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Famous Mo’s has the ticket to local entertainment in Rocklin

Venue offers coffeehouse, dinner theater, live music
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald correspondent
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Famous Mo’s

Where: 4147 Rocklin Road, Rocklin

Hours: Internet Café open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; doors open for evening entertainment at 6:30 p.m. on show nights.

Info: www.famousmos.net; (916) 259-1314

No one can feel the volume of live entertainment more than Jesse Horn.

The self-described blues and classic rock guy was ready for something new when it came time to retire from his management job. Horn had an idea kicking around in his head for years. His wish: a comfortable, local place to enjoy live music.

“It all started in my head with Foreigner’s lyrics, ‘couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold-out show,’” Horn remembered. “Because I could not get a ticket to show I wanted to see and if I did it was going to cost $1,000. I want to have a venue where the public can enjoy an evening of quality music, a dinner show or a hot local act at a reasonable price.”

Horn’s concept seemed simple enough. He wanted a music entertainment venue where locals pay in advance for dinner and a show in a friendly, convenient location. The music lover who grew up in Loomis and now calls Colfax home searched throughout South Placer County for the perfect venue that could feature the hottest local acts in jazz, blues, Americana, folk, funk, soul and bluegrass, plus be open for dinner theaters, comedy nights and any exclusive touring acts.

Longtime supporter and friend Carol Smith also believed in Horn’s vision. After years in development, Horn’s dream be-came a reality in March when he and Smith opened Famous Mo’s Coffeehouse and Theater on Rocklin Road. Named after Maurice “Mo” Otis Horn, the legendary Big Gun Quarry miner who traveled the world playing cool blues and jazz on a beat-up guitar, Famous Mo’s is a friendly spot where locals can gather to conduct business, enjoy breakfast, eat lunch or book dinner and a show.

“We proudly feature local roasting company Vaneli’s Coffee, based in Rocklin, as our exclusive brew,” said Dana Papastathis, Famous Mo’s marketing coordinator and local musician. “By day we feature all the amenities that you would find in a chain coffee shop and Internet café, including light breakfast and healthy lunchtime opt-ions, free Wi-Fi and a drive-thru window, all at a convenient location. On show nights, we will feature the hottest local acts … our theater menu features an array of small plates, appetizers and fresh, homemade soups.”

Horn and Smith are also planning for wine tastings, business mixers and local fundraisers. They created Famous Mo’s as a sophisticated, cabaret-style theater where all 99 seats in the house have a great view of the stage. The building on Rocklin Road used to house a bank and has solid, concrete block walls with a 3-inch concrete roof, allowing for exceptional acoustics.

Papastathis has years of experience with the local music scene and is booking musicians on regular rotation, including local SAMMIE award-winning jazz singer Vivian Lee, the popular Sacramento funk band Joy and Madness, Memphis Soul Review, Foxtrot Mary and Mr. December.

“Be on the lookout for a few novelty tribute acts as well that will make you question whether you’re actually watching the real artists or not,” Papastathis shared. “We will also be importing some very important touring acts as they are available … names like Michael Jackson guitarist Jennifer Batten this summer, whose multimedia show is one to not be missed.”

Famous Mo’s will also feature novelty acts such as The Divine Diva Review, Dana Moret of Stoneground and Julie Morris of Mercy Me. Chip Yeager, the bassist for blues act Jeramy Norris and The Dangerous Mood, played at the grand opening festivities.

“It is really nice and roomy here, very comfortable,” Yeager said. “Mo’s is in an area that’s a little unexpected, so it’s a nice surprise.”

Linda Menefee and Joe Meinhart drove down from Auburn to check out the theater.

“Good live music is hard to find anymore,” Meinhart said. “We used to go to Constable Jack’s before it closed. It’s great that we’ve got a place to go now.”

A vestige of live entertainment that has resurfaced, ready for a large hangout of friends or an intimate dinner for two, Famous Mo’s has made a new home for café dining and evening performance arts in Rocklin.

“We’ve been trying to do this concept for more than four years in other areas,” Horn said. “The city of Rocklin has bent over backward to help us with this project so far. From the City Manager Rick Horst down, it’s been great. I can’t say how great it is to work with a pro-business, friendly town.”