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AcousticView – Top of the Barrel

Acoustic View By Aaron Rowan

Top Of The Barrel

It’s beginning to look a lot like MUMfest! In addition to the upcoming main weekend festival (April 4-6), which features a wide range of acoustic sounds, there will be a succession of daylong, more genre-oriented mini-fests throughout this year. The first such event is called ‘Americana Hustle’ and will take place on Saturday afternoon 2/15, at two venues just a short block apart: Café Deva (J & 12th St.) from 3-6:30 PM, and Peer Recovery Art Project (J & 13th) from 12-6. Comb over….. eh, I mean, come over and enjoy Americana talent from around the northern San Joaquin Valley including Bethany & The Pick ’N Pull, Tractor-Boy Chris Ward, Andrew Alvarez, Chris Farris, Erin Odessa, Ben Vogel and more; plus visiting headliners including bay area Americana/punk group Vagabondage and a trio of Aussie songbirds: Carrie Henschell, Sue Ray and Melissa Fraser. 14 wonderful singer/songwriter acts total! No cover at Deva, and a $10 donation at Peer Recovery. Future mini-MUMfests will be devoted to string music, country/western, bluegrass, and vintage/lounge/jazz tunes.

My good friend Roy Dean has recently found his way back to Modesto, and is as hard at work as ever making music, now performing as Sparrow Grove with his better half Cortnee. I’ve been acquainted with Roy for years but have only had the honor of really getting to know him over the past couple months, and he has been a blessing like few people I have known on the local music circuit.

Roy has just released a new album, ‘The Gospel Road’, featuring 7 songs in the old-time/gospel vein. Roy’s gritty, down-home songwriting is as cool as ever, and Cortnee’s backup vocals on a song or two make things all the sweeter. Standout tracks are the opening duet ‘Come The Sunrise,’ and ‘Golden Shores.’ No preachiness here, just a guy sharing what’s in his ten-sizes-too-big heart. You can find that album as well as an archive compilation at sparrowgrove.bandcamp.com.

The somewhat nomadic indie folk outfit The Breaking Yard, currently based in Portland, bring their orchestral sound back to Modesto on Wednesday 2/5 for an unplugged show at the Hotel Euterpe (my house concert series.) Stockton songwriter Sue Dean will open the evening. You can email me at crashdog3@yahoo.com for more info.

Saturday 2/8, a special treat: a bluegrass double bill at Tuolumne River Lodge (2429 River Rd.) featuring Nu-Blu on tour from North Carolina, and The Sisters Grim Band from southern CA. Show starts at 7pm; advance tickets $12 by calling 529-5910 or 534-9284.

Friday 2/21, catch Nashville songbirds Jessica Campbell & Sara Beth Geoghegan giving a wonderful listening-room set hosted by my good friend Sue Cotter starting at 7 PM. Email cottersL@yahoo.com for details.

Friday 2/21, country/western crooner Juni Fisher (three-time Western Music Association winner for female performer and 2011 WMA entertainer of the year) is featured at the Great Valley Songwriter Series held at Central Grace Church (918 Sierra Dr. @ 1st St.) at 7:30 PM. $10 donation at the door.

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