Foxy Oakland

With apologies to Gertrude Stein and her famous remark about Oakland, Calif., there is definitely some there there, with the restored and reopened Fox and the classic Paramount theatres within two blocks of each other downtown, anchoring a revitalized arts district.

The Fox Oakland flung open its doors again Feb. 5 in a gala featuring vintage cars delivering special guests including mayor Ron Dellums, former Oakland mayor and California Attorney General Jerry Brown, Another Planet Entertainment’s Gregg Perloff and other VIPs who played critical roles in the return of the 70-year-old theatre to its former glory.

With a ribbon cutting, fire dancers and stilt walkers adding to the spectacle, supporters and local dignitaries danced to performances by Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, the Oakland School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble, The Oaktown Vaudeville Revue, the Decobelles and soprano Sophia Chew.

The Fox kicked off in earnest the following night with Social Distortion bringing a crowd that was more about tattoos than tuxedos. It has a wide variety of shows booked well into the year including the Ragga Muffins Festival, Cake, Modest Mouse, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Seal, M. Ward and the Decemberists.

The $75 million renovation of the historic landmark, purchased by the city in 2006 and operated by Another Planet, means that downtown Oakland is fast becoming a Bay Area entertainment destination.

With architectural touches combining Indian, Moorish and medieval influences, the building was nearly named “The Baghdad” when it opened in 1928, according to the Contra Costa Times. Its intricate ceiling and godlike statues on either side of the stage are as much a part of the experience as the artists on it.

The Fox, which had been in such disrepair that it actually discouraged investment in the Uptown district, is also an anchor and home to the Oakland School for the Arts.