There was a danger Modesto's annual Acoustic Christmas rock show wouldn't happen this year because of staff changes at long time sponsor B92.9FM.
But the concert will go on for the 13th year in a row Wednesday at the State Theatre under new sponsorship. This year's concert is made possible by the station's former morning team Tammy Cruise and Angie Good (who lost their jobs in October 2011), their new venture www.thecellarradio.com and California Mortgage Associates, where Cruise now works.
The headliner is Ed Kowalczyk, former lead singer of the rock band Live, with other other performances by local favorites Flying Blind and Shaylin Nichole & The Ramblers.
It's a return to the show for Kowalczyk, who played Acoustic Christmas along with Live in 2008.
Good, who is program director of The Cellar, said Acoustic Christmas has been a popular family tradition. "We didn't want it to stop," she said." We had the opportunity to do it and bring it back to the State Theatre, which is so much more cozy."
Previous concerts had been at Modesto Centre Plaza.
Kowalczyk, 41, was lead singer and primary songwriter for the band Live, known for the 1990s modern rock hits "Selling the Drama, "I Alone," "White, Discussion" and "Lightning Crashes."
After leaving the band in 2009, he went solo and released his album "Alive" the following year.
Kowalczyk said he desperately needed a change. "I had been doing it the same way in the same environment for so long, I lost my excitement for music," he said. "I needed to reconnect not only with my craft but also my fans."
He enjoyed meeting new musicians and learning different ways to make recordings. "I have, as an artist, really branched out from what had become for me a limited place and space to work with," he said. "I'm happier than I've ever been."
His personal life has been going well and he welcomed his third daughter in April 2011 (his oldest is 10). "I just love it," he said about being a father. "Daughters and daddies have a unique bond. They love my music."
He recently released the new EP "The Garden" and hopes to release another full-length album this spring. Among the tracks are a cover of John Lennon's "Mind Games," remixed by Karsh Kale, known for his fusion of Indian classical music with rock and hip-hop.
Kowalczyk praised producer Jamie Candiloro for coming up with creative arrangements that put his music in a fresh light.
For the Modesto show, he will play a few songs off his new album, plus his Live hits. "People will get a full picture of my songwriting," he said. "My songs stripped down to a nice place they feel more intimate and intense (in acoustic versions) than in the recordings."
Good said she is happy that her new Internet station The Cellar can promote the concert. The station plays adult alternative music with a heavy dose of acoustic selections and covers there are a lot of live, deep album cuts.
Good is glad that the station can offer a local focus with all the cuts in radio lately, there are very few local staff people left. Many DJs on Modesto area stations prerecord their shows and are based in LA or elsewhere.
"We would like to do more concerts," Good said. "We hope to do something in the spring."
WHAT: Cruise N' Good's Acoustic Christmas
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: State Theatre,1307 J St., Modesto
TICKETS: $18-$40; VIP with after-party with Ed Kowalczyk for $100
CALL: (209) 527-4697