Sea of blankets awaits MoBand kickoff tonight in Modesto

jfarrow@modbee.comJune 6, 2013 

— There still are a few lawn spots and a decent number of amphitheater seats left for today's MoBand concert — you know, the one that begins at 8 p.m.

As usual, the lawn around Mancini Bowl in Graceada Park has been a checkerboard of blankets, sheets and quilts for most of the day, many staked or weighted to keep from being blown away in the breeze. Not that there's much likelihood of that today.

Even the grassy area behind the raised seating — no way of seeing the band from there — was on its way to filling up early this afternoon. But unless you're a proud relative, not seeing the musicians isn't much of a drawback when attending a MoBand concert. After all, the experience is more about listening to the music and kicking back with friends, family, food and drink.

A bit before 2 this afternoon, Victoria Salinas of Modesto and Earvin Rowe of Riverbank were setting down a blanket to claim a spot on the grassy slope next to the seating. Salinas, 19, is a longtime MoBand attendee. "I've been coming here since I was 7 or 8. It's always been a family tradition," she said. "My older sister played in MoBand for about six years."

Rowe, 21, is a newbie. Salinas told him how much she enjoys it, so he thought he'd check it out with her.

As for the amphitheater seats themselves, a great number are reserved with masking tape, rope, clothesline, signs, tied down sheets and quilts, even seat cushions. Anyone without a saved spot would be well-advised to get out there well before 8.

Tonight's 94th season kickoff of MoBand — with its musical theme "Graffiti Nites," music to cruise by from the 1950s and '60s — also unofficially launches a Graffiti weekend. Friday night is the North Modesto Kiwanis American Graffiti Classic Car Parade, with George Lucas as grand marshal, and Saturday and Sunday bring the Classic Car Show and Festival on the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

MoBand will run for six weeks. Here's a look at the coming concert themes:

June 13 — "The Big Show." A selection of stage and movie show tunes, ranging from "The Sound of Music" and "The Phantom of the Opera" to "The Avengers" and "Captain America."

June 20 — "Disco Fever." Not a disco show, but a selection of music from the disco era of the 1970s, including Stevie Wonder, the Village People, Michael Jackson and The Carpenters.

June 27 — "Rock, Roll & Remember." Pop classics from The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison and Elvis, with a special tribute to Dick Clark.

July 3 (a Wednesday, since July Fourth is that Thursday — "Patriotic Blast-Off." The annual blend of marches with lots of audience participation.

July 11 — "It's Party Time." Reprising the best selections of the season.

All concerts are free, and first note always is at 8 p.m. Rehearsals are every Monday and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Mancini Hall on Tuolumne Boulevard. There are no auditions, but players are required to be at least of high school age.

For more information, visit the MoBand website at www.modestoband,org.

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