Jazz and Blues View by Eric Benson

And now that Christmas has come and gone once again we lift a glass to Auld Lang Syne and it’s time to make those resolutions or at least some darn good intentions for the New Year. I am resolving to continue to push and support live musicwhether at our upscale venues or on the street corner by any means possible to keep our community alive and vibrant. Although times are tough and it’s too soon to be singin “happy days are here again” there is room for optimism and hope that things will get better. As Mike Wolf Steinway-endorsed Jazz pianist says “in this economy everybody’s a Jazz musician, everyone is struggling,” but this too shall pass.

Optimism there is at the State Theatre, recent shows of Tommy Castro, Elvin Bishop, and Tower of Power rocked the house, and family-friendly events of showings of Polar Express and NotCracker have also done well. Local promoters are in the State’s show lineup with Reg Evans of Central Valley Music Group that presented Angelinawith Fiesta Boyz and Daluzion delivering urban music to the scene. My hope is the State becomes more user friendly and be a much needed home for local musicians.

Smoking hot shows for January: Harmonica Blowout Jan. 26th, Eric Johnson Jan. 27th, Ronnie Montrose Feb. 4th Info at: www.thestate.org

The Gallo Center is continuing to bring in a wide variety of regional and national acts with sold out shows for Dave Koz and Myth Busters. Though the Gallo is rather formal for my taste I went to the Roberta Flack show and it was a gas.

Gallo Hits For January: Lily Tomlin Jan. 14th, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Jan. 15th and February 1st Judy Collins. 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 JohnBlack of JB Presents continues to bring in smoking local and regional R & B acts. The Barkin’ Dog also has a Jazz Jam with David Dow on Thursdays where musicians can sit in and network.

Camp 4 Wine Café, Fuzio’s, Chefs of New York and Galleto are all supporting weekly live music. Deva features the weekly Thursday Night Ramble, presented by Eli Lester and house band Big Earl. 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 in the downtown continues an ambitious schedule of live music 4 nights a week. Tuesdays Tim Allen does his piano and vocal thing, Thursdays are Neil Beuttner and Matt Harrington, Friday’s dynamic duo Johnny & Kelly, and Saturdays rotate with: MCW Band, Strange Brew, The Nines, & Public Domain. Dress code weekends so call so you don’t offend, (209) 409-8665 for details.

Off the beaten path: the Clarion Hotel & Shooters on Sisk road have open mike Mondays, Wednesdays with the Creole Jazz Kings, Thursdays Vibes & Verbswith the Fine Line, and every third Sunday feature trad-Jazz jammers with host bands for listening and dancing. And the St. Claire Theatre on 7th Street features Saturday comedy shows. Sunday afternoons at Congregation Beth Shalom showcase on Jan 15th Modesto’s own guitar virtuoso Eli Lester. Check out: www.cbsmodesto.org/concerts.

The Peace Life Center brings in a touch of folk with John McCutcheon on Jan. 24th. For those fans of Latin music King Kabob has Salsa Wednesdays with dance lessons, and Azucar Latin Grill features Salsa on Friday and Saturdays.

The West Side Theatre in Newman, well worth the drive from Modesto, continues with an eclectic lineup in a restored theatre environment. The shows return in January. On the calendar: Jan. 21st the Refugees, (Tom Petty Tribute), Jan. 28th Caravanserai, (Santana Tribute), and Feb. 25th Aja Vu, (Steely Dan Tribute). For more info check out: www.westsidetheatre.org, or call (209) 862-4490.

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 ModestoView. Hit me at: mbenson@fire2wire.com, or give me a holler at (209) 918-7033. All the best, Eric Benson, peace out.



Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.