The State Theatre in downtown Modesto is shining its spotlight on the local music scene this year.
The venue is presenting a local music series featuring at least three concerts.
The series kicks off Feb. 9 with an Americana program featuring Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, the Pine Box Boys and House of Orange.
The second show, June 15, will focus on rock with performances by Solar Powered People, Stop Motion Poetry and Kid Mud.
The final show, still unscheduled, will highlight the blues.
Earl Matthews, the series coordinator who also performs in the Modesto bands Big Earl and the Cryin' Shame and the Poorhouse Millionaires, said the acts are some of the best in the area.
"I wanted to try to book bands working the hardest, that take it the most seriously," he said. "They know they should come in and bring their A game."
He decided to kick the series off with an Americana program because he thinks Oakdale's Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit is the region's most accomplished band at the moment. "They're just a force live," Matthews said. "I believe in them and I know they have a crowd."
The band, which was founded in 2005, has performed at the prestigious Strawberry Music Festival near Yosemite National Park twice and is booked to play a third time this fall.
The group also has headlined the Great American Music Hall, the Independent and Slim's in San Francisco and performed at the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival in Laytonville in Mendocino County. The band recently released its third album, "Old Excuses" on its heckabad label.
The group will open for nationally known Oakdale-raised folk artist Brett Dennen (a childhood friend of some of the musicians) at his Feb. 26 show at the Gallo Center for the Arts (see a brief on Page E-6).
Good Luck's members are singer-songwriters Willy Taylor and Chris Doud, bass player and singer Taylor Webster, multi-instrumentalist Matt Cordano, Chandler Pratt on mandolin and guitar and drummer Aaron Burtch, from Modesto's most successful band Grandaddy.
Taylor, 36, said he loves playing with the other musicians because they are all so talented.
"Our inspiration is from Iron Maiden to Neil Diamond," Taylor said. "We're pretty much a thrift store."
Taylor said the name was inspired by the group's love of shopping at thrift and antique stores and garage sales.
The band grew out of Taylor, Doud and their friend Tom VandenAvond's song-writing club, "The 52 Week Club." The friends decided to write a new song once a week based on a different theme. The club's website explained that "the themes would be simple words and phrases inspired by serendipitous moments, drunken ramblings, chance occurrences, late-night delusions, eurekas, ahas, sheer idiocy."
VandenAvond moved to Texas but the group went on and the members' songs began to pile up. Soon they decided to start a band.
The group has performed at venues all over the valley wearing country attire from denim overalls to straw hats. They've stayed together all these years despite competing obligations from jobs and families because they enjoy each other's company, Taylor said. Many of the band members have been friends since high school.
Meanwhile, many new people from all over the world have joined the "52 Week Club."
"It's brought a lot of friends together," Taylor said.
Taylor said he's excited about playing the State Theatre show because the theater is one of his favorite venues. Audience members can expect about a half hour of music from Modesto's House of Orange, about 45 minutes from San Francisco's Pine Box Boys (known for their murder ballads) and about an hour from the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit.
Taylor's band will play a mix of old material and new songs from the latest album.
Matthews said he's excited to showcase Modesto's music scene because it's going so strong. "If anything, it is blowing up right now," he said. "There are more high quality projects than I can remember."
It's part of the nonprofit State Theatre's mission to serve the community. "I think it's an important step we've taken in making this happen and bringing local talent some much-needed attention," the State's director Sue Richardson said in an email.
WHAT: State Theatre Local Music Series: Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, Pine Box Boys, House of Orange
WHEN: 9 p.m., Feb. 9
WHERE: State Theatre, 1307 J St., Modesto
TICKETS: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
CALL: (209) 527-4697