CLARK: Ironstone concert series smaller but still rockin'

pclark@modbee.comMay 21, 2013 

It will be wine, women and country this summer at Ironstone Vineyards.

The annual summer concert series in the outdoor amphitheater at the Murphys winery will offer three concerts beginning in July — a decidedly scaled-back version of the series it's presented for the past decade-plus.

Performing this year will be Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on July 20; Melissa Etheridge on Aug. 2; and Big & Rich on Aug. 10.

Joining Big & Rich — aka country singers John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin — for that show will be Cowboy Troy and Whiskey Dawn.

Tickets go on sale today. See for details.

Both Jett and Etheridge are popular sellers around the greater valley/Mother Lode region, and both come with plenty of recognizable hits — not to mention their own gritty but unique female rock sounds.

Big & Rich, along with the rest of their packed bill, undoubtedly will satiate the country crowd so prevalent in this region.

I, of course, wouldn't have a clue who Big & Rich are — given my noncountry bent — if it weren't for "Celebrity Apprentice." John Rich not only competed on the competition/reality show, he won it. He came off as a very nice and pretty darn clever guy.

In reading the bio on the duo, it appears they stretch out beyond the signature twang typical of the country genre.

All three shows likely will be big sellers for the vintner.

Interestingly, "Celebrity Apprentice" seems to have an ongoing Modesto connection, with more than a couple of the show's alums having performed in the greater region.

John Rich will be the latest "Apprentice" contestant to have shown up on our stages. Others include Joan Rivers, also a winner of the TV competition and appearing tonight in Turlock (her second stint at Turlock Community Theatre); Penn Gillette — of Penn & Teller comedy/magic fame, who competes in the finale Sunday night and also played the Turlock theater; Trace Adkins, competing against Gillette for the apprentice title, who played the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton; Bret Michaels, another former winner and a past Stanislaus County Fair music artist; David Cassidy, who was ousted in the first round of his "Apprentice" season and played a few years ago at the State Theatre in Modesto; and Clint Black, who's played at Ironstone and the Gallo Center for the Arts in the past.

That's a sizable connection. It means absolutely nothing, of course — it's the kind of thing you simply put together after covering entertainment in this region for 15 years — but it's interesting trivia, nonetheless.

Unlike a lot of viewers, I'm still hanging in there with Donald Trump and this year's celebs, battling to stay in The Donald's good graces to benefit their favorite charities. As mentioned, the finale is Sunday night.

But I seem to be in the minority. According to wire reports, the show is on the bubble for cancellation at NBC. The network announced its 2013-14 season schedule Sunday, where execs would say only that a decision on "Apprentice" would be made in the next few weeks.

According to Trump, however, it's already been renewed. He tweeted as much a day before the network announcement, according to web reports.

Well, if The Donald says it, it must be true, right?

Er ... Right?

Now, though, it's time for summer's TV series to heat up. I'm ready and waiting for the Stephen King-spawned miniseries "Under the Dome" to première June 24 on CBS. The book was solid and it seems like a great story for a short-run TV stint.

Of course, like all Stephen King story adaptations — TV or film — it runs a sizable risk of being completely wrecked by writers who fail to see the importance of sticking to King's vision or by actors who just, well, stink.

Here's hoping for a rare success on that front.

On Bravo, where summer is king, I'm still waiting to find out when "Top Chef Masters" will begin. All I can find is that it will air during summer.

As for the original "Top Chef," Bravo announced the 11th season of that show will be filmed in New Orleans. When it will air? No word yet, but my guess is it will debut this fall, after "Masters" finishes its run.

The other franchise spinoff, "Top Chef: Just Desserts," appears to have bitten the powered sugar dust after just two seasons, since there's been no word on new episodes. More telling: Gail Simmons, who hosted "Just Desserts and is a intermittent judge on the original "Chef," has been tapped to join Curtis Stone as judge on "Masters."

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