By August 3, 2015 Read More →


By Eric Benson

“If you luv music your gonna luv this”
I’ve been around a while and often amazed but rarely surprised but I was recently when I saw the Tim Allen Band in the Center Plaza Friday 24th of July. Now Tim Allen has surprised me before. Once at a garden party gig he was playing bass and me keys, on break he went in the house and sat down at a grand piano and pounded out 20 or 30 tunes of Elton John and Billy Joel with vocals to a stunned crowd. I asked him “when were you going to tell me you played piano?” Tim’s response “you didn’t ask.” Tim Allen plays with me in the Blue Monday Band that hosts the jam session at the second Monday event at the Barkin’ Dog Grill and he always plays and sings great but when I saw him on the plaza playing the music of his choosing with his own arrangements and even original tunes I was blown away. He sang a cover of “Signed Sealed Delivered” by Stevie Wonder, I closed my eyes and he sang every bit as good as Stevie. The band was smoking also with Joe Barretta on guitar and vocals, Dave Rogers on guitar and bass and Aron Faria on drums. The material spanned 80’s material from Beatles to Yes, Level 42, Kool & the Gang, James Taylor, Billy Joel with tunes you don’t hear bands try and play everyday. I hope to hear more from the Tim Allen band in the future, ‘cause they’re smoking!

Blue Monday Party & invitational jam returns to the Barkin’ Dog Grill the second Monday August 10th, with special guest Modesto’s own singer songwriter and guitar slinger Joe Barretta. Joe is probably one of the best songwriters in popular, R & B, Jazz that the valley has ever produced. Joe’s vocals and guitar playing are influenced by Robin Ford, Bobby Caldwell, as well as others. He has played with and shared the stage with: Tower of Power alumni, Charlie Musclewhite, Chris Cain, Dave Matthew’s, and others.

On Blue Monday, the house band Ultra Lounge will accompany Joe Barretta featuring: Johnny Valdes guitar, Tim Allen bass, vocals, Dave Hawks on drums, Eric Benson, Pat Governor on Keys, Andrew Rosenblum on horns and sax. The jam this month will features Jazz, R & B, Funk, Latin and a little of everything else with special guests sitting in for listening and dancing. Show from 7 to 10:00 PM with food and drink available in all age venue. Call the Dog for reservations: 572-2341. Blue Monday Party in September 14th brings in Barry finerty acid Jazz guitarist rocks the house with hopefully Dave Mathews Keys. If you play come on down and sit in with the best musicians in the area, it’s gonna be smoking.

The Gallo Center for the Arts continues with their diverse booking in August: Los Tucanes De Tijuana 8/14, and Valley’s Got Talent 8/28 and the 29th.

The State Theatre has been bringing some amazing films the Amy wine house documentary was great especially if you’re a fan to a very talented artist short lived. On the music side Uncle Lonnie one of our do-gooder promoters is bringing in Carolyn Wonderland and Big Earl & the Cryin Shame on August 29th.

And off the beaten track Newman, West Side Theatre in restored theatre environment brings in August: 8th Daniel Castro Band, 15th Unauthorized stones Tribute with Rudy Colombani, and 22nd Rob Ely. Call for the lowdown on the how down: 862-4490/

Live music in DEWZ Wine Bar in August booked by your truly: Eric Benson continues live music on Friday and Saturday nights 7 to 10:00 PM, incorporating the best local musicians playing in the intimate wine bar environment. What I have booked for all you music lovers in August is: Sat 2nd singer songwriter Nick Campos, Sat 8th and 15th Tim Allen pianist and vocalist does Elton to Billy Joel and 80’s, Friday 14th Pat Durr and Auron Durr from Home Grown Band, Friday 21th Third Party Beatles tribute with Chris Murphy and Gary Nelson, Sat 22 & 29th Jazz guitar duo John King & Robin Montgomery, Friday 28th Jazz pianist Kent Gripenstraw. The room is small so best to call for a table if you know you’re coming if you want a seat.

Lowdown on the jam session in the downtown: Barkin’ Dog Thursday night jazz jams with Dave Dow, Queen Bean Sundays open mike night also in an all age environment.

Remember please support our local live venues for live music and the arts. So take some time out to hear some live music and the arts of our own town as well this month, think globally and act locally.

All the best, peace out! Eric Benson, cell 209, 918-7033.



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