The ‘reel’ deal: The Center for the Arts and Nevada City Film Festival team up for music film screenings |

The ‘reel’ deal: The Center for the Arts and Nevada City Film Festival team up for music film screenings

By Jennifer Nobles
Special to the Prospector


The Rolling Stones famously sang the words “it’s only rock ‘n’ roll but I like it.”

Taking a page from their book, The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley has decided to host a series of music and concert-themed films on select Wednesdays throughout the summer and into the fall. Rock ‘n’ Reels, as it is called, will feature an array of some of the most famous music films from the past half-century.

The Center completed an extensive renovation of its venue just prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic and are eager not only to welcome audiences back into its space but to have the opportunity to show off its new state-of-the-art Meyer sound system, which executive director Amber Jo Manuel said will make the film series a more enjoyable and immersive experience.

“I want [audiences] to know the music will be really loud and will sound fantastic,” Manuel said. “Our programming committee said ‘let’s blast that music.’”

The programming committee of which Manuel spoke is made up of local music lovers — not members of The Center’s board or staff. She credited them with coming up with the idea for the film series.

Rock ‘n’ Reels is sponsored by the Nevada City Film Festival which will be holding its own fest Aug. 27 through Sept. 3 and online Aug. 27 through Sept. 12. The festival marks its 21st year and continues to be celebrated as one of the best film festivals in the country.

“The wonderful Jesse Locks [executive director of the film festival] volunteered her time to help us get the films we’re screening,” Manuel said.

“The Nevada City Film Festival is excited to partner with The Center in this fun series of music documentaries, films and concerts,” said Locks. “It’s one thing to watch these classic films at home on your TV or laptop and another to enjoy them on a big screen with an epic sound system and plenty of room to dance around with your friends.

“This kind of experience reminds us why we love going to the movies so much; it transports us someplace far away, where we forget our troubles for a couple of hours and are entertained and inspired.”

The list of films that will be screened as part of Rock ‘n’ Reels is impressive and — at this time — not yet totally complete.

Takling Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” will screen July 14, Prince’s “Purple Rain” will show on July 28, and “The Last Waltz” starring The Band will play Aug. 11. The series will continue Aug. 25 with the classic John Belushi/Dan Ackroyd film “The Blues Brothers,” “Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii” on Sept. 8, and on Sept. 29 another screening will take place with a selection yet to be announced.

In addition to the entertainment that will be provided, Manuel pointed out that The Center will be offering drinks and snacks, not to mention a respite from the summer heat. After a grueling and unpredictable year, she said The Center is excited to welcome audiences back and has recently held a number of concerts for the first time since it was forced to go quiet.

“We had about 200 people for [local band] Aaron Ross & The Peach Leaves,” said Manuel. “It was overwhelming – I think I cried a little because I couldn’t believe how hard we worked and it was finally coming into fruition.”

There is a possibility that The Center will hold another Rock ‘n’ Reels series, but nothing is quite cast in stone.

“We’ll see how it goes,” she said. “A lot of musical artists have put their touring plans on hold until 2022.

“The Center is a crown jewel for the community. We create programs that are for everyone. We want to provide these movies so everyone can enjoy them.”

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Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer based in her hometown of Nevada City. She can be reached at


WHAT: Rock ‘n’ Reels music film series

WHERE: The Center for the Arts, 314 West Main Street, Grass Valley

WHEN: Select Wednesdays now through Sept. 29

TICKETS & INFO: or 530-274-8384

The series will continue Aug. 25 with the classic John Belushi/Dan Ackroyd film “The Blues Brothers.”
“The Last Waltz” starring The Band will play Aug. 11.
Provided photo
“Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii” will screen on Sept. 8.
Provided photo
Prince’s “Purple Rain” will show on July 28.
Provided photo
Takling Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” will screen July 14.
Provided photo

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