Jazz and Blues View By Eric Benson Get ready, spring is around the corner and ready to burst on the scene with flowers, color, renewal and oh yes, pollen. So get your trees pruned, your plants fertilized and get ready to sow so you can reap! March also brings St. Patrick’s Day and plenty to celebrate. On the family friendly side, in Sonora, there’s the Celtic Faire March 9-11th and in Murphy the Irish Day Celebration on March 17th.

I recently went to 2 musical events with youngsters in the lineup and was pleasantly surprised. The Valentine’s Day event at Deva Café featured Audio Dynamite, a teen rock trio that can really play. Mathew on lead vocals and guitar, Paul on drums and vocals, and the bassist rocked the crowd playing rock standards that I grew up playing years ago. You can see more of Audio Dynamite most Thursdays opening for Johnny & Kelly at P. Wexford’s Pub andRestaurant in Modesto. They are also slated on the St. Patrick’s Day Music Fest from 12-8:00 p.m. at the Vintage Gardens Modesto.

The other nice surprise was seeing Francesca Hayward, winner of the Gallo event“Who’s got Talent 2011” at the Village Bakery Saturday February 18th. I had to see her after googling her version of “Billy Jean” on YouTube. She had a good room with a proud mom hanging on every lyric. Her version was nice but what I enjoyed the most was her ability to back herself up with an Elton John pianist style that supported her vocal style nicely. Her version of Adele’s “Rollin in the Deep” did justice too with her soaring rock solid soprano.

On the scene: the State Theatre continued to rock the house with great shows, Mark Hummel’s Harmonica Blowout, guitar slinger Eric Johnson, Ronnie Montrose kicking out the jam, Heartbreaker, a Led Tribute, and now March 9th brings in the Punk rock influenced 80’s Band, the Motels. March 17th another Tribute Journey, (the unauthorized Tribute) comes through. Call the State (209) 527-4697, or check out www.thestate.org for the lowdown on upcoming shows. More tributes in store with the Gallo Center have Aeromyth March 3rd, and Tribute to the Blues Brothers on 30th and 31st. And it’s a ways out but get your tickets for K.D. Lang coming to Modesto June 29th! Check out: www.galloarts.org.

The bands play on at the Barkin’ Dog Grill supporting live music in an all-age environment. The food is good in a casual setting and the mighty John Black of JB Presents continues booking some roots music. The Barkin’ Dog also has a Jazz Jam with David Dow on Thursdays where musicians can sit in and network. Andmore on the Jazz side: Johnny Valdez and Eric Benson Presents are bringing in the Mighty John Stowell Monday March 5th for a master class on Jazz guitar with show at local venue to follow. Call me: 918-7033, email: Mbenson@fire2wire.com for the lowdown.

Chef’s of New York features singing great Cathy Canales on Saturdays. Deva Café Thursday night Ramble features the house band Big Earl & Poorhouse Millionaires with Eli Lester on guitar. If you get out only one Thursday make sure it’s the Third Thursdays Art Walk in the Downtown cause ever in the chill of winter there is a lot of events happening that night. The Boardroom continues an ambitious schedule of live music 4 nights a week. Tim Allen does his piano and vocal thing with some Elton and Joel covers as well as the standards on Tuesdays. Thursdays feature Neil Buettner and Matt Harrington,Friday’s dynamic duo Johnny & Kelly, and Saturdays rotate with: MCW Band, Strange Brew, The Nines, & Public Domain. And on March 11, Beth Shalom’s Sunday event features Jayme Stone an eclectic Bela Fleck style banjo player who sites influence from Bill Frisell, to Brazilian lit, to Japanese poetry, Check out: www.cbsmodesto.org/concerts.

Off the beaten path: the Clarion Hotel & Shooters on Sisk road have open mike Mondays, Wednesdays with the Creole Jazz Kings and every third Sunday feature trad-Jazz jammers with host bands for listening and dancing. And my favorite R & B, Funk and groovalicious Band, the Valley Rhythm Section is playing March 3rd and the 31st for dancing featuring the lovely Tanya Sweet on vocals.

The West Side Theatre in Newman, well worth the drive from Modesto, continues with an eclectic lineup in a restored theatre environment. On the calendar March 3rd Red Molly, 3-part harmony and folk, March 10th Blues man Daniel Castro Band, March 31st Red Dog Ash, Bluegrass music. For more info check out: www.westsidetheatre.org, or call (209) 862-4490.

And I know I am preaching to the choir but please support our local music stores: Skip’s Music, Barker’s Music, Ingram & Braun, Gottschalk, and Langlois Music so they stay in business. Think globally but shop locally. Any co-conspirators or partners in crime want to get in touch I am on Facebook. I also encourage all of you to send me your info and I will send it out on weekly emails and in the Modesto View. Hit me at: mbenson@fire2wire.com, or give me a holler at (209) 918-7033. All the best, Eric Benson, peace out.



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