided to bring back the daytime event this year after getting requests.
"It's been about four years since we've held it last," she said. We have a lot of regulars that don't go out at nighttime, so we celebrate the whole day. Everyone brings a little something to eat. There's no dress code, so we get a wide variety of people. Who doesn't want to start partying at 10 a.m. on New Year's Eve?" The nighttime soiree starts with live music, but no potluck. Garrett advises guests to plan their own meal unless they like salted peanuts for dinner.
Duck Soup at The Crystal Palace
Buck Owens' Crystal Palace is changing its tune this year. Known for throwing some of the city's bigger New Year's shows starring Hollywood actors like Vince Vaughn and Gary Sinise, this year they've decided to go golfing, so to speak.
"We're the unofficial band of the PGA Tour," said Sam Irwin, lead vocalist of Austin-based band Duck Soup, of his group's claim to cover fame. "We do everything you can imagine: The Beatles; Rolling Stones; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Who; Alabama; lots of Motown."
Discovered by PGA organizers 18 years ago during a show in Austin, Irwin and crew have become a regular fixture at tournament parties from Phoenix to New Orleans. Traveling to Bakersfield for the first time, Irwin said he's been bragging to friends since getting booked for New Year's Eve.
"We did a big charity show at a golf course backing up different singers. When I made the big announcement that Buck was about to come onstage, the crowd just rushed the stage. He was definitely the star of the evening. I had to sing backup, and got to see the magic that the guy created."
Darren Gholston at DoubleTree
Saxophonist Darren Gholston is reviving his annual New Year's concert party at the DoubleTree next Friday to offer Bakersfield another great party alternative.
"I stopped doing my New Year's show in 2005 because I wanted to bring my family, and I know there are others who'd like to do the same with theirs."
Known for his soulful live shows, Gholston has been a popular draw around Bakersfield for years as a featured performer at the Cal State Jazz Festival. He's also thrown regular concerts around town with some big-name guests, including actor/musician Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
"I'll doing my jazz show, but I'm also incorporating a lot of old school for dancing. I call it contemporary jazz with some soul," he said. "This is for the grown folks."
Joining Gholston onstage will be: Robin Bramlett, bass; Kevin Teasley, keyboards; drummer Lamont Sydnor; bass; and Jorge Evans, guitar.
"I'm happy that so many quality things are going on. "You can't say that there aren't things to do in Bakersfield," he said.
Gholston's New Year's Eve concert will be begin at 8 p.m. with DJ music until 10 p.m., followed by the Gholston and band from 10 to midnight. After the concert, DJ music will return until 1:30 a.m.