By June 5, 2015 Read More →

Unplugged View – Great Scott!

Unplugged View
By Aaron Rowan

Great Scot!

A dream came true for me recently, when I was invited to curate a portion of the lineup for the annual San Francisco Free Folk Festival. This has been my absolute favorite musical gathering to attend for the past two years, held on a huge middle school campus. There are Unplugged concerts and workshops in multiple classrooms, Contra and world folk dances in the gym, open mic sessions in the cafeteria; acoustic heaven.

I’ve borrowed a number of acts I first encountered at FFF to perform at my own acoustic fest here in town. Now I am delighted to be able to return the favor by introducing one of our area’s youngest and brightest musical stars to them – last year’s “Valley’s Got Talent” winner Alida McKeon! Alida evokes the vintage feel of 1930’s lounge music with her classic and original ukulele tunes – I like to call her “Uke Ellington.” She will perform in a primetime slot on the lower level stage at this year’s Free Folk, in its new venue at St. Cyprian’s Church in San Francisco. Saturday 6/20, make the drive out to the Bay for a whole day of beautiful music and dance.

The festival runs from noon to 10 PM, and Alida can be found performing from 7:30-8:15pm, followed by my other contributions to the roster: Nevada City duo Halfpence & Haypenny (performing British, Celtic and original tunes), and Bay Area string sensations Dirty Cello with the closing set. Completely free and family-friendly! For more info, visit

Another great yearly tradition filled with music and festivities returns to Modesto this month – the 34th Annual Scottish Highland Games & Celtic Faire. Saturday June 6, Tuolumne River Park will be crawling with clan members, craft vendors and caber tossers. There’ll be Celtic folk dances, bagpipe contests, historical reenactments, athletic games and more. Our local friends in Cooking With Turf and Golden Bough will be among those providing the musical entertainment. The fun goes from 9 AM to 5 PM. $15 admission, kids 10 and under free. Presented by the St. Andrews Society of Modesto.

Modesto Unplugged Music has partnered up with ModestoView to bring you “Live In The Cellar”, a new concert series held in the cellar beneath Greens restaurant (953 10th St.). Friday 6/5, we welcome Faux Renwah, a beloved family band from California’s gold country. These multi-instrumentalists have an impressive repertoire of Old Time and original tunes, ranging from authentic Gold Rush songs of the 1850’s to favorites from the 1960’s and beyond, which they mix with a sprinkling of Irish and American fiddle tunes. Doors open at 7:00, concert at 8:00. General admission is $15, reserved seating $20. Call 209-543-5306 for tickets.

Saturday 6/6, The Jimmy Grant Ensemble will perform at the Prospect Theatre, 1214 K St. The band performs in the style of Django Reinhardt, infusing swing era pieces, original work, and traditional gypsy tunes with the jazz guitar pioneer’s crunchy rhythms and hot harmonies. Jimmy’s style synthesizes a rich blend of Russian folk, bluegrass, celtic and classical music while remaining true to Django’s innovative guitar technique. The band will bring together two guitars, bass, and violin in an intimate yet energy-charged performance. Doors open at 7 and concert begins at 8; $10 admission.

Tuesday 6/16 at the State Theatre, Square Peg and Sherpa Concerts present an evening with pop/R&B singer-songwriter Morgan James. She’s a classically trained Julliard graduate, Epic Records recording artist, and Broadway actress, who once lived in Modesto and is now based in NYC. Morgan is blessed with some pretty powerful pipes! I’m looking forward to enjoying this one. Doors at 7, show at 8; tickets are $20.

Cross the county line on Sunday 6/21 to catch Birds Of Chicago at the Brice Station Winery in Murphys. This great globetrotting band crafts ‘rock-n-roll poetry’ with lots of folk instrumentation thrown in. Concert starts at 7 PM. General admission tickets $20, available at




Posted in: featured, music

About the Author: