For nearly a
decade, local politicians and promoters had wanted to bring Isaak to Stockton, only to be foiled by economics and
So the shows
Dec. 28 and 29 at the Fox were destined to be more than just concerts.
The evenings took on the air of a
reunion, with the audience including everyone from Isaak's parents (Dorothy and
Joe) and brothers (Nick and jeff) to childhood friends and high school
classmates, as well as hundreds of local fans.
In response, Isaak and Silvertone - Kenney Dale Johnson (drums), Rowland Salley
(bass), Hershel Yatovitz (guitar) and Brett Tuggle (keyboards) - turned ni a pair of 105-minute performances that mixed tracks from the group's latest release (1998's
"Speak of the Devil") with Isaak's biggest hits ("Wicked Game", "Baby Did A Bad Bad
Thing") and favorite covers (Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely", the Rivieras
Isaak dueted with brother Nick on "Don't Be Angry" and pulled local guitar hero Bill Stevens out of the audience to jam on the Bo Diddley rave-up
"A couple of songs before he actually did that, he pointed at the guitar and me; and I just kind of shook my head 'no'" Stevens said this
week. "Then he came down and was making the rounds down the front row. He just took his guitar off and put it around (me)."
Stevens and Isaak met more than 30 years ago playing Little League baseball. Stevens - now manager of Stockton's Music Box store - later helped a teenage Isaak maintain his guitar at the now-defunct Miracle Music.
Stevens said he couldn't help but feel a degree of pride watching Isaak onstage at the Fox.
"I felt, hometown boy makes good," Stevens said. "I felt some accomplishment that I knew him when and seeing the change and him not forgetting where he came from."
"That was a really nice thing for him to pick (Stevens) out." Dave Hurley
said. "Then, he got Nick out there, too."
Now vice principal at Bear Creek High School, Hurley and Isaak were Stagg High friends and
classmates. When they weren't preparing for tennis matches or speech and debate
competitions, the pair could be found strumming guitars and pondering the future.
Hurley and Isaak stayed in contact, and their conversations occasionally would touch on Isaak playing Stockton.
"We had been talking about it for years," Hurley said. "He'd say, 'I'm trying to work it out right
Isaak's return held a special significance for his Stagg
"I got a lot of phone calls," Hurley said. "I talked to a lot of people I haven't spoken to in a long time about Chris
coming. They were calling, and then we saw them at the show."
Hurley particularly appreciated the City Hall ceremony.
The culmination was when he got the badge and the key to the city", Hurley
said."Here was a guy who always worked against the system in high school. He was well-liked by
everybody, but with an edge to him." Hurley said he was impressed by how fame has changed the singer.
"Chris has always had a lot of confidence in his
ability." he said. "He was really cocky ... Chris thought a lot of himself in high
school. He did so many things so well.
"But all this success is giving Chris a lot of humility. He's just very, very down to
"I had to see Chris get the key to the city" Larry Meredith said. "It was quite
appropriate. It was really symbolic of his rise in the station of his own people and also of his national and international reputation as an
The religious studies professor emeritus taught Isaak at UOP. He spoke to his former student following the City Hall ceremony and also attended the second Fox performance. Both
times, he saw a man deeply satisfied at receiving his hometown's embrace.
"I think he loved being here." Meredith said. "It was a really big thrill to see that auditorium filled
twice. It was something of a seal of approval on his career, yes indeed."
Isaak spoke last year of performing annually in Stockton. His friends and fans would welcome that development and so would his
mother, albeit for different reasons.
"That guarantees that I would see him for Christmas every year," Dorothy Isaak
said. "It's just wonderful that he's around for the holidays and, of course, he loved
that, too. He loves Stockton."