Nevada County Arts Council announces MasquerAid, a free benefit concert on Sunday July 25 at Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Produced by Paul Emery and supported by the Agle Family Trust, attendees can expect a celebration of the very best music, presented in partnership with three favorite local bands, Achilles Wheel, Earles of Newtown and Sugar Mountain.

The evening begins with a reception, a no-host bar and access to the Granucci Gallery’s Off The Wall exhibition, then a three-act concert in the Center’s newly transformed auditorium – with general seating and plenty of space to dance. Eliza Tudor, Executive Director at Nevada County Arts Council, says: “Last summer, at the height of the pandemic, we presented WHAT A RELIEF!, an online festival raising funds for our local professional artists through our Artist Relief Fund. This year, we are thrilled to be working with the Center to co-present MasquerAid, which supports this fund through the slow re-opening of California.”

John and Audry Agle, who through their family trust are sponsoring MasquerAid, add: “The events of the last year challenged our community in many ways, including a suspension of our opportunities to celebrate together. It is our honor and privilege to support the efforts of the MasquerAid artists and staff.  We’re very grateful to the Center for donating the venue, and hope attendees will give generously to the Artist Relief Fund.  Let’s join hands and minds, and march together into a future we share.”

Nevada County Arts Council and a coalition of local arts organizations launched the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund last summer and by year end had been able to support close to thirty artists across all disciplines. This year, the Council and its partners want to remind the public that it’s still possible to contribute to the fund in support of professionals working in the field of the performing, literary and visual arts.

Says Amber Jo Manuel, Executive Director at the Center for the Arts: “MasquerAid is all about our enjoyment of live music from some of our most cherished local performing artists. We are grateful to the Agle Family Trust for supporting this special celebration, and are happy to offer it free of charge to a community hungry for togetherness. At the same time, we hope everyone will reach into their pockets and give generously in support of our artists.”

A special feature of MasquerAid will be the presence of two key members of the community who have played important roles at particular moments in the Center’s evolution. Jon Blinder served the Center’s board of directors from 1999 through 2010, and as its board president from 2000 to 2007. Paul Emery, producer for MasquerAid, served during this time as the Center’s executive director. Says Blinder, who is now Nevada County Arts Council’s board president: “While making this great concert available to all, several generations of the Center’s leadership is coming together with Nevada County Arts Council for the benefit of our artists and our community.”

The goal is to raise $10,000 both in the run up and during MasquerAid, and these funds will then be made available for local performing artists to apply for micro-grants. Paul Emery says: “It’s going to be fun. From the moment the doors open, there’ll be so much to enjoy – from the Center’s brand new space, to the no-host bar, the Granucci Gallery’s show and mingling with friends during the reception, to relishing the great music from the comfort of our seats or shaking a leg on the Center’s incredible new dance floor. Personally, I can’t wait to hear Achilles Wheel, Earles of Newtown and Sugar Mountain performing once again at the Center after such a long closure.”

The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on America’s arts sector. Since the first U.S. case was reported in January 2020, cancellations and closings took place for thousands of arts organizations across the country, with two-thirds of the nation’s artists unemployed by late spring.

Now, according to the 2021 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, total creative-sector job losses in California are estimated at 175,360. And since California represents the biggest creative economy in the US, the results can be seen as indicative of broader nationwide trends. Adding to this grim picture, two studies published by Californians for the Arts have found that a large number of creative workers are considering relocating from California in the absence of additional economic aid.

Says Tudor: “Let’s not allow this to happen here in Nevada County. Our creative sector is a formidable industry in its own right – an industry that prior to the pandemic drove annual revenues of close to $47m in economic activity. Let’s keep this sector healthy, support our local professional artists, and be part of the solution as our California Cultural Districts here help drive our community’s overall recovery.”

WHO: Nevada County Arts Council and The Center for the Arts

WHAT: MasquerAid! – A Benefit Concert and Celebration to Support the Nevada County Artist Relief Fund

WHERE: The Center for the Arts, 314 W Main St, Grass Valley, CA 95945

WHEN: Sunday, July 25 – Doors open at 5pm, Music starts at 6:30pm

COST: Free (donations welcomed)

INFO: Register to attend MasquerAid! at

DONATE: Support Nevada County artists at

Achilles Wheel

Achilles Wheel is a California band that blurs the lines between genres with a mix of infectious high energy dance beats and stark lyrical ballads. Roots Rock storytelling combined with dance hall psychedelia.

Much like life itself, their music breathes in and out with joy and pain, hurtling forward like a wheel, intent on hope and love.  They play hard as a way to break down walls and celebrate life.  Their idealism is not diminished by the harsh light of the modern world as we struggle to live free and have a good time… and in the end – hopefully make a difference.  Achilles Wheel fearlessly sings out to these times, the here and now.

The Wheel began 2018 with the release of their 4th studio album “Sanctuary”. From sweaty dance halls to intimate acoustic shows, the band never tires of relating to their audience and will keep playing until the conversation is complete.

Learn more about Achilles Wheel here:

Earles of Newtown

Earles of Newtown are an Electric Gypsy Jazz band cross-pollinating both vintage and modern beat culture into an intoxicating crowd-pleasing elixir. This Vaudevillian inspired musical circus is comprised of an 8-piece wrecking crew of heavy hitters recruited throughout Northern California.

Earles of Newtown’s focus is on great original music, and providing the audience a highly entertaining stage presence featuring, the Ringmaster-like antics of lead singer/washboard expert, Chad Connor Crow and shared with band founding member Earle Ford’s solid and intense stage presence as musical director trumpet-master and co-vocalist. The band is made entirely of All-star level players that include Western Swing Hall of a Fame member, guitarist Bob Woods.

Learn more about Earles of Newtown here:

Sugar Mountain

Sugar Mountain, the sweet & sultry Northern California duo consisting of acclaimed vocalists Karen Woerner & Cassidy Joy, brings you music from multiple decades and genres, all in beautiful harmony. Karen & Cassidy have been playing together and individually for the past six years, and have an eclectic mix of Folk, Country, Rock, R&B, Pop and traditional songs, ranging from the 50’s to modern day, and even a few original tunes in the mix as well.

Old songs are arranged in an ethereal, poignant manner to make the tunes their own. Their sound is sweet as candy, soft but strong, powerful and seductive. Listeners will be pleased to hear all their favorites, as well as brand new songs in the works.”

Learn more about Sugar Mountain and Cassidy Joy Music here: