By August 12, 2018 Read More →

Unplugged View – The Little Sparrow

Unplugged View
By Aaron Rowan

The Little Sparrow
I remember thinking that if Neil Young were here to witness this, he would have offered her a slot at his Bridge School Benefit concert then and there. Of all the musical moments I’ve curated, this is the one I recall most vividly and fondly – Effie Passero putting her own wailing take on ‘Harvest Moon,’ which I asked her to do as part of a local supergroup, Valley Forged, assembled specifically to close out year three of MUMfest. I’ve heard this homegrown star do many amazing things with her voice and lyricism over the years, but none quite as stunning as when she belted out that classic. That same night she also became the first artist I would sponsor to attend the Yosemite Songwriting Retreat, as the winner of our first songwriting contest. You may have seen Effie this year among the Top 24 of ‘American Idol.’ Her journey there began with an original song audition, and I’d like to think that Modesto Unplugged & YSR had our own small part to play in sharpening her career.

Effie returns to NorCal this month to headline a fundraiser concert for the 2018 Yosemite Songwriting Retreat. Friday 8/10, head down to Sierra Meadows in Ahwahnee for a real fabulous evening. Dinner will be served at 6, with an open mic starting at 6:30 and the main concert at 7, which also features sets by Retreat directors Gail Dreifus and Adam Burns. Tickets are $10 advance; more info at

We had great fun at the Modesto Unplugged World Music Jam last month, with a meshing of musical elements from India, Sweden, Latin America and more. The jam is back for round two on Tuesday 8/21, 7-9 PM back at the Barkin’ Dog Grill. This month’s special guests will be the N.Wanda Trio, on tour from Japan. They’re a groovy group with keyboard, guitar & bass, and you’re welcome to come make music alongside them. If you have some cool and exotic instruments & percussion, we’d love for you to jump in.

The best of the rest for August: MPA stages ‘Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical’ from 8/11-8/19 at the Gallo Center. The cast list includes local ‘Roosevelt’s Got Talent’ winner Kalea Jackson; and soprano star Christine Capsuto, a veteran of more than one of the finest music series in town. Info/tickets at Saturday 8/11, Nashville country songwriters Brinley Addington and Emily Hackett appear at the Denair Gaslight Theater for a special benefit show. Find more info on that at 209-664-9514. Friday 8/17, Modesto’s premiere Cajun players, the BluesBox Bayou Band, are featured at Music In The Plaza on 10th St. from 7-9pm.

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