Ken Garr is an iconoclast in the Santa Rosa Performing Arts scene.
Chances are you’ve already seen Ken perform his delightfully entertaining brand of Comedy Magic.
Ken’s presence is ubiquitous. Downtown Santa Rosa’s cornerstone shops still reminisce about the Mostly Magic Shop he ran for years with his friend Jon E. King, until recently giving up the retail responsibility to devote all of his time to his first love: performing Magic.
Ken is constantly working and experimenting with new performance venues in Northern California. You can see him transfixing patrons on Tuesday nights at the Sweet River Bar and Grill for the last ten years, or even at Sho Ka Wa Casino entertaining customers a few times a month. Ken’s the driving force behind many memorable magic traditions in town, such as the yearly fundraiser at the First United Methodist Church on Montgomery Avenue designed to raise funds for the choir and musicians.
What most folks don’t know about is his widespread influence on the local performing arts community. Ken not only produces and directs stage shows but also provides younger and older magicians a chance to try new routines in front of a live audience on stage, a wonderful esteem-building opportunity for any burgeoning performing arts aficionado. His Spooktacular at the Rohnert Park Community Center just completed its third year. The name belies a spooky Halloween theme, though it is a fun-hearted show that provides yet another opportunity for Ken to delight with his entertaining Comedy Magic, and to allow other aspiring magic talents a chance to showcase their creative initiatives.
When you think about it, all this variety, penchant for exploring new performing venues, and drive to entertain makes sense.
Ken’s experience is wildly diverse. Hooked on Magic at age 8, he performed his first paid magic show at the tender age of 14. After Ken won 1st place in a competition at the Midwest Magic Jubilee, he exploded onto the comedy club scene in the 80’s, and became a regular performer at the legendary Merlin McFly’s in San Francisco.
From there he toured with comedic icons of the day, such as Paula Poundstone and the legendary Pat Paulson, then began to appear on television commercials, cruises, trade shows, fairs, festivals, corporate events for Hewlett Packard and Intel, just to name a few.
Ken Garr became a favorite in the Sacramento downtown scene, repeatedly hired by Governor George Deukmejian, then went on to open for many stars in the country and jazz music festivals hosted in association with local wineries, that are such an integral part of the fabric of Northern California.
So what’s next? Recently, Ken Garr performed a unique and intimate, one-person evening show at the elegant LaRose hotel and restaurant in Railroad Square, a beautiful juxtaposition of art and history. Both the LaRose hotel and Ken’s choice of deceptive entertainment proved to be fitting tributes to the rich history intrinsic to this Santa Rosa landmark, and to the art of legerdemain.
Ken Garr is the winning ingredient in our performing arts olla podrida, a true creative tour-de-force. A local gem. We can’t wait to see what’s next!